In the late 1700s, Founding Father Thomas Jefferson planted the first European vines in Virginia soil on his Monticello estate, near Charlottesville. Today, there are more than 40 wineries in the area and the Monticello Wine Trail is the heartbeat of Virginia wine country.
Charlottesville wineries are known for the exceptional calibre of their Cabernet Franc, Vin Gris De Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner, and Rosé wines, among others. The flavour of these fine varietals is further sweetened by the region’s awe-inspiring views of the epic Blue Ridge Mountain Range.
Here is our list of the five best wineries in Charlottesville VA and surrounds:
Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville
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Just 30 minutes from downtown Charlottesville, Barboursville Vineyards is situated on the historic estate once home to former Virginia governor, James Barbour.
One of the oldest wineries near Charlottesville VA, Barboursville Vineyards was established in 1976 by Italian winemaker, Gianni Zonin, and boasts status as among the first on the Monticello Wine Trail to successfully grow grapes. As one of the leading wineries in Charlottesville, Barboursville sets the standard for Virginian wine.
For a fee of just $7 per person, visitors can enjoy a delicious Barboursville wine-tasting experience in one of the venue’s elegantly appointed tasting rooms or Library 1821. Tastings feature a classic selection of varietals, including signature Barboursville wines like the Octagon (a Bordeaux blend), Cabernet Franc, and Nebbiolo. Explore the grounds and winery in one of their hourly tours on weekends.
You can enjoy a bottle of Barboursville’s finest along with a sumptuous meal at the estate’s Palladino Restaurant, adjacent to the main tasting room. Spend the night enjoying true Virginia hospitality at the onsite 1804 Inn and Cottages.
- 2020 Viognier Reserve
- 2017 Octagon
Early Mountain Vineyard, Madison
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For a wine-tasting experience to delight your other senses as much as your taste buds, you should definitely stop by Early Mountain Vineyard in Madison. The 350-acre estate is one of the largest wineries in Charlottesville, with a tasting room voted among the best in the country.
Even more impressive than the stylish décor are the panoramic views from the tasting room. The immense grounds and spacious tasting room and patio create a sense of relaxed openness throughout Early Mountain Vineyard. As such, it is one of the best wineries near Charlottesville VA for large parties.
The estate is renowned for its Bordeaux-style grapes, including Cabernet Franc and Merlot, among others. A host of stellar wine options – including Pinot Gris, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay and Syrah, to name but a few – are on offer at Early Mountain. You can enjoy these exceptional wines together with the finest Virginia cuisine. The menu features seasonal produce sourced from various farms in the area.
The standard tasting fee at Early Mountain is just $14 and the experience features five of the estate’s delectable wines. For a more comprehensive wine-tasting experience, visitors can opt for the venue’s Cheers tasting. At a cost of $20, this tasting option explores eight of the estate’s most prestigious wines, under the direction of a knowledgeable Early Mountain staffer.
The ultimate tasting experience on offer at Early Mountain Vineyard is the Elevation Tasting. This unique offering costs $70 per person and is available by reservation only. The Elevation Tasting features five wines – possibly including pre-releases and library selections – and a curated menu of appetisers.
Early Mountain Vineyard is also one of the best wineries near Charlottesville VA for entertainment. The estate regularly presents live music in the tasting room every Friday and regularly hosts exciting events, including summer concerts and the annual Oyster Festival in March. You can even take your dog along, provided it is leashed and remains outdoors.
- 2021 Rosé
- 2020 Foothills Red Blend
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, North Garden
“Virginia is for lovers”, goes the beloved state slogan. You can really feel this love in the air at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards, a popular wedding destination among Charlottesville wineries. Nestled in the shade of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pippin Hill’s sensational views, stellar wines, and romantic atmosphere make it one of the leading Charlottesville wineries.
Sip on acclaimed craft wines in the bohemian chic Pippin Hill tasting room or under the bistro lights strung over the quaint veranda. The views are breathtaking, no matter where you are on the farm. Take a snap of yourself and your travelling companions with the Pippin Hill “LOVE” sign, one of over 150 throughout the state of Virginia.
