A good wine can stand on its own and be the star of the show, but even the best wines in the world can be made better with food. Cheese and crackers or fruit and nuts are classic accompaniments – especially in the age of the charcuterie board – but to truly appreciate the flavor profile and complexities of a wine requires a fine dining experience. Read on to discover Virginia wineries that offer fine dining as well as others that offer more casual but full meal options. Know which wineries offer food will help you to plan the most comfortable wine tour in Virginia Winery Country.
Barboursville Vineyards’ Palladio Restaurant
Located in Central Virginia along the Monticello Wine Trail near Charlottesville, Barboursville Vineyards is home to Palladio Restaurant, named after Italian Renaissance architect Emelie Palladio. The restaurant was built in the late 1990s as a means to promote the vineyard’s award-winning wines and pay homage to the owner’s Italian roots.
Bringing Creativity to the Barboursville Kitchen
With dark wooden beams strewn across the ceiling, walls adorned with decorative plates and vintage-inspired curtains draped from the floor-to-ceiling windows, the dining room does indeed resemble an Italian grandmother’s abode. It exudes a homey feel that seems at odds with the gourmet food, but somehow it works. That’s in part thanks to Executive Chef Michael Clough, who’s skilled at taking contrasting components and combining them into something spectacular.
Clough, like many in the industry, worked his way to the top. After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute, he joined Palladio Restaurant in 2012 as an intern. He then served as Sous-Chef from 2015 to 2020, when he was promoted to executive chef.
“What inspires me about working in fine dining is the creativity of it and the strive for perfection,” he said. “You’re always learning something new.”
Local Food at a Charlottesville-Area Winery
As the kitchen’s commander-in-chief, Clough has upheld the restaurant’s reputation as one of the best in the state by seamlessly blending local ingredients with northern Italian inspiration. Sommelier Professionista Alessandro Medici ensures that each dish pairs perfectly with one of the estate’s impressive selection of wines.
“We try to use local, fresh ingredients to create traditional dishes that people might not be too familiar with,” Clough explained. “The goal is to put out great food that people enjoy, talk about for a while and ultimately want to come back for.”
Appetizers like pan seared Maine lobster cake or Black Angus beef tartare help bring out the pleasant acidity of Allegrante Rosé 2020. Main fares such as “Spaghetti alla Chitarra e Gamberoni” – black ink and saffron squared pasta with sautéed head-on shrimp, spicy cherry tomato sauce and Caromont Farm aged pecorino – are complimented by Vermentino Reserve 2021, an Italian white wine with a vivid citrus nose and lingering minerality.
Historic Jeffersonian Architecture
Although the restaurant alone is well worth a trip to Barboursville, diners would be remiss if they didn’t also tour the property’s ruins, which were once part of a grand mansion designed by Thomas Jefferson for his friend, Virginia Gov. James Barbour. An 1884 Christmas Day fire destroyed all but the brick walls and columns. They remain standing to this day and give visitors a glimpse of the bygone manor’s unusual octagonal sitting room, the namesake of the winery’s most celebrated blend, Octagon.
The Farmhouse at Veritas Vineyards
Further south along the Monticello Wine Trail in Afton, Virginia, nestled between the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Veritas Vineyards & Winery and its bed and breakfast restaurant, The Farmhouse.
The name is a nod to the winery’s origin story. Husband-and-wife team Andrew and Patricia Hodson bought what is now Veritas Vineyards in 1999 when it was Saddleback Farm. What started as a small, five-acre passion project has since grown into a 50-acre staple of Virginia Wine Country, but The Farmhouse strives to remain true to the estate’s humble beginnings, which is embodied by Executive Chef Andy Shipman.
Seasonal Farm-Fresh Fine Dining with Winery Views
Like the winery, Shipman’s career in the kitchen began modestly. He got his start as a dishwasher and busser at The Sunken Well in Fredericksburg before working as a line cook at FOODE, the brainchild of Top Chef contestant Joy Crump. In 2013, he made his way to The Farmhouse where the Virginia native was eventually tapped to serve as executive chef.
