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36 Hours in Shenandoah Valley Wine Country

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First things first: This post is not about Charlottesville. Now make no mistake: I love Charlottesville. It’s one of Virginia’s Wine Country’s prides and joys, and for very good reason.  But while Charlottesville is absolutely charming and equally rich in culture, art, and natural beauty, there are many other gems in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains that are more than worthy of exploring.  One of those sparkling gems is Crozet, a quaint community filled with many wonderful wineries amid a stunning setting. And if you still need to get your Charlottesville fix, Crozet is only a mere 15 minutes away!

 

Where to Stay: The Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm:

This inn has it all: gorgeous grounds, intimate setting, delightful breakfast, and warm hospitality. T spared no detail when planning my birthday weekend and we stayed in the lovely Shenandoah Suite, the largest and most private of all the rooms. Thanks to my thoughtful husband, wine, champagne, and chocolate were waiting for us–the perfect trio to welcome us after a nearly three hour drive from D.C. We loved the seclusion of our private porch and enjoyed the pleasant view of the tranquil wooded area. Cannot recommend this inn enough!

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*Friday Night at Grace Estate: If you’re traveling from out of town, you’ll most likely arrive to Shenandoah on a Friday night. Grace Estate Winery, only about three miles away from Sugar Hollow, is the perfect way to kickstart your weekend. Every Friday night the winery hosts Friday Night in the Vineyard, where they welcome local musicians and food vendors until 9pm. We arrived at about 7:30 and unfortunately the food truck had just run out of food. Ain’t no thang. We feasted on wine, cheese, warm baguettes and salami (for T) while enjoying a gorgeous night outside under the stars and listening to Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder covers–it’s almost as if they were expecting my arrival. Highly recommend spending your Friday night at this wonderful winery.

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My Glass is Always Full: Visiting the Wineries

Being that we both love wine, we tend to always hire a driver whenever visiting wineries. You may remember a recent post describing our divine drunk-in-love experience in South Africa’s Stellenbosch Wine Region. I mean who actually enjoys visiting wineries when they’re not able to drink freely because they’re worrying about driving? No-one, that’s who. At least no-one who is worth their tannins. Driving while wineing (definitely a word) is certainly not worth the risk while splurging for a driver is worth every penny. We hired a driver through Norm’s Transportation company– enlisting a private driver provided us with flexibility and peace of mind. And while we appreciated our driver’s recommendations, we also were grateful to be able to have input on where we visited. Highly recommend using this transportation company.

 

*Pollak Vineyards: An intimate family-owned vineyard with a wonderful verandah where you can enjoy a glass (or three) and soak in the beautiful views. Standouts include their Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. A winederful way to start our day. That’s right. I went there.

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*King Family Vineyards: Probably our favorite winery of the day. Of course we loved the wines…particular favorites include the Cabernet Franc, Meritage, Roseland blend, and “7”, which is aged for two years in Kentucky bourbon barrels, but its gorgeous and expansive setting is the real draw here. A perfect place to enjoy a perfect day. We loved this vineyard.

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*Veritas Vineyard & WineryProbably our least favorite winery of the day–oh there’s nothing wrong with their wines, in fact we really enjoyed the Rose and Viogneir here and even bought a few bottles. What we didn’t particularly love was its size and sense of commercialism. Veritas is a vast estate and was very crowded when we visited. We’ve learned that we tend to prefer the smaller family-owned vineyards to the grand estates. We first discovered this while winery hopping in Sonoma and Napa Valleys many years ago, where so many of the smaller vineyards are typically more intimate and personal than the larger ones. Veritas was no different. Of course, this was our third winery of the day, so by the time we arrived, we were feeling quite fine, didn’t have a care in the world, and were more than happy with taking advantage of their substantial grounds while sipping on some more delicious wines.

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*Stinson Vineyards: Only a few minutes down the road from our inn, Stinson Winery is the smallest of the four wineries we visited, and also the most intimate and enchanting. The cozy tasting room is inviting and absolutely adorable. We particularly enjoyed their Sugar Hollow White and scenic views. This small producer has been getting a lot of buzz lately and is so deserving of all of its recognition and praise.

 

So next time you find yourself planning a trip to Virginia’s Shenandoah’s Wine Region, consider branching out from the typical trip to Charlottesville and explore some of its other fabulous areas, like Crozet. I promise you’ll be so glad that you did!

Great wineries lead to even better souvenirs:

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Meet Virginia: Planning Your Virginia Wineries Getaway:

 

Take Thee to a Winery:

http://www.graceestatewinery.com/

http://www.pollakvineyards.com/

http://www.kingfamilyvineyards.com/

http://www.veritaswines.com/

Stinson Vineyards: Sorry, can’t seem to get the link to work!

 

The Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm:

http://www.sugarhollow.com/

 

Don’t Wine & Drive:

www.drivingcharlottesville.com

 

Greenwood Grocery: I feel like if I were to ever own a specialty food store, it would look something like this. Fantastic sandwiches, cheeses, breads, and other picnic goodnesses to bring to the wineries.

http://www.greenwoodva.com/

 

*This post is based on our trip to Shenandoah in Fall 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

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