Long Weekend Getaways: How to Sip Your Way Around Virginia Wine Country

Jun 29, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

As part of a series on long weekend getaways, we’re showing you how to make the most of your summer Fridays, school breaks and the season’s extra-long days. Check back every week for inspired itineraries and easy city escapes.

You don’t have to fly across the country to Napa and Sonoma for high-quality wine. If you live in the DC metro area, you’re just an hour and a half drive (depending on how clogged the Beltway is on Friday) from hundreds of acres of unspoiled vineyards growing high-quality grapes.

The Piedmont region of Virginia covers a wide swath of rural landscape that’s ideal for grape growing. It’s lush, serene and full of exciting places to eat and drink. (If you’re not a wine drinker, beer and whiskey are also being produced here.)

Charlottesville — home to the University of Virginia — is the largest city nearby, but we recommend spending your time in its surrounding countryside, which has a lot to offer travelers beyond simply eating and drinking (though we won’t fault you if that’s all you want to do). Here are five ways to spend a blissful long summer weekend exploring Virginia’s wine country.

Stay at the Inn at Little Washington

If you’ve got the funds, the Inn at Little Washington is a must. Led by owner and chef Patrick O’Connell, the Inn — which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year — is home to one of the most awarded restaurants in the country. Make your dinner reservations early, opt for the wine pairing and be sure to order the cheese course (trust us). After a meal like that, you likely won’t be able to move too far, so sleepover in one of the Inn’s French countryside-inspired rooms.

Book with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card at Hotels.com to earn 10x miles on your stay through Jan. 31, 2020. (You can also take advantage of the Hotels.com Rewards program to earn one free night for every 10 paid nights, effectively boosting your return to 20% when you pay with the Venture card.)

Bonus: On Saturdays during the summer and fall, the Inn hosts a local makers market with goods from their neighbors like the Farm at Sunnyside and Bread & Water.

Take a winery tour

There are dozens of wineries in the region, so you can easily find some just by driving around the area and following signs. If you want more structure, one of our favorites is Barboursville Vineyard, housed in a classic stone building from the 1800s. Its flagship red Bordeaux blend, Octagon, is rightly acclaimed and (if you ask nicely), you can forage for black walnuts and hen of the woods mushrooms on the expansive property.

For a full range of Virginia wines, head to Early Mountain Vineyards, owned by AOL founder Steve Case. Aside from producing their own tasty bottles (try the just-released 2017 rosé), they serve a wide range of Virginia wines in their tasting room, so it’s a great way to taste vintages from a variety of local vineyards all in one stop. Other vineyards worth stopping at include Rappahannock Cellars, Michael Shaps Wineworks and Glen Manor Vineyards.

(Photo courtesy of Copper Fox Distillery)
(Photo courtesy of Copper Fox Distillery)

Save room for beer, whiskey and food

Not everyone is a wine person. (Or maybe you don’t discriminate, and you want to try it all.) The adorable town of Sperryville — just over an hour from Charlottesville — happens to be the home of two craft breweries, a distillery and a high-end tasting menu. Hopkins Ordinary is a small B&B in Sperryville that brews its own beer in the cellar using just one barrel and local barley malted by neighbors Copper Fox Distillery. It has a three-seat tasting room and a patio that morphs into a (super low-key) bar on weekends during warmer months.

Down the road are Penn Druid, an experimental small-batch brewery that uses wild yeast in their excellent beers, and Copper Fox Distillery, which makes bourbon, rye and single malt whiskey. They offer free tours every day and tastings can be had for a small fee. Because all that booze will probably make you hungry, reserve a table at the newly minted Three Blacksmiths, which is a tasting menu only affair highlighting handcrafted foods from Rappahannock County and nearby for just 16 diners a night.

Go on a wellness retreat

If you’re looking for a more health-conscious getaway, the Piedmont region is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, meaning there are stellar hiking opportunities at a range of levels. Shenandoah National Park is a good place to start — it has 200,000 acres of forest, trails and waterfalls to explore. For a complete wellness retreat, visit the newly-opened Eupepsia Wellness Center on 256 acres near the Jefferson National Forest. The only other Eupepsia location is in Dubai. At the Virginia property, travelers can participate in retreats designed to help them distress and relax; or to aid with fitness and weight management. The spa’s facilities include a hydrotherapy area, a salt cave, hot stone chairs and flotation therapy pools. There’s also a state-of-the-art fitness center; yoga and meditation; and horseback riding.

Learn about US history

This region is full of history and it’s home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home and plantation, which is open to visitors. Various tours are offered, including one focused on the Hemings family — slaves to the Jeffersons — and another inspired by the hit Broadway show, “Hamilton: An American Musical.” And President James Madison’s estate, Montpelier, is not too far away and has a comprehensive multimedia exhibit on slavery, a Constitution-focused tour, and a tour that highlights First Lady Dolley and other women of the estate.

Featured photo by ablokhin/Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.