In June 2007, the Post's Maryann Haggerty wrote about a trip to Barboursville:
The tour guide at Barboursville Vineyards in Orange County could have been speaking for all the state's eager-to-please vintners when he told visitors, with only a touch of defensiveness: "We make good wine in Virginia -- and better all the time. Yeah, I know they pay me to say that, but I really believe it."
Barboursville, which supplied the wine for a reception last month during Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Virginia, sits between the homes of two great anti-monarchists, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The 19th-century presidents used to stop over at Gov. James Barbour's house when they were on their way to visit each other.
Jefferson's Monticello is an architectural wonder, and he also helped design the homes of both Madison and Barbour. Madison's Montpelier is in the midst of an ambitious renovation that has removed extensive 20th-century updates to restore the house to its appearance in Madison's day. Barbour's house, about 13 miles to the south, burned down in 1884; the picturesque brick ruins remain part of the estate that has become Barboursville Vineyards.
The winery, one of the state's oldest -- it was founded in 1976 -- was our destination after Montpelier, because if it's good enough for the queen, it should be good enough for me. And the weekend winery tours are free, shorter than the tour of Montpelier, and educational in their own way.
You don't have to take the tour to try a tasting, which costs $4 per person. For that, you get a souvenir wineglass and a printed list with the names of the wines, descriptions and prices. Start with the white wines, work your way up through the reds and end with the sweet dessert drinks.
At Barboursville, you walk from counter to counter as you sample up to 15 wines. At a smaller winery, one pourer would talk you through a procession of four or five wines. We never felt pressure to buy, but of course it's allowed, and many bottles cost less than $20.
A teeny-tiny sip is really all you need from each glass. Spit or dump the extra into the buckets -- unless it's really good and you're not driving.
You're allowed to be as pretentious as your friends can stomach. But blessedly, we didn't hear anyone launch into full-wine-snob mode. That's not going to happen in Napa, believe me.