A few weeks ago we took out the 2016 Virginia Wine Map on our trip to the Central Virginia wine region. Cruising around TJ’s hometown we looked through the map and pleasantly recalled our experiences along the Monticello Wine Trail. Reminiscing about our time in the region, we revisited the tastings from our very first trip to Charlottesville. We recounted the long afternoons lingering on the grounds and gazing out over the expansive vineyards. We looked back on precious moments of love and laughter with our friends. We couldn’t help but think, “Damn, Virginia Wine Country is truly something special.”
We also took a moment to wonder if Thomas Jefferson, the original visionary for Virginia wine, could have ever imagined where the state would be today. Over 250 wineries and growing, internationally recognized and award winning wines, a driver of the economy and tourism, and a respite from the daily stresses of life for locals, it’s almost unbelievable. We’ve been blogging for about two and a half years and enjoying our trips to wine country for almost five. In that time alone, the industry (especially in Northern and Central Virginia) has essentially doubled. Talented winemakers from the West Coast, Europe, South America and Australia have flocked to the Old Dominion, some visiting to hear what all the fuss is about, some staying and setting down roots (literally). Virginia Wine Country has blossomed into a flourishing industry which if properly nurtured and sustained, will only continue to grow.
So here’s the deal. We are constantly being asked by our readers and friends, “Which winery should we visit this weekend?” The growing selection of options is almost overwhelming for those looking for a fun and new experience. That’s where we come in. We have compiled a list of FIVE unique Virginia Wine Country destinations. Each one is completely different and each one offers an amazing experience. While we know that every individual has a different preference for wine, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll enjoy each of these locations in some way, shape or form. Cheers!
Five Unique Virginia Wine Country Experiences
- The Foodie Haven: Fabbioli Cellars. Every month, Doug Fabbioli and Co. change their tasting menu to offer seven wines paired with seven gourmet bites of food. The concept is fantastic and the experience is even better. Sit back and let your palate go to work by sipping, snacking and then sipping again. Taste how the flavors change and how the food brings new life to the wines. It’s a truly unique experience and a must-taste in DC’s Wine Country. Tastings here are $15 but include the bites of food (they offer vegetarian and gluten free options if needed). Although they do produce some well-crafted white wines, Fabbioli is known for the quality of their award winning red wines. From the Tre Sorelle Bordeaux-style blend to the Latin influenced Paco Rojo, and of course the more classic Virginia red’s like Cab Franc and Chambourcin, Fabbioli’s wines are of the highest quality and care. In addition to their powerful reds they also feature several creative dessert wines including the Raspberry Merlot, which is typically paired with a delicious local chocolate, and the Pear Wine (there is actually a pear grown in the bottle, say whatttt?).
- The Elegant and Educational Adult Afternoon: RdV Vineyards. The tagline on the RdV Vineyards website reads “Neither Bordeaux nor Napa, but uniquely our own.” We couldn’t agree with this statement more. Nestled among the quiet hills of Delaplane, RdV’s wines are produced by a team of immensely knowledgable and experienced winemakers, master sommeliers and viticulturists. RdV produces only two wines each vintage, leaving no detail to chance. Both wines, the Rendezvous and the Lost Mountain, are Bordeaux-style blends. Each wine is exceptionally crafted from start to finish beginning with the soil and leading to the care of the vine, following the grapes through harvest and fermentation and ending with an incredible product. These are two of the finest and most complex Virginia wines we’ve ever tasted. If that weren’t enough, RdV offers a unique tasting and tour experience (by appointment only) that is wonderfully educational. The experience includes a private (or semi-private) tour of the tasting room and production facility with the hospitality director, followed by a tasting paired with local artisanal cheeses and charcuterie looking out over the vines. The tasting room is exquisite– filled with natural light, a warm and inviting hearth, and distinct rustic and modern decor.
- The Barn on the Farm: Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn. Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn sits on 50 acres in Horse Country, offering the perfect opportunity to get in touch with Virginia’s roots. The tasting room is located in a 200-year old reclaimed barn and the property features a silo, a smoke house, corn cribs, a pathway lined with cherry trees, and a horse barn. Similar to Fabbioli, Aspen Dale also pairs their wine tasting with local foods- usually cheeses, meats and chocolates. The property also features horses, mini horses and other farm animals making it the perfect location for the whole family (including dogs!).
- The Wino-Polo: King Family Vineyards. One of our all-time favorite wineries is King Family Vineyards in Crozet, VA. Located just outside of Charlottesville, King Family is home to an amazing property complete with a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The tasting room is full of life and the staff is friendly and welcoming. Their wine menu always features a wonderful mix of classic Virginia whites and reds including Chardonnay, Viognier, Cab Franc, Meritage and their famous Crosé! Adding a little something special to the winery, King Family has a Polo field and features weekly polo matches every Sunday Memorial Day through mid-October (when the weather cooperates). Enjoy your Sunday Funday by taking in a match and sharing a bottle of wine at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- The Presidential Seal of Approval: Greenhill Winery & Vineyards. Located an hour west of D.C. and down the road from the quaint town of Middleburg, Greenhill Winery & Vineyards attracts some of D.C.’s elite, including the Obama’s themselves. That’s right, POTUS and FLOTUS enjoy Greenhill’s Virginia wine! Another cool fact? Greenhill’s Blanc de Blancs was featured in the giveaway bag at The Oscars this past year (you know that Leo was sippin’ on that after his big win!). The tasting room may be relatively small but it is quite elegant. In warmer weather enjoy sitting outside on the patio and enjoy looking out over the 20 acres of vines planted next to the Blue Ridge Mountains. As for the wine? Great! The Blanc de Blancs is always the perfect way to start a wine tasting, but their Philosophy and Superstition red blends are always delicious.