With scenic, gently sloping hills leading to one winery after the next—not to mention historic attractions, lavish accommodations, and fine food—Charlottesville, Virginia, is the ideal destination for those seeking a wine-centric experience.
Nestled between Richmond and Washington, D.C., it’s a perfect road trip destination for East Coasters looking for an easy and fun adventure (or for anyone looking to take in Virginia’s gorgeous forests and scenery). These five wineries in the Charlottesville region offer exceptional wines, along with vibrant character and rich history.
Once the property of Revolutionary War veteran Lieutenant Joseph Early—who served under General George Washington at Valley Forge—Early Mountain Vineyards stretches across the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and produces classic, Bordeaux-style varietals like Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The vast tasting room, which was voted #1 in America by USA Today, offers both high-end dining and casual lounging for sampling wines from Early Mountain and other vineyards throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Also a premiere wedding venue, Early Mountain can surely turn a dream party into a beautiful reality. Virginia is for lovers, after all.
Sitting at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the family-owned and -operated King Family Vineyards. The winery specializes in luxurious vinos that showcase the remarkable quality and terroir of the Monticello AVA. Beginning with carefully selected estate grapes, winemaker Matthieu Finot creates wines inspired by old-world offerings that are also well-expressive of Virginia, like Viognier, a staple of the state’s white wine bounty. This summer, tasting room visitors are invited to join in fieldside to watch polo, happening every Sunday from Memorial Day weekend to mid-October. Gates at Roseland Polo open at 10 a.m. for folks to tailgate or picnic before the match begins at 1 p.m. In fact, after founders David and Ellen King moved to Virginia from Houston in 1995, their search for a farm had one requirement: Twelve acres of relatively flat ground for a polo field. The thought of wine came later.
Winemaking is a family affair at Stinson Vineyards. The estate winery in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is helmed by father-daughter duo Scott Stinson and Rachel Stinson Vrooman, along with Rachel’s husband Nathan. They take inspiration from “garagiste” wineries of France in both their winemaking methods and the winery itself, which is built into an old three-car garage. The small-lot wines carry a distinct French influence, mainly from the Bordeaux and Loire Valley regions, that emphasize subtlety rather than ripeness. Visitors can shop the tasting room that also doubles as a local farm store that sells grass-fed beef, farm-raised pork and chicken, free-range organic eggs, and garden-fresh herbs. Inquire about an overnight stay at Stinson’s historic inn that’s nestled among the vines, or at The Townsman, a boutique hotel on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. The Stinson family owns several accommodations to help you customize your summer travel plans.
Back in 1999, founders Andrew and Patricia Hodson planted five acres of grapes as a passion project. Today, Veritas occupies more than 50 acres of vineyards and produces classic, Old World wines using modern technology to capture varietal and regional character—from its barrel-fermented Chardonnay to its award-winning seasonal Flying Fox sweet vermouth
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is unique among the growing number of fine wineries in the Charlottesville wine region. It is a culinary vineyard that not only makes distinguished wines, but also pairs them with artisan cuisine from an on-site farm. The six-acre vineyard is situated on a southern-facing hillside, flush with rich soil and a climate suited for varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Verdot. Both the vineyard and surrounding gardens are part of Bundoran Farm, a sustainable community dedicated to Virginia’s countryside. Pippin Hill encourages guests to roam the gentle grounds and take in the health and beauty of the state.