These are Some of the Best Wineries in Charlottesville to Visit
Virginia’s state slogan, “Virginia is for lovers,” might be missing a word: Wine. The state has over 300 wineries producing increasingly high-quality bottles. Many are eager to welcome tasters.
Two regions in Virginia are particularly popular with visitors. In the north, just an hour outside of Washington DC, is Loudoun County. If you’re looking to explore that region, it’s covered in this Loudoun Winetraveler’s guide.
In the south is the Monticello AVA, which surrounds the small city of Charlottesville. This might be the most historically significant wine region in the United States – it’s where Thomas Jefferson attempted to grow grapevines. He was unsuccessful, but thanks to modern understanding of grape growing, many wineries in the area are now proving that it can be done extremely well.
Where To Stay in Charlottesville
Charlottesville is (quite conveniently) located right in the middle of the wine region. Many of Charlottesville’s shops and restaurants are located on or around the picturesque Downtown Mall, so it’s a good idea to stay nearby. You can browse a number of boutique hotel options in the area.
Our personal favorite is always a stay at The Inn at Stinson Vineyards, if you’d prefer to stay in the Monticello wine region and not in Charlottesville proper.
Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s former home, is just outside of town. Make sure to pre-book your ticket and give yourself at least 2-3 hours to enjoy the house, the grounds, and the views over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Beneath the house, you can see the cellars where Jefferson’s wines were bottled and stored.
Visiting Wineries Near Charlottesville
Most wineries in the region are offering tasting flights and guided tastings. These can be good fun – you can enjoy the tasting at your own pace, and staff are on hand to answer any questions. Another safe and fun option is to hire a private driver and design a custom tour of the region to avoid crowds and ensure you explore the region to its fullest.
Many wineries also allow you to bring your own picnic, which you can enjoy with a glass or bottle of their wine in the vineyard. It’s best to check the winery website or call in advance in case advanced bookings are required.
Best Wineries to Visit in the Charlottesville Area
West of Charlottesville
King Family Vineyards
King Family Vineyards is set on an impressive 330-acre estate, just 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville. It offers a range of tasting options starting at $10 per person, or you can buy wine by the glass or bottle.
The Crosé Rosé (named after the nearby town of Crozet) is also a delight in the sun. It’s available both in cans and bottles.
As well as a vineyard, the estate is also home to a polo field. Matches are played on Sundays between Memorial Day and mid-October and are free to attend.
Stinson is just ten minutes from King Vineyards, north of Crozet. It specializes in small-batch wines – they’re made in a converted garage – from classic French varieties like Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
The exception is its skin-contact wine, Wildkat. It’s made with Rkatsiteli (pronounced R-kat-si-teli), a Georgian grape variety that was brought to Virginia by Horton Vineyards. It’s zesty, textured and delicious – make sure you taste it.
Check opening hours, and make sure to book online before you visit. Seating options are more limited than at some of the bigger wineries – but you’ll enjoy being nestled among the vines.
Veritas Vineyard & Winery
Situated just 20 minutes west of Charlottesville, Veritas Vineyard & Winery offers an exceptional wine tasting experience in the heart of the Monticello Wine Trail. The picturesque estate features a warm and welcoming tasting room, where you can sample their award-winning wines while enjoying the stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Veritas is known for producing high-quality wines, with a focus on varieties such as Viognier, Petit Manseng, and Cabernet Franc. Their flagship wine, the Veritas Merlot, is particularly popular among visitors for its rich flavor and smooth finish.
The winery hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including their Starry Nights concert series, which takes place during the summer months. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and picnic baskets to enjoy an evening of live music, wine, and good company under the stars.
Additionally, the on-site restaurant, The Farmhouse at Veritas, offers a farm-to-table dining experience, with dishes carefully crafted from locally sourced ingredients. The intimate setting and elegant atmosphere make it an ideal spot for a romantic dinner or a memorable evening with friends.
Reservations for tastings and events are recommended, as the winery can get busy, particularly during the peak season.
East of Charlottesville
Early Mountain Vineyards
Early Mountain Vineyards is a little further out of town (around 40 minutes) but is worth the drive. The property is owned by the Case family of AOL fame, who have clearly invested generously in all aspects of the property – including the modern tasting room.
Tasting flights here are a little different. It’s common for them to feature wines from other quality producers, such as RdV, Veritas, Ox Eye, Michael Shaps, Lightwell Survey and others. This makes it a great place to explore and understand Virginia wines more broadly, especially if you don’t have time to drive to other parts of the state.
