Another blogger recently wrote "why do so many people carry on about the views at Virginia wineries? The wine alone should be a draw." That sounds a lot like the Notebook bloggers complaining about live music at the wineries. Who knows - this particular blogger may love the live band element. But the Notebook loves the serenity of some the settings at the Commonwealth's wineries. Particularly those wineries in the mountains.
It's always a tough call when we visit the mountain wineries - views looking down, or views looking up (that is, being on top of a mountain, or in a valley). Three wineries in each category fit the bill perfectly and this post will examine three favorites in the valley, looking up at the mountains.
And of course the wine IS a draw at these locations. You will be hard pressed to find a Virginia winery that doesn't have at least one wine to your liking, unless you crave nothing but high alcohol Pinot Noirs prominently found in Sonoma, or sweet table wines commonly found in the front of grocery stores, usually with flip flops or slices of cake on the labels.
Great Views Looking Up
Pollak Vineyards, located in the Afton region west of Charlottesville and south of Waynesboro, has been a favorite of the blogmasters since they opened in 2008. They feature consistently excellent wines, at good prices. Their tasting room is airy with vaulted ceilings and bustling every month, from the cold and gray of January to the sticky heat of August. The winery spotlights Chardonnay, Viognier, Cab Franc and Meritage, but every wine is a winner.
The property, like many in the state, is huge with ample space to move around - even if the winery is packed, you can find an isolated spot by walking a few yards. There is a large pond that you can imbibe by, and take in the view of the surrounding mountains from the valley. The trucks on I-64 can be heard faintly in the distance but they are not a distraction.
King Family Vineyards is an eight minute drive from Pollak, located off the U.S. highway leading to Crozet and Charlottesville. Well known in the state as being a pioneer in the industry (King Family is one of the original Monticello AVA wineries), and the only winery with regular polo matches. There is a sense of "Dallas" (the TV show, not the city) in this winery, from the ranch-style layout of the property to the local members of the upper crust who come to watch the polo matches. But that should in no way deter you from visiting. The wine here, like Pollak, is outstanding, particularly the Chardonnay, Merlot and Crosé, a creative play on the words "rosé" and the nearby village of Crozet. The Crosé is crafted from their excellent Merlot. David King is a leader in the local and statewide wine industry and is frequently found during the weekends in the tasting room.
View from King Family Vineyards:
Wintergreen Winery is about a 30 minute drive from King Family or Pollak - follow the highway south towards the village of Nellysford and the Wintergreen Resort. You may get a craving for great local craft beer after passing not one but three popular microbreweries (Blue Mountain, Wild Wolf, and Devils Backbone), but keep driving - you will be soon rewarded. Wintergreen recently built a new events pavilion but the tasting room is the same intimate and quaint one we've grown accustomed to. Located on the banks of the Rockfish river, Wintergreen is surrounded by majestic mountains and the sound of the babbling creek complete the serene atmosphere. The wines are delicious; another Monticello AVA winery that excels at Chardonnay, the Black Rock Reserve is a must-try and must-buy. They also offer a raspberry wine and an apple wine, if you've grown tired of grape wines by this time (and trying these will also prepare you for a visit to nearby Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery, a few minutes away).
There are plenty of other wineries with valley views looking up to grand mountains--CrossKeys Vineyards near Harrisonburg, Flying Fox Winery, northeast of Wintergreen, and Doukenie Winery in Loudoun County are three other blogger favorites with unique views.
King Family Vineyards
Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery
Flying Fox Winery