This past fall offered several great opportunities to taste our way through Charlottesville, Virginia. One of the most gorgeous wineries in the area (that I have attempted to visit multiple times, but narrowly missed the opportunity due to private events) is Pippin Hill Farm Winery. Nestled at the mouth of the Blue Ridge Mountains that seem to open up at the front steps of the Farm Winery presenting gorgeous panoramic views outlined by the most gorgeous landscapes in and around Charlottesville. I honestly can not recall a day that I have stopped by the winery where there was not a wedding being set up or underway. The grounds feature hillsides lined with vines, gorgeous gardens, and impeccable landscapes surrounding the winery and events center welcoming each patron with a tranquil and scenic tasting experience. As you pull into the rotary style parking lot, cars, buses, and often limos crowd all sides of the lot — like I said this winery is seldomly never crowded. As you make your way down to the pathway to the winery, you will notice magnolia bushes lining both sides of the path, while a flat plane usually sits setup with white wooden chairs and an archway for an upcoming wedding. As the path bends around to the left, you will notice the giant barn structure straight ahead that contains the events space, and to the left, the lengthy covered patio that appears to extend 50 yards to the front door of the tasting room. The patio features a couple of tasting bars in the warmer months, while many bistro tables and rocking chairs cover the platform from end to end. The patio is highlighted by gorgeous gardens, flowers, and water fountains that stretch the length of property. As you enter the front door, you will notice to the right the rustic events space barn and to the left, the tasting room and restaurant.
Pippin Hill is owned and operated by the hospitality and event planning expert duo of Lynn & Dean Andrews who have brought their over 30 years of experience to craft this Farm Winery and event venue. With that being said, it’s no surprise that the business model is heavily focused on their events space and all things event related. We entered into the tasting room and decided to sit down for a lunch and tasting. As you enter the tasting room you will get the feel of a true farm to the table restaurant setting. Designed to give a rustic appeal, the wooden chairs and farm tables seat around 50 to 60 guests, and also features an L-shaped tasting bar in the back corner of the room. The menu was filled with gorgeous creations by Chef Amalia Scatena, containing an assortment of various fine cheeses, charcuterie, finger foods, salads, soups, and wood fired pizzas. We ordered an assortment of cheese, charcuterie, and small sandwiches that were each incredible, satisfying, and paired well with our tastings. Winemaker and Consultant Michael Shaps, a name that many Virginia wine lovers are familiar with, tends the winemaking duties and provides a variety of typical Virginia offerings. Pippin Hill is still in its infancy with their wine program with a 24-acre farm co-op sourcing some of the best wine grape in the Monticello AVA.
Tastings are conducted in flights of four that run about $6 per flight. The flights are not preset and are setup so that you, the patron, can pick any four from the menu. During this tasting, a group of four that I visited with all selected different wines to taste so for the review purposes I was able to taste all of their wines. The highlights of the tasting were primarily in the red spectrum and the dessert wines. The 2010 Merlot ($21) boasted some dark currants and cherry aromas, with bing cherry standing tall on the palate, smoothed out by subtle tannins, and a smooth velvety finish. The 2010 Reserve Merlot ($28) offered those typical cherry qualities while adding some nuances of cinnamon and oak on the nose, more ripe cherry fruit on the palate, and a zesty spice backbone with more firm structure than the normal Merlot. Moving to the last of the reds, we were poured the Cabernet Sauvignon ($24), although I was told it was the 2010, 2011, and 2012 during the tasting so I’m really unsure of which vintage it actually ended up being. Regardless, this cab boasted a very fruit forward nose and palate showing cherry, dragon fruit, and hints of charcoal and dark berries mixed in. The palate was soft and round, finishing very smooth and almost juicy, with very tame tannins. The last standout for our tasting was the 2011 Petit Manseng ($28), which was absolutely delicious. I’m not one for overly sweet wines, this one touted a 4% residual sugar while balanced with luscious honey drenched tropical fruit with layers peeled off from front to back. Pineapple drenched in honey whisked across the nose while juicy apricot and mandarin orange notes populated the palate adding weight to the smooth honey laced finish. Excellent and not too sweet, it would be perfect by itself or paired with an angel food cake. Over all the wines were off to a great start, and we look forward to returning to suck up the relaxing environment, gorgeous natural eye candy, succulent food offerings, and easy drinking wines. We encourage you to stop by Pippin Hill and enjoy an afternoon of tranquility, and remember where you heard about them first.
- Winemaker’s Select White Blend 2012 ($19): crisp lilac and orange peel aromas lead to apricot and rose pedal up front, while tangerine carries out the crisp, smooth finish (3/5)
- Chardonnay 2012 ($20): mostly neutral on the nose with faint floral notes, sweet pear and apple roll across the palate, a little tart finishing with notes of pineapple (2.5/5)
- Reserve Chardonnay 2011 ($27): toasty and nutty character dominate this wine adding just a touch of pear fruit on the finish, relatively bland (2/5)
- SummerFarm Rosé 2011 ($18): odd with jalapeño and pepper aromas and flavors, I’m not really sure what to make of this, chalk it up to a bad bottle? (2/5)
- Winemaker’s Select Red Blend 2011 ($19): black currant and dark cherry, showing soft and round characteristics, while finishing light and almost refreshing (3/5)
- Sparkling Blanc de Blanc ($30): This Chardonnay based sparkler was a bit flat with apple and pear aromas leading to a mineral driven palate adding a faint touch of crisp apple on the finish (2.5/5)
- SummerFarm Sparkling Rosé ($30): dry yet crisp with juicy cherry flavors carrying some light tannin, ok (2.5/5)
Pippin Hill Farm and Winery
5022 Plank Rd
North Garden, VA 22959