Early Mountain’s own wines are worth paying attention to also. Their range is headlined by some serious Bordeaux blends, but don’t overlook some of the fun, experimental styles. The luminous, juicy Chambourcin is proof that the variety can make good wine; the Pet Nat Blanc is aromatic and refreshing.
Booking ahead is advised but not required.
It would be easy for an afternoon to disappear at Keswick, thanks to its pretty garden and generous tasting pours. On Saturdays, you can enjoy live music – and there is often a food truck, too. Their leafy Cabernet Franc will please fans of the old world style.
Dennis Horton, owner of Horton Vineyards, was one of the early pioneers of winemaking in Virginia in the 1980s. It’s thanks to him that a number of varieties from France, Portugal, Georgia and Spain made their way over to the state.
Today, you can enjoy Horton wines among the vines – take a picnic along. Flights are available for $6, and you can choose from a long and varied tasting list. The Suil sparkling Viognier is a highlight.
Located just 15 minutes southeast of Charlottesville, Jefferson Vineyards is a historic winery steeped in the rich history of Virginia wine. The estate, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience exceptional wines in a setting that reflects the region’s past.
Their wine portfolio showcases a range of varietals, with Viognier and Cabernet Franc being particularly popular. Guests can enjoy a guided tasting in the cozy tasting room, which overlooks the beautifully manicured vineyards.
Apart from their award-winning wines, the winery is known for hosting various events and live music performances throughout the year. The picturesque grounds also provide a lovely backdrop for a leisurely picnic or a relaxing stroll through the vineyard.
While reservations are not always required, it’s a good idea to book in advance during peak season to ensure a seamless experience.
Approximately 20 miles northeast of Charlottesville, Barboursville Vineyards is a prestigious winery that offers a unique blend of history, beauty, and exceptional wines. The estate features the historic ruins of Governor Barbour’s mansion, designed by Thomas Jefferson himself, which adds a touch of history to your visit.
The winery is renowned for its flagship wine, Octagon, a Bordeaux-style blend that has received numerous accolades over the years. In addition to Octagon, Barboursville offers a variety of wines, including Viognier, Nebbiolo, and Cabernet Franc, which can be enjoyed during a tasting in their elegant tasting room.
While visiting, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds, including the well-tended vineyards and the enchanting mansion ruins. The estate also features an on-site restaurant, Palladio, which offers a fine dining experience with a focus on Italian-inspired cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients.
Barboursville Vineyards hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as their Library Wine Tastings and special holiday celebrations. Reservations for tastings and events are recommended, as the winery can get busy during peak season.
South of Charlottesville
Michael Shaps Wineworks
Tucked at the end of a long, bumpy dirt track is Michael Shaps, a garage-style winery that produces over 30,000 cases for wineries across the state.
A lot of wine is made at Michael Shaps Wineworks – over 30,000 cases each year. Some of these are made for Michael Shaps’ eponymous wine label, which are focused on French varieties and style. Others are made for wineries around the state who contract the services of this garage-style producer.
Shaps also makes wine in Burgundy under his Maison Shaps label. These Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are available as part of the tasting flights that you can enjoy in a marquee area directly across from the winery.
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Nestled in the picturesque landscape just 20 minutes south of Charlottesville, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards offers an unforgettable wine tasting experience. Combining exceptional wines with a farm-to-table culinary experience, this winery is a must-visit destination in the area.
At Pippin Hill, you’ll find a warm and inviting tasting room where you can savor their delicious wines while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The winery produces a diverse range of wines, from crisp whites to rich reds, ensuring there’s something for every palate.
What sets Pippin Hill apart is its dedication to farm-to-table cuisine. The on-site restaurant, The Granary, crafts seasonal menus using locally sourced ingredients. The dishes are expertly paired with Pippin Hill wines, creating a harmonious and memorable dining experience.
In addition to wine tastings and dining, Pippin Hill hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including cooking classes and wine workshops. The idyllic setting and beautiful vineyards also make it a popular venue for weddings and other private events.
Just a short drive south of Charlottesville, Blenheim Vineyards offers visitors a unique and intimate wine tasting experience. Owned by musician Dave Matthews, this winery is known for its eco-friendly practices and commitment to sustainability.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the modern, environmentally conscious tasting room, which features floor-to-ceiling windows that provide stunning views of the vineyards and surrounding countryside. Blenheim produces a variety of enjoyable wines, including their signature Cabernet Franc and a refreshing Viognier.
Blenheim Vineyards is not only about great wine, but also about fostering a sense of community. The winery frequently hosts events such as live music, art exhibitions, and yoga classes, providing guests with an opportunity to connect and unwind in a serene setting.