• July 2014

Taste Thomas Jefferson's Wine on the Monticello Wine Trail

The art and craft of wine was important to Thomas Jefferson, and late in his life he envisioned planting vineyards and making wines from his native state of Virginia that would stand shoulder to shoulder with the great wines of the Old World.

He planted his vineyards close to home that year, but his efforts were in vain, and his vision remained unfulfilled.

Some 200 years later, the home of the nation’s third president, atop Monticello Mountain near Charlottesville, VA, is America’s only site listed on the World Register of Historic Places, and in 1984 the counties surrounding Monticello were designated the Monticello Viticultural Area (AVA), in recognition of the region’s distinguished and burgeoning wine industry.

Today the Jeffersonian Wine Grape Growers’ Society, the parent organization of the Monticello Wine Trail, is an active association of the largest concentration of wineries in Virginia, with nearly 30 wineries within 25 miles of Charlottesville producing wines of national and international acclaim.

“Virginia is the fifth largest producer of wines in the United States,” according to the directors of the organization. “The wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail have all been inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s vision of winemaking.” He believed that “we could, in the United States, make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good.” The Monticello AVA wineries have easily surpassed Jefferson’s dreams for Virginia wine.

With deep historic significance and lush vineyard views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, our region hosts travelers from around the world. Member wineries take great pleasure in welcoming visitors to sample their wines, relax in the bucolic countryside, and share their pride in Virginia’s winemaking heritage, all brought to you by the Jeffersonian Wine Grape Growers’ Society.

With this in mind, we invite you to discover the Birthplace of American Wine.

Following are the nearly 30 wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. Details are provided by the wineries.

