Virginia, United States

Historically significant sites, picturesque pastoral landscapes, elegant equestrians and affable winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination on the East Coast.


Virginia, United states

Historically significant sites, picturesque pastoral landscapes, elegant equestrians and affable winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination on the East Coast. With six AVAs  and nearly 200 wineries to explore in every part of the state, a comprehensive visit is nearly impossible. Luckily, visitors can begin their Virginia wine journey in Washington, D.C., and take in terrific wineries, historic inns, outdoor activities and mouthwatering meals via scenic drives through Loudoun County and Charlottesville.

Where to taste:

At North Gate Vineyard, the solar-powered, LEED Gold-certified winery building features a wheelchair-accessible tasting room and live music. The Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville boasts spectacular mountain and sunset views. It offers affordable tastings ($7 for seven wines) and monthly “Winemaker for a Day” events that let novices blend their own wines. Celebrated rocker Dave Matthews owns Blenheim Vineyards, a scenic Charlottesville winery, and designs the labels of the wines created by Winemaker Kristy Harmon. The timber-frame tasting room is dog-friendly and located just five miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Visitors to Charlottesville should consider a stop at the Trump Winery—formerly the renowned Kluge Estate and Vineyards; the tasting room features an outdoor terrace where guests can sample wines while taking in 900 acres of scenery.

Prominent wine varieties:

Virginia is well-known for producing voluptuous Viognier and food-friendly, Bordeaux-style blends. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown in abundance, along with Petit Verdot and Merlot.

Where to dine:

Local cheeses and meats are the focus at The Wine Kitchen, a convivial wine bar with themed flights (such as “Pinot Envy”). Set in a restored 19th-century grain mill in Old Town Leesburg, the rustic Tuscarora Mill offers local ingredient-packed dishes, 14 beers on tap and a 2,000-bottle cellar. Vintage, in the gorgeous Inn at Willow Grove in Orange, offers Southern specialties with a global twist.

Where to stay:

On the premises of the gorgeous Barboursville Vineyards is the 1804 Inn, a restored 19th-century estate and Palladio, the vineyard’s Italian eatery. The 265-acre Goodstone Inn and Estates, with roots dating to 1768, is located near 30 wineries, and offers a fine restaurant and luxurious plantation-style accommodations.

Local in-the-know:

Rachel Martin, executive vice president of Boxwood Winery, says: “The Middleburg area is rich with agriculture. Regional specialties flourish
under Chef Tarver King at Ashby Inn where local food and wines mix perfectly.”

Other activities:

Tour the plantation at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, take a horseback riding lesson or get lost in 500 miles of trails at Shenandoah National Park.

Budget tip:

October is Virginia’s “Wine Month,” with free or low-cost wine festivals, barrel tastings and harvest parties.

When to go:

While wineries are open year-round, stunning fall foliage makes autumn a prime time to visit.

Blenheim Vineyards:
The Inn at Willow Grove:
The Wine Kitchen:
North Gate Vineyard:
Shenandoah National Park:
Sunset Hills Vineyard:
Tuscarora Mill:

Additional Wineries to Visit:
Boxwood Estate Winery
With its state-of-the-art, modern barrel room and gorgeous grounds, Boxwood is a must-visit. Run by the family of former Redskins owner John Kent Cooke, the 16-acre vineyard produces estate-bottled Bordeaux-style blends (renowned French winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt consults). Call ahead to schedule a tasting and tour.

Tarara Winery
Located on the banks of the Potomac River, this scenic, 475-acre vineyard in the Catoctin foothills offers visitors a stunning setting in which to taste their single-vineyard wines. Don’t miss Tarara’s top-seller, Viognier.

Must-Try Restaurants:
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
It doesn’t get more farm-to-table than at this restaurant. Rustic American cuisine—featuring organic produce from Patowmack Farm—is served in a window-filled space overlooking the Potomac River and pastoral grounds.

Goodstone Inn and Restaurant
Chef William Walden’s earthy but refined French food wins wide acclaim and the lengthy wine list has many local Virginia selections. Favorite dishes include Duck L’Orange and a Wild Mushroom Crepe (with shiitake, hedgehog, oyster and hen of the woods mushrooms) drizzled with truffle sauce.

Try this classic Virginia recipe:

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb

The restaurant at the Goodstone Inn in Middleburg—the heart of Virginia’s wine country— is renowned for elegant French-inflected fare, seasonal ingredients and local wines in a historic dining room. This recipe from Chef William Walden showcases tender Colorado lamb and herbess de provence.

