Frugal Foodie Mama: Charlottesville, Virginia: The Perfect Couples Getaway for Foodies

Friday, October 20, 2017

Charlottesville, Virginia: The Perfect Couples Getaway for Foodies

Breweries, wineries, & a growing local food scene in the picturesque foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains makes the historical city of Charlottesville, VA the perfect destination for a foodie couples getaway... 
Breweries, wineries, & a growing local food scene in the picturesque foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains makes the historical city of Charlottesville, VA the perfect destination for a foodie couples getaway.
This post was created in partnership with Visit Charlottesville. As always, all opinions & thoughts expressed below are 100% my own.

Even though my husband & I love to take trips with the kiddos to explore new destinations, every once in a while we like to get away- just the two of us. We try to sneak in a couples getaway at least 2-3 times a year. These one-on-one trips don't have to be far away or even lengthy. Sometimes a 3-4 hour road trip with a few days to explore a new (or long time favorite) city on our own is all that we need. 

When Visit Charlottesville reached out to me about coming to visit their city & the surrounding Ablemarle County for a few days with just my husband, we jumped at the chance. The Charlottesville area of Virginia had been on our travel list for well over a year now. We were drawn to the history of the area (hello, Thomas Jefferson's breathtaking estate is located there!) as well as to the city's culinary scene & the growing number of wineries & breweries popping up all throughout the 700 acre county.

During our 3 day visit to Charlottesville, we discovered that the local food & drink scene permeates just about every area & place that you visit in the city and in the surrounding Albemarle County. Even the two historical sites we visited had a foodie focus to them...

Michie Tavern- 683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Originally built in 1784, the historic Michie Tavern is a must-visit for lunch when in Charlottesville.

Originally built in 1784, Michie Tavern is a must-visit for lunch when in Charlottesville. The tavern was our first stop after checking into our studio King room at the Residence Inn by Marriott conveniently located in the heart of downtown Charlottesville. After driving for over 4 hours, my husband & I were both starving & looking forward to a hearty 18th century-style meal to kick off our visit to the area. :)

Originally built in 1784, the historic Michie Tavern is a must-visit for lunch when in Charlottesville.

Michie Tavern's southern style dishes are served buffet style inside the tavern with both indoor & outdoor seating available. Buffet selections include the most perfectly fried & juicy chicken, light & fluffy buttermilk biscuits, homemade mashed potatoes with gravy that just may put your mama's to shame (shhhhh... don't tell her I said that though!), sweet stewed tomatoes, & so much more. But the Michie Tavern buffet isn't your typical buffet, folks! Instead of having to trudge back into a line to refill your plate, servers in period clothing come around to the tables every few minutes with hot fried chicken & warm buttermilk biscuits. Although it is easy to fill up on the buffet, try to save room for dessert. Their warm peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream (pictured above, bottom right) is absolutely divine.

Once you have had your fill of 18th century style home cooking, be sure to head over to the main building of the tavern (what was once the inn) & take a self-guided tour

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello- 931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Take a tour of one of the most famous historical landmarks in Ablemarle County, Virginia- Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's estate.

Once we finished our lunch at Michie Tavern & had a quick tour of the building, we headed up the parkway just a few miles to tour one of the most famous historical landmarks in Ablemarle County- Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's estate. As a former American history teacher, I was incredibly giddy about getting to take a guided tour of what was once the home of one of our nation's most progressive thinkers & influential leaders. And while I expected to learn more about his everyday life from our visit to the estate, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of our county's founding fathers also happened to be a foodie. ;)

That's right, folks. Our third president of the United States was a bonafide foodie. Jefferson grew more than 330 varieties of more than 70 different species of vegetables in his famous 1000 foot long vegetable garden (picture above, bottom right)! Jefferson's estate also had a beer & a wine cellar under the house. While Jefferson's wife, Martha, was alive, they often brewed their own beer at Monticello in small 15 gallon casks. Thomas Jefferson was also quite the forward thinking dinner host as he had dumbwaiters installed in the main dining room that would bring wine bottles to & from the wine cellar below.

Even with all that Thomas Jefferson had accomplished in his lifetime, he had at least one dream of his that was never realized- to become a vintner. Prior to the Revolutionary War, he had brought back grapevines from Europe & had planted them on his 5,000 acre estate. A severe frost & the start of the war, however, thwarted those wine making dreams of his. But fast forward a couple of hundreds of years later & Jefferson's vision of producing wine on the original Monticello estate would finally be realized by the Woodward family...

