29 July, 2021
The best Virginia wines: Governors' Cup 2021

The best Virginia wines: Governors’ Cup 2021

The 2021 Virginia Governor’s Cup Case recognizes the best of the best Virginia wines and selects a few to represent the 300+ wineries across the Commonwealth. Although you can sometimes find wines from these vineyards at the local grocery or gourmet shop, a visit to the wineries will allow you to see where and sometimes how (if guided tours are available) these award-winning vintages are made and sample exceptional wines versus the wineries in stunning scenery Virginia’s wine country. Use this 2021 Governor’s Cup Case Guide to help you decide which Virginia wineries to visit this spring.

Barboursville Vineyards – Barboursville

Governor’s Cup Winner: 2015 Paxxito

Gubernatorial Winner: 2015 Paxxito, 2016 Octagon, 2019 Vermentino Reserve

Barboursville Vineyards won the Virginia Governor’s Cup 2021 with its Paxxito 2015, a dessert wine made from Moscato Ottonel and Vidal grapes. The 2016 Octagon, a Bordeaux-red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and the 2019 Vermentino Reserve, a white wine made from Vermentino grapes fermented in stainless steel for a crisp, fruity finish were also part of the Governor’s Case, giving Barboursville three spots in the coveted case.


Photo credit: Barboursville Vineyards

Plan a trip to Barboursville Vineyards, located about 30 minutes northeast of Charlottesville in the rolling hills of Central Virginia. The 18th century winery includes two tasting rooms, an outdoor terrace for sunny days, and an on-site restaurant and inn, which is the perfect place for a weekend getaway for wine lovers. While visiting the vineyards, don’t miss the historic Barboursville ruins, one of Thomas Jefferson’s impressive architectural projects, just steps from the winery.

Bluestone Vineyard & Winery – Bridgewater

Gubernatorial Winner: 2019 Petit Manseng

The Petit Manseng 2019 from Bluestone Vineyard & Winery is fermented in oak barrels and aged for about 10 months. It combines aromas such as orange blossom, honey and baking spices with notes of grilled pineapple and honeysuckle for a bright citrus finish.

The Bluestone Vineyard & Winery is located in the scenic Shenandoah Valley and offers both beautiful indoor and outdoor seating. Inside, a roaring stone fireplace is ideal for cooler temperatures, while outside you have several options, from the spacious terrace with a covered area in case of unexpected rain showers to the open-air balcony on the second floor, which also has a towering stone fireplace embedded in it the outside wall of the tasting room. The winery offers a small selection of meats and cheeses that go well with the wines.

Breaux Vineyards – Purcellville

Gubernatorial Winner: 2016 Meritage, 2016 Nebbiolo

Breaux Vineyards has two notable vintages in this year’s Governor’s Case: The 2016 Meritage blends Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec for a robust, full-bodied red blend that ages well and pairs well with dishes like pork tenderloin and Coq Au Vin; The Nebbiolo 2016 is a full-bodied tannin red made from Nebbiolo grapes, a vine preferred in northern Italy, which results in a soft, drinkable wine with aromas of dried cherries and plums.


Photo credit: Steven Morris

Breaux Vineyards, in scenic Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, has over 30 acres of vineyards growing more than 15 different grape varieties. From the terrace of the winery you have a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here you can take your glass outside on sunny days or try the current vintages of the winery in the tasting room in front of the magnificent stone fireplace.

RAH Wine Co.- Madison

Gubernatorial Winner: 2017 series 1

The RAH Wine Company is the passion project of Maya Hood White, an associate winemaker and winemaker at Early Mountain Vineyards. To make Series 1 2017, a blend of Petit Manseng and Malvasia grapes, White uses an Italian technique called appassimento, which involves drying the grapes on straw mats after harvesting. This innovative wine has a delicate balance of flavors such as dried apricots, honeysuckle, pineapple and steamed bananas, and the welcoming aroma of the vintage reminds drinkers of dried tropical fruits and melons.


While extremely limited quantities of the 2017 Series 1 mean that this particular wine can be difficult to find, you can get a feel for Maya Hood White’s winemaking style with a visit to Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison, on the eastern edge of Shenandoah National Park and about 45 minutes north of Charlottesville. In addition to an outdoor deck and sprawling estate to lay out a picnic blanket and enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Early Mountain has an on-site cottage that you can rent for a full Virginia wine weekend getaway.