For the chapelure:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of herbes de provence
Salt and cracked pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Coleman’s Mustard
Dash white wine

For the lamb:
2 French cut lamb racks (preferably organic or Colorado, about 28 ounces each)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1½  tablespoons pepper, divided
½ tablespoon thyme
½ cup tablespoon Coleman’s Mustard
½ cup chapelure
Mint or rosemary sprigs, for garnish

To prepare the chapelure:
Add the extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic to a skillet and cook until fragrant. Remove at once, reserving the oil. Add the oil to the breadcrumbs and mix by hand or with a wooden spoon and season with herbes de provence. Lastly, add a little salt and freshly cracked pepper to the crumbs, then add Coleman's Mustard with a splash of white wine, just enough to make a smooth consistency, and whisk.

To prepare the lamb:
Season the lamb racks with 1 tablespoon each sea salt and pepper on both sides. Rub in ½ tablespoon of thyme and ½ tablespoon additional black pepper. Brush the racks with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. 
Sear in a hot skillet loin side down until browned nicely. Brush with the Coleman's Mustard and then coat the rack(s) generously with the chapelure. Roast at 450°F for about 8 minutes for medium-rare. Let the rack rest for about 4 minutes until carving. “I prefer to use 26–28-ounce racks as there is a larger eye and tend to be more flavorful…especially domestic lamb from Colorado,” says Chef William Walden. Garnish with mint or rosemary.

Chef Tips:
This dish would pair well with ½ cup seasonal vegetables, with the lamb served over a bed of creamy polenta with Swiss chard and bacon. If you have lamb jus or rich veal stock on hand, drizzle over the lamb and garnish with mint or rosemary.

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Reader Comments:
Dec 30, 2011 01:39 pm
 Posted by  daninvirginia

What about Chateau O'Brien (the best of VA Wine), Winery at La Grange, and Barboursville? Truly, they are missing from your list.......

This has been flagged
Jan 4, 2012 11:37 am
 Posted by  virginiawinebyjoan

What about Veritas, Afton, VA
Great winery, wonderful tour, wine tasting. Excellent white and red wines.

This has been flagged
Jan 4, 2012 04:46 pm
 Posted by  local local

Y'all must add DuCard Vineyards to the list, as most beautiful, at the end of a road way out-back overlooking Shenandoah National Pk. Got to be the friendliest staff too and yeah wines are great.

Jan 4, 2012 04:47 pm
 Posted by  GeekingandDrinking

What about the southwestern wineries as well? Chateau Morrisette and AmRhein both have award winning wines and are incredibly popular.

This has been flagged
Jan 5, 2012 09:20 am
 Posted by  Weekend_Oasis

Consider staying at local rental cabins in the Shenandoah Valley.

This has been flagged
Jan 5, 2012 10:05 am
 Posted by  andwyn1964

Without a doubt, Keswick Hall just outside Charlottesville is a must-do for lodging,dining and wining!!!! Voted by Conde Nast as N. America's #1 small hotel and resort two years in a row.

Jan 5, 2012 04:13 pm
 Posted by  poplar

You have missed Poplar Springs Inn and Spa. Sitting in the midst of Virginia Wine Country with all the amenities to satisfy ones wonderful Va Wine Country vacation.

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Jan 5, 2012 08:14 pm
 Posted by  SpeedySteve

I also recommend the Loudoun county wineries; Chrysalis, Zephaniah, Casanel, and Notaviva. Stafford's Hartwood has a Cabernet Sauvignon to die for (2008), and their Rapahannock Red is an excellent quaff. Whitehall, northwest of Charlottesville has never made a bad bottle of wine -- especially their chardonnay -- which can be iffy in Virginia. Glass House is new, beautiful, and has a killer barbera, and chocolates that rival Godiva's. Fauquier County has 24 wineries, and I like Rogers Ford in particular. Narmada, near Little Washington, has a decent Indian lunch, and some imaginative blends.

There are many more I'd like to visit, and most wineries produce at least one good wine. Many produce more.

I've found that Virginia's cabernet francs and merlots are usually better than those produced in California. So, take that Sideways!

Jan 6, 2012 12:25 pm
 Posted by  notaviva

Be sure to check out Notaviva Vineyards! The world's most original winery brand, each of our wines is paired with a musical genre or lyrical inspiration. Our goal in the founding of our vineyard is to capture the feelings that music can create and put it in our wines. Be it joy or sadness, we endeavor to create wines that will connect our patrons with their occasions. "Vincero" Viognier is best paired with acoustic guitar rock and the "Cantabile" Cabernet Franc is best paired with string quartets.

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Jan 7, 2012 07:09 pm
 Posted by  VineBuzz

I attended the 2011 winebloggers conference in Charlottesville, tasted many of the fine wines from all over the state, and thoroughly enjoyed visiting many of the nearby wineries, as well as speaking with many of the winemakers at the conference. At the same time, I'm not entirely convinced that I myself would prefer to tour wineries in Virginia over British Columbia, Oregon, New York, or Washington States where the natural beauties are unquestioned and a larger number of internationally recognized wineries have received a greater number of accolades than Virginia. I still love Virginia, but I am not convinced of the Wine Enthusiasts choice.

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