A lake reflects the sky and nearby trees while a moderate climate and 330 acres of rolling foothills nurture the rows of grapevines growing there. Curled up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is the picturesque scene that DelFosse Vineyards and Winery calls home. It's there that a team of viticulturists and winemakers tames the green, terraced landscape to draw out 11 wines, including a 100% merlot and blends such as the 2009 Reserve d'Oriane—an amalgam of chardonnay, petit manseng, and viognier grapes. With trails and walkways cut throughout the grounds, the DelFosse family makes the vineyards accessible for tours, hiking, biking, and picnicking with Bigfoot sommeliers. And with lofty, sprawling views to be enjoyed, their estate is also available for special occasions such as weddings at the pavilion on the lakeside lawn and family reunions on the vineyard deck. Their onsite chestnut log cabin also provides a rustic escape with overnight or weeklong stays and packages that include VIP wine tastings and private gourmet dinners.
When they craft their seasonal menu, the cooks at AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar aren't looking to impress diners with unfamiliar dishes. Instead, they wow taste buds with rich, robust flavors, roasted duck breast to meatloaf kicked up a notch by chipotle cream sauce. For vegan and vegetarian visitors, AVA's culinary team draws on organic and local fruits, veggies, and grains to create meals such as vegan chicken and waffles. Meatless or not, each feast can be accompanied by pours from an award-winning wine list curated by the eatery's onsite sommelier. Bartenders also serve plenty of beer, as well as custom, exotic tea blends.
Autumn Hill Vineyards owners Ed and Avra Schwab have made a lot of wine in the past 30 years, from their gold medal blend of petit verdot and merlot to their vintner’s reserve chardonnay that takes on the flavors of the French oak barrel it ferments in. The one thing you won’t find in their cellars, however, is a sweet wine. That’s because the pair strives to craft Virginia wines with a European influence, resulting in dry, full-bodied vintages brimming with character. This specialization has led them to cultivate seven types of wine grapes, including some of the oldest cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay vines in Virginia.
Though the duo spends most of the year tending to their vines in private, they invite guests in four times a year to see in the inner workings of their operation. Visitors to the vineyard are privy to tours through the barrel-aging cellar, helpful advice on how to pair wines with food, and vertical tastings of the same vintage to highlight the flavor differences among the grape crop every year. For guests who can’t make it out, the vineyard offers a wine club that delivers select vintages to clients' doorsteps or sommeliers' giant beanstalks in the spring, fall, and holiday season.
First Colony Winery celebrates the history and heritage of local viniculture by crafting a cellar’s worth of European-style wines. After sampling from their selection of eight ambrosias—including a tropical seyval blanc and full-bodied tannat—amid the exposed wood beams and checkerboard floors of the elegant tasting room, corral a full glass of your favorite varietal and venture onto the covered patio to savor views of sun-soaked hills while gargling the intricate melodies from Dvorak's New World symphony. Guests then go home with a pair of branded souvenir wine glasses with which they can use as drink vessels at home or as miniature hot tubs for over-indulged troll dolls.
Siips—a cozy, wood-finished bistro—boasts a comprehensive selection of more than 75 wines and champagnes, most of which are available by the glass nightly. These bubbly and waft-worthy beverages accompany lunch and dinner menus brimming with fresh Mediterranean fare. Sidle up to the granite-topped bar with a silky smooth Bonny Doon syrah (3 oz. for $7; 6 oz. for $13), and soak up the creamy tannins with savory morsels of antipasto piled high with cured meats, cheeses, and olives ($16.95). Celebrate a special occasion with a crisp glass of Gloria Ferrer bubbly (3 oz. for $7; 6 oz. for $12) that soothes and smoothes the palate just in time for an artfully arranged plate of wine-sautéed escargot ($9.95).
On brisk mornings, a blanket of fog descends on the valley of Monticello, covering rows of grapevines in a picturesque mist that creates compelling flavors within the grapes soon to be transformed into wine. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wisdom Oak Winery utilizes every inch of its 4-acre vineyard, which is situated on a sprawling 126-acre estate. Since 2001, the fertile pastureland has been the site of intense dedication and experimentation, resulting in high-quality varietals such as cabernet franc, chardonnay, rosé, and custom blends.