Carriage House Wineworks – Waterford

Gubernatorial Winner: 2019 Petit Verdot

The Petit Verdot 2019 at Carriage House Wineworks is barrel aged in American oak, resulting in a dark purple color and notes of dark fruit with a touch of floral elements. This is a big, full bodied red that is heavily tannic and will age well.

This Northern Virginia winery is located in the historic town of Waterford and is surrounded by rolling hills covered with grapevines. While the tasting room is closed during the winter season due to COVID-19, they will reopen from April 24th and welcome visitors to enjoy their wines in the socially distant outdoor area.

Royal family vineyards – Crozet

Gubernatorial Winner: 2017 mountainous terrain

The Mountain Plains 2017 are a mix of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. After each grape variety was pressed, the wines were individually aged in new French oak barrels for 22 months, then blended and further aged to produce a complex, structured red wine.


Photo credit: Tracy Lee

The King Family Vineyards is a winery in Crozet, about 15 minutes west of Charlottesville at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has a number of large rooms that can safely accommodate visitors, including an expansive lawn, verandas and a brick terrace, as well as indoor tasting rooms with warm stone fireplaces that allow winery visits in winter. During the summer (Memorial Day through mid-October), visit the winery on a Sunday afternoon to watch a game of polo and enjoy a glass of the award-winning wines.

Michael Shaps Wineworks – Charlottesville

Gubernatorial Winner: Meritage 2015

The Michael Shaps Wineworks 2015 Meritage is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with the majority of the grapes coming from the Rougemont Vineyard in Keswick and Carter’s Mountain. The wine juices are fermented with natural yeast in stainless steel tanks and then poured into French oak barrels to age individually before being mixed and further matured in the oak barrels for a total of 20 months. This results in a smooth red wine that stands out as one of the best Bordeaux blends in Virginia.


With two tasting rooms in the Charlottesville area (the original Wineworks and Wineworks Extended Warehouse), you can either enjoy Michael Shaps wines on the winery premises or in a more urban setting in the warehouse, just minutes from many of Charlottesville’s greatest attractions than University of Virginia campus and Downtown Mall. All of the local Wineworks label wines can be found on the Wineworks Extended website. Try the Maison Shaps Burgundy label in the original Wineworks tasting room, made at the Michael Shaps winery in Meursault, France.

Trump Winery – Charlottesville

Gubernatorial Winner: 2014 brood reserve

Trump Winery’s Brut Reserve 2014 is a bubbly, champagne-style wine made from Chardonnay grapes with notes of green apple, pear and citrus. This sparkling wine matures over 5 years, resulting in a full-bodied brood that goes particularly well with oysters.


The winery’s impressive 1,300 acre winery is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charlottesville, just a few miles from historic Virginia attractions such as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Highland. The tasting room offers breathtaking views of the vineyards and breathtaking pastoral landscapes. While the time of day is great for a wine tasting visit, sunset offers some prime opportunities to capture the perfect Instagram shot.

Veritas Vineyards & Winery – Afton

Gubernatorial Winner: 2017 Petit Verdot

Veritas Vineyards & Winery was recognized for its Petit Verdot 2017 in the Virginia Governor’s Cup case 2021. This red grape used to be normally reserved as a minor ingredient in traditional Bordeaux blends, but many Virginia winemakers have recognized the grape’s ability to produce a fruity, yet floral, intensely bold red wine that can not only stand on its own, but also leads to awards. winning vintages as evidenced by Veritas Vineyards.


Veritas Vineyards & Winery is another exceptional winery in Central Virginia with front row views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It features a stall-style tasting room with a stone fireplace, which provides a cozy space to sample wines in the winter while the sun is drenched in deck and sprawling grounds provide a socially detached area to soak up a few rays of sunshine in warmer weather.

These wineries were recognized in the Governor’s Cup case in 2021, but there are dozen of wineries that have received bronze, silver, and gold medals for their wines. Check the full list and visit these remarkable vineyards for the absolute best of Virginia Vino.

The Best Virginia Wines: 2021 Governor’s Cup Case first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.

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