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!!!)
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!
Virginia Wine Chat — A monthly virtual gathering to discuss the wines, winemakers, wineries and regions of Virginia. (For reference — original article announcing Virginia Wine Chat.)
Our current Virginia Wine Chat schedule:
- NEXT ——> 7:30pm ——> April 24, 2014 — Barboursville Vineyards. One of Virginia’s most accomplished and popular winemaker’s, Luca Paschina will be our guest for the April 2014 edition of Virginia Wine Chat! Please join us as we learn about Luca’s background, why he came to Virginia’s fledgling wine industry from Italy nearly 25 years ago, and talk about the history of the winery and land at Barboursville. We’ll also taste three delicious Barboursville wines: 2013 Viognier Reserve, 2011 Nebbiolo Reserve, and the 2010Octagon! Follow the #VAWineChat hashtag to join the discussion via Twitter and/or see our live interview on the Virginia Wine Chat UStream Channel(http://www.ustream.tv/channel/virginia-wine-chat). Wine fans can taste along with us too. Barboursville has made available a specially discounted ‘Virginia Wine Chat 3-Pack‘ available that includes each of the wines Luca and I will taste during the broadcast. Please call the Barboursville Winery tasting room directly (540-832-3824) to order the 3-pack to join in the tasting.
- May 22, 2014 — Rosemont Vineyards. Discovering one of southern Virginia’s gems. Winemaker Justin Rose will be our guest for the May 2014 edition of Virginia Wine Chat.
- Upcoming chats include winemakers Jake Busching at Grace Estate Winery, Nate Walsh atSunset Hills Vineyard …
Please log in to Twitter and join us!
Since the Trump Winery table was right next to Veritas Vineyards at the Monticello Wine Trail Festival and the owner came over to congratulate our win, I decided it was the logical next stop on my wine travels.
When you drive up to Veritas Vineyards, you are greeted by modern art and acres of vine. I absolutely loved the large wrap-around deck, and I’d actually rather sit there than in the tasting room. It reminds me of being at my friend’s beach house in Corolla, which is absolutely my favorite place on the planet.
Wine Immersion Boot Camp is held every Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon at Little Washington Winery. My mom, my roommate, and I attended the boot camp on a frigid and snowy March Sunday morning. This was my second trip out to LWW, so I knew what to expect at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains. In case you’re worried, Wine Boot Camp only consists of 3oz arm curls, rather than drinking then running.
The sign that meets you at the door is a rather intense gentleman holding a sign that says spit. Fortunately, there was no spitting required, because the wines were all good. Although we drank a manageable amount for how long we were there, the order of the class made for an experience that was wine heavy at the very end. This was good in the sense that after the class you had new knowledge about wine and could put it to use. The problem of a end-heavy experience is it could leave you feeling a bit tipsy.