Winery visits seem to weave their way into almost every trip we take, but some of our favorites are in our own backyard. We live in the outskirts of Virginia wine country, which means when we aren’t on the road we have an incredible selection of wineries to explore and vintages to sample (which means even when we aren’t on vacation we feel like we are!).
Virginia, nicknamed the Old Dominion, is home to almost 300 wineries throughout a number of regions that spread to all corners of the state. With about 1.5 million visitors coming to Virginia to experience the growing wine industry, it’s no surprise we now have the fifth largest wine region in the United States with sales close to 1 billion USD each year.
Virginia has a climate and growing conditions that have been compared to what is found in France’s Burgundy, and with most wineries situated among picturesque landscapes it’s easy to see what locals and visitors love about our wine country. It’s also rich in history- the first British settlers to Virginia planted grape vines in the early 1600s in an attempt to establish Virginia as a wine producer. While none of the early vineyards remain, the Virginia wine region can trace its roots all the way back to the founding of America.
If you are a traveler making your way through the USA or a local looking for a different way to spend a Saturday, here are some of our absolute favorite Virginia wineries (in no particular order!).
LOCATION: Middleburg, Virginia
TRY: Albariño Verde, Sarah’s Patio Red, Locksley Reserve Norton
Chrysalis was the first winery we visited where, after a full ten-wine tasting, Adam and I agreed we would split a bottle of every single wine we tried. Chrysalis prides itself on promoting the Norton grape, Virginia’s very own native grape that was almost destroyed during prohibition but mercifully restored to its homeland years later. Today, Chrysalis sits on a beautiful plot surrounded by rolling hills where a huge state-of-the-art tasting room welcomes guests and encourages them to settle in and have a glass of Virginia wine (or two!).
You can’t leave without trying one of their Nortons, which are big, bold, berry-forward wines. My favorite is the Locksley Reserve Norton, but all of them are very good. Sarah’s Patio Red and Sarah’s Patio White are customer favorites; both are named in honor of a young girl who owned the property in the 1800s but died before her 17th birthday, and both are sweet and served cold. The Albariño Verde is another favorite; it is a light, crisp Portuguese-style wine that pairs perfectly with seafood and summer days.
More Information: ChrysalisWine.com
LOCATION: Bealeton, Virginia
TRY: Tawny, Battlefield (Vihno Verde), Touriga
Morais is easily one of the best, most consistent wineries we have visited. Located just south of Warrenton, Morais focuses on Portuguese varietals that are comparable to the wines we tasted during our visit to Portugal’s Douro Valley. The winery itself is picturesque; a gorgeous estate is situated just beyond the vines, and they offer plenty of spots to sit with a glass or a bottle under the wraparound porch or at a picnic table in the sunshine. Two types of tastings are offered, but we always splurge on the $17 option that provides access to their sweeter dessert port-style wines.
This winery is one of the few where we love everything on the tasting menu. Battlefield is a lovely wine that is offered twice: once from the bottle and a second time from their tap so you can taste the difference (we slightly prefer the tap version, which provides a bit of effervescence to the wine). The rosé is bright and fruity but not too heavy on the strawberry, which I greatly appreciate. The merlot is also beautiful and well-balanced, not too oaked but very fruit-forward. Whatever you do, don’t miss the tawny, which is a port-style wine that is the closest to our favorite ports from Portugal. The cherry wine is a fun as well; like the ginjinha we drank in chocolate cups in Sintra, the cherry wine is also traditionally served.
More Information: MoraisVineyards.com
LOCATION: Barboursville, Virginia
TRY: Octagon, Brut Cuvée, Philéo, Vermentino Reserve
Barboursville boasts one of the most impressive wine tasting menus for your money. For 7 USD, visitors are treated to 15-20 wines as they work their way through tasting stations situated around the perimeter of the building. Barboursville is also home to the beautiful ruins of a home designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1822 for his friend James Barbour, a Virginian governor. After a tasting, many visitors stroll to see the ruins that still stand on the property before selecting a favorite bottle to share at the picnic tables outside.
