The Traveling Steve's

Touring Wineries in Charlottesville VA

After leaving Roanoke, we stayed in Charlottesville, Virginia for four nights. Charlottesville is a two hour drive from Roanoke, and is a good stop-over for us when we are taking the Auto Train home from Lorton, Virginia, which is also another two hour drive. We are taking the Auto Train home in five days when we head back to Roanoke.The drive to Charlottesville was mostly freeway and at part scenic as it cuts thru the Blue Ridge Mountains. DOS did the driving in his car which was filled to the ceiling with luggage and things we were bringing back to Florida from Mom and Dad’s house.

We stayed at the Fairfield Inn, Charlottesville, which was quite modest but reasonably priced for this low availability /high priced Charlottesville weekend, no doubt to graduations at the University of Virginia, weddings, and tourist sightseeing in the beautiful late Spring weather. Comparable hotels we’ve stayed at in the past, i.e. Hyatt Place, were priced twice as much on this particular weekend. (Note to self, always ask yourself why if a hotel is significantly cheaper than other similar properties for a given date.)

We had a studio suite which was quite small even for one person, much less two, made worse by unloading the car contents and storing them in the room all four nights, lest the car get broken into. Before and after photos; the first is the empty room upon checkin, while the second is our room after loading it up from the car.

This Fairfield seemed a bit weathered and perhaps party central judging by the outdoor trash cans overflowing with beer cans and liquor bottles that greeted us on the side entrance as we brought our luggage into he hotel. When we got to our room, we only had one tiny trash can, so maybe this is used for an overflow area for guests.

While the king size bed was comfortable, it barely fit into the alcove of the studio suite, and was a tight squeeze getting out of the bed by the tiny closet not to mention trying to unpack in it. While the room size may be typical of Fairfield Inn’s, (we don’t typically stay in these, but it was part of the Marriott chain so at least we got stay credit), this particular hotel was basically a two star dump.

Little care was given to the room upkeep, as seen by the wear and tear on this desk chair. I wouldn’t sit on this chair without a towel covering it even while wearing jeans. The chair literally should have been thrown out with the trash and replaced, as there is only so much duct tape that can hold it together!

The first night, DOS and I were on our own, so we went to Carmela’s Italian Restaurant which we’ve been to a couple times when in the area. Carmella’s has never been busy when we’ve been there and the first night (Thursday) was no exception.

We had the same waiter we’ve had each time we’ve been there, an older gentleman who said we looked familiar when we told him he waited on us the last two times.

By comparison when we went two nights later on a Saturday night, Carmella’s was packed and even with a 7pm reservation we had a bit of a wait standing outside the small restaurant. This time Jenni and her husband Lawrence were with us, (who had come in the day before from Maryland for the weekend), and they weren’t as impressed with the service (same waiter) and his forgetfulness of everything from the water, to olive oil, bread, extra napkins, to bottle of wine etc, as we had been served previously. While Saturday was extra busy, the other tables around us seemed to be served quickly and correctly by other waiters. Unfortunately I think dementia may have been a culprit for our waiter, (or perhaps he was just overwhelmed on a busy night) as he didn’t remember DOS and me from a couple days ago, not to mention several of the items we requested during our meal.

While in Charlottesville, we went to several vineyards including Pippin Vineyards, where we’ve been many times, and have a wine club membership there. We went twice for lunch actually, once with DOS and myself our first day there, and on Saturday with my sister Jenni and her husband Lawrence. Jenni and Lawrence had driven in from Maryland our first day and toured Monticello while DOS and I toured the two wineries that day. We would later meet them for dinner at the hotel where we all were staying. On the first day when DOS and I went to Pippin by ourselves, it was quite windy and cool so we bundled up a bit, even though we were sitting on a semi-enclosed terrace with the tall heaters beside us.

After Pippin winery, DOS and I went to Stinson Vineyards, a small winery set on a picturesque hillside offering outdoor seating on Adirondack-type chairs made from used wine barrels.

As at Pippin, the day we went was incredibly windy; so windy that things were blowing off of our charcuterie tray and would have knocked off our wine glasses if we weren’t holding them! We did manage to have a nice tasting at Stinson, and will go back at a less windy time.

In the evening, we met Jenni and Lawrence back at the hotel before going out for dinner. They stayed at our hotel as well, (if only for the Marriott points) and after getting settled we went to Aberdeen Barn for dinner. Aberdeen Barn is one of our favorite restaurants in Charlottesville, and prime rib is their house specialty. Ironically, I didn’t get a photo of our main course of prime rib; I guess we were enjoying it so much!

The four of us had a very enjoyable meal at Aberdeen Barn and headed back to the hotel around 9:30pm.

The next day (Saturday) Jenni, Lawrence, DOS, and I had late morning visit to at Early Mountain Vineyards, followed by an afternoon lunch at Pippin. Compared to yesterday, the weather was beautiful, and the high winds had subsided. Early Mountain was a large and modern vineyard estate with a huge ballroom-like restaurant and tasting room inside, as well as comfortable terrace seating out back overlooking the mountains and vines.

We sat outside and enjoyed the nice weather, while sipping some vino and having a late morning brunch. We shared the charcuterie board, while Jenni and I each had an entree salad, DOS had a soft shell crab dish, while Lawrence had grilled lamb ribs which he also shared with the table. Here are some outdoor photos of our visit to Early Mountain Vineyards.

Early Mountain Vineyards was definitely a classy and fun stop! Here’s one last panoramic photo as seen from the terrace area where we were sitting.

After leaving Early Mountain Vineyards, DOS (our designated driver) drove us to Pippin Vineyards (where we had been yesterday) and enjoyed a late 1:30pm light lunch. I say light as we basically had a lunch at Early Mountain Vineyard and were all pretty full. We again had a terrace view and today (Saturday) was much busier than the windy day of yesterday.

People were sitting out on the lawns sipping vino, big groups, small groups, couples etc. It was really nice to see people enjoying the day again as the COVID epidemic is starting to wind down a bit due to the vaccinations that have been rolling out to everyone this year. It had a relaxed almost Woodstock like feel to it in this rural and beautiful mountainous setting. Here are some photos taken from our terrace seating area looking out to the serene landscape.

And here are a few photos taken from our seating area on the terrace, where we had the wine tasting lunch.

And one more panoramic photo from Pippin, and to close out this post, and head back to the hotel.

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