A travel guide to Virginia's wine country
If you're looking for a relaxing weekend in wine country but can't afford a trip out West, book a few days away in one of the country's largest (and quite unknown) wine regions — Virginia!
Despite being in the top five largest wine-producing states in the country, Virginia is often overlooked in the wine world. However, that is quickly changing. Virginia is now home to over 220 wineries and has 6 AVAS, plus it was just named one of the top 10 wine destinations in the world by Wine Enthusiast for 2012. With big names like Trump buying property in the cozy VA wine country, you know this vast region of vineyards won't stay hidden for much longer. To experience the beauty of Virginia wine country, we've rounded up the best places to taste, stay and eat!
Where to taste
Begin with Blenheim Vineyards in Charlottesville, owned by Dave Matthews. The Painted Red is a crowd favorite for the taste and the unique bottle. The tasting room is lined with timber and is dog friendly, plus the tastings are cheap, only $5. A visit to Trump Winery while in Charlottesville is a must. The 900-acre winery is home to many award-winning wines, like the SP Blanc de Blanc, which has won 9 awards. The tasting room offers breathtaking views and offers tastings for a competitive $8. Located about 25 miles north of Charlottesville is Barboursville Vineyards, which just won the coveted Virginia Governor’s Cup for the 4th year in a row for their Bordeaux blend, Octagon. Their tastings only cost $5 and for the wide selection of award-winning wines you try, it's quite the bargain.
Another top winery stop is Sunset Hills Vineyard, located in Purcellville. This winery, just voted the best winery in the state by Virginia Wine Magazine, has a stunning view from their two-story barn tasting room. Their Cab Franc and Viognier are top sellers and have won multiple awards. They also have a monthly "be a winemaker" event where you can blend and drink your own vino. Another winery to see is Breaux, also located in Purcellville. They are known more for their whites, but their Cab Franc is winning accolades (and mentions in Wine Enthusiast). Tastings are $10. Another must visit is Barrel Oak in Delaplane. Their BOW red wine recently won the best red wine in the state by Virginia Wine Magazine. Tastings are $11 but you get to try 11 wines.
Where to stay
If you're in Middleburg, stay at the Goodstone Inn & Restaurant. Goodstone is located within driving distance to over 30 wineries, including Sunset Hills and Barrel Oak. They have 18 rooms located in six individual residences, so it feels more like a private home than a hotel. Their restaurant is top-rated and features farm-to-table cuisine and a very extensive (25 pages) wine list. If you're in the Barboursville area, stay at The Inn at Meander Plantation. Their historically elegant rooms start at $185 a night and they have suites and cottages to choose from. A big selling point for them is their relationship with a wine tour group, which will pick you up from Meander and take you to 3 or 4 wineries in the area, including Pearmund Cellars and Barboursville. They also have a top-rated restaurant with a truly spectacular wine list.
Where to eat
One can only eat so many palate-cleansing crackers. If you're in Leesburg, stop by the Wine Kitchen, which opened just a few years ago. It was voted one of the top 50 restaurants in Virginia by Northern Virginia Magazine and was named one of the best new restaurants by the Washingtonian. Their food is simple and elegant, with most of the dishes being locally sourced by Virginia farms. Order the charcuterie platter to start, and the Coq au Vin for your main course. They also do "flights of wine," so you can try a few different wines at the same time. A little further south in Charlottesville is The Clifton Inn Restaurant. Their menu changes daily but you can expect to find innovative twists on comfort food like chicken liver terrine and more robust dishes like perfectly seared sweetbreads or braised chicken thighs.