Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards Review
Address: 5022 Plank Road North Garden,Virginia 22959.
Phone Number: 434-202-8063
Tasting Hours: Mar-Dec: Tues-Sun 11:00-5:00; Jan-Feb: Wed-Sun 11:00-5:00
Region: Monticello AVA, Virginia
Reviewer: Brian Yost
Review Date: 11/23/2013
Reviewer: Brian Yost
One of the top fifty wedding destinations on the east coast can be found in North Garden, Virginia. The view from Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards really does supply a postcard-quality backdrop, so its popularity is easy to understand. It was the venue for a recent celebrity wedding, which was all over the local news. As a result, it is more than ever a popular venue.
The property that now contains the vineyards and tasting room was originally the Albemarle County Fairground. The fairground occupied the lower part of the property, and I remember it as being very hot in nice weather and extremely muddy when it rained. By contrast, when I first went out to visit Pippin Hill, I didnt even recognize the area. There was some significant cosmetic landscaping that took place on that hillside. The slope of the hill was cleared to make room for the tasting room and event center up near the ridgeline. Trellised vineyards cover the lower slope. Locating the buildings up on the hill opened up a vista that I never noticed while attending the fair. Its worth visiting just to see the view.
As I understand the story, Dean and Lynn Andrews visited the area as part of a team that was looking at a nearby luxury hotel. They loved the area and decided to invest in property of their own. Both brought extensive experience in the hospitality industry to the task of designing their boutique winery and event center. They adhered to a strict policy of sustainability and low environmental impact. All of the building materials are recycled or locally purchased. Every detail was expertly designed and constructed. It is an absolutely beautiful event space.
The property, as Ive already indicated, is rather amazing. Manicured gardens and a well-maintained lawn overlook one of he prettiest mountain valleys in Central Virginia. Seating and tables are available throughout the property. In addition to the event center and tasting room, there is a long covered veranda with seating and outdoor service. Inside the tasting room there is additional seating and food can be ordered from a menu designed by Pippin Hills executive chef. Its really quite an operation.
The Pippin Hill menu is filled with yummy snacks and entrees. In keeping with the sustainability theme, everything on the menu is sourced locally. I ate there on my first visit, and I have to say the food is remarkable. As a result of the crowds, the service can be a little slow, but dont be too impatient. The food is worth waiting for.
Pippin Hill currently produces about 4500 cases per year and for that purpose, they have retained Michael Shaps as winemaker. He is highly regarded in the wine industry and enjoys near-celebrity status in Central Virginia. The wines are not produced on the property, but at Shaps own winery a few miles away. So Im sorry to say that there are no winery tours at Pippin Hill.
The Pippin Hill wines are made exclusively from French varieties and all have the typical characteristics. The wines of note are the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot Reserve. Both sparkling wines, the Blanc de Blanc and Sparkling Rosé (made from 100% Cab Franc), are also worth mentioning.
The tasting room can get rather crowded. Because of its location and beauty, it tends to be a particularly popular weekend setting and every wine tour stops at Pippin Hill. They are able to disperse some of the crowd out to the veranda, and an additional wine bar is available, but on a typical weekend, the parking lot is full. As a result, the wine-tasting experience is not ideal. If youre intent on a wine tasting, a weekday visit will help avoid the craziness.
I frequently recommend Pippin Hill to friends looking for a nearby winery. It is an amazing venue, and I get rave reviews from everyone who has been there. The view, in particular, makes the trip worthwhile, but I particularly find it a nice place to order food and drink a glass of wine. This allows me to avoid the crowds at the tasting bar. If you happen to be in the Charlottesville area, Pippin Hill is definitely one winery worth visiting.