On April 13, the Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival, a highly-anticipated spring tradition in Charlottesville, will begin. The Festival involves three days of celebrating the Monticello American Viticultural Area’s best wines. (Photo below by Jack Looney)
Along with featuring the coveted Monticello Cup Awards at the Jefferson Theater on Thursday, April 13, the Festival will host delicious food and wine pairing events on Friday, April 14. Friday’s pairing events will showcase the phenomenal food and wine culture in the area with a Sparkling Brunch, Rosé Lunch, barrel tasting, winemaker dinner, and an evening of chocolate, music and wine.
On the final day of the festival, Saturday, April 15, more than 25 regional wineries and vineyards will be featured for the tasting event at the Sprint Pavilion on the Historic Downtown Mall, and there will be plenty of catered food and live entertainment.
Wine-lovers and foodies alike will love this opportunity to experience Charlottesville’s incredibly rich food and wine culture. You can visit monticellowinetrailfestival.com for more information and tickets.
As a new year begins, there are countless ways to take advantage of all the Charlottesville area has to offer. We have 17 Must-Dos that are sure to make the new year an unforgettable one.
1. Attend a Winemaker’s Dinner. This year, treat you and your partner to a winemaker’s dinner, where you will enjoy the best of local cuisine paired with the area’s wines. Consider a dinner at Early Mountain Vineyards, like the Winemaker’s Field Supper featured in the most recent book of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living. Or perhaps an upcoming event like the Valentine’s Day Winemaker Dinner at Veritas Vineyard & Winery. (Left photo by Paula Bartosiewicz)
2. Experience Barboursville Vineyards’ Octagon Wine. This age-worthy, award-winning wine, highly distinct in character, is a can’t miss for wine lovers. Join the list of those who have been served Octagon, including Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama.
5. Throw an Outdoor Party. Take advantage of the beautiful mountain views Charlottesville has to offer and throw an outdoor party fitting to the season. Match your décor, refreshments and activities to a theme just as this hostess did with her hunting party in the latest book of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living. (Photos by Rachel May Photography)
6. Indulge in Executive Chef Gary Glaser’s Crab Cakes. You’ll leave raving about these scrumptious crab cakes at The Downtown Grille. Try them at the restaurant or make them yourself! Customers who dine at The Downtown Grille will receive a complementary copy of the latest Charlottesville Wine & Country Living featuring Chef Glaser’s crab cake recipe.
7. Try Gearhart’s Beer or Wine Infused Chocolates. Try a unique delicious twist on your palate with some of Gearhart’s infused chocolates. (Photos on the right by Jen Fariello Photography)
8. Travel Locally with the Inn at Willow Grove. This boutique hotel combines history, charm and luxury for the perfect intimate getaway.
9. Attend the Virginia Wine Expo. This March event is perfect for the wine lover. You’ll spend a weekend exploring an event filled with food, wine and great company. (Photos courtesy of the Virginia Wine Expo)
12. Attend the Montpelier Hunt Races. Gather a group of great friends for a beautiful fall day of tailgating and horse races. Dress in style and participate in the hat contest, or put your focus on your tablescape for the tailgate competition. (Photos by Susan M. Carter Photography)
14. Visit the Blue Ridge Trails. Complete with 500 miles of hiking trails, 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail and 80,000 acres of designated, back-country wilderness, the Shenandoah National Park is a natural treasure. (Photo by Kelly J. Mihalcoe, LLC, courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Corporation)
15. Visit the Design House. This spring, see the amazing work of the area’s top interior designers and professionals while experiencing the year’s décor trends in the Design House 2017. You’ll also be supporting a great cause—the Shelter for Help in Emergency. Below is the 2016 Design House‘s stunning library designed by Foxchase Design. (Photos by Robert Radifera Photography)
16. Travel Abroad. Take your adventures to France this year and explore Burgundy’s wine region. Indulge in the rich history of the area and learn about the connections that Jefferson had in the town of Beaune, France, also featured in the latest issue of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living.
The 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was truly a celebration of the local harvest and a Jefferson inspired love of gardening. From the fresh tomatoes, peppers and melons picked from the trial gardens of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (a co-founder of the Heritage Harvest Festival) and Jam According to Daniel to local fruits, there was a plethora of fresh, delicious local produce and products for visitors to taste and take home. The festival showcased the many talented local food and drink vendors the Charlottesville area has to offer through the tastings, workshops and talks that took place over the three days of the festival. Ira Wallace, a founding member of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, pictured above, gave a talk on how to create a garden capable of providing produce during each season.
The many modern and historic talks and workshops drew crowds throughout the day. Visitors could learn about the history of Monticello and tour the gardens and buildings, as well as learn about food and agricultural practices. Many local and notable chefs gave talks and demonstrations including Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington.
