Though Thomas Jefferson was the first American to experiment with winemaking, the industry wouldn't hit its stride in Albemarle County until the mid-1970s. Wines from the Monticello American Viticultural Area (named for Jefferson's home) are considered the best in the Eastern United States. Part of that award-winning excellence comes from the topography. All around the Charlottesville area, time and the elements have eroded ancient mountains down to rolling hills that yield wines of incredible complexity as slight variations in altitude and aspect, soil and light, create subtle differences in grapes from vine to vine. The Terroir is perfect! Today, there are more than 35 wineries within a 30-mile radius of Charlottesville as part of the Monticello Wine Trail.
Plan your perfect vineyard hopping experience by choosing from the wineries listed below.
But grapes aren't the only vines winning a following in Charlottesville. Hop vines thrive in the climate (in fact, Virginia was once known as the hop capital of the world), and the area is home to small-batch breweries making handcrafted ales and lagers as well as hard ciders from the region's orchards.
A handful of these award-winning brew houses form a beer-lovers dream tour known as the Brew Ridge Trail (an homage to the Blue Ridge Mountains).