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10 Best Virginia Wineries to Visit for a Delicious East Coast Escape

Updated: Mar. 14, 2024

Where there's a wine, there's a way. Here are the top Virginia wineries you won't want to miss.

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Closeup of green street sign reading Winery Road with winery vineyard rows in the background at Barboursville Vineyards in virginia
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The best places to sip wine in Virginia

Virginia is for lovers, and if you haven’t heard already, it’s also for wine lovers. Though the Old Dominion may not be on every wine lover’s radar like Napa Valley, Oregon or the Finger Lakes, Virginia wineries are ideal for weekend getaways or as part of an East coast vacation.

Not familiar with this emerging wine region? We tapped Virginia wine expert Nancy Bauer, author of the Virginia Wine Travel Journal and founder of the travel app Virginia Wine in My Pocket, to get you up to speed on the best wineries. “In the last decade, Virginia has become known for world-class Cabernet Franc and for pushing the envelope on what European grapes can do,” Bauer says. Many growers in this region now boast four decades of experience, which is also contributing to the rise of the Virginia wine scene. Here’s what else you need to know. 

Where is wine country in Virginia?

Bauer says there isn’t a set wine country per se, as there are gorgeous vineyards and wineries across regions of the state. Virginia’s more than 300 wineries are found in a number of different wine regions and AVAs (American Viticultural Areas).

Two of the biggest regions of production are Central Virginia (Monticello AVA) and Northern Virginia (Middleburg AVA). In the Washington, D.C., area, Bauer suggests Loudoun County as a great starting point. “[It] checks all the boxes for U.S.-based and international wine lovers looking to explore a new region,” she says. “It boasts more than 50 family-owned wineries across a picturesque landscape of rolling hills and charming towns dating to the 1700s.”

Another good starting point is the Gold Medal Wine Trail, a digital tour guide for the highest-ranked wineries in the state, chosen from the annual Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition. This makes it a convenient pick for out-of-town visitors exploring for the weekend or dedicated Virginia wine fans who want to taste all Virginia has to offer.

What wines are best in Virginia?

Virginia grows more than 80 different varieties of grapes. Some notable wines produced in Virginia include dry Petit Manseng and single-varietal Petit Verdot. Other top options are Vermentino and pinot noir. As is the case in any wine region, many blends are also produced in Virginia, including both whites and reds.

When should I visit?

October is Virginia Wine Month, so that’s hard to beat. It’s harvest season, and the changing of the leaves makes autumn at Virginia wineries a major draw. But, as with many top fall foliage spots, it’s also the most popular season for a visit. For those seeking to avoid crowds, consider an early spring trip.

How we chose the best wineries in Virginia

Not only is our writer a trained sommelier, she also interviewed local Virginia experts, worked with the state tourism board and collaborated with the wine board to help come up with our list. We certainly haven’t covered every winery that’s worth a visit, but these 10 are an exceptional place to start. So begin by brushing up on the wine terms you should know and get ready to be wowed by Virginia wines.

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Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison, Virgina
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Early Mountain Vineyards

Best for: Newcomers, families and pet owners

Grape varieties: Chardonnay, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc

Region: Central

This pristine, 350-acre property, surrounded by rolling hills and pastoral farms, is located in Madison, Virginia, at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s great for a mini trip and has an especially welcoming main hall and a stunning back patio with mountain views.

Early Mountain is also known for its knowledgeable staff and refined, luxurious vibes. Walk-ins are welcome on weekends, but it’s recommended to reserve the Virginia farm-to-table restaurant experience ahead of time. And consider their RISE elevation tasting experience, which is a sampling of three vintages of the wines made each year from the best vines their land has to offer. The wines are also paired with small bites from Chef Tim. If the weather cooperates, there’s also a meadow picnic experience available on the weekends.

Best time of year to visit: Any

Tasting prices: $25–$45

Must-try wine: RISE (a big, bold red blend that is made to be aged and is highly tannic)

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Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville, Virginia
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Sunset Hills Vineyard

Best for: Couples, groups and those who live near Washington, D.C.

