After a history of setbacks, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia is now on the cusp of a viticultural renaissance. Visit now before the masses catch on, says Katie Kelly Bell, in her Virginia travel guide.
Virginia: Six of the best wineries to visit
The winner of more awards than any winery in the state. Try the Octagon, velvety Cabernet Franc Reserve and Barbera Reserve. Leave time to explore the historical ruins on the property and finish with a three-course tasting lunch at the winery’s Palladio restaurant.
☆Gray Ghost Vineyards
Winemakers/owners Al and Cheryl Kellert produce everything from award-winning late-harvest Vidal Blanc to Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit during harvest and you’ll be invited to pick the grapes – it’s a community effort.
This property is the original site of Thomas Jefferson’s first vineyards. Today the elegantly balanced Viognier 2010 and the Meritage 2008 are the estate’s flagship wines.
☆King Family Vineyards
Watch the Sunday polo matches on the field flanking this sprawling vineyard. Then be sure to sample French winemaker Matthieu Finot’s worldclass Petit Verdot and Seven, a Port-style Merlot, fortified with brandy and aged in bourbon barrels.
The large tasting room here overlooks a lovely pond; mountain vistas make up the background. Award-winning Viognier and lush, integrated Merlot are stars.
Originally from England, owners Andrew and Patricia Hodson moved to Virginia because of the area’s beauty. Their daughter Emily, voted US Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2007, crafts balanced and artful sparkling wines, Chablis-style Chardonnay, ageworthy Bordeaux blends and Petit Verdot.