Harvest season when grapes are picked and crushed.

The science and study of winemaking.

Malolactic fermentation:
Secondary bacterial fermentation which reduces acidity and adds complexity.
Methode Champenoise:
Wine made according to the traditional methods of in-bottle fermentation and rotation are called methode champenoise sparkling wines.

Elevation, wind direction, and bodies of water can affect growing conditions.

Oak barrels:
Used for aging wines; made in France or U.S.

Wines made primarily from a single grape variety, such as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Vertical Tasting:
Sampling a winery's varietal from sequential years.

Vintage date:
95% of the grapes must have been harvested in the stated calendar year.

Viticultural area:
Geographically definable grape-growing area.

Charlottesville is located in central Virginia, about 125 miles southwest of Washington, DC, and 75 miles northwest of Richmond. About 30 miles west are the Blue Ridge Mountains, crested by the beautiful Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway; it's ten miles further to lovely, historic Staunton. Inns, sights, and restaurants are rather spread out, so a car is essential.

For an area overview, visit Tastings of Charlottesville wine shop and restaurant, right in town. About 15 miles north of Charlottesville, Barboursville Vineyards combines the fascinating ruins of the Jefferson-designed home of Governor James Barbour with a European-style winery. Close to Monticello is Jefferson Vineyards, on land given by Jefferson to an Italian winemaker in 1773. For beautiful Blue Ridge views, drive west through beautiful rolling countryside to the Oakencroft and White Hall Vineyards. More info: Virginia Wine Marketing Office.

Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, is the top attraction, and offers fascinating insights into the life of the third President of the U.S. Michie Tavern and Ash Lawn-Highland, home to President James Monroe, will also delight history buffs. Save time and money by first buying a President's Pass for all three at the Monticello Visitors Center, on Route 20, just south of the I-64 exit. The center also has a free movie and display of Jeffersonian artifacts. About 25 miles north of Charlottesville is Montpelier, home of President James Madison.

Avoiding Crowds:
Tour buses descend on Monticello by the zillion in October (also April and May). If it's mobbed, skip the shuttle bus and house tour, and walk up the hill to join a tour of the grounds or gardens. Arrive early (Monticello opens at 8 a.m.)

Designed by Jefferson, the beautiful University of Virginia offers free guided tours of the Rotunda and Lawn daily, except during vacations and exams. Families will enjoy the Virginia Discovery Museum, located on the east end of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall.

For canoeing and fishing nearby, contact James River Runners. It's an easy drive to a wide variety of hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains; a favorite is the three-mile hike to Crabtree Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Golf, tennis, and horseback riding are equally popular options. More info: Charlottesville/Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Stay in town if you want to be able to walk to shops and restaurants. The beautifully restored Inn at Court Square has an ideal location on a quiet, historic, tree-lined street. The 21-room 200 South Street Inn is also well located, close to UVA and the train.

Dating back to 1780, the gracious Silver Thatch Inn has an atmospheric restaurant and guest rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and canopy beds (eight miles north of town). Two miles from Jefferson's Monticello is the Inn at Monticello, done in charming Colonial style. South of town is the Chester B&B, with a bucolic setting, classic architecture, and beautiful decor. Five miles east of town is Clifton, an elegant country estate with 14 guest rooms and a fine-dining restaurant. Continuing northeast another ten miles is Prospect Hill Plantation Inn, one of Virginia's oldest country inns.

Approximately seven miles west of town is the Foxfield Inn, with five guest rooms in a single-story wing; most have cherry four-poster beds, gas log fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs. Lovely Blue Ridge mountain views can also be found at the Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm, about 15 miles west of town. Spacious, well-designed luxury guest rooms; ideal location for hiking and biking. More inns.

Stop for lunch at the 1784 Michie Tavern--pronounced Mickey-- for traditional Southern-style food. The Ivy Inn Restaurant has knowledgeable waitstaff and exceptional food. Favorite restaurants on Charlottesville's pedestrian Downtown Mall include the fascinating Hardware Store Restaurant and the popular Bizou diner.

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