Our trip to Charlottesville was more about relaxation than trying to fit a bunch of activities into a short trip. I’m usually one to overload my agenda with things to do and places to see, to the point where we never have time to really sit back and enjoy the place we’re visiting. We broke that mold in Charlottesville, and it was wonderful.
One of the things that makes Charlottesville so appealing as a travel destination is its surrounding wine country. When we visited a couple of years ago (pre-blog), that was really all we did. We’d recently started working at a winery in Loudoun County, so we wanted to get out and compare the wines at several Charlottesville wineries as “research”. It was an awesome trip, but very hectic. This time, we pared our list down to two wineries we didn’t get to visit the last time we were in the area – Barboursville Vineyards and Glass House Winery.
We stopped by Barboursville on our way to Charlottesville from DC. We’ve had mixed feelings about visiting in the past because even though we’ve had several of their wines at festivals or other wine tastings, we’ve heard that the wine tasting process can be a little impersonal and crowded.
But we’d also heard that they were dog friendly inside and outside, and had amazing views so we decided to finally give them a shot. Unfortunately, when we arrived we were told that the laws had recently changed in the area and dogs were no longer allowed inside. We were bummed, but it was a fairly nice day so we opted to grab a couple of glasses to enjoy outside instead. The views were pretty spectacular.
We got a half glass of their famous, but pricy, Octagon (2013) as well as a full glass of their Barbera (2015) and kicked back to enjoy the view.
The wines themselves were obviously very different. The Octagon is a true crowd pleaser for those who love big, bold reds. It was perfect for slight chill in the air. The Barbera was light, acidic and fruit forward though perhaps a tad young. However, it was exciting to see my favorite Italian grape at a Virginia winery.
After finishing our glasses, we headed down to the Barboursville mansion ruins also located on the property.
The Barbour mansion was designed by Thomas Jefferson for Virginia Governor James Barbour that burned on Christmas Day 1884. I always love exploring historical ruins like this, and while the Barboursville ruins aren’t extensive they’re definitely worth a look.
The inner drawing-room is octagonal in shape, the inspiration of Barboursville’s flagship wine. The area is roped off for safety, so you can’t see too far into the interior of the property, but it’s still incredible to see such innovative design dating back to the 1800s.
Glass House Winery
For our second winery excursion, we wanted to go somewhere we were sure would allow Ashton. Several people have recommended Glass House Winery to me for its beautiful grounds and unique property. After making a quick call to confirm dogs were allowed, we made the short drive over to Free Union, Virginia to check things out.
The property is definitely lovely, but with a little whimsy to keep things interesting. We were welcomed right into the tasting room, along with Ashton and had a nice tasting along with another couple and their two dogs.
I’ll be honest, the wine was hit and miss and we didn’t taste anything that blew us away. But the atmosphere more than made up for that, and we each picked a glass to enjoy in their gorgeous tropical conservatory.
It was a wet and gloomy day outside, so the lush landscaping inside the greenhouse-like room was a welcome escape. Ashton felt right at home, too.
We did take advantage of a break in the rain to head down to the peaceful pond located a short walk outside of the conservatory. I can imagine that this area is one of the best places in the area to spend a beautiful, sunny day. I hope we can come back one day to experience it.
We may only have visited two wineries, but each one had something unique to offer – which is what I’ve always loved so much about Virginia wine country. Each place has its own unique vibe and there are just so many options.
More Favorites in Charlottesville’s Wine Country
If you’re looking to visit Charlottesville for some wine tasting, a few of our other favorites in the area include:
- Keswick Vineyards for an intimate tasting room, tasty wines and great customer service
- King Family Vineyards for a laid-back vibe and one of my favorite Virginia rosés
- Pollack Vineyards for a cozy tasting room and informative tasting
Not a huge wine lover? The area has a huge brewery scene as well. We love Star Hill Brewery, but there are plenty of others to check out as well. Cheers to a great trip to Charlottesville!
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