The 5th largest wine-producing state in the U.S, Virginia’s local wine scene has an irresistibly cool rock ‘n’ roll edge.
The state is overflowing with wineries – more than 200 in total – and there are dozens of wine trails that highlight the area’s lavish scenery, quaint small towns and historic sites. Each trail traverses a part of Virginia's diverse landscape, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the countryside of Loudoun County – while allowing aficionados to sip their way through everything from Albarino to Viognier along the way.
Named one of the top ten wine destinations in the world according to Wine Enthusiast magazine, the state offers a range of eclectic experiences to those in search of a fruity little tipple – from kayaking right up to a vineyard to meeting adorable ‘wine dogs’. Here are some of our favourite Virginia experiences for vine-lovers…
Paddle For Wine
Paddle across Church Creek to Chatham Vineyards. Dock your kayak and walk up to the charming tasting room, which is on the grounds of a beautiful Federal-style mansion. This is a great way to combine an outdoor adventure with wine tasting and a picnic lunch on a nearby barrier island.
Too Much With Dave Matthews
Dave Matthews is a big name in wine, as well as music. He owns the beautiful Blenheim Vineyards just outside Charlottesville. This stunning vineyard has a tasting room, which was inspired by a drawing that Dave Matthews sketched out on a cocktail napkin. That napkin is framed and on display in the tasting room. Blenheim winemaker Kirsty Harmon is a rock star in her own right in the Virginia wine industry.
Adorable ‘Wine Dogs’
Dogs are a common site at wineries across Virginia. The loveable pups at The Dog and Oyster Winery in Irvington are especially happy. The winery works with the local shelter to adopt rescue dogs and give them a loving home on the vineyards. Visitors can see the dogs running among the vines and enjoying the beautiful scenery, freedom and loving care.
In The Footsteps Of TJ
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Thomas Jefferson was not only a great lover of wine; he was also an accomplished architect. Barboursville Vineyards in Orange County was built around the Barboursville ruins, which was a mansion designed by Jefferson for Governor James Barbour in the 1800s. It was destroyed in a fire in the late 1880s. These impressive ruins now watch over the picturesque vineyards of one of Virginia's finest wineries. The Monticello Wine Trail reveals how Thomas Jefferson's vision for great American wine is thriving around his homestead. More than 20 wineries around the Charlottesville area pay homage to TJ.
The SoVA Wine Trail
This trail was established in 2009 by an enthusiastic group of nine grape growers and wine makers in southern Virginia. This up-and-coming grape-growing region hosts the ideal terroir to grow a vast variety of grapes. Wine-lovers often have the opportunity to sample award-winning wines alongside SoVA's wine makers and vineyard owners.
Wine & Bluegrass
Two of Virginia's greatest exports make great music together in southwest Virginia. Soak up some mountain music on The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail while tasting some fine wines at Chateau Morrisette, Abingdon Vineyards, Villa Appalachia and other nearby wineries.
The ‘Prettiest Vino-Drive’
Route 211 is one of the prettiest scenic drives in Virginia. The road leads to Shenandoah National Park and one of America's favourite drives – Skyline Drive. You’ll also stumble upon the quaint village of Little Washington, the town George laid out in 1749. Along the way you’ll find five of Virginia’s best wineries, a whiskey distillery, unique boutiques, art galleries, antique shops, and the approaching majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Bedford Wine Trail
Enjoy the scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Smith Mountain Lake or visit The National D-Day Memorial and historic Centertown Bedford. Sample wines at five wineries – Hickory Hill, LeoGrande, Peaks Of Otter, Savoy-Lee and White Rock – and when you get your brochure stamped at each one and return it to the Bedford Welcome Center, you’ll receive a free Bedford Wine Trail glass.
Just 25 miles from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC, Loudoun County is home to 35 wineries and tasting rooms –more than any other county in Virginia. Explore the region’s boutique wineries, which are sprinkled along winding roads and up mountainsides, past regal horse farms and historic estates and beside miles of elegant stacked-stone fence. Enhance your palate with perfectly balanced varietals, surprising blends, and dessert wines – all while admiring the breathtaking backdrop of vineyards set against beautiful rolling hills.
Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail
Tucked away between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail welcomes visitors with a brilliant selection of wine tours and tasting, hiking, tubing, canoeing, Civil War battlefields, caverns, antiques, antebellum plantations, unique inns, B&Bs and restaurants. It has been said that the Shenandoah Valley is one of the country's most exciting wine producing regions.
Go For Gold At Williamsburg
Williamsburg Winery is Virginia's largest winery, with an annual production of some 60,000 cases. Just outside of Colonial Williamsburg, this winery's first wine, Governor's White, was released in 1988 and won a Gold Medal within two weeks.
Artisanal Wineries Of Rappahannock
Rappahannock’s artisanal, family-run wineries have joined forces to offer a premium wine tasting experience that is rooted in small-lot, handcrafted wines. Just a short scenic drive from one another, and only an hour from the DC beltway, this casual wine tasting trail provides a peaceful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia.
The Wine Trail Of Botetourt County
On The Wine Trail of Botetourt County, you will find symmetrical rows of hillside vineyards that frame the landscape with a changing palette of textures and colours. This trail features three charming family-run vineyards: the serene Blue Ridge Vineyards, Fincastle Vineyard and Winery, which was the county’s first farm winery, and the beautiful Virginia Mountain Vineyards.
The Nelson 151 Trail
This Trail provides a convenient way to sample Nelson County's many wineries and breweries, all along scenic Route 151 - a destination for Virginia wine, craft beer and good local food. The trail features seven wineries and three breweries along a beautiful stretch of scenic byway with Blue Ridge Mountain views.
Have Some Whiskey With Your Wine
The Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Trail’s ‘Whiskey Wine Loop’ provides a convenient and intriguing travel plan through the Northern Blue Ridge Mountains around the northern half of Shenandoah National Park, taking in a selection of wineries and a whiskey distillery along the way. Make sure you take out time to hike in the national park.
Foothills Scenic Wine Trail
Nestled between Old Rag Mountain and White Oak Canyon at the edge of Shenandoah National Park, the Foothills Scenic Wine Trail features two small, family-run wineries in gorgeous mountain settings — DuCard Vineyards and Sharp Rock Vineyards. Spend a relaxing afternoon hiking, wine tasting or shopping for antiques.
Have A Heart
The Heart of Virginia Wine Trail is made up of a group of six wineries located near Richmond: Cooper Vineyards, Grayhaven Winery, James River Cellars Winery, Lake Anna Winery, Mattaponi Winery and Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery. Cost for a passport ticket is $20 per person, which includes a souvenir wineglass, map of the trail and wine tasting at all six wineries.
Sleep Among The Vines
Barbourville Vineyards is one of a handful of Virginia wineries where you can sleep among the vines in luxurious accommodations. At Veritas Vineyards visitors can relax in the new Farmhouse B&B, which is within walking distance of the winery and the inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains. Williamsburg Winery's Wedmore Place provides a European-inspired stay near the heart of Colonial Williamsburg, and at the Dog and Oyster Vineyards, luxury chalets that overlook the vineyard and tasting room are for rent.