Along the Virginia Wine Trail

Drinking and eating in the Jefferson tradition

On the Vineyard Trail

After a bolstering 18th century-inspired lunch at neighboring Michie Tavern, another historic complex where the fried chicken is legendary and part of an all-you-can-eat buffet of dishes Jefferson himself probably once enjoyed, we were ready to hit the wineries.

First stop, nearby Jefferson Vineyards. Here, we started our lessons on Virginia wine, which is quickly inching in on the West Coast wine industry.

The drive around the region is enough to feed the soul, with its mountain vistas, orderly vineyards, orchards, horses, and farms.

The terroir produces certain varietals that perform better here than anywhere else in the world, including viognier, cabernet franc and petit verdot. Whites are crisp and clean, while reds on the other hand tend to be the state’s weakness.

"There’s a lot of red clay — what a grape needs to be struggling a little bit," said Hunter Sisser, our guide and tasting jockey at Jefferson Vineyards. Jefferson Vineyards produces about 8,500 cases of the state’s 450,000-case annual production, he said.

"The Virginia wine industry is slowly growing," he added. "It’s gaining its own national and international renown."

Subsequent winery visits substantiated his claims.