Went to Charlottesville and Loudon counties 2-3 y ago to do wine tastings and visit historical sites. Generally found Virginia wines not up to the standards of our West coast states. Better wines were poor QPRs.
Most memorable part of the trip was visiting presidential plantations around Charlottesville.
Only tips I can give is to book the Linden reserve wine tasting as their regular wine tasting was not very good.
If you get a chance, go to RdV vineyards in Delaplane, Va. Wine tasting experience was very nice, Wines were very good (way too expensive-would have bought if half the price).
Hope you have a different experience wine tasting. Good luck!
Michael’s post is a pretty good summation of Loudon County wines. Tarara and Fabiloi are both nice places to visit but the wines are not great. Fabioli puts on a nice tasting with small bites / chocolates paired to the wines.
RdV and Barboursville are both good choices. We had a Barboursville Viognier at Succotash recently and it was nothing life-changing but a decent QPR.
Big Cork in Maryland makes an excellent Viognier and some Italian varietals that are palatable. Their QPR is much better than the VA wineries.
Thanks all, great summation of what I have been fearing for the region. We typically travel west coast for wine on vacation but this is a unexpected week off without enough time to book airfare reasonably when brought us to a road trip. I guess i’ll grin and make the most of it and hope to get some decent photo ops long the Shenandoah Valley.
As a life-long Virginian, my candid advice is scrap the “wine tourism” idea while in the Commonwealth. Virginia is truly unique in a great many respects and has a great deal to offer visitors, but winery visits would not be in the top 100 on my list. Seriously, do yourself a favor and plan your visit around history (if that interests you) or the food and arts culture in Richmond or camping/hiking in the Blue Ridge or head to Natural Bridge or Luray just about anything else.
Gun to my head, I would say I have enjoyed fall visits to Linden because they have rare heirloom apples in the orchard and a lovely terrace for a glass and a light meal. I understand that they have dramatically changed the rules around their tasting room so you should visit their website first.
I appreciate the honesty, Neal. I knew the area would not be up to west coast standards but had hoped to find some reasonably good wine. I am not a fan at all of the country wineries throughout the mountains of NC/GA and fear this will be much of the same.
Be very aware of your drive times; Ankida Ridge is a healthy hour away from Charlottesville (beautiful mountains though, and likely cooler). May want to double check what their tasting room policy is, as they are small and may not be set up for drop in tastings. RdV doesn’t do drop-ins either AFAIK so if they are a possibility be sure to contact them first.
I recommend doing ‘loops’ out of Charlottesville, picking a direction and hitting multiple places at a time. Ankida Ridge is isolated but hitting Lovingston on the same trip makes sense, and if you have time can hit places like Wisdom Oak, DelFosse, First Colony (now called Thatch) or Blenheim in southern Albemarle on the way back. A west loop towards the mountains gets you King Family, Pollak, Grace Estate, White Hall, and Veritas. Barboursville can get paired up with Jefferson Vineyards as you head East of town or you can tag it in with Early Mountain to the North and take Rt 33 over to B’ville from there (a newer winery up that way, Montefalco, is doing some interesting stuff and could be worth the drop-in). Shorter drives in between stops and you don’t get as stressed getting from on place to the next. I will also say some of the more interesting wines are coming from ‘side projects’ some of the wine makers are doing, small 1-4 barrel lot experiments that wouldn’t usually fly with the tourist trade. If you have the time come by my store or one of the other small retailers in town that know what they’re doing.
If you are making good time Friday you should still hit Lovingston on your way up. Having made the slog to and from G’boro many times for youth soccer, it’s worth getting out there just because the landscape is starting to get mountainous and interesting. The winery is on the family farm and there is usually a Puckett family member somewhere around the tasting room, so if you call ahead they may be able to stay open a bit later.
Depending on your direction and time available on Saturday, you could start or end the day at the Shaps Wineworks warehouse space just South of town, and you’re only 10 minutes from Jefferson. All the other legs are at least 30 minutes from winery to winery, so pack snacks. The mountain loop west of town is the most scenic and there are lots of wineries and breweries fairly close together, lots of food choices as well in Crozet and Afton. You can also get a sense of the area’s other (and many would say better) crop of note-apples. Lots of old stand orchards out that way as you drive around.
Is Crozet pizza still worth a stop? Loved prior visits but the last was many years ago and I understand they expanded and might have changed ownership to the next generation.
Little late for wineries but a few thought on my favorites:
King Family - have like Meritage and Viognier. Viognier made in a brighter less voluptuous style. If you can catch Polo it’s well worth it.
Veritas - Sparklers
Pollak - Pinot Gris but some years have higher RS
Barboursville - avoid the tasting room and head to the library (or whatever it’s called). Way better experience.
Linden - reserve tasting. Best Chardonnay in VA and it ages as well. Weekends can get crowded.
RdV - the 2009 Lost Mountain is the best wine I have had from VA and has stood up when tasted against Some Cal Cabs and Bdx. Very pricey and haven’t been as wowed with other vintages. Not sure of visit options
Glen Manor - liked both reds and whites. When was there last didn’t have the crowds of other places.
My notes are dated as it’s been a few years since visiting either area so defer to Matthew for current assessments of the above and others.
Interesting. The 2013 which I really enjoyed wasn’t that way and probably influenced my memory. Still have one bottle and checked label which lists 13%. Sorry to hear that was an outlier as it was a wonderful summer Viognier and tasted even better well chilled while watching polo.
Consistently solid*. Has been some back and forth on the winemaker front, and the owners have gotten older so not as much family investment. Viognier is still one of the more solid values in general, but feels like they have done what a lot of producers in VA are doing in boosting their Viognier prices. Not sure if that’s weather related from the 2018 vintage or that it’s the one variety they can ask a little more for.
Will admit to bias here since the Champ family did me a huge solid 18 years ago and let me host my wedding reception here for a pittance.