Charlottesville Wine Weekend – Day 1

Charlottesville, Travel, Treats, VA

Introduction to our Charlottesville Wine Weekend

Ann is a friend to the site – she took many of the pictures that will be used to showcase our Charlottesville Wine Weekend. She is also a friend to the Keanna and me. All three of us met individually then learned about our connections to each other. Our friendship has endured so many individual low points and lifted each other through so many individual peaks. I should note the picture above is because Ann is a proud member of the “Basic Betty Club” and LOVES fall. Few things make her happier than the changing of the leaves.

For Ann’s birthday, she wanted to go back to where our friendship solidified and enjoy the wines along the Monticello Wine Trail in and near Charlottesville, VA. As a sidenote, Ann is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people that I know. How thoughtful you ask, so thoughtful that after our first day of the Charlottesville Wine Tour, Ann presented Keanna and I with gifts for ANN’S birthday weekend. I got something that combines Ann’s obsession with Bob’s Burger and my love of food/cooking:

Bob’s Burger Cookbook – A gift from the Birthday Girl

Big B’s BBQ

Monti on the Porch of Big B's BBQ (Courtesy of
Monti on the Porch of Big B’s BBQ (Courtesy of

This is slightly out of order, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing BBQ we had at Big B’s BBQ on the way to Barboursville. We received oversized portions and were amazed at the incredible customer service. Between the three of us, we had their ribs, brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, and greens. All were amazing and cooked to perfection. The restaurant provided ample sauces and a vinegar to take the flavors up a notch. Definitely would recommend to anyone in the area or anyone nearby as it is a good excuse to make a pit stop.

Our Meals at Big B's BBQ
Our Massive Meals at Big B’s BBQ

Prince Michel’s Winery

Wine Wind Art
Wine Wind Art

Our first stop on our Charlottesville Wine Tour was very spur of the moment. Ann and I have passed the Prince Michel Winery  for over 10 years without stopping. We were so happy that we did this trip! Prince Michel was such a delight. For a tasting, you have the option between: “Fine Wines,” “Premium Wines,” and “Rapidan River Sweet Wines.” We went the Fine Wines and were really impressed with their Viognier (State Grape of Virginia), Chardonnay (It was not very oaky, so I loved it but maybe you wouldn’t), and the Merlot-Cab Reserve (if it was chilled a little). After purchasing a couple bottles, we explored their beautiful grounds. Ann loved the grapes and even took a photo in front of the vines: 

Ann in Front of the Vines
Ann in Front of the Vines

Early Mountain Winery on Friday 

First, I should note that if I am using too much “flowery language,” it is because this was easily Ann and my favorite winery of the trip. Ann is the Queen of TripAdvisor. She had heard and read great things about this location, so we randomly stopped. Immediately, I was amazed at the beauty of the location as you can see below.

Ann and Monti in Front of Mountains at Early Mountain Winery on Our Charlottesville Wine Tour

Inside, we found a rustic yet modern aesthetic that was matched by their friendly and knowledgable staff.

Rosé with Tasting Notes at Early Mountain Winery on Our Charlottesville Wine Tour
Rosé with Tasting Notes at Early Mountain Winery on Our Charlottesville Wine Tour

Their $10 tasting (which includes a stemless glass, but sadly not the glass you use for the tasting) started off with the best Rosé that any of us had ever tasted. Their Petit Manseng was another wine that broke the mold. Aged in a barrel and a Concrete Egg for 10 months, we were able to smell lovely floral notes while tasting crisp minerality.  I love the taste where it feels like I just licked a stone, but it wasn’t Ann’s favorite. Their “Foothills” 2015 was their newest release and an instant favorite in our circle. This wine would make for easy day-drinking with notes of blackberry. Supposedly, there are notes of mint, but I sadly didn’t taste it. 

Early Mountain Winery on Sunday 

Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu and Beef Brisket with Grits
Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu and Beef Brisket with Grits at Early Mountain Winery

Ann and I sang the praises of Early Mountain so much that Keanna wanted to try it too. We all went back on Sunday for a light brunch and wine tasting.

