Hello All My Fellow Adventure Seekers!!!!

Let’s discover the birthplace of American wine together. There are more than 30 panoramic wineries with majestic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Monticello Wine Trail and all have been inspired by our 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson’s vision of grape growing and winemaking. October is Virginia Wine Month so I planned to hit a few wineries. Remember what I said before, wineries are one of safest places to visit during the COVID pandemic period since there’s lots of outdoor seating and with the cooler months approaching, many have firepits and outdoor heaters so don’t let the cold stop you from visiting.

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is a relaxed, yet elegant winery on the Monticello Wine Trail that should be on everyone’s list to visit. When I was there it looked more like a day at the beach where folks brought blankets and chairs to relax and enjoy an afternoon of live music. There were families with kids and dogs playing and enjoying life together. Every Sunday from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., they have local musicians performing on the veranda. You can wine, dine and unwind while enjoying live music.

The winemaker creates distinguished boutique wines and they offer a farm to table menu with wine pairings. I decided to try their 2017 Petit Verdot which was truly magnificent. It was even one of the prestigious Virginia Governor’s Cup Case winners in 2020. This award is one of the most stringent wine competitions in the country where hundreds of area wines are judged by a panel of experts. The blend is 100% petit verdot, which is a hard grape to work with but the winemaker perfected this full bodied and flavorful wine, and the aroma is intoxicating. You’ll notice notes of cherry, vanilla, toast and milk chocolate and then you’ll taste red plum, chocolate, pomegranate and cigar ash. My favorite wine was their 2017 Bin 21 dessert wine. It’s a blend of chambourcin and brandy and on your nose you’ll breathe in dark cacao, clove, black cherry and toffee. You’ll taste black cherry, cigar ash, toasted coconut and prune. It’s truly a delightful wine that warms your insides.

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They’re open every day of the week except Mondays so make sure you plan your visit on one of the days they’re open. They do hold some fun events as well. In October they had a pasta making event. Then on December 1 they’re having a wreath making workshop. I also saw they’re offering a cocktails and canapes event on December 9th.

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Now it’s time to head off to the next winery on the Monticello Wine Trail. My brother and sister-in-law told me about one I’d never been to before, Mount Ida Reserve which is on 5,000 acres of rolling hills. It’s located in Southern Albemarle County, which is in the heart of Virginia wine country and a Fall foliage destination. It’s the perfect backdrop to your next afternoon with friends and/or family. They’re open 7 days a week and offer food as well as small batch wines and innovative craft beers expertly paired with seasonal menus. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed, yet refined. I sat outside sipping on a glass of their port style chambourcin wine which had hints of raisins, smoky dried figs & spices—a wonderful smooth and flavorful Fall choice as I was lounging outdoors in the fresh crisp air enjoying the spectacular mountain views while listening to Bon Iver music playing in the background. There are miles of trails at the Reserve to be hiked or biked. They also have cottages and country estates for rent where guests have access to their private lake, Water’s Edge, for fishing, kayaking or simply enjoying the beach.

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Now we’re off to our final winery on the Trail, Afton Mountain Vineyards in Afton, Virginia. It appears that grapes don’t grow in ugly places. The views at this winery are one of my absolute favorite. They not only have a large vineyard, there’s also a large pond on the property. While I was walking around I could hear the faint sound of a train chugging along. I just love the sound of trains. What’s especially great about this winery is now that folks are keeping their distance due to the pandemic, they have a large covered outdoor facility that can be opened up.

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They also rent cottages for staycations overlooking the vineyards and mountains. You can enjoy sprawling views of grapevines out your back door and the panoramic mountain views that surround them while relaxing on your deck. Each cottage is within walking distance of the tasting room.

While visiting the winery I met 2 fun couples all dressed up, since it was Halloween. Suzanne was dressed as a deer with the cutest little doe tail. Her husband, Jim, looked like he stepped out of a Duck Dynasty episode in his deer hunting outfit. Then there was Denise dressed as a skeleton and her hubby, Wayne, was a Viking. He kept showing off his bare knees. All 4 of them were a hoot. We had a blast together. I told them about my granddoggies and they said if I showed them 3 pictures of my granddoggies that they’d buy me a glass of wine. SOLD!!! What can I say, I’m a cheap date—ha ha. 

Afton is open Thursday through Sunday only so plan accordingly.

After a long day of lounging and sipping wine I finished the day by having dinner at the charming Ivy Inn Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia. My server was Robert and he was amazing and thoroughly described the dishes I inquired about. I was very happy with the choices he steered me towards. I started with the local Rag Mountain Smoked Trout that was the tastiest smoke trout I ever tasted. It was thinly sliced and arranged on the plate, drizzled with an apple horseradish cream and decorated with edible flowers and micro-greens. It looked like art, like a flower arrangement but tasted incredible. And just because, the chef sent out his Crispy Sweet Potato Empanadas for me to try. What a fabulous combination of flavors. The entree I ordered was the Pumpkin Ravioli and I’m so glad that I did. It was unbelievably delicious and was like Halloween and Thanksgiving all wrapped up in generously filled raviolis. I finished it all off with a piece of “Mom’s” Carrot Cake that was even better than the one my own mom used to make.

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😍 I’ll be planning our next adventure together so stay tuned!!! 😍

Huggles and Smoochies,

Your Friend, Susan

Fun Things To Do on the Monticello Wine Trail:

  • Wine Festivals
  • Concerts Under the Stars
  • Meet a Winemaker