In that role Shipman crafts an authentic farm-to-table dining experience, changing the four-course dinner menu every two weeks based on what’s in season. Previous dishes have included seared red snapper over orange-scented black rice with sautéed kale, cilantro pistou and chili oil, paired with Viognier – which boasts a nose of zesty white orange blossom and a palate of stone fruit that compliments the slightly sweet flavor of the fish – and Roseda Farms filet mignon with rosemary jus, crème brûlée, crispy leeks and patty pan squash—the taste of the meat made richer by a glass of jammy, full-bodied Reserve.
Luxurious Brunch at a Vineyard Bed and Breakfast
But brunch is where The Farmhouse shines—or sparkles, rather. It’s a three-course, seasonally-inspired meal with dishes ranging from savory (quiche stuffed with onions, fire roasted red peppers, ham and feta cheese, served with a side of fingerling potatoes) to decadent (french toast topped with bananas, white chocolate crumbles and walnuts), all accompanied by bottomless glasses of crisp sparkling wine.
“Sparkling wine is one of my favorites to be a part of,” Elliot Watkins, Veritas Vineyards’ assistant winemaker and the Hodsons’ son-in-law, once told Virginia Wine & Country Life. “With every bottle of sparkling that people open, I feel they are celebrating something. To produce a product that is shared in that moment is very special.”
A Luxury Stay at a Winery B & B
The Farmhouse itself is also special. built in 1839, the family-home-turned-B&B has all of the character of post-Colonial America with the added charm of the English countryside, from which its owners hail. Gold chiavari chairs are tucked neatly beneath the intimate dining room’s handful of tables, which are always graced with fresh flowers and lit candles. After enjoying a world-class meal, diners can retire to the sprawling front porch where they can sip on a glass of wine while watching the sun dip below the horizon.
The B&B is comprised of six unique rooms, each named after a different part of England. With half a dozen other wineries within 15 minutes of Veritas, it’s the ideal home base for visitors who want to fully experience the Monticello Wine Trail and everything else that Central Virginia has to offer.
Vineyards with Restaurants in Virginia Wine Country
Virginia Wine Country is full of vineyards with delectable food. Many Virginia wineries either grow fresh ingredients in their own onsite gardens or collaborate with local farms for true farm-to-table fare. Tasting rooms employ talented, creative chefs trained at prestigious cooking schools and restaurants such as The Inn at Little Washington under Michelin-starred Chef Patrick O’Connell.
Wherever you go in Virginia Wine Country you are sure to find the perfect pairings of exquisite wine and delectable local fare. The following wineries have a chef who prepares at minimum a small curated menu of gourmet sandwiches, flatbreads or pizzas made fresh in their kitchen. Some may even offer a more comprehensive menu and table service with delicious dishes that may include Chesapeake oysters, locally raised pork chops or even a selection of traditional Italian dishes. Discover the best of Virginia Wines and follow the links to plan dining for your wine tasting tour.
Central Virginia Wineries with Casual Dining
Castle Hill Cider in Keswick
Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison
Hazy Mountain Vineyard and Brewery in Afton
Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard in Keswick
Mount Ida Tasting Room & Taphouse in Charlottesville
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards in North Garden
Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery in Leon
The Terrace at Veritas in Afton
Shenandoah Valley Wineries with Casual Dining
Chateau Morrisette Winery in Floyd
CrossKeys Vineyards in Mt. Crawford
West & South Virginia Wineries with Casual Dining
Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol
East and Shore Virginia Wineries with Casual Dining
Potomac Point Vineyard in Stafford
Upper Shirley Vineyards in Charles City
Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg
LISA CONLEY-KENDZIOR is a University of Missouri School of Journalism graduate who currently works as a news editor in Washington, D.C. She lives in her home state of Maryland with her husband and two cats. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys running, traveling, rock climbing, wine tasting and yoga.
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Virginia Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in Virginia Wine Country. Virginia Wine & Country Life is a semi-annual luxury print magazine with a full digital presence. The Virginia Wine & Country Gold Book is an annual guide to the top award-winning wines, wineries and experiences in Virginia Wine Country. The annual Virginia Wine & Country Wedding Planner is an art book of elegant Virginia weddings. The brand includes the Virginia Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, Va. It is a beautiful lifestyle boutique that brings the pages of the magazines to life. Virginia Wine & Country tells the stories of Virginia wineries, the farm-to-table movement, luxury travel, entertaining, art and the elegant country lifestyle. Ivy Life & Style Media also provides branding, web design and PR services for the wine industry.