16 top Charlottesville wineries to visit

Thomas Jefferson dreamed of producing great American wine in Monticello. Unfortunately, due to environmental issues and political upheaval, Jefferson’s vision for Monticello was never realized during his lifetime. Today, his dream is a reality thanks to the formation of the Monticello Wine Trail: a network of more than 40 wineries that are part of Virginia’s American Viticultural Area. Several of these wineries, which sit within a 25-mile radius of Charlottesville, also offer luxury accommodations and excellent restaurants on-site.

With the dramatic backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson’s history at Monticello, and the top-notch wines and cuisine you’ll find here, central Virginia should be your next wine getaway. A number of acclaimed wineries await you in the Charlottesville area — and, to make visiting multiple more convenient, jump to the section on winery tours below.

(Note: Some of the following activities, attractions and locations may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions, reservation requirements or mask mandates. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)

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Barboursville Vineyards: Barboursville

Barboursville Vineyards is situated on an 18th-century estate about 15 miles northeast of Charlottesville. Italian winemaker Gianni Zonin purchased the property in 1976 to bring European viticulture to Virginia. Together with winemaker Luca Paschina, Barboursville consistently produces award-winning vintages recognized by the prestigious Virginia Governor’s Cup. The Discovery Tasting Room allows visitors to sample six wines self-selected from 16 of the winery’s current vintages. In Library 1821, options change periodically and flights range in price for a tasting of certain wines — though the Octagon red and Paxxito dessert wine are always on offer. Experience these Library vintages with pairings of homemade bread, house-cured charcuterie and local cheeses. Afterward, travelers can enjoy Italian-inspired cuisine at Palladio Restaurant followed by overnight accommodations at The 1804 Inn or in one of the cottages on the estate.

Address: 17655 Winery Road, Barboursville, VA 22923

Gabriele Rausse Winery: Charlottesville

Gabriele Rausse is often referred to as the “father of Virginia wines,” since he was one of the first winemakers to arrive at Barboursville in 1976. Rausse’s sons, Tim and Peter, describe their winery and tasting room as distinctive thanks to its glass and wood design: “It’s the only one in Virginia with no view of a mountain or vineyard. We’re in a forest — just like a treehouse,” Tim Rausse says. Guests of the winery can enjoy the unique outdoor space at Gabriele Rausse with one of the three flight options; each gives you the chance to try four wines. If you’re just looking for a glass or a bottle, the brothers say that some excellent vintages to sample are the cabernet franc, gruner veltliner, rose and vin gris de pinot noir (a white wine made with pinot noir grapes). Peter Rausse also recommends the sparkling wines in particular. Tastings are held outside on a first-come, first-served basis on certain days, and covered seating is limited.

Address: 3247 Carters Mountain Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Jefferson Vineyards: Charlottesville

Jefferson Vineyards has often been called the birthplace of American wine. This estate is where Thomas Jefferson and Italian viticulturist Filippo Mazzei first planted European vines for commercial use in 1773. Today you can visit this winery to learn more about Jefferson Vineyards’ history — or to just enjoy the stunning setting surrounded by lush green forests and rolling hills. The winery operates two tasting rooms where patrons can choose between two seasonal flights, each containing four wines. Patrons can also purchase wine by the glass or bottle and even pair it with cheeses, charcuterie, crackers or chocolates. Guided reserve wine tastings have not yet returned to Jefferson Vineyards’ offerings, but its premium reserve wines are still available for bottle purchase. While here, consider splurging on a stay at Colle, the property’s family home, which can fit up to 10 guests. Keep in mind, however, that groups larger than eight cannot be accommodated in the tasting rooms. Leashed dogs are welcome in the outdoor spaces and the smaller tasting room.

Address: 1353 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Michael Shaps Wineworks: Charlottesville

Michael Shaps studied viticulture and oenology in Burgundy, France, before moving to Virginia in 1995. After creating some award-winning vintages at Jefferson Vineyards, Shaps started his own label. Michael Shaps Wineworks has two tasting rooms that offer both Virginia and Burgundy wines. The newly opened location on Harris Creek Road is where you’ll find a traditional tasting room with the full breadth of his wines. There’s plenty of seating both indoors and outside, including on the deck and front lawn. Private tastings are available for groups here, with reservations required for parties of eight or more. The second location, Wineworks Extended, houses Shaps’ bottling facility on Avon Street: This wine bar and taproom is home to the label’s everyday drinking wine, which can be purchased as flights, wine on tap, growlers, carafes or bottles.

Address: 1750 Harris Creek Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Early Mountain Vineyards: Madison

Early Mountain Vineyards sits on 350 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 30 miles north of Charlottesville. The winery’s name pays tribute to the first owner of the property, Lt. Joseph Early, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Stop by the tasting room for a flight to sample four current releases, then have lunch with a view with the Virginia Table experience. You can savor small plates, mains and desserts featuring locally grown ingredients paired with a glass of your favorite wine from the vineyard. Expert-led bar tastings are available on select weekdays at Early Mountain on a walk-in basis — though reservations are recommended. Oenophiles can also reserve a place in the Elevation Tasting to try a selection of five library vintages alongside curated food pairings.

