Virgins in Virginia!
My husband and I are on a summer adventure. We’re taking five weeks going up and down the east coast, tasting a bunch of wine and beer along the way. Neither of us had ever been to Virginia Wine Country before (we were calling ourselves Virginia Virgins!), so we decided on this region as our first wine stop!
The Monticello AVA is located around Charlottesville, VA (home to the University of Virginia). The area is absolutely gorgeous. I kept imagining that it looks like Napa may have looked 50 years ago!
We made the small town of Afton our home base. We spent 5 nights at a cozy cottage in the middle of the wooded mountains that I found on VRBO. We then spent another 4 nights at the Cottages at Afton Mountain Vineyards. The views here were spectacular. I loved sitting on the deck before dinner with a glass of bubbly and looking at the vineyards and the Blue Ridge Mountains!
There are a lot of wonderful wineries located nearby. I’m going to tell you about a few of our favorites!
Pollak Vineyards – Pollak Vineyards has a beautiful tasting room and beautiful grounds. They also have a great Cab Franc! My favorite thing about this winery??? They’re dog friendly! We had a great tasting with Adam. After we found out they like dogs, we enjoyed a bottle on their deck with our furry kids! http://www.pollakvineyards.com
Barboursville Vineyards – We opted for their Library Tasting, where we sat in front of a huge window that overlooks breathtaking views of their vineyards (pictured in the featured photo above) and the historic Barbour Mansion Ruins. This is another gorgeous spot, located about an hour from Afton on the other side of Charlottesville. Their Bordeaux blend (called Octagon) is excellent! Their other wines are wonderful too! I highly recommend this experience and their fabulous wines! https://www.bbvwine.com
Michael Shaps Wineworks – We tasted with Michael Shaps’ delightful daughter Hanna (who seems to love cheese as much as her father loves wine!). Many people in the Virginia wine world credit Michael Shaps with being a true goodwill ambassador of the region. Not only did he work for several area wineries after studying in Burgundy (where he also has Maison Michael Shaps, in Meursault!), but after starting his own winery also helps a lot of other wineries in the area. His story reminds me a bit of Robert Mondavi’s influence in Napa! The Michael Shaps wines are on the top of my list for the trip! http://www.michaelshapswines.com
Afton Mountain Vineyards – As I mentioned above regarding the cottages, the property is spectacular! Their wines are good too, especially the Cabernet Franc. Quinn helped us out in the tasting room and did a great job. They have a dog friendly patio area, so we headed down with a picnic lunch and enjoyed a bottle of their Cab Franc. Since we were staying there, we did the same thing the next day! We so enjoyed the beautiful views of the vineyards and the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to look into their cottages! You can find them on THEIR website or through Stay Charlottesville! http://www.aftonmountainvineyards.com http://www.staycharlottesville.com/vacation-rentals-homes.asp?cat=9644
This area of Virginia also knows how to make beer!!! Blue Mountain Brewery is located very close to both spots we stayed. They have so many nice beer options, why not try a flight as pictured below? They also have a great food menu! Whether you’re a meat eater or a vegetarian, you’ll find plenty of things to eat! http://www.bluemountainbrewery.com
Another fun little tidbit about the area is King’s Gourmet Popcorn. We stayed in Afton for ten days, and in our travels we kept passing a little popcorn stand called King’s Gourmet Popcorn. On our way out of town heading north, we decided we had to try it. We bought a large bag of the Cajun White Cheddar and a small bag of the Caramel Kettle Corn. Good stuff indeed. I can see why they get such great reviews on TripAdvisor! http://www.kingsgourmetpopcorn.com
So … if you’re in the mood for wine, beer OR popcorn … Afton, Virginia is a great spot to be! The scenery is fabulous and the people are the best!
Take it from a former Virginia Virgin, don’t hesitate putting Virginia on your list of must visit wine regions!