The Virginia Peninsula is Virginia’s newest American Viticulture Area (AVA). An AVA is a legal designation identifying particular places as unique, wine-growing regions. This particular AVA was drawn to reflect the region’s subtropical climate, extended growing season, and maritime features that impact the topography. The Virginia Peninsula is the eighth federally recognized wine-growing region in Virginia!
The narrow AVA is roughly 50 miles long and varies from 5 to 15 miles in width. The distinguishing features of the Virginia Peninsula AVA include its subtropical climate, moderate to mild winters; weather-related challenges relating to the humid temperatures and frequent rain during harvest season; and topsoil with an underlying bedrock primarily comprised of sandstone, marine vessels, and clay.
Various wine types and styles are produced within the Virginia Peninsula AVA. You’ll find classic vinifera grapes— Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Tannat, Petit Verdot, and Petit Manseng. Hybrid varieties—including Norton, Chambourcin, and Vidal Blanc.
As a Virginia wine enthusiast, I am excited about this new AVA and wine trail. I always like to mention that Virginia has been planting vines for over 400 years. The House of Burgesses’ 1619 decree required every household to plant vineyards in Williamsburg, where the trail begins…
There are currently six wineries in the AVA that have formed the new wine trail:
The Williamsburg Winery is a beautiful winery that has such a fascinating history! This winery was bought in 1983, and the first vines were planted in 1985. The property is 300 acres with 40 acres of vines.
There are a few options when it comes to tours and tastings. They offer wine flights and an extensive tour and reserve wine tasting by reservation.
Williamsburg Winery is not only a winery — you can also stay at Wedmore Place and dine at Gabriel Archer Tavern while you’re visiting. The Gabriel Archer Tavern is a great place to grab a bite after your flight!
If you decide not to dine, there is plenty of room to enjoy a bottle or glass of wine. Recently, Williamsburg Winery just added their 1619 Pavilion. This is a beautiful spot to relax and look over the vineyard.
Upper Shirley Vineyards
Upper Shirley Vineyards is a stunning winery overlooking the James River. You can reserve a table in their tasting room or back deck and enjoy a flight, glass, or bottle and food with a view. Make sure you come hungry, as this winery is a full-service restaurant.
Inside seating and back deck seating are both reserved for their restaurant. They have a large yard and patio seating available if you want to enjoy the wine and view without the food.
Upper Shirley has 22 acres under vine and is known for their delicious Blanc de Blanc, Tannat, and Viognier. I am also a big fan of their Sauvignon Blanc!
Gauthier Vineyard has a beautiful tasting room with ample seating inside and outside on their wrap-around covered porch. The view is lovely ~ it looks across the vineyard with a beautiful pond. On the weekends, you will likely see the owners, Mo and Sandi Gauthier, walking around, ensuring your visit is the best. They have an extensive list of 15 wines with tasting or flight options.
The Gauthiers’ estate Norton vines were planted in 2011, but they also lease vines in the foothills overlooking the Shenandoah Valley in partnership with Cave Ridge Vineyard. They currently have three acres of estate Norton and lease eight acres in the Shenandoah Valley.
Saudé Creek Vineyards
Saudé Creek Vineyards is a beautiful winery featuring a fantastic outdoor area with even better wine. The tasting room is large, with ample seating inside and out. They have seating downstairs near the bar and upstairs in their loft. The loft has comfy seating as well as a balcony.
Outside, they have a beautiful wrap-around porch that is winterized in the colder months — the patio is fully enclosed and heated in the winter, so you can still enjoy being “outside.” They also have seating all around the grounds with a nice fire pit.
They offer traditional wine tastings at the bar, wine flights, and wine available by the glass and bottle.
The 100-acre property has three acres of apple trees and 20 acres under vine. The vineyards are located on a knoll adjacent to the Pamunkey River and benefit from the mild climate and mineral-rich soil. Grape varietals Vidal Blanc, Traminette, Viognier, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Chambourcin enjoy the steep terrain that allows for excellent drainage and benefits from the cooling effect of the water.
New Kent Winery
New Kent Winery has a spacious tasting room with plenty of natural light and exposed beams. The tasting room was built with historical materials reclaimed from buildings and structures over centuries-old from around Virginia and beyond. Outside they have a lovely porch where you can enjoy a glass post-tasting. They offer traditional wine tastings at the bar along with beer and wine flights.
If you come hungry, no worries! They serve a selection of delicious food. New Kent Winery also introduced craft beer on-site with the addition of Talleysville Brewing Co. in 2020. This is great if your group wants beer in addition to wine!
New Kent Winery at Dombroski Vineyards currently produces approximately 6,500 cases of wine each year, with a goal of 10,000. There are now 31+ acres under cultivation with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, Norton, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Tannat, and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals. Planting six additional acres in the Spring of 2016 helped the Dombroski Family move toward their goal of 50 acres in the next few years.
Jolene Family Winery
Jolene Family Winery was formally a nursery; the land was passed on to three children from their parents, Joseph and Helene, who decided to turn it into a winery. Jolene is located in New Kent, overlooking an 18-acre private lake, Tom Brooks Lake, with vineyards on the other side. The tasting room is adorable and spacious, with boho and greenery vibes. They currently offer a variety of wine flights.
Jolene Family Winery hand harvests its grapes, handcrafts its wines, and bottles them with a hand-painted label affixed. Grape varietals Vidal Blanc, Norton, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, and Vasara excel in this mineral-rich soil.
Don’t miss reserving a Lakeside Lounge Tent — it offers a dreamy escape on a private oasis, and wine-to-table service is complimentary with your reservation.
I enjoyed staying at the Williamsburg Winery in Wedmore Place while visiting and touring all the wineries. This is an excellent trail near Richmond, with outstanding wine and views!
Sips and Trips Tip – The order of the wineries I’ve listed here is the order I would drive if I were completing the trail in one day from Richmond! Just in case you’re feeling ambitious.
2 thoughts on “Virginia Peninsula Wine Trail”
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I have been to the Williamsburg Winery, Upper Shirley Vineyards, and New Kent Winery and I have to say none of them have disappointed me. I will definitely be going back to them and trying out the other wineries too.