We had a fantastic time on a quick weekend visit to Charlottesville before Christmas. We generally swing through C’ville on our way to Staunton for a play (or two) at the American Shakespeare Center there (fabulous theater space, btw). But this time, we wanted to just stay in C’ville and enjoy the sights, the food, and, of course, the wineries.
We often have Saturday lunch at Hamilton’s in the historic downtown, and this visit was no exception (even though we really, truly meant to branch out and try a new-to-us place). The food is fabulous, plus they have a wonderful selection of Virginia wines and microbrews.
This is a photo (from my iPhone) of my veggie blue plate special — and honestly, I didn’t even adjust the colors. This is what it really looked like! (Mushroom fritter [gluten-free!], mashed sweet potatoes, shredded beets, broccoli salad — all just delightful!)
Even better, we ended up at a table in the front, which gave us a view of the pedestrian mall. This meant that we had nearly front-row seats for a group of local Morris dancers who were going up and down the mall to dance.
(I love Morris dancers! My ethnic heritage is English and Welsh, mostly, and Morris dancing is an ancient English folk dance form, dating from 1448.)
We then headed south to Jefferson Vineyards, located on the site of Thomas Jefferson’s original vineyards, which were planted back in the 18th century (and which failed repeatedly because of the then-unknown phylloxera mite). The wines are great, plus the views from the lawn are amazing. It’s well worth a stop, if you’re in the area.
Then it was on to The Local, which we’d tried once before but wanted to revisit. They have great locavore food and a fabulous wine list, especially Virginia wines. So, food porn time here, a glimpse of our cheese plate:
That evening, we stayed in the Omni, right on the mall, which was a great central location. And they were decorated for the holidays, even better. The 7-story atrium is just amazing as seen from the glass elevators.
The next day, we weren’t quite hungry enough to go to the Boar’s Head for brunch (their spread is unbelievable) and instead had a more modest breakfast downtown at The Nook (first opened in 1951!), which is a traditional diner and features ten (10!) different kinds of mac and cheese on the breakfast menu. (I didn’t indulge, but my husband did.)
That fortified us enough to head off to a couple of familiar wineries later on, including Veritas (a fave), where we had bread and cheese for lunch, along with their delightful Harlequin Chardonnay. (The winemaker here, Emily Pelton, makes absolutely divine wines.)
And then we headed home, up Route 29 to northern Virginia, with the Blue Ridge just visible to the west. Really wonderful, and a perfect set-up for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with the family. Cheers!