Our Virginia History and Wine Weekend in a Yurt

When my bridesmaids asked me where I wanted to go for my bachelorette party, I didn’t have to think about it. I knew I wanted to have a girl’s weekend in Charlottesville wine and history country, and I wanted to stay in a yurt. They did a stellar job planning the perfect weekend!

To kick it off, Michelle and I began with a tour of Monticello. You can’t go to Charlottesville for history or wine without first visiting the “Founding Father of American Wine” himself, Thomas Jefferson. We spent a few hours at Monticello, starting with lunch in their café then heading up for the house tour. Afterwards, we set off to check-in to our overnight accommodations: a yurt!

Our next trip to Charlottesville, I would definitely book a yurt at Shenandoah Crossing through BlueGreen Vacations again. Located less than 30 miles from Monticello and close to many popular wineries in Charlottesville, the location was convenient and the grounds beautiful. On arrival, I first noticed the putt putt course and tennis course free for those staying on site. On checking in, we were warmly greeted and even offered a complimentary wine tasting for happy hour by one of the vendors there. We went to check out our yurt, and I was in a camping dream.

First, let me explain: a yurt offers glamorous camping. It is a permanent tent-like structure, and ours came complete with air conditioning, a full kitchen, electric (including a television), a nice bathroom with hot-water for showers, two bedrooms, and a pull-out couch. It’s basically a cabin with canvas walls. Surrounding the yurt was a deck with great views into the woods. And our yurt was near a lake and easy-access hiking trails. I felt like I was in Harry Potter’s world in one of those magical tents!

The yurt was a unique accommodation I recommend for your next visit to Charlottesville. And Shenandoah Crossing had a lot to offer guests with beautiful grounds and activities for the whole family. The only down-side was the family staying in the yurt near us had young kids who woke up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons, and you can hear them since the walls are canvas. But those canvas walls let in the noise of the birds and frogs too, which added to the relaxed ambiance of the woods around us as we fell asleep or hung out.

Shenandoah Crossing is also conveniently located less than 15 miles from each of the wineries (and cidery) we wanted to visit, including: Horton, Barboursville, Keswick, and Castle Hill. We booked a shuttle (which was actually a personal SUV) to take us exploring comfortably and safely, and our driver was fantastic. She even saved a picnic table for us at one of the wineries during our tasting and set up our lunch we had brought along. I definitely recommend booking a shuttle with friends for a wine tour – it’s the safe and fun way to explore different wineries!

My next blog posts will have more on our experience at each winery. It was the perfect combination and great location for a girl’s weekend, bachelorette party, birthday celebration, family reunion… whatever you are planning!

Our weekend in Charlottesville was everything I could have asked for and more. I had a very nice time spending my bachelorette weekend in Virginia’s wine and history country with the best friends a girl could ever wish for.

Cheers to Virginia history, Virginia wine, and amazing friends!

Christina

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Our Accidental Adventure to Sassafras Shade Vineyard

I need to remember: my husband is not a good co-pilot. The number of times I have handed him my phone with the navigation app open asking him to simply tell me when I need to make a turn…

Sassafras Shade1

We were driving to a family event the other day, and I handed him my phone so he could relay the directions to me. We were not going far, and there weren’t many turns. However, he still missed the main turn into the neighborhood the event was taking place in. Naturally, I am on a back road with few driveways and side roads, and in need of a turn-around. I went about a mile past our turn, and the first drive I pull in to flip a U-Turn has fields of grape vines lining it. I got really excited and started to look around, and then I spotted it… The beautiful Sassafras Shade Vineyard sign and the words “Open.” I knew where we would be venturing back to after the event!

Following the driveway past the vines and into the woods, we came across a quaint tasting room. On entering through the rocking chair-lined front porch, we were warmly greeted by the wine-makers wife. A unique gem, Sassafras Shade is the first and only winery in Caroline County – an easy drive just off 95. Tastings were only $5, featured nine wines at the time we visited, and included a stemless glass (our new favorites) with a unique bubble design in the glass.