The Heritage Harvest Festival offered something for everyone—a petting zoo, a variety of local food, handcrafted items, a tasting tent with fresh produce and Monticello tours. The three-day event was an opportunity to learn more about the farm-to-table movement and home gardening practices.
The grounds of historic James Madison’s Montpelier in beautiful Orange County make a perfect venue for this fantastic spring event each year, providing plenty of picnic space for everyone. Not only an event for wine enthusiasts, this fun festival offers activities for the whole family ranging from live music to kite flying to horse-drawn wagon rides. Corn hole games were even added to that list this year!
We were able to sample refreshing wines from vineyards all over Virginia including CrossKeys Vineyards, Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery and the nearby Barboursville Vineyards. Celebrating 40 years as one of our regions most celebrated wineries, wine tasters had the opportunity to taste Barboursville Vineyards’ prestigious Octagon wine among the many other varietals they offered. A wine of highly distinctive character, achieved in blending estate-grown Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, Octagon’s status rests further on its being created only in fine vintages, and with the most astute selection from the harvest, and this 16th edition of Octagon is winning accolades the world over.
Next door to Barboursville Vineyards we enjoyed the refreshing, fruity wines of CrossKeys Vineyards. This vineyard, located in the Shenandoah Valley, revealed it’s first wines in 2008. Their Fruit d’Vine series of Riesling-based wine blended with fruits like apple, strawberry and peach were sellouts. Tasters also enjoyed their most popular Joy wine and the Fiore that has crisp, off-dry rose has a slight sweetness, with hints of strawberry and grapefruit.
When we weren’t sipping on fresh, crisp wines, we had the pleasure of trying delectable treats from a wide variety of specialty food vendors such as The Pie Guy, Brrrain Freeze and South Fork Food Truck. We then wandered through the picture-perfect landscape and explored booths filled with unique arts and crafts from various local artisans.
Tours of the beautiful and historic Montpelier, home to President James Madision, were open as well. This festival was voted a “best in” category by readers of the Virginia Wine Lover magazine in the 2015 Best of Readers’ Choice Awards, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great option for this beautiful Mother’s Day!
Yesterday marked the 39th spring steeplechase at the Foxfield Races, celebrating decades of time-honored traditions, Virginian hospitality and fashion. More than just a Charlottesville tradition, the Foxfield Races are the biggest party of the year! We had a terrific time as sponsors of the race again this year, which attracted more than 25,000 spectators, many of them UVA alumni and students, to cheer on the horses. The turf track consists of 17 furlongs, just over two miles, of hurdles, hills and obstacles for the jockeys to maneuver their steeds through. Despite the somewhat cool weather at this popular annual rite-of-spring, revelers were not deterred and we had a fabulous time.
In accordance with tradition, the guys were in ties and the girls in pearls. Visiting the infield paddock to take a look at the horses warming up for the next race, we caught sight of our favorite hat of the day, this fabulous Ascot-style chappeau shown above! Also seen above, vintage-camera photography isn’t the only trendy endeavor this fellow is engaged in. He revealed his plans to open a new brewery in the Woolen Mills area later this summer. Keep an eye on our blog for more on that in the future!
With plenty of time for visiting with friends between races, we caught up with Jamie Morton at the Brown Automotive tent, where she was hosting an elegant catered spread alongside gorgeous Mercedes Benz cars. Elated after her visit to the winner’s circle as a leading sponsor of the race, we sampled their melt-in your-mouth ham biscuits. Can we say delicious?! Awesome spread Jamie! Cheering on the horses nearby, we found another friend and W&C supporter, the amazing interior designer and founder of Leftover Luxuries Wendi Smith (at center), looking super chic in her favorite cowboy hat and enjoying the day with friends. Loved it!
If there’s one thing we know about spring’s Foxfield Races, it’s that it’s just as much of a social event as it is a sporting event. UVA students, alumni and the like, packed the field in a sea of natty bow-ties, adorable sundresses, hats and rain boots. With a favorite cocktail in hand, attendees rocked tailgating parties with cornhole toss games to dance floors. We loved all the Lilly Pulitzer fashion we spotted, especially from the Pink Palm tent! Love that shade of pink on the cute Cathy Shift dress from Lilly Pulitzer above! The girls unleashed their elegant inner Kate Middleton and the boys joined them in sporting their preppy best, including seersucker, bold pastels, and bright patterns, along with amazingly fun statement accessories.
While the Foxfield Races are a great time for all, they are more than simply a tailgating party and steeplechase. Every year, a portion of proceeds from the Spring and Fall races are donated to local charities. This year’s 2016 beneficiary were the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge. If you missed the revelry this weekend, never fear. You can join in the fun again this fall for Family Day on Sunday, September 25! If you made it out to the soirée yesterday, share your Foxfield fashion with us on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our feed. Follow us all this week as we show some love to our hometown musicians, the Dave Matthews Band, coming to town to kick off their 25th anniversary at the JPJ Arena next weekend!