The Monticello wine region is one of the first wine regions I fell in love with (second only to the Mosel Valley in Germany). Located in the Charlottesville area, it’s a gorgeous region of rolling hills and mountains. I first visited at age 21 and it lured me back for a few return trips during my senior year of college in DC. When I moved to North Carolina, I knew I had to go back to see how the region had changed. Seven years and many wine tastings later I returned to find that the wine has only improved and the beauty of the landscape and charm of Charlottesville are still intact.
Whether you’re traveling with a significant other or group of friends, the Monticello Wine Region makes for a perfect weekend escape. Here’s why:
Wineries boast excellent quality wines and breathtaking views.
There are 30 wineries in the Monticello wine region. The best wine of my visit was a viognier at King Family Vineyards, and overall, I thought they had the best quality wine. The best view was at Pippin Hill Vineyards. For a unique atmosphere, you can’t beat Glass House Winery where there is not only a beautiful lake and mountain view, but you can also enjoy your wine inside the winery’s greenhouse. I loved sipping the rosé at Veritas Vineyard & Winery and the chardonnay Pollack Vineyards. At Barboursville Vineyards, you can enjoy a huge wine tasting, magnificent views, and even visit ruins of a home designed by Thomas Jefferson. There are many other great wineries to visit, but those were my favorites of both past and recent trips.
You can stay among the vines.
The Monticello wine region has many charming bed and breakfasts nestled in the countryside, and a select few are actually in the vineyards. I greatly enjoyed my stay at the Glass House Winery Bed and Breakfast located on the property of the Glass House Winery. We were greeted by the innkeeper’s friendly golden retriever when we parked our car and from the moment my husband and I walked in, the innkeeper, Peggy, made us feel right at home. Each morning, we woke up to the sounds of birds chirping followed by a freshly prepared breakfast with a huge spread of tasty food. We loved being able to take walks through the vineyards and it was fun to end our stay with a complimentary tasting at the winery. To top it all off, our room came with delicious chocolates made by one of the owners. I already want to go back!
Charlottesville is a foodie paradise.
The only thing harder than choosing which wineries to visit is choosing which restaurants to go to. There are numerous fabulously reviewed restaurants and cafes in Charlottesville. If you want a trendy, upscale American restaurant downtown with wonderful food and a cool atmosphere, you can't beat Oakheart Social. You’ll also find some amazing ethnic restaurants such as Doma Korean Kitchen. If you head to the “mall,” an outdoor shopping area closed to traffic, you’ll find an array of dining options where you can sit outside and feel like you’re smack in the middle of a European city. For healthy options, venture to the University of Virginia area and enjoy a salad or grain bowl at Roots Natural Kitchen – you’ll be surprised how tasty it is!
There’s great hiking in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.
If you need a break from wine tasting, there are a multitude of great hiking trails to the east in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Shenandoah National Park has more than 500 miles of trails that wind through canyons and waterfalls. You can also visit the Wintergreen Resort where you’ll bask in the spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and The Rockfish and Shenandoah Valleys.
Visit the Monticello wine region in the late spring or early fall for comfortable temperatures and lush vineyards. Weekends are the best time to visit as some wineries are closed on certain days during the week and there are often live bands and food trucks at the wineries on the weekends.