experiences

The Best Winery in Virginia: Glen Manor Vineyards

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You might have picked up on the few dozen blog posts on this topic, that Jeanne and I enjoy wine tasting. And most weekends that I’m not in flight, I’m out in the nearby Shenandoah wine tasting (and sometimes visiting Dinosaurland) and enjoying the gorgeous scenery.

Fall view Skyline Drive Glen Manor Vineyards

I tend to rate the wineries on my own, very subjective, scale.

  • Ambiance — this includes scenery, the lack of drunk bachelorette parties or live music, attractiveness of the tasting room, etc
  • Tasting experience — how friendly and unsnobbish ae the staff
  • Quality of wine — how does it compare to what I normally drink
  • Price point — it might be wonderful, but is it a good value for the taste

When it comes to ambiance, anytime you come across a Virginia winery that bans limos and groups larger than 6, you know there’s a good chance the wine will be ok.

The number of decent wineries in Virginia continues to grow, but there’s one in particular I love: Glen Manor Vineyards.

It’s south of Front Royal on property that borders the Skyline Drive. In fact, you can sit in comfortable chairs on the winery lawn and look up at the ridge. It’s always pretty, but in the fall, it’s breathtaking.

Heels First at Glen Manor Vineyard

The farm has been in the family for over 100 years, and the owners, Jeff and Kelly White are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. Kelly and the tasting room crew can put anyone at ease and if you’re lucky you’ll get to meet Jeff coming in straight from working the grapes (even on the weekend) or at least see his truck in the distance, nearly vertical on the steep vineyard hills.

They also have an awesome chocolate lab that loves to run in the snow with me and Jeanne.

GlenManorDogChase

So when it comes to ambiance and tasting experience, it gets high marks. But where it really matters is the quality of the wine and pricing. I find most Virginia wines to be priced at least $10 higher than comparable bottles from other locations, often more. Glen Manor wines aren’t cheap — most are $20+ — but they’re worth it.

Even in bad, overly wet years like 2011, they’ve been able to coax amazing flavors from the wines (albeit for immediate drinking). And in the good years…YUM. I tend to like the slightly wet years since that usually results in some of the best dry, savory Rose I’ve had. 🙂

Glen Manor Vineyards Rose

They do an amazing Sauvignon Blanc, a delightful Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and several amazing red Bordeaux-style blends. The best is their Hodder Hill, which represents the best of the vintage and, unfortunately for me, won the Governor’s Cup further reducing availability. Their Vin Rouge, also a red blend, is fantastic as well.

Glen Manor Vineyards Hodder Hill Vin Rouge

 

They’ve also started producing Petit Manseng. I’m not a fan of sweet wines, but Kelly’s description of pairings it would go well with finally got me hooked. Their dessert wine, Raepheus, has always been a favorite. Powerfully sweet, but with alot of flavor to go with it.

Just how well structured are the wines? Earlier this spring I did a vertical tasting of 5 years. That’s not surprising for the Hodder Hill. But the Sauvignon Blanc? That’s right, I was tasting the 2007 vintage which tasted just as good, if not better, than when I first tried it in 2009, 4 years previously. (And of course it was finally paired with those salty oysters Kelly had described to me when I first tasted it years ago).

Glen Manor Vertical Tasting

Because of county restrictions, they can’t sell food, but you are highly encouraged to bring your own picnic and enjoy the view with good food, friends, and wines by the glass or bottle.

View from Glen Manor Vineyards

If you’re wine tasting in Northern Virginia, I highly encourage you to come for the view and pleasant people and stay for the outstanding wine. And if I’m in town, you’ll probably see me there 🙂

Note: They’ve already sold out of all but the Vin Rouge and Raepheus this year, so put them on your list to visit next spring when they’ll a wider variety for tasting.

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3 Comments

  1. leandra

    November 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    We haven’t been wine tasting in VA in a few years but our favorites were Veritas and Afton Mountain. Will have to stop by Glen Manor on our next road trip.

  2. Patrick McCann

    January 31, 2014 at 1:33 am

    I highly recommend Linden and RDV

    • Keri Anderson

      January 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      I have posts coming on both of those soon! My 2nd favorite winery in the state of VA is Linden.

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