One of my favorite ways to spend a lazy summer weekend is to head to Virginia wine country for a quick weekend getaway! The beautiful rolling hills, quaint small towns filled with restaurants and antique shops, and countless wineries are just the antidote to hectic D.C. life. With so many vineyards to choose from, it can be a bit of a challenge to find the perfect wineries for your weekend. But don’t worry, with a few simple tips, you'll be prepped, packed and on your way in no time!
Hit A Local Wine Fest
If you aren’t familiar with Virginia wineries and want to learn more about them, start by heading to a local wine festival. I recently spent an afternoon at the Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival in downtown Charlottesville. With more than 22 wineries participating in the festival, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet the staff (including owners), ask questions, and taste LOTS of delicious Virginia wine. Make sure to bring a pen to take notes and pick up brochures from the wine booths you love to remember where to visit the next day. And hopefully this goes without saying, but make sure you have a safe ride back to your hotel after a day of wine tasting.
Spend A Day Wine Touring
Take a list of your favorite wineries you found at the wine festival the previous day and hit the road. Make a day of it by visiting two or three -- if you visit any more, the wine often begins to taste the same. Make sure to check to see if the wineries have food; some will actually do a food and wine pairing as part of your tasting. If they don’t, pack a picnic, bring a blanket, buy a bottle of your favorite wine and find a gorgeous tree to picnic under while enjoying the view.
If you can’t wait a year until the next Monticello Wine Trail Festival, here are nine of my favorite Monticello area wineries to get you started:
- Gabriele Rausse Winery
- Early Mountain Vineyards
- Blenheim Vineyards
- Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery
- Chestnut Oak Vineyard
- King Family Vineyards
- Lovingston Winery
- Reynard Florence Vineyard
- Pippin Hill Farm
Try grabbing a Homeaway, VRBO or Airbnb instead of a normal hotel. I find that I feel like a local when staying in a home, as I love to shop local farmers' markets and cook and relax, with a bottle of my favorite wine from the festival. If you are looking for the ultimate fun home getaway, book one of my absolute favorite places to stay in Scottsville, VA: The Barn At Woodhaven Farm. The farm is an actual working grass-fed beef farm set on 250 acres. The picturesque and newly constructed red barn is the perfect juxtaposition of rustic and chic with light, white and airy rooms, gorgeous hardwood floors, beautiful antiques, a game room with a pool table and a pond to go canoeing and swimming in.
End the day at the local brewery
My favorite way to end a day of wine tasting is with a nice cold local brew. Scottsville is home to the James River Brewery and they serve up a great selection of craft beers. While enjoying some live music in the back beer garden, plan your next trip back to visit the wineries you missed on your first trip. Happy tasting!
And remember, don't be a jerk in the tasting room!