How to Spend a Weekend in Charlottesville Wine Country

Photo of Horton Winery via WikiPedia


Arrive late afternoon at Barboursville Vineyards, in the heart of Virginia wine country, and check into a suite or cottage at the winery’s 1804 Inn. Explore the picturesque ruins, including the Thomas Jefferson–designed manor house, then head to the tasting room (open until 5; free for guests) or to Library 1821, to try older vintages ($20 and up a person, with small food pairings). For dinner, reserve in advance at Barboursville’s romantic Palladio, where Northern Italian fare guides the four-course menu and wine pairings ($110 a person). A starter of Angus steak tartare paired with sparkling wine is a favorite.


After breakfast in your room—the inn provides a breakfast plate for cottage guests to heat up—make the quick drive to Horton Vineyards. Horton introduced many of the grape varieties now grown in Virginia, from obscure Rkatsiteli to ubiquitous Viognier. Don’t miss the 2015 Viognier, if it’s on offer. Tasting: $6. Next, drive ten miles south to Keswick Vineyards, where you can try another Viognier. Tasting: $12. For a circa-18th-century, Southern-style lunch, complete with servers in period costume, stop at Michie Tavern (683 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy.; 434-977-1234). The historic landmark offers self-guided tours and a hearty buffet—fried chicken, biscuits, black-eyed peas—much as it would have 200 years ago. Afterward, take scenic Route 20 south for 12 miles to two wineries: Michael Shaps Wineworks and First Colony Winery. Start at Shaps—its Meritage and dry Petit Manseng have won a slew of awards. Then walk ten minutes to First Colony, noted for its abundant gardens and authentic thatched roof. Take Carters Mountain Road on the drive back, past Trump Winery, musician Dave Matthews’s Blenheim Vineyards, and Jefferson Vineyards, on land once owned by Jefferson, the original champion of Virginia wine. For dinner, it’s a quick drive from the inn to Restaurant Pomme, a French-style bistro in Gordonsville (115 S. Main St.; 540-832-0130).


Head to Early Mountain Vineyards, a festive winery owned by Steve and Jean Case of AOL fame. It offers tasty fresh food and a “best of Virginia” wine selection. Order a grilled panini or salad for lunch on the terrace. Then take a winding, 15-to-20-mile drive to DuCard Vineyards, near Old Rag Mountain. Surrounded by postcard views and birdsong, the place is passionate about keeping it green. Sustainability efforts include a solar-powered tasting room paneled in reclaimed wood and artificial wetlands to process wastewater from winemaking. Tasting: $8.

Read more from our winery guide: 

This article appears in the May 2017 issue of Washingtonian.

Nancy Bauer

Nancy Bauer is founder of the popular Facebook group, Virginia Wine Love, and the website