Jefferson Vineyards- 1353 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Nestled in the Virginia foothills on what was once part of Thomas Jefferson's 5,000 acre estate is Jefferson Vineyards.

Nestled in the Virginia foothills on what was once part of Thomas Jefferson's 5,000 acre estate is Jefferson Vineyards. In the mid to late 1980's, the Woodward family starting growing grape vines & producing wine on the property. The vineyard is now being cared for & operated by a third generation of Woodwards. You can read more about the history & background of the property & vineyard by clicking here.

I have to say that you simply couldn't ask for a more perfect setting for a romantic visit to a winery than what we found at Jefferson Vineyards! After taking part in a wine tasting in their tasting room, I highly recommend grabbing a glass (or bottle) of your favorite vintage & headed outside to the garden patio (pictured above) or across the way to the spacious winery tasting room. Bring a picnic lunch or purchase a few cheeses at the tasting room, & snag a chair in the concert field to take in views of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Nestled in the Virginia foothills on what was once part of Thomas Jefferson's 5,000 acre estate is Jefferson Vineyards.

If you are partial to an easy drinking & smooth wine, I highly recommend their 2016 Rose (pictured above).

King Family Vineyards- 6550 Roseland Farm Lane, Crozet
Crozet, Virginia is home to a number of wineries as well as breweries & is definitely worth planning a day of your visit to Ablemarle County around. One Crozet winery that is a definite must-visit is King Family Vineyards.

Located less than a half hour drive from Charlottesville is the city of Crozet. Crozet is home to a number of wineries as well as breweries & is definitely worth planning a day of your visit to Ablemarle County around if beer & wine are your kind of thing. One Crozet winery that is a definite must-visit is King Family Vineyards. 

The King family, who happen to be transplants to Virginia from Houston, Texas, originally had no plans to start a vineyard & open a winery when they bought their 327 acre farm in 1996. But that all changed in 1998 when they had a knock at the door that would pique their curiosity & set them on a course to get into the wine business (you can read their whole story by clicking here.)

Not only does King Family Vineyards in Crozet, Virginia have a polo field (they host polo matches every Sunday), a spacious tasting room, & a separate event space, but they also happen to have their very own wine library.

Not only does King Family Vineyards have a polo field (they host polo matches every Sunday), a spacious tasting room, & a separate event space, but they also happen to have their very own wine library. You heard that right, folks. A wine library (pictured above). The wine library can be reserved for private tastings at the winery.

I highly recommend trying a glass of their Seven 2015 & then buying a bottle to take home. It is more of an after dinner wine- a fortified petit verdot that has been aged in bourbon barrels for almost two years. 

Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery- 6135 Rockfish Gap Turnpike, Crozet
Founded by a doctor & his friend from college, Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery in Crozet, Virginia always has 6 their flagship beers on draft as well as a rotating selection of seasonal & sometimes experimental brews.

Our visit to the Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery may have been one of my husband & I's favorite highlights of our visit to the Charlottesville/Ablemarle County area. Founded by a doctor & his friend from college, Pro Re Nata always has their 6 flagship beers on draft as well as a rotating selection of seasonal & sometimes experimental brews. When they say that they have a beer to cure what ails you, they mean it. After all, it's doctor's orders, you all. ;)

The best way to find out which Pro Re Nata brew is your favorite is by doing a beer tasting.

The best way to find out which Pro Re Nata brew is your favorite is by doing a beer tasting. Each beer flight comes with 4 drafts of your choice. I was partial to their Beans Deep Coffee Stout (get it nitro infused- trust me) while my husband gravitated more towards their Hop Drone IPA.

If the weather is nice, grab a pint of your favorite brew & head back behind the Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery to enjoy their outdoor space made entirely from old shipping containers.

If the weather is nice, grab a pint of your favorite brew & head back behind the brewery to enjoy their outdoor space made entirely from old shipping containers! :) On busy weekends, they open the bars in this outdoor space so no trudging back to the brewery for another beer. You can also rent out the entire space for private events. 

I believe the next time that we visit the area we will be taking the Crozet Hop On Tour so we can take full advantage of all of the wineries & breweries there and have a dedicated designated driver. ;)

Draft Taproom- 425 East Main Street
If you happen to be a craft beer lover, then a visit to the Draft Taproom in downtown Charlottesville, VA should definitely be on your itinerary for your couples getaway.

