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Sip Your Way Along the Monticello Wine Trail

In the current landscape of Virginia’s wine country, local and family-owned vineyards are experimenting with often-overlooked varietals (like viognier and cabernet franc). The results are born from revolutionary blending techniques and many boast world-class flavor profiles. The Monticello Wine Trail through Charlottesville and Albemarle County invites both wine amateurs and aficionados to taste the region’s legacy of quality and prestige through wine.

We invite you to find your own perfect pairing along the Monticello Wine Trail, beginning with some of our favorite wineries and vineyards this year.

Virginia Wines to Explore on the Monticello Wine Trail

Gabriele Rausse Winery

Gabriele Rausse Winery

While his own roots reach deep into the ancient walls of Vicenza, Italy, Gabriele Rausse—the world-renowned father of Virginia wine—has personally instilled new roots into over 100 wineries and vineyards across the state of Virginia since his arrival in 1976. From Barboursville to Blenheim to Afton Mountain Vineyards, the initial success of many well-known Charlottesville area wine destinations can be credited to Rausse, who launched his own wine production in 1997.

The tasting room is tucked within the forest just past the Monticello estate, small and simple in stature but elegant in its large, glass windows and wooden trim. The design is meant to embody the sun, soil, and natural elements which heavily influence the region’s grapes. The reputation of Rausse’s wines precede them, with bestselling vino dal bosco (“wine from the forest”), and bottles from popular Virginia grapes like viognier, cabernet franc, and merlot in his signature collection. Visit Rausse’s sanctuary in the woods to taste historic Virginia wines from the cellar of a true expert himself.

Indian Summer Guide Service

To visit each winery and vineyard along the Monticello Wine Trail is no easy feat—with stimulating tours, innovative wine varieties, and beautiful mountain views, almost every stop begs to be explored even further. While a brief visit at each winery may only scratch the surface of a local, family-owned wine destination, a guided tour on horseback offers a relaxed and customizable tasting experience.

Two people riding horses through Virginia Wine Country

The Indian Summer Guide Service leads daily vineyard rides at multiple venues across the greater Charlottesville area. Saddle up for one of four different rides, following a knowledgeable guide through some of the Monticello AVA’s most breathtaking orchards, vineyards, and wooded trails. Rides depart daily throughout the year, offering a unique perspective of the harvest each fall in addition to the planting of new grapes. Guests may sample some of the region’s most popular wines and ciders—and, of course, are encouraged to bring home their favorites.

Other Ways to Explore the Monticello Wine Trail

You can also enjoy the specialty wines unique to Charlottesville and Albemarle County from the area’s abundant hotels, bed and breakfasts, and cottages, before venturing to the vibrant downtown pedestrian mall lined with farm-to-table restaurants that embrace the region’s equally as rich agricultural scene.

Between days spent getting lost in the rolling hills and between rows of grapes, you can reflect on your progress with the Monticello Wine Trail Digital Passport. The passport makes it easy and fun to visit multiple wineries while keeping track of your visits. Once you check in at 10 participating wineries, you’ll receive a souvenir Monticello Wine Trail wine glass to remind you of your trip and inspire you to share what you learned in Charlottesville’s wine country.

Check out this complete list of wineries in Charlottesville and Albemarle County to celebrate Virginia Wine Month.

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Albemarle County Vineyard Photo Credit David Anhold
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