The Underrated Eastern City With A Remarkable Wine Scene You Didn't Even Know About

Located in the northernmost part of Central Virginia, Culpeper County's thriving small town has the quintessential Southern vibes and beautiful rolling hills characteristic of prime wine country. Culpeper County's optimal location means locals have easy access to central and northern Virginia as well as nearby Washington D.C. Backed by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and just 30 minutes from Shenandoah National Park, Culpeper is situated in the heart of Virginia's premier wine country estates. The fertile clay and granite soil and a 200-day growing season mean the Blue Ridge Mountains are the perfect spot for sommeliers and vintners to plant their grape harvest.

The state's central region is home to several acclaimed tasting trails that snake through the countryside and lead travelers through some of the most picturesque vineyards, wineries, and breweries. The Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop, Foothills Scenic Wine Trail, and the Monticello Wine Trail are just a few popular routes that crisscross Virginia's rolling hillsides. Located about an hour from some of Virginia's most popular cities, like Charlottesville and Piedmont, Culpeper's somewhat secluded location means it's close to surrounding vineyards. 

This means you can experience the beauty of central Virginia's wine country from this location without the stress of crowds and tourist-laden hotspots. It also makes for a scenic drive through the countryside, admiring the pristine vistas and endless vineyards. It's an underrated wine destination in this region but nothing short of the perfect spot to tour some of the prettiest and most scenic vineyards in Virginia.

Old House and Gray Ghost Vineyards

As its name suggests, Old House Vineyards is planted on the same small acreage as its founder's old farmhouse-style home. What once stood as nothing more than overgrown alfalfa fields was transformed into a flourishing vineyard that produces several award-winning wines. The abandoned 1800s farmhouse, whose rooms were vacant for decades, now serves as the congregation space for all visiting the vineyard. The estate also features a full kitchen and tasting room open to the public on weekends and guided tours to get a first-hand look at the captivating vines. Just 15 minutes from downtown Culpeper is one of this county's proudest local wine producers.

Gray Ghost Vineyards is a top competitor among central Virginia's wineries and has been awarded the most accolades out of any winery in the state. This family-owned and operated vineyard is also the oldest in Virginia, hosting the most popular volunteer harvest program in the Commonwealth! The property is surrounded by pastel wildflowers, lush greenery, and gently rolling hillsides dappled with vines on which its award-winning grapes are grown. 

Underneath the tasting room is a treasure trove of premium oak barrels that give the wine its unique body and flavor profile. Allowing their Southern hospitality to shine through, the calendar at Gray Ghost Vineyards is never empty, with special events taking place nearly every month. Check its events calendar for fun festivities like its annual Chocolates and Cabernet, Barrel Tasting, and Cousins Maine Lobster truck pop-up. 

Revalation and DuCard Vineyards

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Revalation Vineyards was founded by a young couple from the Bay Area with a dream of bringing their own vineyard to life. Since their first two vintages were produced in 2014 from a single grape variety, Revelation Vineyards has adopted several additional types of grapes to add to their harvest. The wines in the vineyard are produced in small batches of 25 to 150 cases, focusing on quality over quantity. The exceptional terroir of the central Virginia soil allows their harvest of Chardonnay, Viognier, Petit Manseng, and Merlot to flourish. Passing on the knowledge they've gathered over the years is a high priority at Revalation Vineyards, and the founders even hold viticulture and horticulture classes for high school students during the spring.

A boutique vineyard 30 minutes west of Culpeper in Etlan County, DuCard Vineyards is an award-winning winery near Shenandoah National Park. Voted as the "#1 'Virginia Green' Winery" in Virginia, the property is a beautiful montage of lush foliage encircling the grounds. The photogenic vines boast several grape varieties available for purchase in its tasting room. As a local family-owned winery, DuCard Vineyards emphasizes community and family in their estate, and the owners often host special events throughout the month, like oyster festivals, holiday Sunday brunch, and harvest weekends. With their wines available in only a few restaurants and no retail stores nationwide, their products are exclusive and best enjoyed in person.