Kid friendly?: Yes
Dog friendly?: No
Outside food allowed?: No; food is available for purchase
Reservation Policy: Required for Groups of 8+
Overall impression: This place is great for those who like a winery with a good story, rich history, and if you’re interested in trying and buying good quality VA-made wines. I wouldn’t necessarily choose this winery over some others in the area if the primary goal was to take the kids on a picnic and enjoy the outdoor scenery, although there’s certainly plenty of space outside to do so, and they are kid-friendly and sell food!
I’m not gonna lie, this winery was originally on my obligation-list… I thought I was just visiting because it was semi-nearby and it was a VA winery I hadn’t been to yet. My expectations were low because I’d seen photos on Yelp and it just didn’t seem to have that in-the-country vibe I like. But I’m so glad I went, this was such a great experience!
It’s true that the atmosphere at first glance isn’t what you expect from a typical winery. It’s built in an old barn, but when you pull up, it kind of looks like a small-town shopping center. There’s a cute little outdoor area with picnic tables, patio sails, and string lights, but it’s not directly connected to the tasting room itself, it’s right next to the parking lot.
To get to the tasting room, you go around the corner and into the building, and head up some relatively steep stairs. But once you get upstairs, it definitely has more of the vibe you expect from a tasting room.
There are a few cool, unique things about this place.
First is its history. The building served as a dairy barn for over 100 years, until the owner (who was a hand-held radio enthusiast) discovered that the location was prime for intercepting radio communication, and the property was quickly purchased to turn it into a covert Army base! This is the basis for the winery’s theme – from the decor/photos to the wine labels, it’s all covert ops and vintage 1940’s style!
Second is that you can make your own wine here! It’s actually one of their mottos: “Make your own damn wine!” You can either create a full barrel, a half barrel, or 6 cases, and you get to keep the wine and make your own labels for it! For more information, check it out on their site.
Another fun thing is that they make all the wine in the same building where the tasting room is, so you can look down into the production area and witness the action if you time it right! I didn’t get a chance to see any active wine production, but I wish I had!
Vint Hill is a sister winery to Pearmund Cellars and Effingham Manor Winery. Some of the grapes used for Vint Hill’s wines, like their Chardonnay, come from Pearmund’s vineyard. I did see a very small vineyard out front; I’m not sure which type of grapes they were or if that’s all that’s grown on the property (a lot of Vint Hill’s wines seemed to be made from grapes brought in from their sister vineyards, and some from other states like Washington). If you happen to know which ones grow on their property, feel free to leave a comment; I meant to ask but got caught up in the stories!
Denise, our wine pourer/educator, was absolutely delightful! She was very knowledgable in the winery’s history and was so much fun to listen to. I’m an avid believer that your winery experience can be completely made or broken by the people who are guiding you through the tasting, and she definitely made this an exceptional experience!
Overall, I enjoyed their wines very much! I don’t like to go too far into reviewing the wines themselves for two reasons: 1) I’m no sommelier, and 2) I strongly believe it’s a matter of opinion about what types of flavors you enjoy in your wines. Instead, I always recommend you plan a trip and taste them for yourself!
That said, you know I’m a fan when I walk away with some bottles, and I got a whole case here at Vint Hill!
On my wine shelf from Vint Hill:
- Covert Winework’s Enigma—We’re asking but they’re not telling; it’s a covert ops Bordeaux-style mystery blend!
- Vint Hill Petit Verdot—“Dark cherry, raspberry and leather are on the nose and dark berry fruit on the palate. A beautiful garnet color, Petit Verdot has soft tannins and a smooth finish.”
- Covert Winework’s Syrah “Sarah”—“Hints of plum, black pepper and smoke are on the nose. Plum and dark berry fruit are on the palate. This wine would pair nicely with hard cheeses.”
- Covert Winework’s Cabernet Franc “Bebe”—“Hints of raspberry and red pepper notes are on the nose followed by red berry and mocha notes on the palate. Bebe is smooth on the palate and has a soft tannin structure and long finish — 2017 VA State Fair: Gold — 2017 Finger Lakes International: Silver”
- Covert Winework’s Chardonnay “Charlotte”—“This medium bodied Chardonnay has hints of Apple pie crust on the nose followed by green apple and hints of honey on the palate.”
I’ll definitely be going back sometime! Likely when I’ve finished the last bottle of the case I bought…