Virginia Winery Reviews

Afton Mountain Vineyards - An entrepreneurial spirit is alive at this Afton, Virginia winery. The land, which contained a poorly taken care of vineyard, was purchased by a married couple (who had never before lived on a farm) with the hopes of starting a winery. They hired a consultant to come and show them how to take care of their grapevines and how to make wine from the grapes they produced. This endeavor was the beginning of Afton Mountain Vineyards - and the original Cabernet Sauvignon vines are some of the oldest in Virginia. 

We arrived late on a Saturday afternoon. We were pleased when we saw only one vehicle in the parking lot...only to find out it was a wine-tour mini-van traveling with a large group of people. When we entered the winery the tasting counter was completely full, so we took the opportunity to browse their gift items and use the restroom. Approximately 10 minutes later, the wine-tour group was still sampling, but the woman behind the counter asked them to scoot together a bit and they made room for us in the middle. The woman poured the first two wines for us, but then they winemaker appeared from the back and took over our tasting so the woman could tend to the group. It was a pleasant surprise to be hosted by the winemaker. I got the impression he didn't work behind the counter very often. He came from France and had only been in the U.S. for a year. Gary was quite impressed that I could understand him through his thick French accent...especially since it was our last stop of the day and I had already sampled at three other wineries. I thought it was a fun and interesting experience.

We sampled through the winery's 12 wines starting with the '04 Tete de Cuvee Brut Sparkling Wine. This wine is a very dry combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It was a treat to taste it because most wineries don't offer their sparkling wines for sampling. I also enjoyed their '05 Sangiovese (which was very light - great for wine drinkers new to dry reds) and I thought their '06 Pinot Noir was excellent. Three others that I found very nice were the '06 Kilaurwen Vineyards Riesling (a bit of sweetness and quite lovely), the Mountain Rose (made from a blend of red grapes - not too sweet - a great warm weather sipping wine), and the '06 Sweet Afton (an ice-style dessert wine produced from Gewürztraminer and Muscat grapes that have been flash-frozen).

We hadn't noticed an outdoor seating area when we arrived, but we had a while before we needed to check into our B&B and thought we might stay for a bit. When we inquired, we were told that there was a lovely picnic area behind the tasting room. We purchased some wonderfully dry white cheddar cheese and a bottle of Mountain Rose and headed outside. The picnic area was very secluded and we were undisturbed by other visitors that might be going in and out of the winery for tastings. We took in the lovely vineyard and mountain scenery and completely relaxed for awhile in the peacefulness of the countryside. 

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Afton Mountain Vineyards. The wines were quite tasty, the staff was friendly, and the atmosphere was peaceful and relaxing. I wouldn't hesitate to stop by again when we travel to the Charlottesville area. Visited 7/21/2007Favorite: Mountain Rose. 

Amrhein's Wine Cellars - We enjoyed an absolutely lovely visit to this Bent Mountain, Virginia winery. It was our last stop after a long day of tasting and I'm glad we were able to have a leisurely visit and take-in all they had to offer. It so nice when our final stop of the day is a winery with a great tasting experience, incredible wine and a lovely place to sit outdoors to sip on a glass and enjoy the scenery. 

Amrhein's is an estate winery which prides itself in producing wines with a German influence. They have a fairly large wine list of more than 15 varieties. The winery offers both red and white varietals and some signature blends. Our tasting experience was very pleasant. The friendly man behind the counter was extremely knowledgeable and allowed us to taste at our own pace. I prefer to take my time and taste slowly, which allows me to take-in all the flavors and get the most from the experience. Our host allowed us some time between each sample and seemed to know exactly when we were ready to move on to the next pour. 

I must admit I sampled quite a few of their wines. Amrhein's has been producing wine for more than ten years, and it shows in the quality of the wine. The more I sampled the more curious I was to try something else. All the wine were very well made and each taste brought a smile to my face. My very favorite was the Petit Manseng. This isn't a wine we come across very often on our travels. I absolutely fell in love with this barrel aged white. As we tasted the wines I thought it was a nice touch that the tasting room had a popcorn machine. It gave us a little something to nibble on while sampling, which helped tide us over until dinner.

It was time for the tasting room to close, but since there was a special event going on at the winery that evening, our host graciously told us we could stay as long as we wanted. We ended up purchasing a mixed case of their wonderful wines and then ordered a glass of the Petit Manseng to drink before we left. We found a nice picnic table outside and were able to relax for a bit at the end of the day at beautiful Amrhein's Wine Cellars. Visited: April 2010. Favorite: Petit Manseng.

Barboursville Vineyards - This Barboursville, Virginia winery is one of the most recognized, award-winning wineries in the state. Along with its spectacular views and state-of-the-art winery and tasting room, Barboursville quickly gained a reputation for producing excellent wine. Before we visited, I had made up my mind that our visit would be a snobbish experience - one that I truly wasn't looking forward to - but I didn't feel we should visit the Charlottesville area without checking out this well-known winery. I must admit that I was totally wrong. There are no wine snobs here...and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience.

Because of the popularity of this winery, we took a long weekend and decided to visit on a Monday in hopes of avoiding the weekend crowds. There were still quite a few people, but I'm sure it was far less crowded than on a Saturday. As we walked in the door, we read that there would be a $4.00 per person tasting fee with a souvenir glass included. We stopped at the sales counter to purchase our glasses and made our way to the tasting area. The counter was pretty full, so we looked around for a bit while we waited. After I spotted a nice t-shirt to take home for my son, we went back to the tasting counter and found a spot. A very pleasant woman presented us with a tasting sheet. She let us know that unless we told her any different, we would be sampling each of the 18 wines they had available for sampling. The sheer number of wines took me back a bit - but I decided I was up to the task.

I won't discuss all 18 wines, but I will mention a handful that I really enjoyed and that stood out above the rest. 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (very light, fruity and flavorful), 2006 Chardonnay Reserve (I normally don't like oaked Chardonnay - but the oak was not overpowering), 2006 Rose (a very pale and refreshing rose), 2005 Merlot (a wonderfully soft finish - one of the best Merlots I've sampled in Virginia), 2005 Sangiovese Reserve (a lighter wine than the aroma would indicate - very nice), 2005 Barbera Reserve (this wine had a "skunky" smell - but tasted wonderful), 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (elegant and light bodied), 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (slightly heavier than the 2005 Cab and remarkably delicious) and Phileo (not your typical dessert wine - a delightful blend of Moscato and Gewurztraminer).