If you happen to be a craft beer lover, then a visit to the Draft Taproom in downtown Charlottesville should definitely be on your itinerary for your couples getaway. Draft Taproom has a really unique concept for serving beer- it is all self-serve. You put a credit card on file, get your scan card (this will be your tab so to speak), & then you get to be your own bartender. You literally have access to 60 different beer & cider selections! Try a little taste, pour yourself a half glass, or fill it up when you find one that you really like. You can get a peek at some of the self-serve taps in this video I posted to my Instagram account.

If you happen to get hungry while sampling drafts, the Taproom also offers a full food menu. We highly recommend getting a basket of the Ultimate Beer Cheese Tots to share (pictured above, bottom right). 

Hamiltons'- 101 West Main Street
If you are looking for a romantic spot to make a dinner reservation at during your stay in Charlottesville, VA, then Hamiltons' will not disappoint.

If you are looking for a romantic spot to make a dinner reservation at during your stay in Charlottesville, then Hamiltons' will not disappoint. Hamiltons' often sources their ingredients from local farmers making for a truly unique farm to table experience. 

My husband & I snagged a cozy table right under the glowing blue Hamiltons' sign in the window. We started our meal with their delicious Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies (pictured below). On the recommendation of our server, I ordered one of their most popular dishes- the Pan Roasted Jumbo Lump Crabcakes. These delectable crabcakes were heavy on the crab & light on the breading. My husband had the Grilled Seven Hills Beef Tenderloin. It was cooked absolutely perfectly & practically melted in our mouths. If you can, try to save a little room for dessert. I highly recommend the Chocolate Many Ways for my chocolate lovers out there. ;)

If you are looking for a romantic spot to make a dinner reservation at during your stay in Charlottesville, VA, then Hamiltons' will not disappoint.

Carter Mountain Orchard- 1435 Carters Mountain Trail
At the top of a winding mountain road in Charlottesville, Virginia is Carter Mountain Orchard. The orchard grows over a dozen varieties of apples with most available for pick your own. But what might be most impressive about Carter Mountain are the views from their back deck.

Before heading back home after our wonderful 3 day stay in the Charlottesville area, my husband & I made a couple of mandatory stops during our last morning there. One of those stops was a drive up a winding mountain road to Carter Mountain Orchard. The orchard grows over a dozen varieties of apples with most available for pick your own. But what might be most impressive about Carter Mountain are the views from their back deck (pictured above, bottom right).

You can purchase homemade jams & jellies, apple cider, & fresh baked donuts in their general store. But Carter Mountain isn't just known for their apples. They also have a vineyard, & their grapes are used in the production of Prince Michel Vineyard wines. You can pop over to the separate wine tasting room & shop to give a few of their wines a try. If you are more of a hard cider fan, they have a tasting room for that as well. Apples from Carter Mountain are used in the locally produced Bold Rock Hard Cider. You can sample & purchase their delicious ciders everyday starting at 11am.

Gearharts Fine Chocolates- 243-B Ridge-McIntire Road
Not only can you pick out & purchase boxes of chocolates to take home at Gearharts Fine Chocolates in downtown Charlottesville, but you can sit down in the cafe & enjoy one of their freshly baked pastries, cakes, or cookies. They also serve specialty coffees, hot chocolate, and wine & beer by the glass.

I couldn't leave Charlottesville without first stopping in at Gearharts Fine Chocolates located in the historic downtown area. Not only can you pick out & purchase boxes of chocolates to take home, but you can sit down in the cafe & enjoy one of their freshly baked pastries, cakes, or cookies. They also serve specialty coffees, hot chocolate, and wine & beer by the glass. For the beer lovers, I highly recommend snagging a box of their Virginia Brewers' Collaboration chocolates made with locally brewed beers. Or grab a box of the Pod & Vine chocolates if you happen to be a wine lover. They are all crafted from local Virginia wines including Jefferson Vineyards' Petit Verdot & Kings Family Vineyards' Seven. :)

Breweries, wineries, & a growing local food scene in the picturesque foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains makes the historical city of Charlottesville, VA the perfect destination for a foodie couples getaway.

Have you visited Charlottesville, Virginia before?
What are some of your favorite foodie stops in the area?


For more information & to start planning your couples getaway to Charlottesville soon, be sure to visit the Visit Charlottesville website!

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