  • AFTON MOUNTAIN: aftonmountainvineyards.com. One of Virginia’s first farm wineries with our original vines planted in the 1970s, the winery’s focus is on making wines of unrivaled quality from our own estate-grown grapes. Surrounded by 360-degree mountain views, our Tasting House is a beautiful place to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our vineyards lie on the southeastern slope of the Blue Ridge in a place of unparalleled beauty and excellence of terroir, that elusive fusion of sun, earth, air, and water that Europe’s “noble” wine grapes need to thrive. We make Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, but we also make wines such as Gewurztraminer, a super-Tuscan red blend, and a sparkling wine made in the traditional methode champenoise.
  • BARBOURSVILLE VINEYARDS: barboursvillewine.com.
    The winery was established in 1976 by Gianni Zonin, whose family has been producing wines throughout Italy since 1821. Barboursville Vineyards is dedicated to growing estate-bottled wines of European heritage that merit comparison with the finest wines of their kind, grown anywhere in the world. Occupying the estate of James Barbour, Virginia’s governor during the War of 1812, Barboursville is a uniquely welcoming destination with an array of superb vintages, its casually elegant Palladio Restaurant, its exceptional 1804 Inn and Vineyard Cottages, and its historic landmark plantation ruins of the mansion that Thomas Jefferson designed for Gov. Barbour, set within an expansive and serene private park.
  • BLENHEIM VINEYARDS: blenheimvineyards.com. Established in 2000 by owner Dave Matthews, Blenheim Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery located 20 minutes southeast of Charlottesville. With two vineyard sites growing Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, the goal at Blenheim Vineyards is to make high-quality wines that reflect the climate, soil, and beauty of the surrounding Piedmont landscape.
  • BURNLEY VINEYARDS: burnleywines.com. Family-owned and operated since 1977, Burnley cultivates 30 acres of grapes and make 13 different wines. This winery includes a tasting room, guest house, banquet room, and deck overlooking the vineyard and picnic area.
  • CARDINAL POINT VINEYARD & WINERY: cardinalpointwinery.com. Nestled into the rolling hillsides below Afton Mountain, Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery is a pleasing blend of the industrial and the pastoral. Cardinal Point is the perfect destination for those who want to see and learn about growing grapes and making wine in Virginia. Watch our video documenting a year in the life of our vintner, and learn and appreciate how we make the award-winning wines you sip in our tasting room.
  • DELFOSSE VINEYARDS AND WINERY: delfossewine.com. You’ll find award-winning wines inspired by the French masters at this winery, which is nestled in a quiet valley at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The European-style terraced terrain at DelFosse Vineyards provides unique wine-growing conditions that yield a distinct “terroir” in its wines which include Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Chambourcin. The winery also produces high-end Bordeaux-style blends such as Meritage, Cuvée Laurent, Grand Cru Olivier, and Reserve d’Oriane.
  • DEMOCRACY VINEYARDS: democracyvineyards.com. Once a vibrant apple operation, a portion of the orchard has been cleared and planted with six varietals for wine grape production. With an acre each of Chambourcin, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Pinotage, Viognier, and Petit Manseng, Democracy Vineyards aims to produce good-quality, estate-grown wines at affordable prices. Democracy Vineyards’ distinctive new tasting room is located just off Route 29 in Lovingston.
  • EARLY MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS: earlymountain.com. Located in Madison, VA, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Early Mountain Vineyards comprises more than 300 acres of the historic Monticello Wine Trail. With its warm and inviting tasting room, picturesque outdoor spaces, and breathtaking views, Early Mountain welcomes guests to enjoy the wines and linger for a palate-pleasing experience. A social enterprise owned by Jean and Steve Case, former America Online (AOL) executives, Early Mountain is committed to showcasing the “Best of Virginia” through our partnership with award-winning wineries throughout the state and our “eat local” offerings served each day in our Market Place.
  • FIRST COLONY WINERY: firstcolonywinery.com. From historical inspirations to seasoned winemaking expertise, old-world traditions abound at First Colony Winery. Nestled in beautiful Albemarle County, we have combined our focus on producing world-class wines with gracious hospitality. The 5,000 square-foot tasting room and gift shop includes a variety of indoor and outdoor seating areas available for picnics, group tastings, and private parties.
  • FLYING FOX VINEYARD: flyingfoxvineyard.com. Nestled in the heart of Nelson County wine country, Flying Fox Vineyard is a small, family-run winery. After many years of growing grapes, we recently made the leap and started producing our own wines. We invite you to come by and taste our limited-production wines, including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Viognier, and Pinot Gris. Don’t miss the winter fireplace and summer patio with lovely views.
  • GABRIELE RAUSSE WINERY:
    virginiawine.org/wineries/gabriele-rausse-winery Hand-crafted, small-production wines available at retailers and select restaurants throughout Virginia. Look for Gabriele at festivals throughout the state. No tours or tastings.
  • GLASS HOUSE WINERY: glasshousewinery.com. Glass House Winery is a boutique artisinal winery with a tropical flair. Located in Free Union, VA, just outside of Charlottesville, and at the base of the Blue Ridge, this winery crafts artisan wines made solely from grapes grown on our property and in our region. “We have chosen grapes that bring out the best of the terroir in our region, and cultivate these grapes with meticulous care, while striving to treat the Earth as respectfully and gently as possible in the process,” the owners say. The attached glass conservatory is the perfect place to relax among tropical foliage and enjoy a glass of wine (including a chocolate wine) and savor hand-crafted chocolates made onsite by the winery’s chocolatier.
  • GRACE ESTATE WINERY: graceestatewinery.com. A new winery on an old vineyard, located at the head of “The Appellation Trail“—a wine route that connects six artisanal wineries in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Winemaker Jake Busching has developed a winery, tasting room, and event site. All Grace Estate wines are made from grapes grown onsite at Mount Juliet Farm in Crozet, VA. The vineyards are as old as 14th leaf, are planted on various soils, and are between elevations of 750-1,000 ft. The white varietals are Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vidal; red varietals are Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Jake is expanding the vineyards with varietals such as Pinot Gris and Pinotage.
  • HORTON VINEYARDS: hvwine.com. Horton Vineyards, located in Orange County, VA, is one of the most innovative wineries in the country. Utilizing the latest viticultural techniques, Horton is charting a new generation of wines made from Viognier, the premier grape of France’s Rhone Valley, and other premium varieties from southern France, Portugal, Spain, Russia/Georgia, and Italy.
