Pippin Hill is one of the wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail that remains open in all seasons. It is lucky for wine lovers like me who enjoy wineries in the slow season. I like to take my time on each tasting and I am much more likely to walk away with a few bottles than the average 22 year old. I big portion of my disposable income goes towards my growing wine collection…I mean saving for the down payment on a house. (Sorry Dad! Thanks for the plane ticket to Napa Valley!!!)
I have been to Barrel Oak twice now actually and I have had a delightful time on each visit. Barrel Oak Winery is in Delaplane, Virginia. The wine is okay and overpriced but that isn’t really why you go to a place like Barrel Oak. In the busy months, they are open until 9pm on the weekends. They are not trying to provide a premium winery experience. What they are trying to do is create an atmosphere that says “bring your kids, bring your pets, bring your grandma, bring anyone you know, grab a bottle or two or three and stay awhile.” It’s essentially a family and pet friendly bar.
Fine jewelry and fine wine are two of a girl’s best friends. The family that has opened Molon Lave Vineyards offers both gorgeous gems at Louizos Goldsmiths and wine in a gorgeous setting. The vineyard is located in Warrenton, VA but is much closer to Bealeton. The family planted the vines 12 years ago and opened their Tasting Room about 5 years ago.
The Tasting Room is is clean, large and is it is completely made of tile and stone . This means if you are unfortunate enough to be there when another guest decides to bring his guitar it isn’t a pleasant cozy winery experience. However, the wine is tasty and interestingly priced (ranging from $24-$32 for the wine and $40 for the aperitif).
Vineyards are famous for their gorgeous rolling landscapes with seas of vines. The only vista that rivals a vineyard in with full greenery before harvest is a snow-covered vineyard wonderland in winter.
The Barboursville Vineyard’s Tasting Room is spacious and cozy simultaneously where high ceilings meet tables for four and comfy armchairs by the fireplace. However, you’re required to pay for your tasting before they’ll even give you a glass. There’s nothing more awkward, less welcoming, and less incentivizing to make additional purchases than asking guests to fork over a credit card when you cross the threshold.
Shenandoah Vineyards is quaint and rustic. The tasting room is staffed by two adorable (old) ladies, which made the tasting reminiscent of being served wine by my grandma. Shenandoah offers three tasting options, starting at $5 for the beginner tasting and going up to $10 reserve tasting. All the tastings includes a tour of the winery which is offered hourly. The tour of the winery includes viewing where the grapes are grown, harvested, and processed. The tasting also includes a few palate cleansing sips of their award winning well water.
Narmada Winery is a lovely place to visit on a chilly or rainy day. You’re going to have a hard time finding a more cheerfully decorated tasting room or a better view from inside looking out. The tasting bar is embedded with glitter and peacock feathers. The whole room is bright, colorful, and bursting with Indian heritage.
According to the staff on duty, Narmada hasn’t been doing well in recent times. This is a shame because it has such a heartwarming backstory. A white wine on their tasting list is called “MOM.” This is because owner Pandit Patil’s mother sold her jewelry to buy him a plane ticket from India to the United States when he received a scholarship to an American university. MOM is dedicated to all mothers and would be a perfect gift for yours considering Mother’s day is May 11th.
The Patils placed Narmada in Rappahannock County on 70 acres. They grow 10 varietals on 28 acres. The family has put their heart into building the winery, but the tension caused by the bad economy greets you at the door. The service was strained, and we were asked to cash out after each item we purchased. Alternatively, this might have been because we appeared to be two untrustworthy young people who they fully expected to taste and ditch. However, it just wasn’t a very welcoming environment, so my friend and I didn’t feel like staying long.
Honestly, I think Narmada might be trying to do too much and spreading themselves too thin. They offer three different tasting flights of over 14 wines (which seems like a lot to me for one wine maker), had live music on an early Sunday afternoon, and have a gift shop selling everything from artwork to clothing to greeting cards. They might be focusing too much on culture and not enough on wine. Narmada is along 211 which makes it easy to visit it and a few others including Little Washington, Grey Ghost, or Unicorn.
Afton Mountain Vineyard has the most honest and upfront slogan I have seen yet. Grapes don’t live in ugly places, which isn’t necessarily true, probably refers to the picturesque landscapes of successful wineries. Grapes probably do live in ugly places, but it is clear Afton is not one of them; the landscaping was gorgeous. I just had to stop my car and take a picture of the witty signage. They also sell refrigerator magnets sporting that phrase.
The tall deer fences that protect the vine and signs turning away large parties line the driveway ends with a breathtaking tuscan style winery. Afton Mountain is attempting to stay small. In their tasting room, they support a local artist named Paige Peyton who does farmscapes and still lifes.
They proudly schedule only 8 weddings at most per year with 100 guests or fewer. As an economist, I have a hard time understanding purposefully limiting growth. Their event space is an outdoor pavillion with removable plastic sheeting walls and heat leams. They are afraid that if they host any more events, they will run out of wine.
Their tasting list is only 5 wines for $7, but if you are lucky (like we were), they may have up to 6 more that they will serve you if they have them open. Their logo is another rorschach test like Early Mountain’s, and is actually the letters ‘a,’ ‘m,’ and ‘v’ made out of overlapping mountain shaped lines.
My friend and I both got a glass of the Gewurztraminer and sat out on the patio. Every direction you faced revealed a different picturesque landscape, whether vine, mountains, or lakeside. I wonder what it would be like to live in any of the surrounding houses and live amongst the incredible views on a daily basis.
Afton mountain is a gorgeous place to visit. Their wine menu is reasonably priced. I recommend bringing a picnic basket or cheese plate and spending some time on their patio. Oh, and if you’re single and looking, they host speed dating!