About an hour and a half from Washington, D.C. and 30 minutes outside Charlottesville is Virginia's oldest winery, Barboursville Vineyards. While there are many wineries in the Charlottesville area, I chose to visit Barboursville because I had only one day for wine tasting and heard it was a great place to experience the best of Virginian wines and history. My friend, Adriene, and I spent about six hours at Barboursville (I know, I couldn't believe it either), but we were able to relax, enjoy the wines and scenic views.
Barboursville's tasting room was like the Olympics of tasting rooms. At the start, you taste some of their lighter wines and as you continue around the room, you're offered reds and dessert wines for a total of nine wines to try.
The tour was free to us because we made reservations to eat at the vineyard's restaurant, Palladio; however, if you decide not to eat there, the cost for the tasting room is $7.
Lunch at Palladio
By the time we walked over to Palladio, we were starving and slightly tipsy from the wine Olympics. While Palladio offers two, three or four course meals, we opted for the four course meal with wine pairings for $71 and it turned out to be a great decision. Here were our choices:
First Course: Tartare di Tonno (tuna tartare)
Second Course: Gnocchi con Pomodorini e Spinaci (potato gnocci)
Third Course: Salmone al Vapore con Pesto (pesto salmon)
First Course: Speck e Melone (melon dish)
Second Course: Risotto alla Polpa Di Granchio e Pomodoro (roasted tomato risotto)
Third Course: Bistecca Di Manzo alla Griglia (grilled hanger steak)
We both opted for the Tiramisú in Due Modi (one lemon and one chocolate tiramisú). I still think about this tiramisú from time to time. It was that delicious.
First Course: Barboursville Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015
Second Course: Barboursville Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve 2016
Third Course: Barboursville Vineyards Sangiovese Reserve 2015
The meal was well-worth the price and the service was excellent. The dining room was quaint so reservations are highly recommended, especially on weekends.
Next, we stopped by Library 1821 where we shared another flight of five wines. This is another tasting area at the vineyard, where their more vintage wines are offered. Since it was a gorgeous day, we sat on the patio that overlooked their beautiful vineyards and Blue Ridge Mountains.
In addition to being a tasting room, Library 1821 is a repository for selected documents from the vineyard's history, such as the letter by President John Quincy Adams appointing James Barbour to his cabinet as Secretary of War and original household china donated by descendants of the Barbour family.
Our final stop of the day was a self-guided tour through ruins, located just down the road from the main house. According to Virginia Tourism,
Preserved as a ruin after its destruction by fire on December 25, 1884, Barboursville was one of the largest and finest residences in the region. The only building in Orange County known to have been designed by Thomas Jefferson, Barboursville was constructed between 1814-1822 for Jefferson's friend James Barbour, who served as governor of Virginia, U.S. senator and secretary of war. A brick Flemish-bond mansion with a hipped roof, Barboursville stood two stories high over an English basement. After the fire, the family renovated a pair of brick dependencies to the west of the mansion.
If you're really looking for a getaway, you can also stay the night in one of the vineyard's suites on the property. I'm glad I decided to spend most of the day at Barboursville Vineyards. It was a one stop shop for enjoying the best of Virginian wines and learning a little about the area's history. A day (and night) at Barboursville can truly feel like a getaway.