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Can you stay for dinner?

Courtesy Williamsburg Winery

Winemakers and brewers know a thing or two about flavor. So it stands to reason that these folks, who spend their days obsessing over the smallest characteristics of their wines and beers, enjoy serving great food in addition to great drinks.

Culinary experiences are among the hottest trends in travel today, and a memorable meal can be a high point of a group tour. Many of the country’s breweries and wineries have opened restaurants and created opportunities for visitors to enjoy gourmet foods that highlight local wines and beers.

Food options at these establishments range from old-fashioned fish fries to fine dining. If you’re looking for an itinerary item that combines a meal with a great tour experience, consider a lunch or dinner at one of these wineries or breweries.

Williamsburg Winery
Williamsburg, Va.
Established in 1982, the Williamsburg Winery is the largest winery in Virginia, producing 60,000 cases of wine each year. Groups can choose from a number of tour and tasting options at the winery and dine at either of two restaurants on-site.

Cafe Provencal serves Mediterranean and French-inspired cuisine in high style.

“They smoke their own bacon, and everything is made from scratch,” said Courtney Darden, assistant vice president of marketing at the winery. “Everything is fresh and local. We have a two-acre garden on-property that supplies all of the herbs. Most of the seafood is from the local region, and so is the beef and pork.”

The Gabriel Archer Tavern, a more casual restaurant, serves sandwiches and salads for lunch and items such as crab cakes and pasta for dinner. Groups can arrange four-course food-and-wine-pairing dinners at the tavern that highlight flavors from different parts of the world.

During warm-weather months, an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the vineyard makes a great spot for a group meal or private wine tasting.

Lakefront Brewery

Lakefront Brewery continues Milwaukee’s longtime tradition of craft beer making, producing lagers, imperials and innovative fruit beers. On Friday nights, it offers guests an opportunity to experience another local tradition.

“Everybody up here does a fish fry on Fridays — it’s a Milwaukee experience,” said Chris Ranson, the brewery’s public relations director. “So on Friday night, we have a fish fry with a polka band.”

Guests at the event sit at long family-style tables and order their choice of fish entrees off the menu. The classic choice is cod battered in a Lakefront beer and fried to golden-brown perfection. Other choices include bluegill, perch and baked tilapia.

Musical accompaniment makes the experience even more authentic. The Brewhouse Polka Kings play a variety of drinking songs and other polka classics and know how to get visitors involved in the fun.

“They purchased a bubble machine from Lawrence Welk, and people just love that,” Ranson said. “The dance floor is full of people who know how to polka and people who are just pretending.”

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.