Address: 6109 Wolftown-Hood Road, Madison, VA 22727

Veritas Vineyard and Winery: Afton

Andrew and Patricia Hodson began Veritas Vineyard with just a few acres of vines in 1999. The family-owned estate and farm now stretches across more than 50 acres and sits about 25 miles west of Charlottesville. Wines are showcased through two Taste in Place flights — classic or reserve — at the winery, offering guests a self-guided sampling of four wines that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your table. During the week, visitors can opt to taste the wines at the bar, led by one of the knowledgeable Veritas associates. For the ultimate immersive experience, an expert can also guide you through five curated pairings of wine and food, but you’ll need to make a reservation. The property offers accommodations at The Farmhouse at Veritas, a luxury bed-and-breakfast that hosts four-course, farm-to-table dinners paired with Veritas wines.

Address: 151 Veritas Lane, Afton, VA 22920

King Family Vineyards: Crozet

David and Ellen King planted the original grapes at King Family Vineyards in 1998. The winery, located about 15 miles west of Charlottesville, is still managed by the King family, including the couple’s three sons. King Family Vineyards offers a variety of tastings: Walk-in visitors can choose between self-guided flights — either classic or seasonal, each with four wines — or an in-person guided tasting with five wines. The next step up is the Reserved Tasting, which lets guests visit the Library Room (with a reservation) while enjoying a one-hour guided tasting of five wines. Finally, visitors can schedule a tour of the estate, which includes a glass of wine in the vines, a look inside the tank and barrel rooms, a guided tasting and a souvenir wine glass. Two unique features of King Family Vineyards are its polo field and its crose wine: a dry, merlot-based rose. Plan your trip during polo season (late spring through early fall) if you want to sip your crose while watching a Sunday polo game.

Address: 6550 Roseland Farm, Crozet, VA 22932

Trump Winery: Charlottesville


The Trump Winery estate unfurls across 1,300 acres — more than 200 of which are planted with French vinifera varieties. This vineyard has garnered recognition for red, white and sparkling wines. The property’s tasting room is open most days for wine by the glass, bottle or flight. While Trump Winery is not currently providing guided tastings, patrons can select from several flights to try a variety of wines. Enjoy the sparkling, white, red or taster’s choice flight, which can be purchased in four 1.5-ounce or 3-ounce pours. All options include one Riedel wine glass per flight. You’ll find seasonal menus here offering small plates and other dishes to pair with your favorite wine. You can also stay on-site at Albemarle Estate, an elegant Georgian-style mansion.

Address: 385 Albemarle House Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Chisholm Vineyards at Adventure Farm: Earlysville

Located near the Charlottesville Airport and just 10 miles north of downtown, Chisholm Vineyards offers both city convenience and a serene natural setting. The vineyards are located on Adventure Farm’s 500-acre estate, which has been owned and operated by the Chisholm family since 1950. The tasting room offers a selection of 12 small-lot wines that guests can sample in traditional tastings, paddle-style flights, by the glass or by the bottle. The award-winning wines are 100% estate-grown and particularly fun to enjoy with food truck fare and live music on Fridays during the warmer half of the year. Visitors can also find grass-fed beef from the pasture-raised cattle in the Tasting Room Farm Shop. For an especially relaxing visit, book a night at the Lake House, located on Adventure Farm just a short walk from the vineyards.

Address: 1135 Clan Chisholm Lane, Earlysville, VA 22936

Keswick Vineyards: Keswick

Keswick Vineyards is a 400-acre estate owned and operated by the Schornberg family less than 15 miles northeast of Charlottesville. Founders Al and Cindy Schornberg, originally from Michigan, established the vineyard in 2000 after scouring the country to find the perfect place to open up their dream winery. They chose their spot well, if their first vintage winning the honor of “Best White Wine in America” at the 2002 Atlanta International Wine Summit was any indication. Today, visitors can stop by the tasting room to sample wines that Keswick Vineyards calls “born from the soil and soul of Virginia.” Build-your-own flights consisting of four wines offer guests a personalized experience. Light snacks are available at the tasting room store, or you can pack your own picnic.

Address: 1575 Keswick Winery Drive, Keswick, VA 22947

Blenheim Vineyards: Charlottesville

The sustainable wines at Blenheim Vineyards are 100% Virginia-grown and made with grapes from four different blocks across the winery’s 32 acres of vineyards. These unique lands have been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and are conservation-protected; the property traces its history back to Blenheim Farm in 1730. Travelers can observe this focus on history and conservation in Blenheim’s eco-conscious tasting room. Designed to have minimal environmental impact, the winery building is constructed out of reclaimed wood and utilizes south-facing windows and skylights to light the tasting room and production facility for much of the year. The large windows also afford guests who opt for the guided wine tasting some scenic vineyard vistas. These hourlong, reservation-only tastings include five wines and are led by Blenheim staff — but they’re only available for parties of four or fewer. Guests can also sit outside to enjoy wines by the flight, glass or bottle.