Sassafras Shade3Learning more about the winery itself, the tasting room was built with timbers from the property and opened in fall 2014. It had a farm-winery feel, which really fit their wines. Something I loved learning: all of their grapes are grown on property. They have about five acres under vine. A few highlights from their tasting:

  • Cayuga White – this grape is a hybrid from New York that is cold-hardy. I don’t recall ever having a wine made with this grape before! They are one of few Virginia wineries to grow this grape and produce this light and crisp, floral wine.
  • White Chambourcin – one of our favorites, this wine had a light earthiness (like a Chambourcin should!) with a plum-like pucker left on the tongue and lips.
  • Granny Smith Apple – while they don’t grow the apples on site, they do support the local Virginia apple industry and produce this wine with apples from Nelson County, Virginia. This is a great wine for the river this summer – lightly sweet and a subtle apple taste. We purchased a bottle of this to enjoy at home.
  • Caroline White and Red – their two blends on the menu. The white is 50-50 Vidal Blanc and Niagara with the honey taste coming through. The red is 50-50 Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin. We were told this is the top seller at the winery.

Other wines on their menu: Chardonnay (they do not oak their wines so this has a lighter taste for those who prefer a crisp, not-so-buttery Chardonnay), Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Chambourcin. Another thing I loved about this winery: their wine bottles were $15 or less. They were very affordable — a great pit stop off 95 between Fredericksburg and Richmond! I recommend a visit the next time you need a break from traffic (or when you miss a turn, or are on your way to the river, or just because you want an escape!)

I guess I should let my husband keep his co-pilot responsibility if it leads us to new Virginia wineries.

Cheers to #vawine! (And as always, please drink responsibly!)

Christina

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Recent Virginia Wine Adventures

I have been MIA for too long on the blog… we got married, and that took up a lot of time April/May! Of course, we had to have Virginia wine for our wedding guests – in particular a wine from our home in the Northern Neck. Our wine of choice? Ingleside Vineyard’s Blue Crab Red and White! We had guests coming up to us during our wedding not to say “congratulations” but to ask where the wine was from. It was a hit! Both of these wines offer something for a variety of pallets… they are semi-sweet, well-balanced blends. Both are very drinkable wines. The white is a tropical fruity (and was my choice for the night) and the red is smooth with a hint of berry fruit. And in true Virginia wine-loving style, the rehearsal dinner needed a wine pairing too… we kept the theme “Ingleside” and served a Petit Manseng.

Following our wedding, we realized how far behind we were on getting our home and gardens together (planting vegetables, working on the chicken coop, painting walls…)  As life falls back to “normal,” it’s time I re-dedicate myself to the blog!

Despite my lack of blog posts, we have had some fun adventures in Virginia Wine country I can’t wait to share with you. In particular, we’ve been spending quality time with the dubbed “Founding Father of American Wine” himself: Thomas Jefferson. (Though it’s believed he was not successful in his attempts to grow grapes and bottle a wine, despite his explorations, money, and attempts!)  Like Jefferson, I feel “wines a necessary of life with me.” *

So what can you expect to read about in these next few posts?

  • Charlottesville is definitely the best place for you and your ladies to celebrate a bachelorette party  (I mean come on, we drank wine in a yurt, explored history, and took in beautiful views!)
  • Planning a bridal shower or another celebration? Try something different and fun, like your local brewery!
  • Haven’t been to Monticello recently? Let me tell you more about what to expect! (And in the meantime, I recommend reading Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray’s book, America’s First Daughter
  • Looking to try a new Virginia wine, but don’t have the time to drive to a new winery? Check out your local Virginia ABC shop!
  • Ready to get your wine tasting on? Here are some of the wineries we’ve recently visited with reviews on each coming soon:
    • Barboursville Vineyards  (Bonus: historic ruins! History + Wine = Life Complete)
    • Horton Vineyards
    • Jefferson Vineyards
    • Keswick Vineyards
    • Sassafras Shade Vineyard
    • Castle Hill Cider  (Ok, this is a cidery… but one you must add to your tasting experiences!)

Stay tuned for more posts coming soon. Until then, have fun exploring new Virginia wines this summer. (And as always, drink responsibly, PLEASE!)

Cheers!

