Barboursville Vineyards
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Who knew that Virginia had vineyards? Certainly not me; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that when researching what to do on my trip, my favorite two words appeared &mdash WINE TASTING! Some quick searching led me to virginiawine.org, which helped me find the closest wineries to the town of Goochland where I was staying for the week. This website was very helpful in locating wineries by region or varietal, and most importantly, helping narrow down the choices from over 150 possible wineries!

Out of the handful we visited, the best by far was Keswick Vineyards near Gordonsville. You can sit in the cozy tasting room or sip your wine in the front garden complete with Adirondack chairs and complimentary blankets for romantically crisp evenings. For a completely different tasting experience, one of the oldest Virginia wineries, Barboursville Vineyards, has a large, busy tasting room on a beautiful hilltop site (see photo). But I think its popularity is due to the fact that for just five dollars you can taste over 15 wines, and no one counts your pours.

Virginia wine itself was generally delicious &mdash maybe a little young, but with plenty of promise. One of the varietals offered that was new to me, but had a long history in the region, Norton, was interesting but not my favorite. Other successful regional wines (and the tastiest) are the Virginia Viognier and Virginia Cabernet Franc. But perhaps the best thing about tasting in Virginia is the fact that it is not Napa &mdash not overpriced or pretentious…the people are kind, the traffic is nonexistent and countryside is beautiful beyond words.

Besides wine tasting, there are other amazing things to do in Virginia. In quiet Goochland you can explore Civil War-era relics and sites, have an afternoon picnic in grassy fields or take a scenic bike ride through winding country roads. If you are lucky enough to visit in the autumn, you can witness spectacular fall colors as the Ashes, Maples and Dogwoods do their thing. If the city is more your thing, check out the Carytown district in Richmond for its nightlife and trendy shopping.

Plus Richmond is lousy with history: countless museums, colonial houses, estate gardens, grand cemeteries and a vibrant waterfront. Best of all, Virginians are among the kindest and most welcoming people I’ve met &mdash and I can’t wait to return! Besides…I’m out of wine.

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