Grape varieties: Red blends, Viognier and Chardonnay

Region: Northern

This charming, rustic Loudoun County hidden gem has a focus on sustainability. Sunset Hills Winery is a low-intervention producer that crafts award-winning wine from grapes grown on five Virginia farms. “Low intervention” is another way to say natural winemaking, which means there are fewer or no additives, and they make the wine with traditional methods, like hand-picking grapes. Sunset Hills takes its naming inspiration from Virginia sunlight in three ways: First, the sun ripens acres upon acres of grapes, then it fuels the solar panels that power the winery, and it also creates the beautiful sunset views over the rocky hills of Northern Virginia.

The centerpiece of this winery is a beautifully Amish-restored Tasting Barn, though you’ll find ample spots on the property to enjoy a glass or two. There are two guided tastings available on site, as well as light fare in the barn.

Best time of year to visit: Fall, spring or summer

Tasting prices: $15–$25

Must-try wine: Mosiac (a Bordeaux-style blend)

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Michael Shaps next to bottles of wine from his namesake label at Virginia Wineworks Festival
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Michael Shaps Wineworks

Best for: Serious wine folks

Grape varieties: Roussane, Tannat and Blanc de Franc

Region: Central

Michael Shaps has two Virginia tasting rooms. Wineworks Extended has an urban, industrial feel. The other, Michael Shaps Wineworks on Harris Creek Road, is a more traditional winery setup. Wine enthusiasts can choose which to visit based on their preferences or location.

Overall, this outfit is especially known for making elegant wines from both their Virginia- and French-style wineries (Michael Shaps and Maison Shaps Burgundy). These wines embrace the old-world style, and they also feature a méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine. (This means it’s crafted like champagne!)

Pro tip: Shaps also produces wine under the legendary Shenandoah Vineyards label, one of the oldest working wineries in the state. Looking for a wine gift? Their old-vine Riesling is a terrific option.

Best time of year to visit: Fall, spring or summer

Tasting prices: $25–$30

Must-try wine: Michael Shaps Petit Manseng

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Walsh Family Wine In Purcellville Virginia
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Walsh Family Wine

Best for: Couples and groups

Grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé and Merlot

Region: Northern

Another close-to-D.C. pick, this modern Bohemian winery run by a husband-and-wife team specializes in vineyard-specific wines that epitomize Virginia terroir. For those unfamiliar with the term, Wine Folly describes it as “how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine.”

With an especially peaceful setting, Walsh Family Wine offers lodging that includes three overnight accommodation options (including one perfect for couples on a romantic getaway). Multiple spaces, both indoor and outdoor, can be booked for wine tastings or larger events.

Best time of year to visit: Fall, spring or summer

Tasting prices: $15–$55 (up to $800 for large private tastings and venues)

Must-try wine: Bethany Ridge Sauvignon Blanc

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Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia with people relaxing by picturesque view of winery grape rows
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Barboursville Vineyards

Best for: Foodies

Grape varieties: Nebbiolo, Vermentino, Sangiovese, Merlot, Viognier and Cabernet Franc

Region: Central

One of the best wineries in the United States, Barboursville has more than earned a spot on the Virginia list too. It transports you to Europe with its vineyards, ruins and little cottages set among the mountain landscape.

There are a number of experiences available on-site. One is a low-key tasting, including six one-ounce, self-dispersed samples from automatic wine stations. For a more elevated, guided experience, guests can do a tasting in the library, which also offers food to enjoy between sips.

Best time of year to visit: Any

Tasting prices: $15–$45

Must-try wine: Octagon (red blend)

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Red grapes on vine in virginia
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Chatham Vineyards on Church Creek

Best for: Adventure seekers

Grape varieties: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Petit Verdot

Region: Eastern

This Virginia winery feels like a waterfront retreat and specializes in wines that embody the coastal growing conditions. A family-owned operation, Chatham Vineyards is located at historic Chatham Farm, a longtime working farm. They use sustainable methods to produce their wines, such as organic fertilizers, installing bluebird boxes and dry farming.

One especially cool way to experience this vineyard is a kayak tour with Southeast Expeditions. This has been named one of the most unique Virginia wine experiences.