I don't think a trip to the Charlottesville area would be complete without a wine-tasting at Barboursville Vineyards. They are producing some of the highest quality wines in the area - but there's no wine snobbery here. You'll be treated to some wonderful wines by a friendly and knowledgeable sales staff....and don't forget about the sweeping vineyard views. The scenery is spectacular. Visited 7/23/2007Favorites: 2005 Merlot and Phileo.    

Burnley Vineyards - You won't find the elegance at this Barboursville, Virginia winery that you will at some other area wineries, but you will find something else....a simple goodness. Burnley Vineyards has been growing grapes since 1977 and started their own winery in 1984. Though the wines don't seem as sophisticated as some others in the Charlottesville area, they do offer good wines at fair prices.

When we arrived late on a Monday afternoon, we were the only visitors on the premises. We were greeted by Patt Reeder...who I have assumed is the matriarch of this family operation. She asked if she could help us and we told her we were in the area to do some wine tasting. The tasting sheets were already on the counter, so she set-up a couple of glasses and asked us which wines we wanted to sample. We decided to skip the chardonnay wines, but sample the other eleven.

One wine that stood out was the Spicy Rivanna - a red wine with spices that could be served hot or cold. This is the only spiced wine we encountered in the area. We're slow samplers, but we didn't take as much time as we normally would during a tasting. Our hostess offered little information about the wines we were sampling and at one point made a comment that it was pushing 4:00. We felt like she might want to close up shop early since we were the only ones there. We knew coming in that they didn't close until 5:00 p.m. and had planned on staying for a glass of wine since it was our last stop of the day. 

After our tasting, we inquired about staying for a glass of wine on the deck and we were told that would be fine. We each asked for a glass of the Moon Mist - a sweeter white that we thought would make a good wine for sipping outdoors on a hot day. We paid for our glasses and headed outside to the small deck. When we were heading out the door, I looked up at their clock and noticed it was only 3:50 p.m., so I felt like we could relax for awhile without feeling like we needed to vacate. As we were sitting on the deck, a couple of cars pulled up the drive, so we no longer felt like we were intruding.

One thing you will find at Burnley is something for everyone. Though I found nothing spectacular...they do produce a nice selection of wines from dry to sweet. Everyone is sure to find something they will enjoy. Burnley offers a large indoor seating area along with a small deck outdoors for sipping wine on premises. Visited: 7/23/2007.  

Cardinal Point Winery - A welcoming staff greeted us as soon as we walked in the door of this Afton, Virginia winery. We were immediately invited to the tasting counter and were hosted by a very pleasant young lady. She was quite knowledgeable about the wines being poured and had plenty of interesting things to say. As we worked our way through the eight wines available for sampling, our hostess provided a very fun wine tasting experience.

I did sample two wines at Cardinal Point that pleasantly surprised me. They surprised me because I'm not really a white wine drinker, but I found both of these very nice. The first was the 2006 Riesling. It was pretty dry for a Riesling at only 1% residual sugar and had a crisp, refreshing finish. The second was their 2005 Viognier, which had a 2% residual sugar, but tasted sweeter. It was a unique version of Viognier made with this popular Virginia wine grape, and is one of the few Viognier wines that I've truly enjoyed.  

Even though the outdoor atmosphere wasn't as inviting and elaborate as we found at other area wineries, we did decide to stay for a glass of wine. It was getting late in the day and we wanted to sit down and relax for awhile. We had noticed a small shaded patio when we arrived, so we each ordered a glass of Viognier and headed outside. There was no one else on the patio so we were able to sit peacefully and sip our wine. One thing we hadn't noticed when we arrived was the gas grill sitting near the back of the patio. We assumed it was for the use of winery guests....and since it was nearing dinner time we found ourselves wishing we had a couple of steaks in the cooler we travel with.

Cardinal Point produces a short list of nice wines. We found the tasting room staff super friendly and they do offer a small patio for on-site consumption. Although we didn't watch, they also show a short video documenting the work that goes on behind the scenes. Visited: 7/21/2007. 

Chateau Morrisette Winery - WOW! (Visited by Invitation) We have visited several wineries that have a restaurant on-site. We often take advantage of this - not in hopes of a good meal - but for the sake of convenience. It's not often we find a winery with outstanding wine that offers a restaurant with superb cuisine...but the stars are in alignment over Chateau Morrisette. Our visit to this Meadows of Dan, VA winery was one of the best we've experienced. We're still talking about it...and after reading this review you'll know why.

It started when we received an email from Chateau Morrisette asking us to come and visit. At the time we didn't travel to Virginia, but after checking out the driving distance, we decided to expand our area. We picked out a few other Virginia wineries, made hotel reservations, and a few months later we were on our way. 

We had a 2:00 reservation for Sunday brunch, and pulled into Chateau Morrisette just a few minutes early. I'm glad we arrived early. It was Memorial weekend and the winery was packed. The parking lots were full and we had to park down a hill in the grass. We arrived at the restaurant right on time. The hostess asked for my name and told us that the winemaker would like to meet with us after our meal. She also asked if we would like indoor or outdoor seating. It was almost 90 degrees outside...but I still chose outdoor seating. Since this winery is along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was sure we would have a wonderful view. We were shown to our table and the view was indeed impressive. 

Our server came to the table to take our order, and we asked him what he suggested. He told us that the omelets looked especially fluffy that day and suggested the Filet Mignon served with a Cheese Omelet. We both said that would be fine. We also told him that we hadn't had a chance to sample any of the wine and asked what he recommended to go with our meal. He suggested the house Merlot and we each ordered a glass. As we sipped our wine, we talked about the wine list that had been on the table before we ordered. We were surprised that the Chateau Morrisette restaurant not only offered their own wines, but also wines from a few other Virginia wineries and wine from California. We decided that Chateau Morrisette must be pretty confident in their own wines in order to do this, and we began to get pretty excited about sampling after our meal.

Our meals arrived and the food was absolutely exquisite. Our Filet Mignons were seasoned perfectly and melted in our mouths. The cheese omelets were very fluffy and the small sprinkling of cayenne pepper was a wonderful touch. During our meal the winemaker, Dan Tallman, came to our table and introduced himself. He said he would love to meet with us when we were finished eating and asked if we would come to the tasting room when we were done and ask for him. We told him we would be there shortly and continued with our meal. It's a rare occasion when I finish every single bite on my plate...but I did this day. 