By far the best of Barboursville’s wine is Octagon, which sadly is not on the tasting menu. It’s an expensive splurge at $55, but it’s very well-priced for the quality and is worth purchasing even without tasting it (you won’t be disappointed!). We also love the sparkling Brut Cuvée and the Vermentino Reserve, a dry, aromatic white wine. Philéo is my favorite of the sweet wines; it’s not heavy and syrupy like so many sweet wines I have tried, which makes it a perfect accompaniment with dessert (or even a dessert on its own!).
More Information: Bbvwine.com
LOCATION: Oak Grove, Virginia
TRY: Sangiovese, Colonial White
Nestled among historical spots like the birthplaces of George Washington and James Monroe, Ingleside Vineyards has been in business since 1980, which makes it one of the oldest wineries in Virginia. Certainly the most recognizable of the Northern Neck wineries, Ingleside balances the laid-back atmosphere so commonly found in that part of the state with some very well made wine. Just as much as we enjoyed our tasting, we loved the staff and the other guests who made their way to the winery on the day we visited. A great atmosphere is often wine’s best pairing.
Our favorite was the Sangiovese, a tasty Italian-style wine that made us wish we had a nice slice of pizza to enjoy with it. Reminiscent of some of the best wines we tried during our Tuscan wine tour, it was easy to drink and worthy of a bottle purchase. We also loved the Colonial White, a Chardonel that tasted like honeysuckle and apples and sunshine.
More Information: InglesideVineyards.com
LOCATION: Mt. Crawford, Virginia
TRY: Chardonnay, Joy Red, Meritage
We discovered CrossKeys completely by accident. Located off Interstate 81 in the western part of the state, we stopped in on our way home and couldn’t believe how much we liked the wine. We have returned several times in the last couple of years for tastings, lunch at their restaurant, and to replace favorite bottles we always want to have on hand. The scenery is just beautiful, and we have enjoyed many hours sitting outside gazing at the lush landscape after a tasting.
I’m not often a chardonnay fan, but CrossKey’s chardonnay is very good. It is fermented in stainless steel and finished in French oak, so it doesn’t taste like you are gnawing on a tree when you drink it. It has lots of vanilla notes, so it smells delicious and tastes just as good. Joy Red is great both chilled and served at room temperature, and it’s easy enough to drink that everyone seems to enjoy it. Meritage is a well-balanced red blend that we both agree is the best wine on their tasting menu.
More Information: CrossKeysVineyards.com
Flying Fox Vineyard
LOCATION: Afton, Virginia
TRY: Viognier, Trio
Just west of Charlottesville and situated among Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest sits Flying Fox Vineyard, a small family-owned winery with a cozy tasting room and wines that are worth the drive from Washington, DC. We make it a point to stop in every time we are in the area- the wines never disappoint!
Virginia’s official state grape is viognier, and Flying Fox makes one of the best. Adam proclaimed it to be his favorite of the viogniers we have tried in the state; it’s sweet with notes of honeysuckle and pears. We also really like Trio, which is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Trio is beautifully balanced and is easy to drink, with the best flavors of all three grapes really shining through.
More Information: FlyingFoxVineyard.com
LOCATION: Leesburg, Virginia
TRY: Something White, Tannat, Raspberry Merlot
I remember my first visit to Fabbioli, which was not long after I first moved to Virginia. Back then I was primarily a sweet wine drinker, so the Raspberry Merlot I tried was particularly memorable. Fast-forward to today, where Fabbioli offers an upscale tasting experience that pair their wines with gourmet food bites. The lineup is changed regularly, and they do an admirable job of proving how the right food matched with the right wine can be an experience in itself.
Something White is one of the wines I love to see on their tasting menu; the grapes used to make it change annually, and it’s one of the only whites they make (during our last tasting we were told it was produced to silence the staff’s persistent begging to the winemaker to please make something white!). I love the Tannat, which is a nice, tannic wine full of big, bold fruit flavors. And, of course, the Raspberry Merlot is still the best wine they have; just as it sounds, tasty red fruit and deep, rich Merlot make it a fantastic after dinner treat.
