Looking for the best Virginia vineyards and wineries? Let me help you out.
If you love wine, and haven’t yet paid a visit to the Old Dominion, you’re missing some seriously tasty wine. I think it’s a non-controversial statement to say that we’re the 5th most important wine making state in the country, behind California, Washington/Oregon and New York. Some would even quibble with putting NY ahead of us.
If you come to visit, you can make an easy day trip to some decent spots from Washington DC, but if you’ve got the time, you’ll want to base your stay in Charlottesville and make easy drives to the surrounding wineries.
What to Expect? Relatively modest tasting rooms. $5 tasting fees. Friendly staffers. Beautiful countryside.
Best Virginia Grapes? For reds, it’s cabernet franc, merlot and increasingly, petit verdot. For whites, you’ll see plenty of viognier, and also good chardonnay, pinot gris and petit manseng.
And What Else? You name it. There are people making decent riesling, using port varietals and trying everything else under the sun. Your best bets are the marquee numbers above, though.
Anything to Avoid? There are still plenty of what I would call “hobby” winemakers, who are more or less goofing around in their garage. And God bless them, but the people who have put serious expertise and, yes, money into their projects are operating at another level.
Which Virginia Wineries are the Best? That’s impossible to say. There’s no “it” winery that has crushed the competition. Instead, I’d say some fraction (20%? 40%?) of the state’s more than 200 wineries operate at a very high level and are worth visiting. Around Charlottesville, that percentage is more like 85%.
I Don’t Have a Month. Name Some Names. You bet. Here’s a completely subjective top five. It will likely be different next week.
Anyone Else? Yes, many. Keswick, Barboursville, Del Fosse, Blenheim, Cardinal Point, Veritas, Linden, Barrel Ridge, Glen Manor, Jefferson, Mountfair and Cooper can all be excellent.
I Only Have One Day in Charlottesville, Where Should I Go? Start at Whitehall, then Stinson, then King Family and then Pollack. Four very good wineries encompassing a variety of styles.
Are Their Wineries Near Monticello? Of course. Good ones, too. After visiting Jefferson’s home, you’ll find the excellent Jefferson Vineyard just up the road. After that, check out the Dave Matthews-owned Blenheim for well-crafted, thoroughly modern wines.
I Have More Questions. Drop me a note. I love talking about this stuff. firstname.lastname@example.org.