After our meal, we took the short stroll to the winery. A very friendly gentleman greeted us outside the door and invited us in for a tasting. We told him that we were supposed to ask for the winemaker and he ushered us right inside and told us he would let him know we were there. We browsed through their selection of gift items in the large tasting room...but only for a minute or two before the winemaker appeared. He invited us for a private tour and we followed him to the wine storage area. 

Dan Tallman was very personable and a pleasure to spend time with. He gave us a tour of the winery and spoke with us about the history of Chateau Morrisette and his own history as a winemaker in California...and now Virginia. After the tour he handed us a couple of glasses and treated us to a barrel tasting of several of their wines. Every wine we sampled was incredible. You can tell with every sip that much attention and pride go into the making our their wines. I was especially thrilled to receive a barrel tasting of Chateau Morrisette's Chambourcin (one of my personal favorite grapes). It was my first taste of a Virginia Chambourcin and I was quite impressed. We were also treated to a special sampling of their Traminette, which is yet to be released. It was so crisp and fresh. We loved it so much that he poured us a glass.    

After the barrel tasting, he took us out to the tasting room to sample a few of their other wines. This is where we sampled some of the sweeter varieties. Their sweet wines were some of the best we've had...especially the Red Mountain Laurel. Even though we were at a separate counter, we took some time to listen to a young gentleman conduct a tasting at the regular tasting counter. He was very charismatic and fun to watch. Everyone in the tasting room seemed to be having a great time. 

After our tasting, we purchased several bottles of wine for ourselves and a t-shirt for my son and loaded up the car. We also purchased a chilled bottle of the Red Mountain Laurel and went out to the patio to enjoy our surroundings a little more before heading to the hotel. We were having such a great time we hated for it to end, but the winery was closing.

Our visit to Chateau Morrisette Winery was extraordinary. The wine is wonderful, the food is fabulous, the scenery is gorgeous and the customer service is top-notch. If you're heading down the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, we highly recommend you stop by. We're already talking about going back for a second visit. Visited 5/28/2006Favorites: Red Mountain Laurel, Sweet Mountain Laurel and Chambourcin.

Davis Valley Winery - It was a foggy, misty morning when we were driving to this winery in Rural Retreat, Virginia. I was so thankful when the rain let up shortly before we arrived as we drove the long and winding gravel road to the top of the hill. At Davis Valley, the vineyards may be in the valley, but the tasting room certainly isn't. I was amazed at the wonderful view of the surrounding area from the entrance to the winery. I was hoping the fog would clear a bit more so we would have better visibility from our perch before leaving.

Once we entered the building, it took us quite awhile to reach the tasting counter. Davis Valley has a huge selection of gift items for sale that visitors have to walk past before they can do any tasting. I found myself stopping every couple of steps to get a better look at one of the products they had for sale. Approximately ten minutes later, we finally made it to the back of the room and up to the tasting counter. We were the only visitors there that day, so we had our hostess completely to ourselves. We had a very relaxed and informative tasting experience. Our hostess was fairly knowledgable about the wines were sampling. My favorite by far was the Corot Noir, a newly recognized variety of wine and Davis Valley Winery was one of the first wineries to produce it. A dark red wine with cherry aromas, but yet not overpowering. I loved this wine and I took some home with me that day.

Even though it wasn't even noon yet, I couldn't resist ordering a glass of wine and heading outside to the patio. I was hoping the mist had cleared up and we would have a wonderful view. My wish came true as we walked outside with our blush wine (the perfect wine for an overcast, but warm day). We sat on the patio, drank our wine and looked over the vineyards and the valley below. At one point a wayward camper made it to the top of the hill. They went inside to get directions and made their way back down. The patio at Davis Valley is a wonderful place to drink a glass of wine with a gorgeous view. Visited 9/11/2008.

Fincastle Vineyard & Winery - We visited this Fincastle, Virginia winery as soon as we were done eating breakfast. They opened at 10:00 a.m. and we needed to get an early start. We noticed the beautiful scenery surrounding the vineyard as we drove down the narrow drive toward the tasting room. We were hoping we wouldn't meet another car on our way down the road. We found the tasting room at the end of the road and drove up the gravel drive to the small parking area. There were no other cars in the parking area and it looked like it might be difficult to get out of, so we tried to park at a slight angle to make things easier when we were leaving.

The tasting room was a beautiful place to walk into. We were greeted immediately by a woman asking us if we would like to sample their wine. Fincastle only had three wines available: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a Chardonnay...and we sampled all three. We found all three to be very high quality wines. Gary even stated that their Chardonnay was the best that he had ever had. While we were sampling, six or seven more people walked through the door and we looked around their small gift area while we finished our last sample. A man had come in to help in the tasting room and when we went back toward the tasting counter, he asked us if we wanted to resample anything. We declined, but purchased a bottle of Chardonnay to take with us.

Since this visit was our very first visit to a Virginia winery, I was hoping to like Fincastle Vineyard more than I did. I think I would have liked it better if they had a slightly larger selection, but the three wines they did have were crafted with care. We could tell that much hard work and attention to detail went into the making of their wine and also the decor of the tasting room and the landscaping of the area surrounding it. I feel that there are many great things to come from this winery, we just happened to visit it in its infancy. Visited 5/27/2006. Favorite: Chardonnay.

First Colony Winery - WOW! We ventured into this Charlottesville, Virginia Winery on a Sunday afternoon not knowing what to expect. We had heard little about the winery, but decided to stop in because it was close to where we were staying. After our visit, I realized that if we would have had any expectations before we arrived, that First Colony Winery certainly would have exceeded them.

We found the tasting room tucked away down a long lane that passes by beautiful vineyards. First Colony is situated on a secluded piece of property with a gorgeous building and a nice outdoor patio and multi-level deck outdoors. When we walked into the spacious tasting room, we were able to step right up to the counter to begin our experience. A friendly young lady greeted us and gave us each a glass and a tasting sheet so we could take notes during our sampling.

We tasted through their entire selection of twelve wines. All of the First Colony wines were high-quality and very delicious...but there are a few I thought were especially wonderful and I would like to single out. 2004 Chardonnay (aged in both French Oak and stainless steel, this wine had a nice, crisp taste). 2005 Sweet Shanando (100% Vidal Blanc with a 4% residual sugar - great sipping wine). 2005 Rose (a dry rose made totally with Cabernet Sauvignon - a great lingering flavor and nice acidity). 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (soft tannins - very light and drinkable). 2004 Cabernet Franc Reserve (blended with a bit of Touriga and Tannat this wine has a wonderful chocolate finish). Claret (a Chambourcin-based blend - similar to Port and great with chocolate). 2004 1607 Red Dessert Wine (a rich wine with 9.5% residual sugar and flavors of cherries, figs and dates).