Best time of year to visit: Summer or fall

Tasting prices: $7.50 for a half flight, $15 for a full flight and $89 for the special paddle tour and tasting

Must-try wine: Church Creek Stainless Steel Chardonnay (bright, non-oaky Chardonnay)

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Wisdom Oak Winery In North Garden Virginia
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Wisdom Oak Winery

Best for: Couples and groups

Grape varieties: Petit Manseng, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay

Region: Central

This boutique winery is located near Charlottesville on the well-known Monticello Wine Trail. As a small-batch winery, Wisdom Oak boasts intimate vibes and even allows visitors to get a sneak peek of the production area via a perfectly placed balcony.

A light and bright tasting room is a welcoming spot for wine fans, and it features massive windows with countryside views. Fans of fortified wines should try the port-style here, which can be used as an excellent dessert wine option or after-dinner drink. While you’re in Virginia, you might also want to check out its best traditional restaurant.

Best time of year to visit: Fall, spring or summer

Tasting price: $14

Must-try wine: Nineteen, 2022 Governors Cup Case Wine (estate-grown, full-bodied red wine)

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Rows of grapes at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard in Charlottesville, VA
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Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

Best for: Girls trips, foodies, getting away from it all

Grape varieties: Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Manseng

Region: Central

Pippin Hill, located near the charming college town of Charlottesville, bills itself as a culinary vineyard. The property oozes relaxed elegance and boasts beautiful views and a lush garden setting. And there’s more to do here on a girls weekend than just sip wine. They offer a range of experiences including cooking classes, watercolor painting classes, collaboration dinners and graduation dinners. The stunning view of the Blue Ridge Mountains while doing any of this is the cherry on top.

With a menu of garden-to-table wine and food, this bucolic oasis is the perfect place to unplug, unwind, and eat and drink local. This boutique winery also operates a nearby historic inn, which has been thoughtfully renovated, making it an ideal overnight destination.

Best time of year to visit: Fall, spring or summer

Tasting prices: $18–$20

Must-try wine: Cabernet Franc

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Vineyard scenes at Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg, Virginia
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Stone Tower Winery

Best for: Families and groups

Wine varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir

Region: Northern

This sophisticated and sprawling property comes with breathtaking panoramic views of the local scenery. Stone Tower can accommodate larger groups, but it’s worth noting that groups of eight or fewer don’t need a reservation. This family-owned establishment offers two tasting rooms, but the original Harvest Barn is the only one available to the general public. The other is reserved for wine club members, should you be interested in joining.

Those visiting in the springtime can attend the annual spring dinner—a culinary highlight of the year. For the tasting options available year-round, there’s a cellar tour that includes a 30-minute walkthrough of the production areas and a glass of bubbly.

Another tour, albeit pricier, is known as the Signature Experience. It includes a lengthier visit complete with the story of the vineyard and a charcuterie pairing for an Estate wine flight.

Best time of year to visit: Fall, spring or summer

Tasting prices: $35–135

Must-try wine: Cabernet Franc

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A close up of grapes on the vine in a vineyard in virginia
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Cana Vineyards & Winery

Best for: Pet owners and those who live near Washington, D.C.

Grape varieties: Petit Manseng, Albarino, Merlot and Tempranillo

Region: Northern

This picturesque, dog-friendly winery is also a close trip from nearby Washington, D.C., making it accessible to those visiting from both near and far. With a beautiful hillside location, it boasts an excellent rosé wine program and sweeping mountain views.

Cana Vineyards has both indoor and outdoor spaces, including a covered gazebo and a sunset pavilion, so a great wine-tasting experience is never dampened by bad weather. Though some light fare is available on-site, they encourage you to bring outside food if you’re looking for a lush, wine-country picnic. And if you want to bring Fido along, you should consider a pet-friendly hotel.

Best time of year to visit: Fall, spring or summer

Tasting price: $24

Must-try wine: 2019 Unité Reserve (2022 Governor’s Cup Winner, their signature estate blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot)

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Next, find out where to stop by if you’re looking for the best wineries in Long Island.