I’ve visited well over 200 wineries by now; this is just a snapshot of my reviews.
Since I’m often asked this question, these are my “Top 10” wineries. Arterra is my all time favorite, while the next few are all contenders for the #2 spot. The next tier is likewise in no particular order. Special shout-outs to Barboursville’s reserve tasting.
1) Linden Vineyard: Jim Law is possibly my all-time favorite winemaker. His winery also has the vibe I most enjoy most; a little rustic, quiet, and a focus on wines vs. events (plus a killer view). This is the gold standard by which Virginia wine should be judged.
2) Jake Busching Wine: Not a ‘winery’ but rather an independent Virginia wine label (sold at Hark Vineyard and some stores). Jake humbly calls himself a ‘dirt man’ (name a random vineyard and he’s probably consulted for them) but his private lineup of wines is outstanding.
3) Maggie Malick Wine Caves: Tannat all day, tannat all night, tannat all the time. But it’s not just the tannat (and tannat blends) that I love; their entire lineup has consistently been excellent. They prove my point that oftentimes the quality of a place’s wine is inversely proportional to the size of the tasting room.
4) Walsh Family Wine: Nate and Sarah are a dynamic duo; him in the cellar and her in the tasting room. They are also very supportive of small producers, so you can sample a lot of different brands.
5) Glen Manor Vineyard: Jeff White is part of what I call the “Jim Law Trifecta” (Linden, Glen Manor, and RdV). Jeff’s wines have a signature earthiness to them which I find very distinctive. The view at GMV is also amazing.
6) Barboursville Vineyards: One of the best in the state, not just wine but overall experience. Their 1821 Library tasting is my favorite way to spoil myself.
7) Arterra Wines: I’m a HUUUUGE fan of winemaker/co-owner Jason Murray. This place has it all – a cozy tasting room, great service (Jason and his wife are often serving), and most importantly amazing wines.
8) Muse Vineyards: The Shenandoah Valley is my favorite wine growing area in the state, and they are my favorite winery in that area. Nuff said.
9) Early Mountain Vineyards: Ben Jordan is the future of Virginia wine. I love how experimental he is, how EMV makes site-specific wines, and the overall experience you get when visiting. They also have an amazing team, including Maya Hood White (an awesome winemaker in her own right) and Aileen Sevier.
10) Roger’s Ford Farm Winery: Roger’s Ford is rather out of the way, which means in order to attract people they have to deliver great wine. Fortunately – they do! Johnny introduced me to Petit Verdot, but his Cab Franc is also killer.