As we were tasting, we could look out the doors in the rear of the building and saw a wonderful, shaded multi-level deck on the edge of the woods. When we were finished we decided to take advantage of the deck and we each ordered a glass of wine (Gary chose the Sweet Shanando and I opted for the Rose). Our hostess told us to go ahead and take a seat outside and she would bring our wine to us. We found a cozy area on the lower level of the deck and we drank our wine while we nibbled on some cheese we had in the cooler in our car. It was so peaceful outside and there was a slight breeze blowing. It was so relaxing we hated to leave - but we had one more winery to visit before the end of the day.

Our visit to First Colony Winery was absolutely lovely. The wines are all first-class, the tasting room staff is knowledgeable and accommodating...and the property is gorgeous. We had an extremely pleasant tasting experience and we loved the outdoor ambiance they have created. I also purchased several bottles of wine to bring home and I'm looking so forward to drinking them. We highly recommend a visit to First Colony Winery when you're in the Charlottesville area. Visited 7/22/2007. Favorites: 2004 1607 Red Dessert Wine and Claret. 

Hickory Hill Vineyards - Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this country winery was once a cattle farm. Hickory Hill Vineyards makes its home in Moneta, Virginia, which is in the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake region in the southwestern part of the state. The lovely rural setting is a great place to relax and enjoy some Virginia wine.

We planned our visit to Hickory Hill so that it would be our last stop of the day. They were featuring live entertainment this particular evening and were staying open a little later than usual. We arrived about an hour before the entertainment began, hoping that they wouldn't be too busy and we could have a relaxed tasting. There were very few cars when we pulled in and we realized that our timing was perfect. When we entered the tasting room, there was only one other couple inside sampling the wines. We browsed around the small tasting room, signed the guest book, then approached the tasting counter. A very friendly woman hosted our tasting and we began sampling the wines of Hickory Hill. 

Our hostess offered a very relaxed tasting experience. I am a slow wine taster and hate being rushed through the wines. It was the perfect pace and we were able to ask questions about the wine and the winery while we sampled. The wine list was not too extensive, so we were able to sample all of their wines. Hickory Hill produces wines that I would classify as dry and semi-dry...but doesn't offer anything that I would consider sweet. We were told that they mainly produce wines that were marketable in the Smith Mountain Lake region...and most regular visitors preferred the dry wines.

When we finished our tasting, it was almost time for the entertainment to begin outdoors. We went outside, paid the cover charge, and purchased a bottle of wine to share. There was not a lot of seating available, so we decided to get our lawn chairs out of the trunk of the car and leave the seating for those that didn't bring their own. We found a nice shady spot and set up our chairs. The entertainment was a man singing with canned background music. He was kind of fun to watch and sort of reminded me of a Las Vegas lounge singer. It was a small crowd outside and they seemed like mostly area residents that visited Hickory Hill on a regular basis on the nights they offer entertainment. Some people had brought food with them. I was getting very hungry and wished that we had tucked some cheese and crackers in our cooler in the car. Hunger soon took over and we finished our bottle of wine and headed toward our hotel in search of a restaurant.

We had a relaxing visit to Hickory Hill Vineyards. The laid-back atmosphere and rural setting were enjoyable. With so many wineries closing at 5 or 6 o'clock, it was nice to find a winery offering some after-hours entertainment so that we could enjoy the evening hours. Visited 5/27/2006.

Horton Vineyards - This winery is located just north of Charlottesville in Gordonsville, Virginia and they have gained national success with their wines. You walk in through a small corridor, past the wine-related gift items and into their tasting room with cathedral ceilings. An L-shaped tasting counter sits in the corner. There is a second floor balcony overlooking the tasting room, where they have a second tasting counter, which they use on busy weekends. We visited on a Monday, so only the lower-level was open.

Being a Monday, it was a slow day for the winery and we had our own personal hostess throughout our tasting. She was a friendly young girl and she sat out glasses and chunks of cheese for us. Our hostess offered us a wine list consisting of 41 wines all free for sampling. I wondered if anyone had ever attempted to sample them all as I looked over the list deciding where to start. There was a vast range of wines....and with so many to choose from I wanted to make my choices carefully. 

I found some true winners in the choices I made and these are the wines I enjoyed the most. The Vidal Blanc was very light and fruity. The Stonecastle Blush I would classify as off-sweet and it was very tasty. The Eclipse Red (called their party wine) had just the right amount of sweetness. Although they couldn't tell me the grape blend, it reminded me a bit of Baco Noir. I love the Route 33 Red which was a very smooth, dry red. Horton is the only Virginia winery to produce a Pinotage and this wine deserves a big wow. The Tannat was a great dry red best for serving with a big, juicy steak. Their apple dessert wine is called Eden. It's not very "appley" and had wonderful honey sweetness. The Pear Port is also a winner. It has a 21% alcohol content, but doesn't taste like it does...which could be very dangerous.

What surprised me most about Horton Vineyards, is that they produce so many wines...and manage to do them all so well. I was extremely impressed with the quality and flavor of all the wines I sampled. I could have spent an absolute fortune here, because I wanted to take home just about every wine. We did limit ourselves to six bottles, but had a very hard time making the choices. Horton Vineyards receives high-marks from us on the quality and variety of wines they produce. Visited 7/23/2007. Favorites: Pinotage, Eden and Pear Port.

Jefferson Vineyards - There are two things that bring people to Charlottesville - American history and wine. When these two things come together...you get Jefferson Vineyards. The winery is located 1 mile from Monticello and the current vineyards are located on Thomas Jefferson's original 1774 vineyard site. With history playing such a huge role in these wines, we decided a visit to Jefferson Vineyards was a must when we were in Charlottesville.

On the road leading to the winery, we passed the historic Michie Tavern, Monticello, and then turned into the driveway. From the outside, the tasting room and grounds seemed nice enough...but I had envisioned something a bit more grand with the name "Jefferson" attached. The tasting room did boast a very nice shaded deck outside. Since it was our last stop of the day, we figured we would probably be making use of the deck before we left.

When we entered the tasting room, we found ourselves in a long room with a long tasting counter. We immediately went to the cash register to pay our tasting fee and walked over the the counter for sampling. A woman called out asking who still needed to sample and there were eight of us waiting. She cleared off a space for us and prepared for our group sampling (which seems to be the norm at Jefferson Vineyards).

