On The Monticello Wine Trail
In celebration of Virginia Wine Month, I decided to begin October with a recap of my recent visit to Charlottesville, Virginia along the Monticello Wine Trail. Located in the Monticello Viticultural Area (AVA), more than 20 wineries claim residence along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our first stop included a visit to Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery, located off US 29. Prince Michel produces approximately 35K cases of wine a year, easily making it one of the largest in Virginia. They also have two satellite tasting rooms, one in Alexandria and the other in Monticello, where visitors can sample their flight of wines.
I’m not sure how best to describe the winery other than very commercial. Upon entry, visitors walk through a gift shop toward the tasting room that can easily accommodate large groups. Visitors have the option to take a self-guided tour of the barrel cave and tank room (it felt like walking through a museum).
Prince Michel offers a complimentary tasting flight and the option to sample 5 designate wines for $1. I was very selective in the wines I sampled, largely due to my busy schedule of winery visits, and primarily sampled the vineyard designate wines. Out of the complimentary tasting, the Barrel Select Chardonnay 2006 ($18.99) was the standout. The Quaker Run Syrah ($26.99) was the winner from the vineyard designate list. Overall, I was underwhelmed, thus the poor notes I wrote during my tasting.
In summary, Prince Michel misses the mark and lacks the characteristics I love most about Virginia wine country, picturesque scenery, atmosphere, and great wine.
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