Monticello Wine Trail Favorites
In honor of spring break, a couple weeks ago we ventured down I-95 to taste some wine in the Charlottesville, VA area. The wine-growing region around Charlottesville is known as the Monticello AVA, named for the site of Thomas Jefferson’s nearby plantation where the third president first attempted to cultivate European vines.
While I think we sampled more than 100 vintages over the two days about a dozen wineries, here are some of the highlights of the trip:
- Cardinal Point winery: west of town and up in the hills with a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge mountains, this newer winery nonetheless produces some great wines; in particular, I remember the Cabernet Franc. Although the region is famous for that variety – I believe we tasted one at every stop – this one stood out for me.
- King Family Vineyard: head winemaker Mattieu Finot was on hand to pour our tasting and at every turn made it clear that his approach to winemaking involved a careful consideration of acidity levels throughout fermentation. Must be paying off: Mattieu’s Meritage blend won the 2010 Virginia Governor’s Cup for reds. The freshly engraved cup actually arrived during our visit!
- Barboursville Winery: one of Virginia’s oldest established vineyards, they produce an especially exceptional set of red wines. Unlike many wines grown in the US, they bottle some reds that are particularly well suited to aging. Among these is their famous Octagon blend that the Washington Post selected to run in blind taste tests against top vintages from California and France to illustrate the evolution of the Virginia wine industry.
I’m hoping to see all of these wineries and many more at the upcoming Drink Local Wine conference (hosted by the good folks from drinklocalwine.com), which will take place this year in Loudon County, Virginia (near DC) on April 25.
Do you have any favorite wines from Virginia that you’d recommend for our next visit?