Our host was an older gentleman. He attempted to add some humor to the tasting by quizzing us on how to pronounce some of the names of the wines. I felt a little sorry for one young girl that he singled-out to pronounce Viognier. She was struggling, and Gary nudged me hoping I would speak up and save her from embarrassment...which I did. Our host also told us that Jefferson Vineyards had nothing to do with Thomas Jefferson. I mentioned that I thought the vineyards were planted on Jefferson's original vineyards. He said that was true...but other than that...the winery had nothing to do with Thomas Jefferson. I thought the vineyard thing was a big deal and couldn't believe he swept the information to the side like he did.

In all we sampled approximately twelve of their wines that were available for tasting. The best part of the entire tasting was the friendliness of our fellow tasters. They were a nice group of new wine drinkers anxious to learn. They seemed to be watching Gary and I and they even started swirling and sniffing half-way through the list. When we had all stepped away from the counter, we told some of them about our website and they seemed excited about checking it out.

It was our last stop of the day and we had plenty of time...plus we wanted to take advantage of the deck...so we decided to get some wine and stay for a bit. Since we hadn't come across anything outstanding, we decided to splurge a little and order a bottle of the Late Harvest Vidal Blanc. It wasn't available for sampling, but we were pretty sure we would enjoy it. To our disappointment, they didn't have any chilled, so we each ordered a glass of the Terre Rouge and headed outside. There were very few people on the deck and it was shady and breezy...so we were able to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing glass of wine.

Though not one of the most fancy wineries in the Charlottesville area, it's still hard to pass-up a stop at Jefferson Vineyards. Tasting wines grown from grapes grown on the site of Thomas Jefferson's former vineyards does make one pause and think about the history of the land. For wine-lovers, it's worth the visit just so you can say you were there. Visited 7/22/2007

King Family Vineyards - Many factors combine on the grounds of this Crozet, Virginia winery. Winery, tasting room, polo matches, weddings...so many factors that I don't think the emphasis is on the wine tasting experience. I got the impression (in person and from their website) that so many big events are taking place, that those visiting the tasting room to sample wine have become an afterthought.

We arrived promptly at 11:00 a.m. - winery opening time on Sundays. It's a bit of a walk from the parking area to the tasting room entrance, and while we walked we were able to take in the gorgeous atmosphere. King Family has done a great job of creating outdoor atmosphere on the winery grounds. There's plenty of seating all the way around the tasting room on a covered porch. It's a wonderful, shady area with lots of hanging baskets. In the not-so-far distance, workers were readying the field for a polo match, which I was told takes place on Sundays. It would be a very enjoyable experience to sip wine on the porch while watching the horses and players.

We were the only tasters at the winery throughout our visit. I was very excited that we were the only people there - thinking we would be treated to a private tasting experience. We did have our hostess all to ourselves, but it wasn't the experience I had hoped for. Our hostess never once smiled, didn't really even talk to us, and told us nothing about the wines other than the name. She spent most of our tasting stocking glasses and talking on the phone. We were made to feel like intruders instead of customers. 

We tasted all of the approximately eight wines that were available for sampling. I didn't come across anything that stood out as extraordinary. I also thought the prices were a little high. I felt that I had sampled many better wines in Virginia that didn't cost as much. I was also disappointed that the one wine on the list that sounded interesting (Late Harvest Cabernet Franc) was sold out. It was a unique wine for the Charlottesville area and I would have loved to have sampled it.

Before leaving, we bought our customary bottle of dessert wine that we purchase when nothing tickles our personal fancy...the Loreley ice-style wine. Dessert wines make great gifts and it's always nice to have a few bottles on hand. Although the grounds are absolutely beautiful and they beckon you to stay - I was disappointed in our entire tasting experience. Sometimes you get lost in the shuffle at the bigger-name wineries...but I expected something more since we were the only customers there. Visited 7/22/2007.      

Oakencroft Winery - WOW! The residents of Charlottesville certainly have it made with such a wonderful winery close-by. I know if I lived in the area, I would be spending many an afternoon drinking wine by the beautiful lake and enjoying the peaceful surroundings. Oakencroft has been producing fine wines for over twenty years. These wines combined with the gorgeous outdoor environment and scenery make Oakencroft one of the best wineries in Virginia.

We arrived on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. I was immediately taken with the lovely grounds and large red winery building. As we passed by the sizable lake and got a good look at the tasting room, it seem to beckon us inside. Once we stepped outside the car, I stopped to admire the beauty all around me....the beautiful water and mountain scenery. I knew this was one place I wanted to stay for awhile and found myself hoping the wines were as wonderful as the scenery. 

As we stepped inside the tasting room, a very nice woman welcomed us and eagerly offered us a wine tasting. Our hostess was very knowledgeable about the wines and she was able to answer all of our questions. The tasting sheet consisted of a short list of seven wines, and we started with their Chardonnay and worked our way through all of them. They were are high-quality wines...but three I liked very much and would like to single-out. The Countryside White is a blend of Seyval and Vidal with crisp, citrusy flavors. It was very light and would make a great take-along on a summer picnic. I also loved the 2005 Petit Verdot - a light bodied dinner wine with just the right amount of oakiness. Last but not least, I enjoyed the Sweet Virginia - a blend of  Chardonnay and Viognier with a touch of Muscat for sweetness and perfect for a summer afternoon. I also saw on the tasting sheet that they have five more wines scheduled to be released before year-end. Their Chambourcin was being released in October 2007 and wish so much I had the opportunity to sample it. The Virginia wineries use this grape quite a bit for blending...but not many make a true Chambourcin and I'm sure it would have been a treat.

After our tasting, we asked for a chilled bottle of the Sweet Virginia and walked down to the lake where we found a couple of nice chairs. I was so glad that the drive from the previous winery hadn't taken as long as I thought and we found ourselves way ahead of schedule. It gave us plenty of time to enjoy our surroundings. We sat and watched the various water fowl and the big puffy clouds in the sky...which seem to be so much closer to us in Virginia than where we live in Ohio. It was a perfect afternoon and I could have stayed all day but we had to move on....two more stops to go. We re-corked the bottle and went inside to make purchases to take home. 

Oakencroft is everything that a winery should be. The winery produces a handful of quality wines with enough variety to please everyone. The tasting room is beautiful and spacious...and the staff is attentive and knowledgeable. The magnificent grounds are immaculate and the scenery lures wine-lovers outdoors to enjoy their purchases. Oakencroft Winery is certainly one of Virginia's best. Visited 7/22/2007. 

