Charlottesville’s newest winery is well worth a visit

Paul and Diane Manning had lived in the Keswick area for decades, loved its horse and fox hunt culture, and were longtime fixtures at the Keswick Hunt Club. When they bought historic Castalia Farm in 2013—an 800-acre estate in the Cismont Hills once owned by Meriwether Lewis—prominent friends like Barboursville winemaker Luca Paschina urged them to found a vineyard. 


Photos courtesy of Southwest Mountains

Fast forward eight years and Southwest Mountains Vineyards is the latest addition to the Monticello American Viticultural Area, which Wine Enthusiast named its 2023 Wine Region of the Year. 

Paschina, Veritas winemaker Emily Hodson, and revered viticultural consultant Carl Tinder provided guidance for planting 72 acres of vines in 2016 that include chardonnay, viognier, merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc, petit manseng, and Gruner Vertliner grapes. Famed South African winemaker Boela Gerber was recently named SMV’s head winemaker, and eight Southwest vintages medaled at the 2023 Virginia Governor’s Cup, with its 2021 Petit Verdot taking gold. This year it was recognized for its 2021 cab franc and petit manseng.

The vineyard’s new tasting room opened this past November and does not disappoint. It’s housed in a stunningly renovated, 12,500-square-foot pole barn that dates to 1903. The sprawling, two-level affair boasts soaring tongue-and-groove ceilings with exposed beams and rafters; massive wrought iron chandeliers; arched windows with incredible vineyard views; supple leather sofas; natural-edge wooden barstools and tables; landscaped stone terraces; and a grandiose stone fireplace. An on-site restaurant helmed by former Maya executive chef Gregory Lewis rounds out the package, serving elegant charcuterie boards, salads, and small plates. SMVWines.com


This article originally appeared in the Best of Virginia 2024 issue.

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