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Where to Eat and Drink in Virginia Wine Country

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the area around Charlottesville, Virginia has emerged as a wine destination with a booming food scene. Here's where to spend your weekend eating and drinking.

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Photo: Andrea Hubbell Photography

The Monticello Wine Trail

In the last decade, central Virginia has emerged as a wine destination. The small city of Charlottesville — long known for its historic charm and the University of Virginia campus founded by Thomas Jefferson — is now surrounded by gorgeous wine country and a burgeoning food scene bolstered by local farms and producers. Here’s our guide to a weekend of eating and drinking your way through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the beautiful Monticello Wine Trail. 

 

Photo courtesy of Andrea Hubbell

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The Standard-Bearer: Barboursville Vineyards

In 1976 an Italian winemaker transformed the historic plantation of James Barbour (a former Virginia governor) into a vineyard, despite recommendations that he’d be better off planting tobacco. We’re glad he ignored that advice. In the 30-plus years since, Barboursville has set the stage for Virginia wine. Octagon, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, is the winery’s crown jewel. It has received a slew of awards and appears on many top restaurant wine lists. Though you won’t get to sip Octagon with Barboursville’s $7 tasting, you will be able to try more than a dozen current vintages, so pace yourself! Spring for the $20 library tasting on weekends to try select vintages of more limited supply paired with house-cured charcuterie and local cheeses. 

 

Photo courtesy of Barboursville Vineyards

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Photo: Andrea Hubbell Photography

Spend the Day: Early Mountain Vineyards

Pull up to Early Mountain and you’ll immediately see why this picture-perfect estate is a favorite local wedding venue. The plush, comfortable tasting room is almost as enjoyable as a seat on the terrace, overlooking a historic barn and the rolling vineyards. Settle in and enjoy a full lunch or dinner as you taste your way through Early Mountain’s portfolio, or sample a full range of the Virginia wine country — owners Jean and Steve Case promote the Monticello Wine Trail with a curated selection of labels from across the region. Chef Harrison Keevil of Charlottesville’s Brookville Restaurant consults on the menu of fresh salads, housemade flatbreads and hearty sandwiches, so if you want to experience some of the area’s best wine and have a great lunch all in one stop, Early Mountain is a good choice.

 

Photo courtesy of Andrea Hubbell

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Wine and Horses: King Family Vineyards

Truly family owned and operated, this stunning winery came to be because of patriarch David King’s love of polo. When he decided to relocate his family from Texas to rural Crozet, Va., in 1996, he wasn’t even thinking about wine — he sought a farm with 12 acres of flat land to accommodate polo grounds. Today that polo field is surrounded by acres of Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grapes, producing 10,000 cases of wine per year. Although David, his wife, Ellen, and their three sons have become fully immersed in the wine business, polo is still a big part of the Kings’ lives. Every Sunday afternoon from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October, tasting room guests can catch a polo match while enjoying King Family wine field side. 

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