Peaks of Otter Winery - We have found over the years that a winery doesn't have to be big and fancy for a visit to be rewarding. Every winery is unique and special in its own way. This Bedford, Virginia winery doesn't offer elegant surroundings...but it does offer a very fun and interesting wine tasting experience.

Our timing was a little off and we arrived approximately 30 minutes before the winery opened. We decided that we would simply have to wait by the car until noon when we could go inside. A man was standing outside the tasting room when we pulled up and told us to come inside. I apologized that we were early. He said they were normally there around 11:00 a.m., but advertised that they opened at noon incase they were ever running late. He ushered us inside and asked where we were from. When we told him we were from Ohio, he announced to the woman who would host our tasting that some Yankees had come to taste wine. We found out a few minutes later that we had been chatting with the owner, Danny Johnson.

We walked over to the tasting counter to begin sampling the wines of Peaks of Otter. They had almost 30 wines available, and we ended up sampling every one. It was a bit overwhelming and I was afraid I was going to have a buzz before noon. They had some of the most interesting varieties available, it was hard to say no to any of them. The winery produces a few grape wines, but mostly wines made from other fruits. Some of the interesting varieties include Pucky Persimmon, Pumpkin Pie, Blushing Fig, Fine Apple-Pineapple, Cherry Cherry Cheesecake and Cinfulicious (apple cinnamon)...plus many, many others. I think the most unique wine we sampled was "Chili Dawg", which is 97% apple wine blended with 3% chili pepper wine. The whole tasting experience was fun and relaxed. Danny came over several times and offered colorful comments during the tasting process. I was glad when I didn't have the buzz I expected when we were through. The wines must not have an extremely high alcohol content.

Since we were ahead of schedule, we decided to stay and enjoy a glass of wine while we were there. I ordered a glass of Pear, while Gary ordered the Blue Ridge Mountain Grape. We went to the cash register to pay Danny, but he told us to enjoy ourselves and feel free to stroll the property and we could pay when we were finished. The winery is a working farm and orchard. We sipped our wine as we walked through the orchard and tried to identify some of the trees. It was a hot day and soon we wanted a cool spot. We found some seats on the porch of a side building and finished our wine there.

We went back to the tasting room and gathered up a few bottles of wine to take home. They were so friendly to us while we were paying for our purchases and gave us some more information about other wineries on their wine trail and a road map of Virginia. The people at the Peaks of Otter Winery do a wonderful job of making you feel comfortable. They welcome every visitor with open arms and treat their customers like family. A stop at this unique Virginia winery will certainly be a memorable experience that you shouldn't pass-up if you're in the area. Visited 5/27/2006. Favorites: Pear and Blue Ridge Mountain Grape Wine.

Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery - You don't have to go very far off the beaten path to enjoy a sampling at this Leon, Virginia winery. Prince Michel is located right off of a four-lane highway that runs between Charlottesville and Washington D.C. Though I do prefer secluded, country farm wineries...this winery is easy to find and a great destination for tourists eager to try their hand at wine-tasting.

Since this is one of the larger area wineries, we made the decision to visit on a Monday hoping we wouldn't run into a crowd. Our decision paid off - we were the only people in the tasting room when we arrived. The building is absolutely huge, with high ceilings, a spacious entryway and a large tasting counter. We noticed plenty of outdoor seating when we walked in - though I'm not sure about the view of the highway. There were lots and lots of gift items for sale and a self-guided tour of the winery available.

A nice young girl who was a college student working at the winery for the summer (but very knowledgeable about the wines) served as our private tasting hostess. She presented us with their list of over 20 wines and told us if we were visiting other wineries that day, that we shouldn't attempt to sample all of them. We had no intention of sampling 20 wines at 11:00 in the morning, and we went to work choosing which wines to try. We each chose 7-8 wines and had a very leisurely tasting experience. All of the wines we sampled were quite delicious and I was truly impressed with the quality. Prince Michel has been producing wines for 25 years and I can see why they have become one of the most respected wineries on the east coast.

Our hostess poured one extra wine for me that hadn't chosen to sample because she thought I might enjoy it - and I'm so glad she poured it. It was the Prince Michel Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in both French and American Oak, it's got a bit of spiciness and finishes with dark chocolate. A lot of Cabs are too heavy for me...but this one isn't overbearing and I found I liked it very much.

We enjoyed an exceptional tasting experience at Prince Michel. We were told that on weekends the visitors are packed wall to wall - so if you want the same type of experience we had - it would be best to visit during the week. You'll be treated to a complimentary sampling of wines in their upscale tasting room - and with so many varieties you're sure to find something you enjoy. Visited 7/23/2007. Favorites: Prince Michel Cabernet Sauvignon and Rapidan River Sweet Reserve White.  

Rockbridge Vineyard - Just beyond the cluster of wineries that surround Charlottesville, you will find this gem of a winery in Raphine, Virginia. Since we were traveling on the Interstate that goes right by Raphine, we decided to make a small detour and stop by Rockbridge on our way into Charlottesville. I'm so glad we did - because this winery is producing some fantastic wine.

Rockbridge is a true farm-winery with beautiful vineyards and a tasting room housed in a big red barn. We arrived on a Saturday morning shortly after the winery opened, and there were already several people at the tasting counter. Even though there were approximately eight people sampling, everyone received a personal tasting with the winemaker. He was working behind the counter a doing a wonderful job of informing everyone about his wines and keeping their glasses filled with a sample. The winemaker is a very pleasant man and he made our first winery visit of the day quite enjoyable.

We sampled over half of the 19 wines that Rockbridge produces and we found some real winners. They make a great Syrah Rose. The 2006 vintage is very dry, but very flavorful. I also loved the 2005 Traminette. This semi-dry has a wonderful fruity aroma with subtle floral notes. The 2005 Vignoles is amazingly unique and a bit tangy. I found the 2006 Rockbridge Pinot Noir delicious. It is light bodied with a great aroma and incredibly dry. I also liked the 2006 Jeremiah's - a Concord rose that is very light and tasty. The V d'Or, a Vidal ice-style wine reminded me of Canadian ice wine and it was out-of-this-world. We sampled the 2005 Norton, but also tasted a special sample of the 2004 Norton. These vintages were very different and I preferred the 2004. It was very light, not as peppery, and had a hint of spiciness. When our host told us there were only three bottles of the 2004 left, I immediately picked up one to bring home.