Christina

 

*“The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence, 1651-1827” Library of Congress

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VA Wine Uncorked 2017 March Wineness – CHALLENGE WINNER

WOW.

You all are awesome. You told us your favorite Virginia wines. We started with sixteen of your favorites — narrowed to the exciting eight — down to the fabulous four — brought us to the finale round — and we have a winner!

More than 2,700 votes in the finale round, and it was close. REAL close. The winner won with 50.8% of the votes. (We aren’t kidding… it was really REALLY close!)

So, without further ado… the winner of the 2017 VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness challenge is…

Barrel Oak Winery’s 2010 Petit Verdot!

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THANK YOU all for voting and making this year’s challenge so much fun! We had a blast seeing everyone’s favorite wine selections. We do this because we love Virginia wine and we love our state… Thank you for making this hobby so fun and for selecting your favorite Virginia wine from the Starting Sixteen.

Congratulations Barrel Oak Winery!

Cheers!

Christina & Michelle

 

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VA Wine Uncorked 2017 March Wineness – FINALE ROUND VOTING

THANK YOU for voting in this year’s 2nd Annual VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness challenge! You nominated your favorite Virginia wines and started us with sixteen of your favorites. We are down to the FINALE ROUND…the last two…the final challenge…let’s bring this year’s VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness home!

Voting will remain open until 5pm Saturday, April 1st. The Finale winner will be announced Sunday, April 2nd.

So without further ado… it’s time to announce your challengers in this year’s 2nd Annual VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness FINALE ROUND!

VOTE TODAY

MarchWineness2017-Round4

Here are the challengers:
Cooper Vineyards 2015 Viognier vs. Barrel Oak Winery 2010 Petit Verdot

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

We can’t wait to announce the winner April 2nd.

Cheers!

Christina & Michelle

 

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VA Wine Uncorked 2017 March Wineness – FABULOUS FOUR VOTING

You all are awesome! THANK YOU for your enthusiasm and participation in this year’s 2nd Annual VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness challenge!

We have gone from the Starting Sixteen Virginia wines nominated by YOU to the Exciting Eight. The votes are in, and it’s time to announce the Fabulous Four Virginia wines — let the voting continue!

Voting will remain open until 5pm Monday, March 27th. The Finale wines will be announced, and voting will commence for the last round March 28th.

VOTE TODAY

MarchWineness2017-Round3

Here are the challengers:

Caret Cellars 2015 Rivah Red vs. Cooper Vineyards 2015 Viognier
Barboursville Vineyards 2010 Octagon vs. Barrel Oak Winery 2010 Petit Verdot

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Here is the schedule for the next rounds in the VA Wine Uncorked 2017 March Wineness rounds:

Fabulous Four: March 23-27
Finale: March 28-April 1

The winner of the 2017 VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness challenge will be announced April 2nd.

Cheers!

Christina & Michelle

 

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VA Wine Uncorked 2017 March Wineness – EXCITING EIGHT VOTING

You voted and helped take us from the Starting Sixteen to the Exciting Eight — Thank you! It’s time to cast your votes again and help select the Fabulous Four Virginia wines in this year’s 2nd Annual VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness challenge.

Voting will remain open until 5pm Wednesday, March 22nd. The Fabulous Four will be announced, and voting will commence March 23rd for the next round.

VOTE TODAY

MarchMadness2017-Round2Here are the challengers:

Caret Cellars 2015 Rivah Red vs. Trump Winery 2009 Blanc de Blanc
Cooper Vineyards 2015 Viognier vs. North Gate Vineyard 2014 Merlot
Barboursville Vineyards 2010 Octagon vs. Keswick Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc
Rappahannock Cellars 2014 Cabernet Franc vs. Barrel Oak Winery 2010 Petit Verdot

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Here is the schedule for the next rounds in the VA Wine Uncorked 2017 March Wineness rounds:

Exciting Eight: March 18-22
Fabulous Four: March 23-27
Finale: March 28-April 1

The winner of the 2017 VA Wine Uncorked March Wineness challenge will be announced April 2nd.

Cheers!

Christina & Michelle

 

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