Virginians have been making wine for over 400 years. Thomas Jefferson, referred to as the “Father of American Viticulture”, believed our soil, climate and location were well-suited for producing “as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly the same kinds, but doubtless as good”. A Virginia wine won gold at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1873. However, when Prohibition was implemented the Virginia wine industry died, and was slow to bounce back. Seventeen years after the repeal of prohibition Virginia only had fifteen acres of commercial wine grapes. During this time attention turned to the West Coast for winemaking.
The tide is turning. Since 1995 Virginia has seen wineries grow from 107 to 205, and receive recognition from notable wine enthusiasts. Recently, while tasting Virginia Wines Jancis Robinson commented that they were “thrillingly good”, and compared them to Bordeaux from the sub-region of Margaux.
Currently, 32 vineyards can be found within a 30-mile radius of the city. Here are several that we recommend:
A relative newcomer (1998), King Family Vineyards has made a name for itself as a producer of great wines and a beautiful location offering several notable events. You can watch a polo match on Sunday afternoons from memorial Day thru mid-October. During their "First Wednesday" event you grab a glass of your favorite King Family Vineyards wine and relax as the sun sets behind the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. You can find event details by clicking here. This Vineyard is 11.7 miles from our house.
Pippin Hill Farm is Charlottesville's newest boutique winery & vineyard offering a sustainable viticulture program, purpose-designed event venues and landscaped gardens and courtyards overlooking a pristine valley. This vineyard is 13.6 miles from our house.
Pollak Vineyards is a small family-owned winery founded in 2003 with the purchase of a 98-acre farm west of Charlottesville and Crozet, Virginia. Pollak has 27 acres of French vinifera used to make estate grown wine.
The Pollak tasting room and patio offer views of their vines, the pond and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a scenic setting to enjoy a glass of wine and some of the best of Central Virginia’s wine country.Their Final Friday Sunset Concerts are well attended. You can find event information by clicking here. Pollak is 14.6 miles from our house.
Planted in 1999 and nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Trump Winery is situated on a 1,300-acre estate just a few miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Ashlawn-Highland. Planted with nearly 200 acres of French vinifera varieties, Trump Winery is Virginia’s largest vineyard.Our house is 17 miles from Trump Winery.
While this vineyard is a 30-minute drive, it is well worth the trip for the incredible wine (In 2014, over forty world-class judges sampled over 400 of the best Virginia Wines. The 12 highest ranking wines were assembed into The Governor's Case. Baboursville Vineyards, had 3 winners in the Governors Case) as well as the vineyard's historical significance in Virginia viticulture. While here visit the tasting room and excellent Palladio Restaurant. You can take a walk among the ruins, and should you have a hankering for more history, James Madison's Montpeliar is only a short drive away.
For more vineyard options check out The Charlottesville Albemarle County Visitors Center's Winery page found here.
None of the wineries listed in this post offer shuttle services. However, there are 3rd party options we recommend. They are:
Enjoy your visit to our award-winning local wineries! We'd love to hear what you think, so leave us a comment about your tours, experiences and tastings.