Get Away: Charlottesville Wineries

Forget Napa—make a day of the Monticello Wine Trail.

The view from Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards (Photo by Eliza Berkon)

Arlington’s got some breweries, and even a nearby distillery, but you can also find a slew of wineries within a relatively short drive. Case in point? Charlottesville—home to the University of Virginia and the estate of former President Thomas Jefferson (himself a vintner), the city is also known for its wine.

The Monticello Wine Trail claims some 35 wineries in and around Charlottesville. While I may not have the time (nor the liver) to try each one on a given day, I recently made it to three and have this to report:

A lounge and dining area at Hill Farm & Vineyards (Photo by Eliza Berkon)

First, it should be stated that a number of transportation options exist to make winery-hopping easy and safe (not to mention fun if you’re traveling with a big party). I tried Wish Wish Wine Tours with a group of friends and enjoyed the ability to pop on my own winery playlist and sip complimentary water while chatting with the knowledgeable driver.

Our first stop was Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, a North Garden property affording breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inside, the tasting room is something out of a fabulous romantic comedy—perfectly coiffed guests in floral dresses nibbling on deviled eggs and burrata & heirloom tomato salads at rustic wood tables beside sun-dappled French doors. Tastings come in two varieties: classic ($10 for five 1-ounce pours of select wines) or reserve ($15 for five 1-ounce pours of specialty wines). And for those who hate to drink on an empty stomach, there are plenty of shared and small plates available, including a smoked fish board and grilled catfish tacos (plus a more formal meal option, complete with wine pairings, arranged through The Vintner’s Table).

Photo courtesy of Veritas Vineyards & Winery

After partaking of more than a few snacks, our party moved on to Veritas Vineyard & Winery, which sports an ample great room rich with the fragrance of its oak-burning fireplace. The environs at this Afton locale are less formal than Pippin, more similar to a ski lodge than a film set. Tastings are also a bit more affordable, offering samples of seven varietals for $10. Light fare (olive board, turkey panini) is available at the on-site Terrace, as well as an oft-updated four-course option (think vichyssoise and striploin filet) at their nearby bed and breakfast, The Farmhouse at Veritas.

A tasting room at King Family Vineyards, which features an array of snacks to pair with your wine. (Photo by Eliza Berkon)

And King Family Vineyards in Crozet is a nice place to wrap up a day of drinking; it feels homey, with touches of Americana in its tasting room, an immense antler chandelier and pillows adorned with pet portraits. Their tasting menu, $10, features five wines, including their cleverly named “crosé.” (Rosé from Crozet, get it?) While their food menu is limited to small bites, guests are allowed to bring in outside food. And for Southern decor to bring back home, take a peek at their gift shop as you stroll back to the wine bus.

Categories: Travel