It's no surprise that wineries are popular wedding venues. Most Virginia wineries offer incredible natural surroundings (be they mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, streams, meadows, ponds, vineyards), excellent wine, events rooms (and/or tents), and an onsite wedding planning staff. Some of the more popular Virginia wineries book wedding calendars up to three years in advance, in some cases - including winter months. Here we will spotlight four lesser-known but ideal wedding spots, keeping nearby accommodations, airports, and cities/towns in mind.
1. First Colony Winery
First Colony Winery is one of the first locations in the Commonwealth that the blogmasters fell in love with, and it remains a favorite. We always make a point to stop by, even with other wineries springing up so fast in this region southeast of Charlottesville, on the highway towards Scottsville. In fact, during our first visit, the owner and tasting room manager were preparing for a wedding (where the groomsmen inexplicably were bringing cases of Bud Light into the tasting room.....you can't take the Bud out of a sports fanatic). They allowed us to linger on one of their patios as they prepared and well into the start of the private wedding. That gave us a great first impression of the "you're at home here" quality of First Colony. That was way back in 2003. They've remained humble and accommodating to this day, with new owners and a terrific husband and wife team making the wine and managing the operation, respectively.
And speaking of weddings, this location is one of the best for weddings in the state, if not the best. Tucked away in the woods, not far from the main highway leading towards Charlottesville (the city is about 12 miles away, full of hotels, motels and B&Bs, plus an airport), the winery works in all seasons. A second floor of the tasting room can be decked out for cold months, and they offer both a deck in the back (facing the forest, with trees so close you can touch them) and a patio in front. As for the wine, something for everyone: Dry, off dry, sweet, rosé.
Winery website: First Colony (http://www.firstcolonywinery.com/)
2. Old House Winery
A close #2 on our list of all-around state favorites is Old House, named after an 1800s farm house that was lovingly restored by the owners. Another all-season location, Old House offers an events pavilion away from the house itself. The location includes a pond with an island, perfect for those inevitable hundreds of wedding photos:
The house itself is nicely appointed with antiques, paintings, knick knacks and chess boards. Several party rooms are offered. The wine is incredible, and they make some of the best Chambourcin in the state. They are located near Culpeper (Dulles Airport being the closest airport). The town offers hotels, motels and B&Bs for every budget.
Winery website: Old House (http://www.oldhousevineyards.com/)
3. Notaviva Vineyards
The blogmasters used to DJ on the side, and Notaviva Vineyards, in far western Loudoun County (2 miles from the West Virginia line on the way to Charles Town) was the location that referred the most brides and grooms-to-be to our business, and we gigged here a few times as well. Our experience with Notaviva Vineyards is partially based on our side business. The owners are professional musicians who themselves got married on the property several years ago. Their tasting room shares the property with their home, and was featured on the HGTV & DIY series "Dream House."
The tasting room is multi-leveled and the owners, having a passion for music, will ensure the entertainment matches the tastes of the bride and groom and guests. The passion for music here is so strong that their slogan is "wine paired with music." The property slopes towards a pond and a grove of trees, which provide ample photo ops. And of course the wine is stellar: The owner/winemaker worked closely with Virginia wine guru Doug Fabbioli, and crafts incredible Viognier, Vidal Blanc, and Chambourcin. An off-sweet blush is offered for those wine novices in your group.
Winery website: Notaviva (http://www.notavivavineyards.com/)
4. Saudé Creek Vineyards
A relative newcomer to the Virginia wine scene (compared to the other three wineries in this post), Saudé Creek is named after a waterway in Alabama, but is actually situated on the Pamunkey River, a tributary of the York River in Southeast Virginia (between Richmond and Williamsburg). The location allows folks to fly in to either the Richmond or Williamsburg/Newport News airport. We were totally knocked out by the personal attention of the owners and the detail put into the tasting building. The wine wasn't too shabby either, favorites being their Pamunkey Fall blend of Chardonnay and Chardonel, and Saudé Creek red blend (a semi dry pasta wine that is sure to be a hit with wedding groups, especially during colder months).
Saudé Creek tasting room:
Despite the nearby population centers of Richmond and Hampton Roads, this location seems tucked away in a different world. The fact that it's relatively new compared to other nearby spots (like New Kent Winery and James River Cellars), their wedding calendars may not be as booked. But reserve early as word is sure to get out about this delightful location.
Winery website: Saudé Creek (http://saudecreek.com/)
These are just four of our favorite wedding spots in Virginia but you can't really go wrong with any location. However not every winery in Virginia has the room (or interest) for hosting weddings. Consult the annual Virginia winery map available at most wineries as locations in the state that welcome weddings are indicated with a specific icon. Happy planning!