  • JEFFERSON VINEYARDS: jeffersonvineyards.com. In 1774, Thomas Jefferson and Italian Filippo Mazzei established vineyards on land adjoining Monticello—the site of present-day Jefferson Vineyards, Virginia’s premiere small-production winery. We bottle award-winning Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Our blockbuster limited-production wines include Estate Reserve and Virginia’s first Petit Verdot. Bring a picnic lunch (Brix Marketplace is just around the corner) and relax on the deck among the mountains, vineyards, and horses.
  • KESWICK VINEYARDS: keswickvineyards.com. Al and Cindy Schornberg chose the historic Edgewood estate near Charlottesville for their vineyard site, discovering that this unique terroir produces wines of exceptional quality. Wine varieties include Verdejo, Viognier, Chardonnay, Touriga, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Norton, Syrah, Chambourcin, and Merlot as well as various red blends.
  • KILAURWEN WINERY: KilaurwenWinery.com. Kilaurwen Winery is a new, intergenerational family enterprise. Since 1994, we have grown wine grapes for many of Virginia’s finest wineries. In 2009, we began crafting our own artisanal wines. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, close to Shenandoah National Park, this winery offers spectacular views and a relaxing setting.
  • KING FAMILY VINEYARDS: kingfamilyvineyards.com. King Family Vineyards is a family-owned and operated boutique winery located in Crozet, just 15 minutes from Charlottesville at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The winery specializes in small productions of ultra-premium wine that showcase the remarkable qualities of nearly 100 percent estate-grown fruit. The covered veranda, expansive lawn, and brick patio are perfect for outdoor picnics, while the tasting room and warm stone fireplace are inviting on cooler days.
  • LOVINGSTON WINERY: lovingstonwinery.com. Lovingston Winery, located in the rolling countryside of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is dedicated to the production of the highest-quality wines using gravity-flow methods. Primarily family-run, we take great pride in offering a pleasing experience in every bottle.
  • PIPPIN HILL FARM & VINEYARDS: pippinhillfarm.com. Pippin Hill Farm is a family-owned winery and vineyard, committed to sustainable viticulture and a passion for innovative and quality Virginia wines. Our winery is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just outside historic Charlottesville, VA. The winery offers a distinctive wine-tasting room, locally sourced cuisine, and professional catering for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and private events.
  • POLLAK VINEYARDS: pollakvineyards.com. Margo and David Pollak founded Pollak Vineyards in 2003 when they purchased an organic farm just west of Charlottesville, VA. After a long partnership in a Napa winery and a career in international business, David Pollak found himself back in the wine business. In Virginia the Pollaks discovered that great, world-class wines could be produced from well-sited and meticulously maintained vineyards. With a team of experts, they planted 25 acres of French vinifera vines on their 100-acre farm in Greenwood and in 2005 harvested their first vintage, 320 cases of an exceptional Meritage blend. Varieties include Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
  • PRINCE MICHEL VINEYARD & WINERY: princemichel.com. Home to the internationally acclaimed Prince Michel and Rapidan River wines, Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery was established in 1982. One of the East Coast’s largest wineries, Prince Michel staff have developed a reputation of being friendly and knowledgeable. Their commitment to hospitality and great wine makes any visit to this spectacular winery memorable. Beautifully situated among acres of vineyards in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, guests can enjoy a complimentary wine-tasting in the glass-enclosed tasting room and gift shop poised above the large cellar and barrel room. Other venues include large banquet rooms, atriums, museum, private cellar and barrel cave, tasting library, and outside courtyards and patios. Luxury Suites at Prince Michel Winery have reopened to the public. The suites at Prince Michel are truly little gems hidden away in the center of Virginia wine country, the perfect weekend escape or base for all your Virginia wine country touring fun! Prince Michel also has a large wine club and private label program.
  • REYNARD FLORENCE VINEYARD: reynardflorence.com. One of Virginia’s newest family-run boutique wineries, Reynard Florence produces hand-crafted, small-batch, high-quality, and award-winning wines. We like to think of our vineyard, winery, and cozy tasting room as extensions of our home. We invite you to come relax on the patio, picnic, and enjoy spectacular mountain views.
  • STINSON VINEYARDS: stinsonvineyards.com. Stinson Vineyards is an environmentally sustainable, family-run boutique vineyard located at the scenic foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Nestled in “downtown” White Hall, the winding driveway boasts some of the area’s best views. A re-purposed garage winery combines modern architecture and equipment with traditional winemaking techniques.
  • STONE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS: stonemountainvineyards.com. Located at 1,700 feet, Stone Mountain Vineyards provides a unique perspective from its expansive observation deck. Winemaker Chris Breiner is developing quite a following for his Italian-influenced Virginia vintages. Relax on the observation deck, glass in hand, and look out across the valley.
  • TRUMP WINERY: trumpwinery.com. Featuring more than 1,300 acres of breathtaking scenery, Trump Winery is situated in the heart of the Monticello Wine Trail. Just a few miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Trump Winery follows Jefferson’s footsteps in making new-world wines inspired by the French wine regions of Bordeaux and Champagne. With a deep sense of place, Trump Winery ties together terroir and innovation, boasting nearly 200 acres of vines, large lakes, and rolling Blue Ridge views.
  • VERITAS VINEYARD & WINERY: veritaswines.com. Veritas is a family-owned, family-run farm winery nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Andrew, Patricia, and Emily Hodson share the common goal of making wines of the highest quality from the rich Virginia terroir. We invite you to come and join us at Veritas. The winery offers our guests an intimate view of the wine-making process.
  • VIRGINIA WINEWORKS: virginiawineworks.com. Founded in 2007, Virginia Wineworks produces wines under the Virginia Wineworks label, as well as the nationally recognized Michael Shaps label. Michael Shaps offers tasters highly refined, small-lot wines, crafted from single vineyard sites in Virginia. Under the Wineworks label, we produce value-oriented wines, where we have pioneered lower priced, high-quality wines as Virginia’s only bag-in-box producer. Guests pass through the production facilities on the way to a tasting bar, so each tasting is a “behind the scenes” tour. Wineworks is a working winery, with a no-nonsense, no-frills, all-about-the-wine attitude.
  • WHITE HALL VINEYARDS: whitehallvineyards.com. White Hall Vineyards is a farm winery located 13 miles from Charlottesville. At an elevation of 800 feet, the winery has lovely grounds, a pleasantly shaded picnic area, and spectacular views of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Its winemaking philosophy is that “great wines are made from the careful handling of great fruit.” Combining attentive vineyard practices with modern winemaking techniques has resulted in the consistent production of wines of excellence. These wines have won numerous awards across the nation for their fine quality, and White Hall is quickly becoming recognized as one of the premier wineries in central Virginia.

Click here to learn more monticellowinetrail.org.