On our second day in Charlottesville, DOS and I took a 5 hour wine tour to three of the nearby wineries. According to the website Monticello Wine Trail, there are some 35 wineries along the wine trail in the mountains and valleys surrounding Charlottesville. Since it was a bit too many to do in one day (LOL!) we chose a private (custom) wine tour via Albemarle Limousines. Our driver and tour guide Alan picked us promptly at 10am at our Bed and Breakfast, 400 West High Street for our 10am to 3pm tour.
We visited three wineries, Trump Winery, Dave Matthews Band Winery, and Jefferson Winery, which were all reasonably close and all good quality wineries. All of the wineries were high atop the mountains surrounding Charlottesville, and it made for an enjoyable drive along the way.
Our first stop was (No Politics Please!) Trump Winery. Regardless of your political affiliation, this winery was first class, and not political in any way. It was acquired by the Trump family (as a result of the previous owners foreclosure which is detailed below), and the tasting room has been operating since 2011, with the Albemarle Estate being available for hotel rental since 2015.
Prior to arriving, we didn’t know what to expect at Trump Winery. I guess I expected a cardboard cutout of Donald you could take a selfie with like in this pic from the Philadelphia airport in 2016! LOL!
Alas, nothing was even remotely like that though; it really was just like any other wine tasting room, perhaps even on the simpler side, although the grounds were huge with amazing views.
Trump winery estate was formerly owned by the Kluge family, and after a divorce and millions invested in the winery by the former Mrs. Kluge, the foreclosed estate was sold off via three banks at a fraction of the asking price. You can read more about the history of the estate in this Wikipedia article on the Kluge Family / Trump Estate.
The winery estate and hotel (known as Albemarle Estate at Trump Winery) has various rooms for rent from in mansion. The mansion is visible in the far distance on a parcel of land among the 227 acre estate now run by Eric Trump, the President’s son. DOS and I had looked at staying at one of the estate rooms available for rent, but declined mainly as there was not a dinner restaurant on-site (at least from what we saw on the website). Breakfast was included and the dining menu showed serving until 4pm, but we didn’t want to drive at night thru the mountains, especially after having a food and wine dinner! We weren’t sure if Uber would go up to the mountainside Estate in the evening, so we wisely stayed right in town in Charlottesville. Maybe one day we can stay there and enjoy all that the estate has to offer if we plan ahead more and research transportation options in the evening.
Here are some of the photos from the winery tasting room which is separate from the mansion. The tasting room itself is nice, but not pretentious or political in any way, nor were the staff that served us. We tried several wines, starting off with the Sparkling wine (Champagne, but as it’s not from France, it technically cannot be called such.)
We took a break from our mid-morning tasting while at Trump Winery, and ordered a small pepperoni flatbread from the onsite deli, and enjoyed it in the large adjacent tent. There is also an adjacent outdoor picnic area as well, but in the hot summer heat, the tent was much more enjoyable.
While waiting for the flatbread, we enjoyed a glass of wine on the mountainside lawn, relaxing in the Adirondack chairs, just taking in the spectacular views.
In the far distance, you could see the estate mansion, which was clearly not walking distance from the wine tasting room, and not part of the winery tour.
After finishing up our wine tasting at Trump Winery with a dessert wine, we bought a couple of souvenir glasses and bottle of wine to bring home.
We then headed back to the Tesla and were on our way to the next winery, Blenheim Vineyards.
Blenheim Vineyards, owned by Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band is a much smaller winery estate located just down the road from Trump Winery, on 32 acres. The winery has a modern feel to it with it’s A-framed tasting room, glass floors looking down to the winery production area, and outdoor terrace overlooking the vineyards.
We had a nice tasting here at Blenheim with a young man named Chris. He was older than he looked though, and was married and well traveled due to his Father’s work travels while he was growing up. We had a nice talk about different wine regions (he had lived in Argentina at one point growing up), while he served us our wine tasting. Chris also showed us a map of the estate, showing what varietals were planted where.
We even made a new friend with this huge but friendly dog a couple ladies had brought in while they were touring.
Like at Trump Winery, we purchased a glass of wine (above the tasting fee) and enjoyed the leisurely vino outside on the deck while taking in the beautiful mountain and vineyard views.
We bought a few souvenirs here as well, and were actually given a Dave Matthews CD as we spent more than $50!.
Our last winery stop of the day was at Jefferson Vineyards, so named after the third President of the United States. I couldn’t resist putting my cap on this bust of Jefferson and getting my photo taken with him!
Of all the three wineries, I think this had the best quality red wines. Trump had the best Sparkling, and the Dave Matthews had a great ‘Painted Red Wine’. As our Jefferson Vineyards wine server explained, Virginia does not have the long growing season such as Napa or other parts of the world, so the reds are not as full bodied as other areas, but I though they were quite nice.
Again we did the flight of wine tasting, followed by a glass of our favorite vino from the wines we tasted. This land at one time was actually owned by Thomas Jefferson, and he tried his hand at wine-making, but did not succeed. His estate at Monticello is in fact across the facing mountain, where we will be touring tomorrow.
After the tasting, we purchased our souvenirs, and then headed back to the Tesla for our ride back to Charlottesville.
The ride was no more than a 1/2 hour, but after drinking vino and going thru the curvy mountains, there is no way we would want to drive this ourselves.
Allan drove thru the University of Virginia campus on the way back to our Bed and Breakfast, giving us a glimpse of the soon to be in Fall session University that Thomas Jefferson founded in 1819.
After gathering up all our purchases, we headed back to our McIntire room at 400 West High Street. It was a wonderful day tour of the Charlottesville wine region, and we hope to come back again, (hopefully in Fall when the leaves are turning color) to try some of the other wineries. Cheers!