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We’ve been to many places: some special, some fancy, some nameless, some we’ve easily forgotten.  But occasionally, we stumble across a place that has something unique and utterly memorable about it.  An aura that is almost indescribable: one part excitement, one part beauty, and one part utterly original.  A place that when you remember it, you can’t help but smile.

The Barboursville Vineyards and Ruins is one of those places.  Located about two hours away from Washington, D.C. and less than a half hour away from Charlottesville it’s well worth the trip, whether for a whole day or an afternoon.  You can get detailed directions, as well as hours, here.

Before entering the winery, you should stop and explore the ruins (since you might be too tipsy on the way out!)

The house was designed by Thomas Jefferson for his friend James Barbour.  The Barbour family lived in the house until it was destroyed by a fire on Christmas day in 1884.


The entrance to the house, featuring columns popular with the Neo-Palladian style.





The fireplaces in the interior of the house.


But it is not just the ruins that make the trip out to Barboursville worth the drive, but also the fantastic winery.  With an inviting tasting room, it’s certainly not a challenge to enjoy a few hours lazily sipping the wine and enjoying the friendly staff.


An original, old school, cask that hangs on the wall.  This cask was one of two brought to Virginia from Italy.


Some of the wine specials.


While I’m no expert, our favorite not to miss wines were: the Brut*, the Rose, and the Barbera.

*Seriously, the Brut was phenomenal.  If they don’t have it available for tasting due to the season, buy a bottle anyways in blind faith.  Trust me, it’s worth it.


One of the best parts of the tasting, was our fantastic attendant/sommelier Carol.  She was wonderfully informed, without talking over our heads.  For example, one of the wines was said to have notes of tar.  Not exactly our cup of tea.  Carol told us to ignore the descriptions of the wines, and individually described every vintage down to what she would eat it with!

On the way out, you can stop by the Barbour cemetery, and for one last look around the estate.


The grave of John Barbour.


The tombstone for a husband and wife.


The vines as you leave the estate.

Have you been to the Barboursville ruins or vineyard?  Let us know in the comments below!

Happy travels!