The wine programme at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards is run by esteemed winemaker, Michael Snaps. Under Snaps’ expert direction, the Pippin Hill team produces a choice selection of wines through a process including “custom crush” processing and stainless and French oak barrel fermentation. The boutique winery is known for its crisp Blanc de Blancs, barrel-fermented Chardonnays, signature Sauvignon Blancs, and Cabernet Francs, among other varietals.
Visitors to Pippin Hill savour these fine wines against the backdrop of truly splendid scenery. As the map mounted in the winery shows, this farm features numerous garden plots, where vegetables, flowers, herbs and grapes are grown. The wildflowers carpeting the farm provide the perfect habitat for the bee farm to which Pippin Hill is also home. Guests can get better acquainted with the scenery by taking a tour of the grounds with the estate’s own horticulturalist.
Guided by an ethos rooted in sustainable viticulture and farm-to-table hospitality, the estate offers cooking classes and mini farmer’s markets on its packed events calendar.
At Pippin Hill’s onsite restaurant, guests can dine in- or outdoors on scrumptious fare, including the much-loved cheese and charcuterie boards. For the full Pippin Hill treatment, diners can enjoy the ever-popular Flights and Bites pairing menu.
Standard tasting flights cost just $10 per person and the tasting room is open from Tuesday to Sunday, between 11am and 5pm.
- 2019 Chardonnay Reserve
- 2019 Sparkling Rosé
King Family Vineyards, Crozet
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A standout among Charlottesville wineries is King Family Vineyards. Not only does this historic estate produce some of the finest varietals on the Monticello Wine Trail; it boasts the unique added feature of an onsite polo field.
Guests can watch matches for free during polo season. The estate’s Pavilion and tasting are generously endowed with quintessential Virginia country charm. Guests can sample the flavoursome wines on offer here, around an immense stone fireplace, complemented by exposed ceiling beams and granary oak floors.
Standard tastings can be enjoyed without reservations for a fee of $10 per person and featuring five King Family wines. For an additional $5 per person, guests can enjoy an enhanced tasting experience with another wine on the menu and a more thorough tasting guide. For the ultimate King Family Vineyards wine-tasting experience, though, the Library Tasting is well worth the $25-per-person fee.
Although there is not a formal onsite restaurant at King Family Vineyards, the estate does feature a delightful little shop. Here, you can buy a variety of meats, cheeses and bread, as well as adorable Charlottesville wine tchotchkes (trinkets) and King Family wines.
- 2018 Viognier
- 2013 Petit Verdot
Gabriele Rausse Winery, Charlottesville
Gabriele Rausse Winery departs from tradition in all the right ways.
Founder and namesake, Gabriele Rausse is widely considered the patriarch of modern Virginian wine. In 1997, after consulting on some of the region’s most prestigious vineyards, Gabriele finally founded his own winery.
Gabriele Rausse Winery breathes youthful exuberance into the Monticello Wine Trail. With no fancy signage to mark its presence, this unassuming estate is a hidden gem in the Charlottesville woods. Instead of the sprawling lawns and historic mansions we’ve come to expect from Virginia wineries, this winery is a modern yet rustic establishment, hidden among the trees.
The European-style wines here are crafted from grapes grown on a variety of the region’s leading vineyards. Gabriele Rausse has also recently launched, Vino Dal Bosco, its own sulphite-free label.
A selection of the finest Gabriele Rausse wines can be enjoyed in one of the various tasting experiences presented by the winery. $12 buys you a full tasting of nine different wines, while you can also get half that number for half the price. For a mere $18, patrons can enjoy the complete Gabriele Rausse food and wine experience.
Bear in mind that Gabriele Rausse is one of the few Charlottesville wineries that are closed on Saturdays – just another way that the owners keep things low-key. When you do visit, take your dog along as the Rausses even allow pooches in the tasting room.
- 2018 Chardonnay Reserve
- 2020 Cabernet Franc
It doesn’t matter whether you prefer the storied tradition of a historic estate like Barboursville Vineyards, the understated trendiness of Gabriele Rausse’s modern tasting room, or anything in line with current wine industry trends. The best wineries in Charlottesville VA will satisfy every palate.