Where Should I Take My Guests over Thanksgiving Weekend?

Grape Friday instead of Black Friday!

Well, now that you asked, may I make some recommendations?   North, South, East or West , Central Virginia is the best…for vineyard views and wine tasting with friends and family, that is!   Plus, you can get some early Christmas shopping done.  Send me a description of the personality of your guests and how much time you have to devote to sight-seeing and I can customize an itinerary for you this holiday season!

Visiting three wineries around Charlottesville is a reasonable number to visit in one day.  More can be seen but you really lose in quality time and experiencing the charm of each winery. The vineyards are spread just a little too far apart  and you need to make allowances  for driving time. 

If you have time for only one winery I would suggest Barboursville Winery. Located  on the north side of Charlottesville,  Barboursville Vineyards  is a must do  for several reasons.  Notable for their award-winning Octagon wine and Palladio, their 5 Star restaurant;  Barboursville rates very high on my list as a first class wine tasting and dining  experience. They are wonderful at handling a large number of visitors and have an expansive tasting room for groups to spread out.  

The price of wine tasting can’t be beat!  For 5 dollars you can taste 15 -20 wines and keep the inscribed glass as a souvenir. If you return, bring your glass and the fee is only 3 dollars!  Step inside and go to the register on your right to get started.  The fireplace separates the tasting area from the gift shop so you can browse while waiting for a spot to slip into at the bar . Take a walk down to the ruins of the estate house, one of only three homes designed for his friends by Thomas Jefferson. It burned Christmas of 1884 and until recently was used as a backdrop for Shakespearian plays! 

Barboursville is closed for Thanksgiving Day.   From Charlottesville and South: Go East from Charlottesville on Route 250 (bypass), to Route 20 North, “The Constitution Highway,” proceeding 16 miles northeast. Barboursville Vineyards will be visible on your right, turn as directed by the signs into Route 678 to the estate.

W.C. Fields Said it All!

Honestly, I wrote my last post at 3:00 a.m. since I  couldn’t sleep and wine was on my mind, ( is that a song title)?  That said, I’ll continue with some of the other vineyards that were worth mentioning! Considering the name of the festival,  The Pick of the Piedmont, I thought I’d share some of our groups’ observations. Our favorite banner by far was the logo for  Wintergreen Winery!  Also, they win for best quotation ala W.C. Fields, ” What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?” Love it!

Wintergreen Winery

 The park grounds were really unremarkable, flat and open, while perfect for sports, it lacked in charm for a wine fest.  The few trees did  lend  splashes of fall color and accented the drop zone for the skydivers at the Orange Airport.  All of the wine booths were situated under a large shelter with tastings running the perimeter of the structure.  This did serve well to keep the wines cool and out of direct sunlight. 

 Barboursville and Horton were catching  a  few too many afternoon rays in their location and had to shield their bottles from over heating.  



 Several owners and winemakers could be found pouring glasses and expounding on the virtues of  the grapes they had selected for growing in the Piedmont.

 WindSong from Columbia, VA had quite a broad selection including other less traditional  fruit wines from strawberry to peach to  plum. With broad smiles they enthusiastically filled our glasses and  explained which ones were their personal favorites, we’ll have to visit their winery next time we head towards Richmond. I believe Cooper Vineyards will have to be on that same trip!

A grape that I was not familiar with  was the Traminette grape,  developed at Cornell for it’s hardiness in cooler regions.   Potomac Point Winery  blended it with other grapes  into a fruity white table wine called La Belle Vie. It actually had a lot of character and we took some home to enjoy later  that evening.  Our friends purchased the Richland Heritage,  their signature wine, a blend of bordeaux style varietals with a smooth velvety finish.  After checking out their website and the beautiful Tuscan style tasting room, I think a trip towards Stafford is in order!

One of the nicest advantages to this event was the small venue and the fact that it wasn’t over crowded, just a nice afternoon spent with friends learning about wine and enjoying tasting it!