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My Virginia Winery Favorites for Virginia Wine Week

Two weeks ago a group of us Virginia wine blogging folk got together to share our favorite Virginia wines in what the group called our Top 20 Virginia Wine lists.  Even more so than the aggregated data which revealed several notable wine data points, I found others personal wine preferences interesting.

Soon after posting our Top 20 Virginia Wine lists, Allan Liska, writer of CellarBlog, contacted the group to suggest that we post a winery-specific list during Virginia Wine Week.  Each of the group members provided suggestions to Allan, and he organized and trimmed down the list.

As with all ranking systems, it’s nearly impossible to name the ‘top’ of any particular category, but below are my two or three favorite wineries in each category:

Most Dog-Friendly:
This is not one I can answer from a lot of personal experience since I’ve only taken our pups (mini dachshunds – Nathan and Lucy) to a few wineries – Chatham Vineyards, Chyrsalis Vineyards, and Swedenburg Vineyard.  Both Chatham and Chrysalis were very welcoming and doggie friendly.  Although I’ve never taken our pups to Keswick Vineyards, I have been there on a quick visit during their ‘Yappy Hours’ events – a chance for pooches and wine enthusiasts to relax and make new friends – that takes place every Sunday in May through October.

Most Family-Friendly:
With a baby due in May, we’re about to start exploring this option much more.  In my opinion, I have always found most Virginia wineries to be family friendly.  It seems the wineries with the most open space to for kids to run around and tire out are the best for families with small children.  In this category I’m going with Breaux Vineyards and Doukenie, with an honorable mention going to Gadino Cellars (those bocce ball courts make a difference).

Best Winery to Take a Date:
I’ve never taken a ‘date‘ date to a winery, but my wife and I have been to many of wineries on quasi-dates.  For a romantic time, I would say a tasting and then dinner at Barboursville‘s Palladio Restaurant.  King Family Vineyards offers Polo matches on weekends throughout the summer months that would make a neat place to take a date.

Best Winery to Hear Music:
I’ve only been to music events at a couple of wineries, and I would have to say that Notaviva seemed best suited for music.

Best Winery to Bump Into Owner/Winemaker:
Since many Virginia wineries are small, the chances of bumping in to an owner or the winemaker are good.   Each time I’ve been to Chatham Vineyards I’ve run in to owners Jon or Mils Wehner, and have also seen Fritz Repich on each of my visits to Mountfair.

Best winery for Someone New to Virginia Wine:
Jefferson Vineyards, which is so close to so much history, offers a nice range of wines for someone new to Virginia and ‘location’ makes for a cool experience.  I would also say that Ingleside Plantation Vineyards with their large selection is sure to have something for all palates.

Best Views:
Like most other categories, there is no shortage of amazing views from tasting rooms throughout Virginia.  There are a few dozen wineries that could be listed here.  The decks at Bluemont Vineyard offers amazing views, as does the back patio at Chester Gap.

Best Place to Visit With a Big Group:
Linden Vineyards – The bigger the bus the better the treatment.  I hear groups over 20 are allowed exclusive use of the deck on the backside of the tasting rom.  ;)  I kid.  For those literal types, I should note that Linden, like a growing number of Virginia wineries, does not accept buses or groups over 6 (which is the way I like it).  For big groups rolling in a tour bus, I would say that Prince Michel seems really well suited for the really large groups.  For groups of six to ten, Breaux Vineyards is really well suited, and on a nice day Hillsborough Vineyards has nice outside seating (get there early to get one of those spots though).

Best je ne sais quoi/indefinable quality that makes it special:
With all the buzz right now, it seems to be RdV Vineyards.

Best Winery to Laze Away the Afternoon:
There are a large number of wineries that provide a great opportunity for lazing an afternoon away.  In the winter months, Afton Mountain and Veritas provide a cozy environment for lazing away an afternoon with good friends and a glass of wine.  In the warmer months, the Adirondack chairs adjacent to the Glen Manor tasting room make a nice place for a book and a glass of wine.

BONUS Category – Wineries I Have Yet To Visit But Plan To Soon:
Annefield Vineyards
Foggy Ridge Cidery

I look forward to reading other’s lists – especially my friends at Virginia Wine Time, Swirl Sip Snark and Virginia Wine In My Pocket who have each visited well over 100 Virginia wineries.  Thanks Allan for suggesting this idea and pulling this together!

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