A note about my reviews of Virginia wineries: There are both good wineries and bad, but I intend to review only wineries that I like, so you will probably not encounter a negative word on this page. But you can be assured that, if I mention a winery or a wine, it is pretty good, so take time out to visit the wineries listed below and enjoy their wines. You won’t be disappointed. - Bob
Veritas Vineyards and Winery, located in Afton, Virginia, is one of my very favorite wineries. If you have a chance to visit, and the tasting room is a true joy, try the Petit Manseng and the Othello (any “Port” in a storm). Wonderful wines. I also like the Saddleback Chardonnay, and the “Vintner’s Reserve,” a delightful Bordeaux blend. Tried the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc this week (June 2012), and loved it. Crisp, balanced, lovely acidity. Emily Pelton is the winemaker.
King Family Vineyards is another gem. Matthieu Finot, the vineyard’s winemaker, is a French transplant, and a great addition to the Virginia wine industry. Having taken several classes from Matthieu, I can tell you that he is not only passionate about his work, but he possesses a wealth of knowledge. At King, I am particularly fond of the Viognier 2009, the Cab Franc 2009, the Meritage and the Petit Verdot. And of course, the “Seven,” which is named for the 7th chukker in polo (they have polo matches on the grounds during the summer). Lovely winery and tasting room, definitely worth a visit.
Pollak Vineyards, a relatively new winery, is the vineyard that first drew me to the Monticello AVA. Two years ago, my wife and I visited during an anniversary stay in Charlottesville (we met and graduated from the University of Virginia), and fell in love with the area. We had no idea then that we would end up buying a property in the area, but it kindled our dreams. At Pollak, try the Meritage, the Cab Franc (alas, the Petit Verdot and the Merlot are sold out), plus the Viognier (one of Virginia’s signature grapes) and the Pinot Gris. You really can’t go wrong here. Chris (Turtle) Zwadlo oversees vineyard management.
Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery, was the last winery we visited on the aforementioned anniversary tour, and we ended up buying a property that was only a stone’s throw away. The tasting room is spare, but functional, and the wines are where they put their effort. I haven’t tried the 2011s (generally not a great year in Virginia), but in past vintages I have enjoyed the Quattro, a blend of Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier, and Traminette, and the Clay Hill Cab Franc, as well as the Rockfish Red (odd name, I know, but we’re in the middle of the Rockfish Valley). Tim Gorman is the winemaker. The annual Oyster Roast is lots (I mean, LOTS!) of fun.
Afton Mountain Vineyards is one of the most picture-perfect beautiful wineries in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and it features wines that you’ll have trouble finding elsewhere. Its location allows it to make wines that ordinarily just don’t do well in Virginia, including Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer.