This weekend was a real treat. With a quick 2.5 hour drive, my friend and I were able to make it to Madison, Virginia (just outside of Charlottesville) to enjoy Early Mountain Vineyards. Owned by Steve and Jean Case, the grounds of the winery are spectacular filled with colorful flowers, lush vines, and stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The tasting room is a wide open space that evokes rustic elegance in a chic barn-like setting. Every detail is beautifully done, and the back of the tasting room opens up to a patio with expansive views. Early Mountain Vineyards offers flights rather than a traditional tasting, and they also offer table service to create a more upscale environment. However, even with this approach it still attracts such a nice mix of people. This past Saturday we saw families playing board games, couples enjoying a romantic day, and groups of friends kicking back and relaxing. It was clear that Early Mountain appeals to just about everyone.
I started the day with their rosé which is a favorite of mine, made of Merlot. I then shifted to one of their flights of white wines which included the Early Mountain Pinot Gris and Chardonnay as well as tastes from other Virginia wineries including Ankida Ridge. This is another unique element about Early Mountain as they work hard to promote the wines from the Virginia region, not just from their own vineyard. Winemaker Ben Jordan began his winemaking career in Sonoma, California and has been in Virginia for the past few years, and most recently came to Early Mountain from Michael Shaps Wineworks. Early Mountain produces many of the grapes that grow well in the Virginia region: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay. In addition to the great sips we enjoyed this past weekend, we also enjoyed delicious snacks including charcuterie, cheese, and dips. The bresaola and chevre were our favorites-- and the cheese came with a sweet creamed honey that went perfectly with the snack.
This past Saturday night Early Mountain hosted "Music at the Mountain" which allowed guests to purchase tickets for $10 and enjoy the bluegrass band Gallatin Canyon. Wine bottles were for sale outside, and people showed up with picnic baskets or purchased snacks like a baguette with gouda cheese to enjoy during the concert. It was such a lovely atmosphere, and the band played until 9pm as the sun was going down on the mountain.
In addition to the regular flight tastings offered on a daily basis, Early Mountain also has beautiful space that works for weddings, corporate events, or just about any occasion. My experience at Early Mountain Vineyards was a great one. So much so that I decided to join the wine club which includes quarterly shipments, winemaker dinners, and discounts on future tastings. While it's a bit further from D.C. than the wineries in Loudoun County, the atmosphere, the people, and the wine make the trip to Early Mountain Vineyards well worth the trip.