More Information: FabbioliWines.com
The Winery at Bull Run
LOCATION: Manassas, Virginia
TRY: Delaney, Reconciliation
Virginia as a state is reflective of the USA’s place in world history and remains firmly woven into the tapestry that makes up the country. If getting lost in history while sipping wine sounds like a good time to you, the Winery at Bull Run will be your ultimate stop. Located just south of the Manassas Battlefield where the First Battle of Bull Run was fought in 1861, Civil War relics like bullets and medals found on the property are now on display in the tasting room. Even the buildings on the property are reflective of the century in which they were constructed, including one building whose foundation and chimney were preserved.
Of the wines they offer, Delaney is by far the best. The profile is almost complex as tropical fruits mix with floral notes that leave a sweet taste behind. It’s one of those wines where, after savoring a sip after not tasting it for a while, you wonder why you don’t drink it much more often. Another great wine that will get better with age is the Reconciliation, which is full of cherries, blackberries, and cinnamon. It’s a delicious fall and winter wine to enjoy as the leaves change or the snow falls.
More Information: WineryAtBullRun.com
Dog and Oyster Vineyards
LOCATION: Irvington, Virginia
TRY: Shelter Dog Red
You’ll know you’re getting close when the giant corkscrews appear over the horizon. Not far from the Virginia coast sits Dog and Oyster Vineyards, a boutique winery that specialized in—you guessed it—wine that pairs well with oysters. Named in part for the tasty shellfish brought in from just five miles away and in part for the half dozen adopted dogs that roam the property and keep wildlife away from the vines, it’s a beautiful place to visit. I have believed oysters and wine make for a perfect pairing (and a great breakfast!) since our Croatian wine tour, and a visit to the Dog and Oyster did nothing but prove me right.
We visited in November, and while they were sold out of two of the five wines they typically offer in the spring and summer, the three we did try were lovely. My favorite was the Shelter Dog Red, which is a medium bodied Chambourcin that paired beautifully with the half dozen fresh oysters we enjoyed at a table in the sun. Just steps from their tasting room is Byrd’s Seafood, a food stand which provided us with an excellent lunch; oysters on the half shell, fried oyster tacos with sriracha slaw, and a smoked sausage sandwich. Great wine and great food? It doesn’t get better than that.
More Information: DogAndOyster.com
LOCATION: Louisa, Virginia
TRY: Noche, Cabernet Sauvignon
Every year, northern Virginia plays host to the Virginia Wine Festival, where wineries from all over the state descend on an open field to set up booths, offer tastings, and sell bottles to thousands of eager wine lovers. My first visit to the wine festival led to me Cooper Vineyards and Noche, quite possibly the best dessert wine on the planet. We have since made the drive to central Virginia to visit the winery itself, which is a wonderful place to enjoy a tasting and spend an hour or two sharing a bottle with friends.
My friend Holly described Noche as liquid chocolate, and she is totally right. Noche is a deep, rich Norton infused with cherries and chocolate. I always have a couple of bottles on hand; Noche is one of those wines that makes an ordinary night a special occasion. We also like the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a big, bold Virginia wine.
More Information: CooperVineyards.com
Gray Ghost Vineyards
LOCATION: Amissville, Virginia
TRY: Gewurztraminer, Petit Verdot, Adieu
It sounds spooky, but Gray Ghost Vineyards’ name actually pays homage to another character from Virginian history. Colonel John Mosby was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War who gained a bit of fame for being able to infiltrate Union forces without being detected or losing any of his soldiers. He was affectionately referred to as the Gray Ghost, and the winery now sits on the route Mosby used during the war. In fact, the Gray Ghost name on each wine bottle is pieced together using letters taken from Mosby’s own handwriting.
The best wine we have tried at Gray Ghost is the Gewurztraminer, which is often sold out as a reflection of how very good it is. It is a bright, light wine with lots of tropical fruit flavors. The Petit Verdot is also great; definitely a “steak wine,” it is full of big fruit flavors. The dessert wine Adieu is also worth a try. It is sweet, but not syrupy, and with a high residual sugar percentage it’s a great dessert on its own or with a few bites of cheesecake.
