-The Food Monster
On our way to Charlottesville, from Abingdon, we stopped at Rockbridge Vineyard, which is a little over an hour outside of Charlottesville. We tried a variety of wines in their tasting room, which is free to the public. I especially appreciated this wine tasting because most of the wines were dry. In fact, nine of the 11 wines that Rockbridge currently offers are dry. I am acquiring a larger palate for dry wines, and have grown to enjoy a full-bodied, dry red to accompany a meal. We bought the Tuscarora Red, which is only $10. The Tuscarora Red compliments a wide range of meals, especially Mediterranean food. It offers berry flavors and is medium-bodied.
I recommend that you stop at Rockbridge for a wine tasting, buy a bottle or two, and walk around the vineyard. The farm and vineyard are on a renovated 1800’s dairy, and the view of the rolling hills is beautiful.
Rockbridge Vineyard | www.rockbridgevineyard.com
35 Hill View Lane, Raphine, Virginia | 1-888-511-WINE
A NOTE ON VIRGINIA WINE:
I had no idea that Virginia was not only a beautiful state to drive through, but has over 140 wineries. Thomas Jefferson even attempted to grow European grapes at Monticello from 1774 to 1816, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s did Virginian winemakers succeed with grape variety experimentation.
For information about Virginia wine and wine trails, visit www.virginiawine.org.
When in Charlottesville, it is helpful to be acquainted with the town’s “districts”: the Downtown Mall, The Corner, Belmont, & The University of Virginia campus.
Here are a few stops we made while rambling through Charlottesville:
Blue Mountain Brewery and Hop Farm
9519 Critzers Shop Road, Afton, Virigina
If you haven’t noticed by now, Nick and I love to drink. Not just to drink, but to drink great beer, wines, and liquors of different varieties and from interesting places. Fortunately, our host in Charlottesville, Sean, had the foresight to take us to Blue Mountain Brewery and Hop Farm, located in Afton, Virginia (about 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville).
We each ordered the Sampler, Blue Mountain’s flight of all 6 drafts for $5. We all were not enthusiastic about the lighter beers in the flight, but the darker beers offered a few unique twists. I enjoyed the experience of Blue Mountain Brewery, which offers a view of the farm and a pleasant atmosphere, but I was a bit disappointed with the beer.
Of the flight, my favorite was #6, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. I don’t think I would particularly enjoy a full pint of this beer (due to it’s sweet and strong flavor), but I do appreciate it’s taste. “It smacked me upside the head,” Sean said. This beer is aged in oak bourbon barrels from the Wild Turkey distillery in Kentucky, which explains my reaction to the initial sip. I immediately thought, “This tastes like liquor,” but I could not pinpoint the specific liquor. I liked the unique taste of this beer - what a great idea to utilize the flavors trapped in the oak barrels!
Para Coffee | in The Corner
A colorful little coffee shop that offers decent espresso (which is hard to find), and friendly baristas behind the counter. I recommend getting the bran-raisin muffin, which is the best I have had in quite a while (great muffin top, moist inside, and filled with carrot and raisins!). Serves Shenandoah Joe coffee and has free wi-fi.
Miller’s | in the downtown Mall
Stop by Miller’s to people-watch outside while sipping on a $2 PBR draft.
Beer Run | Belmont (above)
Since Beer Run lacks the yuppies and undergrads of typical Charlottesville bar clientele, this is Sean’s favorite bar. Beer Run is the best of many worlds; it is a beer store, a coffee shop, a restaurant, and a bar. The beer store has so many different beers that you are sure to find something new, and the bar is a great hang out spot. I especially liked our bartender, who poured me a Guiness with a giant D in the head to represent Durham.
South Street Brewery | downtown
South Street is a bit more upscale, with a selection of microbrews to accompany their meals.
SEAN’S PICKS FOR CHARLOTTESVILLE
Since Sean has lived in Charlottesville for a few years now and I trust his judgment, I took note of his top picks for Charlottesville that we were unable to see:
The best area to hang around is Belmont, which is about a mile from downtown. Stop in at La Taza for coffee, go to Mas for tapas or Bel Rio for American fare. Afterward, grab a drink at The Local. “If I am going to put my nice shirt on,” Sean said, “I go to Ten.” Ten is a posh sushi restaurant which just happens to a favorite of Dave Matthews, a UVA alum.