Our visit to Rockbridge Vineyard was awesome and I'm so glad we decided to stop by on our way into Charlottesville. The winemaker is doing some incredible things there and the service is excellent. You're sure to find several wines that you enjoy. The problem will be deciding which one to uncork and take outside to the lovely seating area by the vineyard. Visited 7/21/2007. Favorites: Jeremiah's and 2004 Norton.        

Rural Retreat Winery - This in-town winery is located in the small Virginia town of Rural Retreat. There didn't seem to be much parking available on the street, but there was a fairly large parking lot across the road. As we walked over to the charming little building I noticed a few small tables and chairs just outside the main entrance, but as far as I know that was the only outdoor seating available.

Once we walked inside, I truly thought we had walked into the wrong door. We seemed to be in what appeared to be a delicatessen and there were several people seated at the tables inside enjoying lunch. I was getting ready to ask where the winery was when I noticed a small tasting counter in the back of the room with enough space to accommodate 2-3 people. A gentleman came over to us and we told him we were there to do some wine tasting. He told us about his pricing and the complimentary glass that we could take home after our tasting. 

We sampled a handful of wines...a couple of which were pretty good. During the tasting I looked around and noticed some couches and various artwork. It was like the place was part deli, part restaurant, part winery and part living room. I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. While tasting we each found a wine we liked well enough to take home with us, so we purchased a couple of bottles and proceeded to the deli counter to buy some cheese. We actually ended up eating the sharp cheddar at our next winery stop and I must say the cheese was amazing.

Rural Retreat Winery doesn't offer much in the way of atmosphere, but the wines are worth stopping by to sample. I must highly recommend buying some cheese. I'm not sure where their cheese come from, but what we bought was one of the better cheeses we have found during our travels. Visited: 9/11/2008.

Villa Appalaccia Winery - WOW! It was our second day of wine touring in southwestern Virginia, and we had yet to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was time to see what all the fuss was about. The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway were incredible. Being from Ohio, we're not used to this beautiful mountain scenery. Signs are not allowed along the Parkway, so you're not going to just happen upon one of the wineries in the area...you have to be looking for them. We found the small road leading to this Floyd, Virginia winery. It was a small gravel road. I began to wonder if we were going to find anything at the end of it, but we certainly did. When we pulled into the drive, I took a few minutes to take in the beauty and splendor of this unique winery. I knew I was in Virginia...but I felt like I was in Italy.

The landscaping at Villa Appalaccia is extraordinary. There are beautiful plants and flowers everywhere, potted olive trees, statues, private tables tucked away in corners for sipping wine, a bocce ball court and a music garden. The tasting room is modeled after an Italian villa. I was very excited when we starting walking toward it. A friendly dog met us on the walk and led us through the archway to a covered open-air patio. The dog stopped there and found a cool place to lay on the patio and we entered the second doorway to the tasting room. A young lady greeted us and presented us with a tasting sheet. There is a fee to taste at this winery. One price to sample all seven wines and a higher price for the same sampling with a glass to take home. We opted for the lower price. We have so many glasses from our wine travels, we didn't feel a need to purchase any more.

It was time to begin sampling the Italian-inspired wines of Villa Appalaccia. Four or five other people had come into the tasting room right after we did, so our hostess set-up a tasting for all of us. She was very knowledgeable and told us about each wine as she was pouring them. I was particularly eager to sample their Sangiovese. I have developed quite a taste for wine made with this grape and I was anxious to try it. The Sangiovese had a wonderful, intense aroma. This dry wine was very smooth and felt wonderful in my mouth. It was my favorite of the red wines they offered. We both also loved the Lirico, a crisp and refreshing white made from Vidal Blanc.

We had planned on making our visit to this winery pretty short. We were going to do a tasting and go on our way...but we couldn't. It was so beautiful we didn't want to leave. We decided to purchase a chilled bottle of the Lirico and at least have a glass of wine before leaving. It was still early in the day, and we thought the Lirico was light enough for lunch time. We found a nice shaded table and sat down to enjoy the view. It was so peaceful and relaxing at Villa Appalaccia, we probably could have stayed all day. We sipped wine in our little private corner outside and watched visitors come in and out of the winery. It was a wonderful way to start our day.

If you live in southwestern Virginia or if you are visiting the area, we strongly urge you to visit Villa Appalaccia Winery. They produce some very nice Italian-influenced wines, and the grounds and the views are magnificent. They also offer picnic lunches for purchase, which would be the perfect way to spend your day...enjoying lunch, wine, and a gorgeous view. Visited 5/28/2006. Favorites: Sangiovese and Lirico.

West Wind Farm Winery - Visiting wineries through the week has a distinct advantage - sometimes we get the entire place to ourselves - which is exactly what happened at this Max Meadows, Virginia winery. The parking lot only had one car when we pulled in, and those visitors were leaving as we got out of the car. We entered the gorgeous building which was airy, sleek and modern. It had a nice tasting counter and plenty of gift items for sale. Our host for our visit invited us to the counter and we began our tasting. 

The winery produces a small selection (approximately 9 varieties) of high-quality wine. I love it when a winemaker tries not to do too much, but concentrates on a small number of wines and does them well. That's what we found at West Wind Farm and I was very pleased as we progressed through our tasting. We ended up sampling all of the varieties offered. I really loved the whites - especially the Pinot Gris. Gary liked the Galena Creek Peach most of all. 

After our tasting we each ordered a glass of wine and retreated to the lovely patio located on the side of the building. The patio offered a lovely view of the vineyards and a nice breeze was blowing that day. It was a nice, relaxing place to enjoy a glass of wine and we got some cheese out of the cooler in the car that we had purchased earlier in the day. I have to admit there's nothing like sipping wine next to a peaceful vineyard while the September breeze keeps the temperature perfect.

Before leaving I did stop in the gift shop and purchased a jar of a  Chambourcin Marinara sauce. I wish I had purchased more because the sauce was spectacular. I made stuffed shells with it when I had overnight guests and everyone absolutely loved the flavor!

West Wine Farm Winery offers a beautiful and spacious tasting room, a friendly staff, patio seating with a gorgeous view and some spectacular wines. And when you visit...don't leave without the Chambourcin Marinara sauce! Visited: 9/11/2008.

White Rock Vineyards and Winery - WOW! It had been a very long spring for us. There had not been much warm weather and we had been waiting for that perfect warm day to sit outside a winery and sip a wonderful wine. I think we wished too hard. When the warm weather finally came, it came with a vengeance this Memorial weekend with temperatures in the lower 90's. The heat didn't matter once we arrived at White Rock Vineyards and Winery in Goodview, Virginia. We had finally found that perfect moment that we had been waiting for.

