Richmond, Virginia is undergoing a scrappy self-transformation, pivoting from second-tier burg of the South to a vibrant, creative-class community with a booming art scene, a revitalized city center and a cadre of envelope-pushing restaurants, where chefs like Jason Alley (Comfort, Pasture) are fast becoming leaders of the post-New South comfort cuisine movement. With its proximity to Charlottesville—a major hub of Virginia’s wine producers—Richmond’s passion for the vine is evident in its eclectic selections and its growing crop of wine bars. If you find yourself in the Commonwealth’s capital, these spots are sure to please even the most discerning oenophile.
Located in the hipster neighborhood of Carytown, this casual haunt features a cork countertop, shopworn floors and a chalkboard packed with New and Old World wine flights. Its smattering of Virginia offerings include the must-try Barboursville 2010 Reserve Viognier. While you sip, indulge in the local charcuterie and cheeses, and enjoy the people watching through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Italophiles will relish Enoteca Sogno’s list, which is laden with big-name bottles like Azelia’s 2001 San Rocco Barolo and Uccelliera’s 2004 Brunello di Montalcino, offered at wallet-friendly prices. Owner Gary York updates the by-the-glass menu often, and includes exciting selections from Italy’s lesser-known regions like Sardegna and Lazio. Make it a point to probe York’s encyclopedic knowledge of producers. He’s happy to rattle off factoids and colorful anecdotes about seemingly any Italian winemaker.
Plush couches, flickering votives and an amber-colored backlit bar set the tone of this swanky space (above), where contemporary tunes by artists like Adele play. The 250-bottle wine list caters to a variety of palates, and features notables like Quintessa’s 2006 Meritage from the Napa Valley and Taittinger’s NV La Française Champagne. Maximize your tasting by choosing one of the house flights, which have titles like “Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles” and “The French Connection.”