Address: 31 Blenheim Farm, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards: North Garden

About 15 miles southwest of Charlottesville, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards stands out for its focus on sustainable viticulture, craft winemaking and agritourism. The winery’s limited boutique wine production allows it to maintain healthy vines and vineyards with the use of natural sprays rather than chemical repellents. While at Pippin Hill, visitors can enjoy a wine flight or a pairing of food and wine. Many of the ingredients on the tasting room menu are harvested from local farms. The Vintner’s Table — ideal for a special occasion — is a private experience you can book for a group that includes a four-course menu with wines. And with older wine vintages and elevated food pairings, the five-course Reserve Vintner’s Table experience can introduce guests to wines often not available for tastings at the bar. Whatever tasting you choose, be sure to check out Pippin Hill on Sundays for live music, rain or shine.

Address: 5022 Plank Road, North Garden, VA 22959

Stinson Vineyards: Crozet

Stinson Vineyards is known for its French-influenced small-lot wines with limited production. The family-owned winery is located about 15 miles northwest of Charlottesville in an old three-car garage — inspired by the “garagiste” wineries in Bordeaux, France, which experimented with creative, limited-run “garage wines” in the 1990s. Guests can try Stinson’s small-batch wines with bottle service, a glass or one of the wine flights consisting of three pre-poured wines. The seating is first come, first served, but you’re asked to contact the winery if you have a party of seven people or more. Splurge on a stay at The Inn at Stinson Vineyards to wake up to unforgettable views of both the vineyards and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Address: 4744 Sugar Hollow Road, Crozet, VA 22932

Pollak Vineyards: Greenwood

In 2003, Margo and David Pollak purchased a 98-acre farm and established Pollak Vineyards with the planting of a 10-acre block of vines. The more than 17,000 vines at this small family-owned winery today are planted across eight distinct blocks of land, providing a range of French grape varieties for Pollak’s estate-grown wines. Guests can enjoy views of the original 10-acre block from the tasting room or patio with one of Pollak’s tasting flights. You can also pair the wine with the cheeses, charcuterie, local pastries or local jams offered on the food menu. Pollak Vineyards is located about 20 miles west of Charlottesville, and groups of seven to 12 people will need a reservation.

Address: 330 Newtown Road, Greenwood, VA 22943

Horton Vineyards: Gordonsville

Horton Vineyards’ setting — around 15 miles northeast of Charlottesville — is stunning. The architectural features of the vineyard’s headquarters are reminiscent of an old-world castle. Couple that with its location among lush vineyards and rolling hills, and the property resembles something you might stumble upon in European wine country. Horton offers an impressive menu of more than 50 wines that guests can try via glass, bottle, flight or customized tasting. If you choose one of the many flight options, you’ll receive three 2-ounce pours. For a broader selection, go for the customized tasting, which allows you to pick six wines to sample. While you’re visiting Horton, be sure to try one of its viognier offerings: Founder Dennis Horton introduced the grape into central Virginia’s wine scene in the 1990s and is widely regarded as the catalyst for the viognier’s journey as Virginia’s signature grape.

Address: 6399 Spotswood Trail, Gordonsville, VA 22942

Afton Mountain Vineyards: Afton

Just about 25 miles west of Charlottesville sits one of the oldest farm wineries in Virginia. With its vines first planted in 1978, Afton Mountain Vineyards has a rich history of quality winemaking. Owned by Charlottesville natives Elizabeth and Tony Smith, this property currently grows nearly a dozen varieties of Vitis vinifera grapes. Guests — in parties of six or fewer — can get a taste of Afton Mountain’s varietals with a self-guided tasting showcasing five wines. Once you’ve found your favorite, pair a glass with some of the light snack fare available for purchase and take a seat on the patio, lawn or indoor glass pavilion to enjoy the panoramic views. Enjoy a relaxing getaway in the Afton Mountain Vineyards Guest House just steps away from the tasting room, or enjoy views of the vineyards from one of the four pet-friendly cottages.

Address: 234 Vineyard Lane, Afton, VA 22920

Charlottesville winery tours

With more than 40 wineries in the Charlottesville area, travelers may want to book a tour to pack several into an itinerary without worrying about driving between them. Charlottesville boasts a variety of great wine tours to let you do just that. One of the top Charlottesville winery tour options, Wish Wish Wine Tours, offers numerous predetermined routes to explore the surrounding wineries — as well as the ability to fully customize your itinerary based on group size, number of wineries, time spent at each and more. If you’re looking to save money on a tour without sacrificing quality, go with the Virginia Private Custom Wine Tour from Charlottesville. This five-hour, fully private wine excursion takes you to three or four wineries in a luxury Sedan with an expert guide.

Bachelorette parties should look no further than Norm’s Executive Transportation: This company uses newer model luxury vans that can accommodate up to 14 passengers on package or custom excursions. For solo travelers interested in joining the fun, Cville Hop On Tours allows patrons to book custom individual tours. After you pick one of its routes, you’ll have the option to choose your stops without worrying about a group. Other favorites for winery tours in Charlottesville include Monticello Wine Tour and Coach Co., Crozet Trolley Co. and Blue Ridge Wine Excursions.

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16 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 08/11/22: This article was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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