There were few cars in the parking lot when pulled up to this small winery. We entered the door and walked up the stairs toward the tasting room. It was completely empty, but we noticed that we could walk out to the veranda from the tasting room. When we walked outside, we found an outdoor tasting counter. A few people were sampling wine and a few others were seated on the veranda sharing a bottle. We picked a spot at the tasting counter and one of the owners placed a few glasses out for us. She began leading us through a sampling of their five wines. White Rock produces two whites and three reds, all of which are magnificent. While we were sampling, we realized that a cool breeze was blowing across the veranda. Even though it was extremely warm out, it was quite comfortable. Our hostess told us that their veranda always seemed to have a breeze blowing and it was a great place to enjoy a glass of wine.

We decided that she had a wonderful idea, and purchased a bottle of Scarlet Sunrise, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Merlot. It had a remarkable flavor and was very light...perfect for afternoon sipping. She brought us our bottle and told us to help ourselves to the appetizers and desserts that they had available on a long table close by. They had planned on having a festival that day, but the band fell through. Nevertheless, they still had plenty of food available. I went over and made a small plate of appetizers for us, but I didn't want to ruin our dinner. We nibbled on our appetizers while we sipped our Scarlet Sunrise. The veranda looks out over the vineyard, and the view was fantastic. The combination of the perfect wine, wonderful view and cool breeze made it the moment we had been waiting for all spring.

White Rock Vineyards is a smaller Virginia winery, but it is a definite "must visit" on your wine travels. They produce quality wines...plus they have a fantastic view, a gorgeous veranda with plenty of white wicker seating, and southern appeal. Leave plenty of time for your visit, because you'll want to stay and enjoy their hospitality. Visited 5/27/2006. Favorite: Scarlet Sunrise.

Williamsburg Winery - Although this Williamsburg, Virginia winery is the only winery in the region, it is well-worth a special trip to the area. It's Virginia's largest winery and accounts for almost one-quarter of all wine produced in the state. There is a broad range of wine made here - wines sure enough to please those new to the world of wine as well as established wine drinkers. The area is rich with history, and the winery's setting of an Old World style village is the perfect backdrop for wine-tasting in Williamsburg.

The Williamsburg Winery has two options for tasting. The first is their regular guided tour and tasting of seven wines ($8.00 pp). The second is their reserve tasting which consists of a private tour, and a reserve tasting of approximately 15 wines in the wine cellar ($30.00 pp). Since this was the only winery we were going to be visiting on this entire trip, I decided to go all out and schedule us for a reserve tasting. I must urge everyone that this is definitely the way to go. Our experience began as we were seated with other visitors to watch a short video presentation on viticulture and winemaking. After the video, all those there for the regular tasting left for their tour, then we were led on a private tour of the vineyard, winery and wine cellar. Our tour ended in the candlelit wine cellar with a table filled with many regular and reserve wines, and a plate of various cheeses, crackers, breads, fruits and sweets to pair with the wines we would be sampling. It was a wonderful and informative experience...plus we had the opportunity to sample many wines that most visitors don't get the chance to taste. It was well worth every penny.

The tasting was long and relaxed. We were actually inside a caged area where all the oldest vintages were stored. The regular tour groups would pass by...the could see us - but could not enter. It was quite an extraordinary experience. I loved the wines I sampled here and I found the quality of their wines exceptional. Some of my favorites worth noting: the Dry Riesling (quite zippy), 2006 Barrel Aged Seyval Blanc, 2005 Acte 12 Chardonnay (wonderfully balanced), 2005 Vintage Reserve Chardonnay (very creamy and buttery), 2005 Lord Botetourt Red (mostly Cabernet Franc - spicy and smooth), 2005 Merlot Reserve and the Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Even though this is the only winery in the region, make plans to visit. The Williamsburg Winery offers a wonderful experience - plus the added bonus of so many other things to do while you're in the area. We visited Colonial Williamsburg, took a sailboat cruise, toured a naval base and spent a day on Virginia Beach while we were there. The winery also offers an onsite hotel and restaurant, so visitors can immerse themselves in the total wine experience. This winery is one of the largest...and one of the best in Virginia. Visited: 6/9/2008.

Wintergreen Winery - You know summer is in full swing when you approach a winery and find small groups of people picnicking, drinking wine and enjoying a beautiful day by a vineyard...and that's exactly what we found at this Nellysford, Virginia winery. We arrived on a gorgeous July afternoon and found a charming tasting room and many customers outdoors enjoying the fruits of the winemaker's labor. It was such a nice scene outside, we were anxious to find out what we would discover inside the tasting room door.

We walked into a cozy tasting room with a small tasting counter, a scattering of tables, and a gift shop. The counter was full of samplers (it would only accommodate about eight people), so we browsed the wall where the wine bottles are displayed for sale and checked out the selection. A woman behind the counter told us if we wanted to look around for awhile, we could come to the counter when the current samplers were finished. I took the opportunity to peruse the gift area, which held a great selection of gourmet treats and locally made food. I loved the Wintergreen Winery t-shirts that were available. They had some very unique shirts with their colorful logo prominently displayed.

After approximately 15 minutes, it was finally time for our tasting. Six other people had entered the winery since we had arrived, so we were all hosted to a group tasting. Because of this we were rushed through the sampling process a bit. Some of the people at the far end of the counter didn't want to sample many of the driest wines, so we were hurried through some of the first samples. I prefer to take my time so I can get the most from each sample and the group situation didn't work well for me.

Of their five whites, my favorite was the Thomas Nelson White. A blend of Vidal Blanc and Traminette, it had a floral aroma and I found it light and smooth. I also enjoyed the 2004 Brent's Mountain Merlot, which was very fruit forward and extremely smooth. Their Raspberry dessert wine is also well-worth mentioning. I liked the fact that the flavor wasn't overpowering...plus it tasted wonderful with chocolate.

Wintergreen Winery is a charming little winery not far off the Blue Ridge Parkway. They have one of the best selections of yummy gourmet edibles that we've come across at a winery in Virginia. They are located in a tranquil setting perfect for outdoor wine sipping and picnicking. You'll find a couple of nice wines on their list of approximately ten wines (predominantly dry). The tasting counter is a little small for the weekend traffic they receive, but the tasting room is quite cozy and pleasant. Visited: 7/21/2007.  


The Inn at the Crossroads
Nearly 20 Charlottesville area wineries within a 30-minute drive.
www.crossroadsinn.com