The 2021 Virginia Governor’s Cup Case recognizes the best of the finest wines in Virginia and selects a few to represent the more than 300 wineries found throughout the Commonwealth. While you can sometimes find wines from these vineyards at the local grocery or gourmet shop, visiting the wineries will allow you to see where, and sometimes how (when guided tours are available), these award-winning vintages are produced, tasting exceptional wines . beautiful backdrop of Virginia wine country. Use this 2021 Governor's Cup Case guide to help you decide which Virginia wineries to visit this spring.
Vineyards of Barboursville – Barboursville
Governor's Cup Winner: 2015 Paxxito
Governor's Case winners: 2015 Paxxito, 2016 Octagon, 2019 Vermentino Reserve
Barboursville Vineyards emerged as the big winner of the Virginia Governor’s Cup of 2021 with their 2015 Paxxito, a dessert wine made from Moscato Ottonel and Vidal grapes. The Octagon 2016, a Bordeaux red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and the Vermentino Reserve 2019, a white wine made from Vermentino grapes and fermented in stainless steel for a fresh, fruity finish, were also part of the Governor & # 39; s Case, which earned Barboursville three spots in the coveted case.
Photo Credit: Barboursville Vineyards
Plan a trip to the Barboursville Vineyards, about 30 minutes northeast of Charlottesville in the rolling hills of Central Virginia. The winery's 18th-century estate includes two tasting rooms, an outdoor patio for sunny days, and an on-site restaurant and inn that provides the perfect weekend getaway for wine aficionados. While visiting the vineyards, don't miss the historic Barboursville ruins, one of Thomas Jefferson's impressive architectural endeavors, just steps away from the winery.
Bluestone Vineyard & Winery – Bridgewater
Governor's Case Winner: Petit Manseng 2019
Fermented in oak and aged for about 10 months, Bluestone Vineyard & Winery & # 39; s 2019 Petit Manseng combines flavors such as orange blossom, honey and baking spices, with notes of grilled pineapple and honeysuckle for a bright, citrusy finish.
Located in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, Bluestone Vineyard & Winery has beautiful indoor and outdoor seating; inside, a roaring stone fireplace is ideal for colder temperatures, while outside you have several choices, from the expansive patio with a covered area in case of unexpected downpours to the open-air balcony on the second floor where a towering stone fireplace is also built into the outside wall from the tasting room. The winery offers a small snack menu with cold cuts and cheeses to complement their wines.
Breaux Vineyards – Purcellville
Governor's Case winners: 2016 Meritage, 2016 Nebbiolo
Breaux Vineyards has two notable vintages in this year's Governor & # 39; s Case: The Meritage 2016 blends Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec for a robust, full bodied red blend that will age well and goes with dishes such as pork tenderloin and coq au vin; The 2016 Nebbiolo is a full tannic red made from Nebbiolo grapes, a vine favored in Northern Italy that results in a smooth, drinkable wine with aromas of dried cherries and plums.
Photo credit: Steven Morris
In Northern Virginia's scenic Loudoun County, Breaux Vineyards has over 104 acres of vines growing 15+ different grape varieties. Beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are visible from the winery's patio, where you can take your glass outside during sunny days, or sample the winery's current wines in the tasting room in front of the beautiful stone fireplace.
R.A.H. Wine Co. Madison
Governor's Case Winner: Series 1 of 2017
R.A.H. Wine Company is the passion project of Maya Hood White, an associate winemaker and winegrower at Early Mountain Vineyards. To create the 2017 Series 1, a blend of Petit Manseng and Malvasia grapes, White uses an Italian technique known as appassimento, where grapes are dried on straw mats after harvest. This innovative wine has a delicate balance of flavors such as dried apricots, honeysuckle, pineapple and stewed bananas, and the inviting aroma of the vintage reminds drinkers of dried tropical fruits and melon.
While extremely limited quantities of the 2017 Series 1 mean it may be difficult to find this particular wine, you can get a sense of Maya Hood White's winemaking style with a visit to Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison, located on the eastern edge of Shenandoah National Park. and about 45 minutes north of Charlottesville. In addition to a patio and an expansive estate where you can lay out a picnic blanket and enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Early Mountain has its own cabin to rent for a complete Virginia wine weekend.
Carriage House Wineworks – Waterford
Governor's Case Winner: Petit Verdot 2019
The Petit Verdot 2019 from Carriage House Wineworks is aged in American oak, resulting in a dark purple color and notes of dark fruit with a hint of floral elements. This is a large, full-bodied red that contains heavy tannins and will age well.
Located in the historic town of Waterford, this Northern Virginia winery is surrounded by rolling hills covered in vines. Although the tasting room is closed during the winter season due to COVID-19, they will reopen on April 24 to welcome visitors to enjoy their wines in the outdoor social area.
King Family Vineyards – Crozet
Governor's Case Winner: 2017 Mountain Plains
Named after the land grant signed by Thomas Jefferson in 1773 for the acres now occupied by King Family Vineyards, the 2017 Mountain Plains is a mix of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. After pressing each grape variety, the wines were individually aged for 22 months in new French oak barrels, then blended and further aged to create a complex, structured red wine.
Photo credit: Tracy Lee
A Crozet winery about 15 minutes west of Charlottesville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, King Family Vineyards has an array of large spaces to safely accommodate visitors, including an expansive lawn, porches, and brick patio, as well as covered tasting rooms with warm stone fireplaces that allow for winter visits to wineries. Head to the winery on a Sunday afternoon in the summer (Memorial Day to mid-October) to attend a polo match while enjoying a glass of their award-winning wines.
Michael Shaps Wineworks – Charlottesville
Governor's Case Winner: Meritage 2015
The Michael Shaps Wineworks 2015 Meritage is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with the majority of the grapes coming from Rougemont Vineyard in Keswick and Carter & # 39; s Mountain. The wine juices are fermented with natural yeast in stainless steel tanks and then moved to French oak barrels to age separately before blending and maturing further for a total of 20 months in the oak barrels, resulting in a smooth red wine that stands out as a of the best Bordeaux blends in Virginia.
Another exceptional Central Virginia winery overlooking the front row of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Veritas Vineyards & Winery has a barn-style tasting room complete with a stone fireplace that creates a cozy space for wine tasting during the winter, while the sun The deck and spacious estate provide a social space to soak up some rays in warmer weather.
These wineries were recognized in the 2021 Governor & # 39; s Cup Case, but there are dozens of wineries that have earned bronze, silver, and gold medals for their wines; check out the full list and visit these remarkable wineries to experience the very best of Virginia vino.