Nancy and Danny Johnson with their son Shannon and wife Donna, own and operate Peaks of Otter Winery, Johnson’s Orchards and Elmo’s Rest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Bedford Virginia. They are encouraged by their son Dan who lives in Seattle but remain loyal to the home farm in Virginia.
J Elmo Johnson, great grandson of John T. Johnson, established Johnson’s Orchards in 1919 in the area of property that had been in the family since the 1750s. In 1995 the Johnsons considered making wine from the fruits they were growing. More and more Virginia Wineries were being established and were attracting an increasing number of visitors.
The commercial apple business was in decline and the Johnsons felt that the addition of a winery would also be a way of selling more of their fruits directly to consumers. Shannon, who is now the wine maker, says the 70% of the fruits used in the wine are grown on the farm. Grape vines, primarily Norton and Concord are now bearing with new ones coming on. Berry plants have been planted and are bearing. The Johnson family who own Peaks of Otter Winery and Orchards have deep roots in Bedford County stretching back to the 1750s. Their ancestral home at mile post 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is very popular with parkway travelers. The Johnsons made apple brandy on the creek right below this house, so they have had apples and alcohol in their veins a long time. You will want to make a day trip and visit Peaks of Otter Winery and Orchards and taste their fruit wines, fruit, jams, jellies and butters. .It will be an experience that you will never forget and you cannot beat the views along the way. There is a vacation rental house, Elmo’s Rest, in the middle of the farm (www.ElmosRest.com ) where you can rest for a week and remember a lifetime. These many things and gracious hosts make this winery uniquely suited to family visits and it is only 7 miles to the National DDay Memorial.