More Information: GrayGhostVineyards.com
Good Luck Cellars
LOCATION: Kimarnock, Virginia
TRY: Chardonnay, Traminette, Inheritage, Runway Red
Like so many great finds, our visit to Good Luck Cellars was a happy accident. We happened to be in the neighborhood and decided to give them a try. After sampling all of the wines on their tasting menu, we vowed to make ourselves regular visitors. The winery is owned by a husband and wife who sought to turn their winemaking hobby into a full-fledged business. The tasting room is cozy with a nice fireplace, and during our visit it was filled with warm laughter that made sipping well-crafted wine that much more enjoyable.
The first wine we tried, Chardonnay, was a huge surprise. It drinks like a very different wine—a sauvignon blanc perhaps—with a nice, slightly buttery finish. I don’t often drink Chardonnay, but I could easily have a glass of that one. We left with a bottle of traminette, which was delicious and clean and will be great to sip when the weather is warm. As good as the whites are, the reds are even better. Inheritage, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot, was easily our favorite; it was smooth and very easy to drink. Runway Red, another blend (this time petit verdot and merlot) was not far behind.
More Information: GoodLuckCellars.com
LOCATION: Broad Run, Virginia
TRY: Cabernet Franc Reserve, Ameritage
Pearmund Cellars is very well known in Northern Virginia, and for good reason. Chris Pearmund has been a force in winemaking for years and has taken his talents to wineries all over the state. His influence can be found in bottles from numerous vineyards, and he is an active leader in the state’s wine industry. His namesake winery is a favorite of ours for their welcoming tasting room, beautiful barrel room, and knowledgeable staff. Their winery dog is also one of my favorites; during my first visit it took ten minutes to get out of the doorway because the adorable pup wouldn’t allow me to pass without giving a belly rub.
I always love to taste the cabernet franc reserve, which is a great steak wine: peppery with notes of tobacco and earth, it’s a great wine for people who love a deep, dark red. I also love Ameritage, which is a nice, balanced blend that is easy to drink. Honorable mention goes to the chardonnay (I know! Another one!), which is a little bit buttery and not very oaky, which seems to be the perfect combination for me.
More Information: PearmundCellars.com
LOCATION: Free Union, Virginia
TRY: Barbera, Meglio del Sesso, Twenty-First
Located in central Virginia, Glass House is a fun, unique little winery. You’ll arrive for the wine, which is wonderful, but you’ll stay for the gourmet chocolates and the conservatory. That’s right: in addition to a great wine tasting, you’ll have the chance to try some of the house-made chocolates made by their own chocolatier (red wine cream and raspberry champagne are decadent!). Buy a glass and some chocolate to pair with it and spend some time in their tropical conservatory, which is where the glass house comes into play. With some good wine and some great friends, it won’t be long before you think you’ve escaped to an island somewhere.
Barbera is made from estate-grown grapes and is bright and cherry-forward, which makes it a favorite of ours. We also love Twenty-First, named after the amendment that repealed prohibition, which blends cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and malbec. Meglio del Sesso is a Norton made even richer with chocolate infused into it, and with a bite of any of the chocolates they make it is perhaps the best dessert you can imagine.
More Information: GlassHouseWinery.com
Try Virginia Wine!If you are a wine lover who hasn’t planned a vacation to Virginia, don’t delay any longer! Virginia’s wine country makes for a beautiful, relaxing, and delicious way to spend a day, a weekend, or even a week.
We know it can be overwhelming to decide what area of the state to visit, so make use of Virginia Wine Trails, which help to map out wineries that are close to one another so you can spend less time planning and more time on your experience!
Curious about where all of the wineries we recommended are located? Check out the map below to see where to find them (and a few more of our favorites) then put together a Virginia wine trail of your own! If we forgot a winery or if you recommend one let us know in the comments.
We hope to see you in a tasting room soon!
Do you love exploring new wine regions? Here are a few more posts to keep you inspired!
From time to time, our travels are directly impacted by a service or company. In this case, we visited wineries located throughout Virginia, and this post includes our candid review of our experiences. We selected these wineries based on our own research, travel needs, and interests; we were not offered and did not receive compensation of any kind from them or any other party in exchange for our review.