Recently, we took a day trip to Culpeper and Orange county for a little bit of wine and history. It was a great day trip from Cleveland Park, allowing us to get out of the city for the day and experience rural Virginia while still being home in time for a nice dinner in the neighborhood. Here’s our suggested itinerary:
1) Arrive Old House Vineyards, 11:00 AM - Our first wine tasting, about an hour and a half drive from Cleveland Park, was set in a charming old farmhouse, overlooking the rolling hills of Culpeper county. Here, we tried 9 wines for $5 and experienced our first Virginia champagne. The tasting was quick–we would have enjoyed more time to experience the wines–but we were impressed with the variety produced by this small winery. We also liked the outdoor life-sized chess board in the yard.
2) Arrive at James Madison’s home, Montpelier, 1:00 PM - Stop off at Montpelier to tour the lifelong home of James Madison and his family. The property has undergone an extensive restoration in recent years, and while the largest part of the work was completed in the 2008, fans of history and architectural restoration will enjoy seeing the ongoing projects to restore the home to its Madison-era design and decoration. The tour of the property was lengthy but comprehensive, and we enjoyed a nice stroll through the gardens after visiting the home.
3) Stop for a late lunch at Stonefire Kitchen, 3:00 PM - By mid-afternoon, the crackers that accompanied our earlier wine tasting weren’t enough and we pulled over at the first cafe we saw. Fortuitously, we discovered Stonefire Kitchen, a sandwich shop serving delicious sandwiches, many of which were made with locally sourced meats, cheeses, and veggies. We were impressed with our sandwich selections: we tried one Virginia ham and one spinach artichoke sandwich. The shop also had a great wine, beer, and snack selection, and even sold picnic baskets if you were looking to pick up treats to take to the next winery.
4) Go wine tasting at Burnley Vineyards, 4:00 PM – If you’re looking for a friendly, family-owned farm winery, Burnley is a fantastic stop. Burnley was one of the early wineries in the Charlottesville area, and we enjoyed chatting with the owner about the history of Virginia wines and recent innovations in the industry. We got to taste about 8 wines (including one hot spiced wine) for just $2. We enjoyed their reds the most and went home with a couple bottles ($12-$20).
Alternative plan: Go to over to Barboursville Vineyards, 4:00 PM - Skip Burnley and head to Barboursville Vineyards if you’re looking for a larger winery and a more polished wine tasting experience. At Barboursville Vineyards, you can expect more people and a less personal experience, but you get a more Napa-like tasting on a beautiful property overlooking the Barboursville ruins. Tastings are $5 and include as many as 20 wines; we were particularly impressed with the 2006 Octagon.
5) Return to DC, 7:00 PM
Anyone else taken any great day trips from Cleveland Park? Other favorite Virginia wineries?