Forget opulent chardonnays and big cabs: Young wine drinkers want their wine natural, novel, and approachable. Here are four wineries offering just that, as well as a taste of Virginia terroir. With the fall harvest nearly underway, now is the time to visit the fifth-largest wine producing region in the country.
Early Mountain Vineyards
This winery has all the usual suspects: merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, cabernet franc, malbec. But they’ve also recently planted petit manseng, petit verdot, malvasia bianca, and tannat––grapes traditionally used for blending that aren’t exactly household names. The inviting tasting room—all marble floors and warm wood with a cozy fireplace—is set with plush couches and tables where you can order from a locally sourced menu of snacks to complement the wine. You can map the rest of your wine weekend accordingly from Early Mountain; on the chalkboard wall behind the tasting room bar is a large map of the Monticello wine region with major vineyards numbered.
There’s very little pretension in Virginia wine country, which makes it an ideal place for wine novices or anyone looking to skip the arrogance that can so often come with the territory. Among them is Pollak Vineyards, about twenty minutes west of Charlottesville near Crozet, an area thick with breweries and wineries. A family establishment, it was founded in 2008 and has become a sort of sleeper hit in the area. The sunny and intimate tasting room has tall windows with a view of the mountainous hills surrounding the vineyard. Pollak is the place for rosé lovers; theirs has great body and crisp acidity; fruity but not sweet.
King Family Vineyards
King is an all-natural winery, with no pesticides or machines or even netting on the vines. The viognier is the standout—ultra-crisp and aromatic, it tastes of limes and green almonds, cool and refreshing—but they also make a very popular rosé, the Crosé, so named for the region. Pack a picnic to enjoy the stunning Blue Ridge vista of rolling lawns and foothills from the winery’s grounds.
This family operation strives to make its wines as natural as possible. Rachel Stinson was working at her father’s vineyard when Nathan Vrooman—helping his own parents run their vineyard, Ankida Ridge—came to use Stinson’s equipment to ferment his grapes. They hit it off, got married, and now jointly run both vineyards together.
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