With new wineries opening in Virginia practically every day, our 2014 VA wine maps are almost obsolete. Wineries that have been around protect a piece of VA history. Prince Michel Vineyard (pronounced like Michelle) celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2012.
It is easy to visit Prince Michel because it is located right on the beaten path along Rt. 29 between Madison and Culpeper. You can’t miss it because it has giant wind chime wine glasses out front. Unfortunately, since Prince Michel is located so close to a main road, sitting outside is only pleasurable if you like listening to cars drive by.
When you arrive at Barren Ridge Vineyards, you’ll find an operation the Higgs family has poured their heart and soul into. The farm was named Barren Ridge because it receives less rain than the surrounding valley. The property was originally an apple orchard that has been in the family since 1934. Grapes and apples grow well under similar conditions, so the family decided to transition from orchard to vineyard. In 2007, the Higgs, along with some family friends, planted the first acre of the vine. You can find the whole heartwarming story here.
Rascal, the Jack Russel, sitting by the fire
They only produce about 4,000 cases a year but plan to expand their small scale facility. The grapes are about half estate grown, meaning that the rest are purchased from other growers. Barren Ridge is an upscale mom and pop winery. After the property was turned into a vineyard, the apple shed was converted into the winery and tasting space. The tasting room proudly displays their awards on the mantle over the fireplace. Both the indoor and outdoor areas are outfitted with patio furniture which keeps the atmosphere casual. Barren Ridge Vineyards also has a gorgeous rustic event space above their tasting room. If you’re planning a wedding with a country vintage feel, this would be the perfect place.
Attending a duck hunting themed event at CrossKeys Vineyard (yes, I know we got photobombed)
I’ve actually visited CrossKeys Vineyard twice. The first time, I attended JMU ADPi’s Mallard Ball and we had reserved the patio. As an event space, CrossKeys is gorgeous day and night. The building itself makes an amazing backdrop. If that isn’t enough, when you visit CrossKeys you are surrounded by the picturesque vines and the Blue Ridge Mountains. At night, you lose the view but the spacious patio is ambient under a lattice of Christmas lights.
My mom and I did a full reserve tasting and got to keep these gorgeous wine glasses.
During the warm weather months, Chrysalis Vineyard hosts its tastings outside under tents facing the vines. Chrysalis is located in Middleburg, VA and boasts an extensive wine list. They are currently selling 19 estate wines and offer two types of tastings, the Estate Tasting (7 wines) is $5 and the Reserve Tasting (12 wines) is $10. My mom and I did the full reserve tasting and then enjoyed a bottle of the Chrysalis Vineyard’s Chardonnay.(I’ve got a pretty good deal with my mom where I usually get to keep the leftovers!) Continue reading →
I decided to talk about Little Washington Winery first, because they have their Oysterfest coming up on January 25th. Oysterfest is a great event if you want to try oyster and wine pairings from VA and the East coast. I happen to be a vegetarian, so I’ll be skipping this event, but it does sound like a lot of fun.
Glass of George at Little Washington Winery
Little Washington Winery’s Dirt Road Wine Tasting is one of the most unique tasting experiences. Their sommelier, Andrew, travels all over the world to find the best artisan wines. Then, during the tasting, they put their estate wines up against the wines that Andrew finds. When I visited, I was asked if I could tell the difference between a steel barreled and a French oak barreled chardonnay in a blind taste test. (P.S. I failed.)