Our food was flavorful and mostly hit the spot. I was a little sad at how small the portions for the Gnocchi were, but overall, I was very, very satisfied. Keanna had the Brisket and Grits. Neither of us are big on grits, but these were amazing. Keanna and I both got flights with our meals. She got the “Refreshing Reds” that featured delicious red wines from the region not just Early Mountain. Easily our favorite was the Jefferson Vineyards Meritage 2014. I had the”Seasonal Ciders” and was impressed with the range in flavor, acidity, and mouthfeel of  the four ciders. My favorite was the Castle Hill Serendipity. It was the ideal version of what a cider should be – crisp, light, and fruity. 

Definitely would recommend this vineyard for anything from a tasting to a wedding. A little off the beaten path, but definitely worth the effort. 

My History at Barboursville Winery

First, I have to note that one of the first people whom I loved worked at this winery in college. It was the first place where I had a wine tasting. Also, was the first time that I had wine as experience instead of just a vehicle to get drunk. It was also the final stop on day one of our Charlottesville Wine Tour.

Since inception, the winery has had a long and continuing spree racking up award after award. Barboursville crossed my radar again in 2013 in an article in The New York Times that suggested that this vineyard was worthy of praise from Thomas Jefferson, a noted oenophile.

Three years later (and unbeknownst to me), my Auntie was in the Blue Ridge region in Virginia and independently went to Barboursville and had an equally pleasurable experience. Richard Healy, a wine consultant has this to say about Barboursville:

“[W]e should toast the success of one of the few iconic wineries that has helped make a reputation for Virginia as a world-class wine region. Barboursville Vineyards in Orange County, in the town of that name, was established 40 years ago this week by Gianni Zonin of Zonin wines, Italy’s largest family-owned wine company.”

Barboursville Winery on our Charlottesville Wine Tour

In all honesty, the wine that I fell for here years ago (2006-2008) was the Pinot Grigio. It was crisp, complex, and had the perfect level of acidity. This year’s Pinot Grigio was not as memorable. In fact, when it comes to the best wine in the extensive tasting, there was no competition in our opinion- all three of us loved the Riesling. This wine is the epitome of easy drinking, and critics seem to agree. We were told that “a long and cold fermentation is the secret of this wine’s refreshing and floral character with pear and ripe nectarine tones. It is Off-dry, well balanced, and offers a nice clean finish.”

Keanna and Monti posing under the Winery Sign at Barboursville on our Charlottesville Wine Tour
Keanna and Monti posing under the Winery Sign at Barboursville (Courtesy of

As an added bonus, Barboursville has a farm, grapevines, and architectural ruins for visitors to explore. We clearly had a great time on the grounds ending our Charlottesville Wine Tour.

Barboursville Ruins Sign
Barboursville Ruins Sign

After Barboursville, we went to our accommodation with the expectation that we were going to be going back out. Then the Siren of Netflix, Mulled Wine, and Leftovers sang her song and we all independently got ready for bed. 


Check back soon for Keanna’s post about the second day of our Charlottesville Wine Tour. 

Are there other places in the Charlottesville Wine Region that you would recommend? Please let us know in the comments. Also, please tag  your pictures of Charlottesville Wineries #PrettySimpleTreats on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc and we will feature you on our social media feeds.

Keepin’ it Pretty & Simple, 

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By Monti Lawson

Hello, I am Monti and half of the team for Currently living in New York City, but raised pretty much in Virginia Beach, VA. By day, I am a freelance consultant for nonprofits. At night, you can find me trying to infuse vodka, playing with cocktails, gardening, or trying as many new cuisines as I can find. Longing to spend a year traveling through Asia.


  1. Reply

    Wow, I lived in the area for 10 years this brings back memories. My friend’s husband is the manager for Barboursville Vineyard. My soaps were sold in the shop there

    1. Reply

      I’m glad that we were able to bring back some happy memories for you, Michelle. Charlottesville has a special place in my heart.
      Do you sell your soaps online?

  2. Reply

    I would LOVE to go on a wine tour. I went to a winery for the first time a couple of years ago and fell in love. Any place with a large range of sparkling beverages would seal the deal.

    1. Reply

      Yeah. Bubbles seem to be an afterthought for most wineries. 🙁

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