Fall in Virginia means crisp air, colorful leaves and, of course, steeplechase events like the upcoming International Gold Cup Races and the Montpelier Hunt Races. A time-honored tradition, these races bring together Virginians to celebrate equestrianism with old-age style and refinement. These affairs include much more than just cheering on the majestic thoroughbreds and their jockeys. With polished tailgating, dapper fashion and elaborate programming, it is customary for guests to spend the entire day at the races, enjoying the gourmet foods, cheerful company and competitive steeplechase. Scroll on for 5 things we love about these events!

1. The Hats. Carrying on the tradition of the original high-profile horse races in the U.S., which were both social and fashion events requiring full morning dress, today’s races include the donning of lavish hats and fascinators. Both The International Gold Cup Races and the Montpelier Hunt Races host hat contests each year. (Below, bottom right photo by John Nelson Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

2. The Food. Festive tailgating with seasonal décor, overflowing floral arrangements, fine linens and gourmet foods served on silver and crystal are a staple during these events. In fact, both The International Gold Cup Races and the Montpelier Hunt Races host tailgating contests each year, where equestrian fans compete to captivate judges with both mouthwatering and picture-worthy spreads. Once again, Wine & Country will serve as tailgating judges for the Montpelier Hunt Races, and we cannot wait to see all the alluring displays. (Below, top photo by Anna Purdy Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

3. The Fashion. From “Sunday Best” to “Country Chic” attire, Virginia horse races continue to be fashion events. From fall dresses, sport coats and ties to riding boots, vests and plaid scarves and ponchos, attendees don chic ensembles for a day at the races. These events also include curated vendors for a luxury shopping experience. (Below, top left photo by Richard Clay Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

4. The Drinks. Horse races and cocktails go hand-in-hand, as many larger horse races in the U.S even have their own signature drinks. Virginia races continue this tradition with special drink recipes served at tailgates and even by incorporating local craft brews and wines. The Mint Julep is the official drink of The International Gold Cup Races, and Virginia vineyards like Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery will be on-site at the Montpelier Hunt Races for equestrian lovers to enjoy local wines and craft beverages.

5. The Races. Of course, no day at the races is complete without exciting steeplechases. The proximity to the horses makes for an exhilarating spectator sport where fans watch brightly colored jockeys and their horses race around the bends and over the hills and hedges. (Below, photos by Richard Clay Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

This season, you can enjoy the International Gold Cup Races on Saturday, October 23, at Great Meadow, The Plains and the Montpelier Hunt Races on Saturday, November 6, at James Madison’s Montpelier. You can also learn more about the Montpelier Hunt Races in Wine & Country Life, Book 7 and purchase tickets for the event at the Wine & Country Shop.  

On our website, find even more information on what to do in nearby Gordonsville, what you will find at this year’s Montpelier Hunt Races, past year’s Montpelier Hunt RacesTips on Tailgating Like a Winner and Virginia recipe ideas. And for tailgating essentials and supplies, stop by our Wine & Country Shop in Ivy. ~


(Lead photo by John Nelson Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)



Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in Virginia Wine Country. Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an annual art book celebrating elegant Virginia weddings, are complemented by the Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA—a beautiful lifestyle boutique that brings the pages of the magazines to life. The Shop features over 40 Virginia artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire to locally made foods and award-winning Virginia wines and craft beverages for your next event. Wine & Country covers the grape-growing foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Lynchburg to Leesburg, including points in between like Charlottesville and Middleburg. Ivy Life & Style Media also creates other projects, including CharlottesvilleFamily.com, a collection of local resources including a popular calendar of events, family services guides and features on education, health and family day trips for parents and teachers in Charlottesville, as well as the CharlottesvilleWelcomeBook.com a guide to resources for Charlottesville tourists and newcomers.