After several weeks of fall travel, I figured it was time to sit my behind down and get to musing. In September, mom and I decided to take a road trip down US-29 to one of our favorite places – Charlottesville, VA. This charming, college town, is not just home to my alma mater, the illustrious University of Virginia, it is home to more than 40 wineries within 25 miles driving distance. And fall happens to be one of the most beautiful times of year for this road trip.

I should mention that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a bit of an affinity for wine. This coupled with the realization that I had not visited one winery in the area in the two decades since my matriculation, meant that it was well beyond time.

Jefferson Vineyards

Our first stop was Jefferson Vineyards, which was about a 15-minute drive outside of Charlottesville. This small but lovely vineyard offered two seasonal flight options that each included four varieties. (Note: If you’re not familiar with the lingo, the term flight is used by wine tasters to describe a selection of wines.) I opted for the white and mom opted for the white and red combo, which came with a rose. They also gave the option to purchase cheese, charcuterie, and chocolate snacks to accompany your wine selection. Out of all the wines I tasted, including some of mom’s reds, I enjoyed the 4 Gold Medals Viognier the best. Never mind that it was the most expensive (insert sigh here), but my taste for wine is somewhere right in the middle – not too sweet and not too dry. 

What mom and I loved most about this particular vineyard though was the scenery. The little flower gardens that included seating perfect for social distancing had an undeniable calming effect. They also offered abundant seating on an expansive field that included a large tent and umbrellas for larger parties and smaller tables and chairs that overlooked the rolling green hills.

Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard

Our next stop led us to the Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard in Keswick, which was another 15 minutes or so down the road. This one had me at the long, rolling driveway lined with grapevines. Though still charming, this vineyard was much larger than the first, and included a sit-down restaurant on the property. The outdoor restaurant seating offered a beautiful view of the vineyard we saw on our drive in and seeing the sun begin to set beyond the hills was another great treat.

The taste offerings at Merrie Mill were much more generous than the first winery. Additionally, they only provided one flight option to purchase that included a combination of red, white, and rose varieties. This tasting was enough for two people unless you’re a heavyweight in the wine department. Merrie Mill also offered heavy snacks that included charcuterie and cheese platters, as well as salads. My favorite wine here was the rose, of which I purchased a bottle to take home. It was crisp, refreshing, and had just the right amount of fruitiness without being sweet. 

Overall I enjoyed the vibes, views, and vino of both wineries and I would recommend them both. I’ll be heading back to Charlottesville soon and will keep you updated on more wineries to try.

Here are some other tidbits to consider:

  • As our time only permitted us to travel for a couple of days during the week, we were limited to the wineries that were open on Wednesday. Note, most wineries are open Thursday – Sunday. 
  • If you’re familiar with Golden Life Musings, you know I’m not fond of dining at restaurants I have back home. This trip led us to a few new great finds for dining. If you love burgers, check out Burger Bach in the Shops at Stonefield shopping center right off of 29. I enjoyed the lamb burger, featured in the pic below, and mom ordered the traditional cheeseburger. Both were delicious.

We also thoroughly enjoyed Sedona Taphouse, which served arguably the best stuffed shrimp I’ve had.

On our way back up the road, we wanted something quick, hot, and delicious and Angelic’s Kitchen did not disappoint. Both the fried fish and fried chicken were delicious. The mac n’ cheese wasn’t the best I’ve had, but the greens (not pictured) were on point. And I’d be remiss not to mention that this one was black-owned. 

  • While you’re in town, take some time to stroll down the quaint, downtown Charlottesville area. This is me and mom’s favorite part about Charlottesville. They have some really cool small businesses and local street vendors that could use our support, especially in these times. Ten Thousand Villages, where I actually bought a couple of Christmas gifts, is a unique store with a phenomenal cause behind it. There are actually more than 50 of these stores around the US that sell fair-trade items from dozens of disadvantaged artisan groups in 30 different countries around the world.