Jun 21, 2012

Charlottesville “Lipstick” Wine Tour

If you haven’t done this before, I highly recommend it. First things first, pick a person who doesn’t drink that much. They can be the driver. Haha. Pick 3-4 wineries in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. Map them on Google, copy and paste the map into something like the “Paint” application on your computer. With the spray can tool, which comes out looking like lipstick, connect the wineries. That’s how we designed our wine tour with our friend, Aaron, coining the term, “Lipstick Map.” Not as complicated as you think.

We went on our wine tour with another couple. It was actually their fabulous idea to go to Charlottesville and check out a few wineries with a brewery mixed in there. Our journey started with Veritas, then Blue Mountain Brewery for lunch, King Family and saving the best for last, Pippin Hill Farms. It was one of the best Saturdays with good wine, good friends and some beautiful Virginia mountains you’ve ever seen.

First stop: Veritas Vineyard & Winery {151 Veritas Lane  Afton, Virginia 22920}

I know a few people that have gotten married at Veritas. They have a beautiful indoor reception covered in lace drapery. I’m also very familiar with their wines because Veritas always makes an appearance at wine expos in the Richmond area, and I’ve actually bought a bottle or two of their red. The winery was really nice and sweet-looking. There was a wrap around deck that allows guests to sit outside to enjoy the scenery and weather. We went inside because it was a hot May day and we needed some wine to cool off. When we walked inside the tasting room, it was a drastic change from the exterior. The colors were bold. The atmosphere was very rugged and quite masculine. The wine itself was quite impressive. We sampled 8 very lovely wines, all I really enjoy. One in particularly we loved and got a glass of was the Mousseux. It’s a sparkling wine in a deep pink color. It was crisp and refreshing on a very warm day. The strawberry, cherry and raspberry flavors were clean and fresh. I could have drank a whole bottle.

Verdict: The wine here definitely didn’t disappoint. I highly enjoyed both the whites and reds, especially the Mousseux. The flavors were bold and distinct. The scenery though was not my favorite of the trip, mainly because it was a little hilly. Other than that, I’d go back for their wines! One recommendation, I wish they had ceiling fans outside…note that Veritas!

Second stop: Blue Mountain Brewery {9519 Critzer Shop Road  Afton, VA 22920}

As far as food and beer experience are concerned, Blue Mountain Brewery was our least favorite on the tour. We rolled up to the Brewery, packed as can be for a typical Saturday. They even had parking attendants directing traffic. Getting seated was not an issue, which was surprising. We ordered a flight of beer for everyone to share and ordered lunch. Well, sadly the beer was very very disappointing. I’ve drank my fair share of beer, good beer, and these Blue Mountain beers were terrible. There were about 8 different brews, all of which we did not enjoy. Jared, Mr. beer drinker, had to fight through to finish the beers. The food itself was just OK. My crab cake sandwich was tasteless. Didn’t have that fresh crab cake flavor that I love so much. Jared thought the description on the menu was tastier than his actual burger. The couple that did score was Aaron & Cyndy who ordered the pizza. If you do go there, just stick with the pizza.

Verdict: Not a place I would recommend nor have any desire of returning. Sorry, Blue Mountain. I wish your beer and food were better!

Third stop: King Family Vineyard {6550 Roseland Farm Crozet, VA 22932}

One of the coolest thing about this vineyard is the fact they have polo matches on the property. So, off behind the building were the horse stables. I was surprised as hell to see actual horses just chilling in the stables. It was pretty entertaining. But back to the wine. We arrived at the vineyard and immediately went inside the tasting room only to be bombarded with tons of people. It felt very touristy especially with the several bachelorette parties and tour groups. It felt crowded inside, so I wish it was a little larger and not as cramped. I guess we weren’t in the mood to compete with the loud crowds. But, we found a spot at the bar, started to taste and soon we couldn’t care less about the noise. The wines were solid. They went with fewer wines and perfected them really nicely. In this situation, their philosophy was “less is more.”

Verdict: The wines were solid, maybe not that memorable, but enjoyable. I think the bachelorette parties inside the winery annoyed me a bit. I did love the endless view. The mountains and a well-maintained property with the greenest grass would probably make me give this place another shot.

Fourth and last stop: Pippin Hill Farms {5022 Plank Road North Garden, VA 22959}

There aren’t any words to describe my love for Pippin Hill Farms. Literally, I am in LOVE with this place. Pippin Hill Farms is probably two years old. Because my day work involves weddings, I’m always looking at wedding photos and I’ve seen some gorgeous ones taken at Pippin. First off, the owners definitely designed this vineyard correctly. They were smart about the placement of the building. It sat on a hill overlooking the most breathtaking view that I take for granted living in Richmond. They certainly planned this place with weddings in mind. When you arrive, they have a deck overlooking the mountains with chairs facing outward. Couples can get married right on the lawn. There’s a reception area inside the barn. And then a tasting room where you can eat, drink and relax. If you don’t believe me, just look at the photos!

Verdict: If I were to renew my vows, I would do so here. If I were to get married for the first time, I would do so here. If I wanted to visit just one winery in Charlottesville, I would go here. Everything about this vineyard is absolutely breathtaking. From the views, décor, furniture, food and wines, this place is freakin’ unbelievable. Hands down, Pippin is my ultimate favorite.

We decided not to do a tasting of all their wines, rather just ordered a glass and ate more food. They serve small plates with seasonal local items designed to pair with their wines. We ordered a cheese platter which had some candied nuts, several fig jams and an orange marmalade. Besides the portions being a little small, there was nothing to dislike. I just wish there was more! We also ordered the hummus which was incredible fresh. Definitely tasted like it was made that day. As you can see, we left nothing behind. I will be honest with you, this place is not cheap. A glass of wine was $9. I recommend buying a bottle and splitting it.

Thanks so much Cyndy and Aaron for inviting us to Charlottesville! We had a wonderful time and I’m already thinking about the next 3-4 I want to visit next. This time, Jared can drive :)

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  • Let’s go back to Pippin Hill in the FALL!!!!!!!

    • Isabel

      Lets do it! I’d definitely go back :)

  • Thank you for your lovely words about Pippin Hill! We would love to meet you – so please ask for us when you come visit in the fall!!

    Lynn & Dean Andrews (lucky owners of PHF)

    • Isabel

      The words are well-deserved! :) Thank you for your sweet comment and I will definitely ask for you both in the Fall!

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