This is one of the best kept secrets I’ve ever seen. And it’s a secret from the locals, it seems. I’ve been there twice now. Both times it was sold out. The first time it was Labor Day weekend so I figured, holiday weekend. This past Sunday (August 7th)? Lobster rolls, apparently.
Hamlet Vineyard is up in Bassett, just a stone’s throw from Stanleytown Health & Rehabilitation Center, where my mom went to recover from a stroke. I was there every day and I never realized that there was a vineyard just down the road. Literally, within sight.
There is just a small sign on the left side of road and a long gravel drive leading off into the trees.
I arrived only about a quarter of an hour after the 1 o’clock opening and the parking lot was already quite full. There is ample parking. It is all on mown grass.
I’m told that this rush always happens when lobster rolls are available and that was what I was here for. Salty’s Lobster & Co had brought them down from Roanoke.
I think that the fireside seating and the picnic tables up by the vineyards are new since the last time I came. That time, I just gave up in the parking lot when people were coming back to their cars saying that there was no more seating.
The place filled up quickly. I didn’t dilly dally that much looking around but I missed my opportunity at the last table. I think other people are aware of the limited seating and do not waste any time getting seated.
I wasn’t about to miss my opportunity here a second time so I ended up taking up a chair in the fire pit area. The chair was comfortable and the umbrella provided good shade. This seemed like more of a waiting area than a dining area but any port in a storm, right?
The waitress came and took my order and I sat and watched other late arrivals. Most decided not to stay. Two ladies from Greensboro and the lovely labradoodle, Willow, decided to brave the limited shade and joined me.
We chatted and had a wonderful conversation about all types of things. One was a physical therapist and one was a teacher. One was a single mom and the other, a fur mom. They had driven quite a ways for a day of wine and lobster rolls. Unfortunately, Hamlet had run out of lobster rolls. And it was really hot. Their day wasn’t shaping up too well.
We managed to keep Willow in the shade and two of the three humans. We were on the brink of rearranging their fire pit furniture to get all three of us in the shade when tables started clearing on the covered patio.
That made a huge difference. We all moved together and finished our wine and conversation in the shade. The covered patio, we noticed, has heaters in the ceiling for cold weather. They said that they enjoyed their day enough to come back. I hope so.
Tips for going to Hamlet Vineyard:
Get to the location early. There is a gate across the drive so get in line if you can. If you can’t, there is a drug store across the street where you can lay in wait for a good opportunity to get in earlier.
Try the sangria. It really is out of this world. They have a peach sangria and a pomegranate sangria. I had the pomegranate sangria and I LOVED it.
Budget to get a truffle a piece. They are $2.50 each but they are so worth it. They are made by local chocolatier Cocoa Trails Chocolates and I think they may be their best flavor.
Be persistent. This really is worth the wait.