By Marti Mayne
Every once in a while, it feels good to travel outside New England. I know – the destination needs to be a place that’s relatively easy to get to from Boston, plus scenic, fun and filled with beautiful B&Bs. While it’s not a destination I thought of quickly, Charlottesville, VA hit my radar screen, and from the time my husband and I started the research we were impressed with all there is to do in this region. Home to the Monticello American Viticultural Area (AVA), Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, University of Virginia and a host of wonderful inns and B&Bs, it quickly became clear this would be a fun trip. Right from the start, I knew we would wish we had more time to spend here, and I was right. They say Virginia is for Lovers, which makes the fabulous wine trail B&Bs all the more attractive. It’s also home to all things Jefferson and Thomas Jefferson’s influence lives on through his beloved Monticello and the University of Virginia, which he founded.
While there are 17 inns and B&Bs in the Charlottesville region; my husband and I enjoyed tours of three. We focused on vineyard B&Bs with a pension for both the old and the new. Our B&B tour started in Shadwell, a town known best for the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson and continued through wine country, past Monticello and James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland Mansions to Charlottesville. We toured three inns, all blending historic features with modern amenities seamlessly and effectively.
The Arcady Vineyard B&B overlooks a one acre vineyard from which Chambourcin vines create a sweet port wine soon to be produced and served at evening turndown with local chocolates. Two brand new guest rooms and a new expanded tasting room opened here in April, expanding the accommodations to four guest rooms and one suite. Radiant heat floors, soothing earth tones, whirlpool tubs and steam showers are just a few of the amenities offered here, along with complimentary sparkling wine, fresh flowers and free wi-fi. Weekend guests are treated to discounted Arcady’s signature wine tours, featured last month in Washingtonian Magazine. Virginia Wine Lover Magazine has named Arcady the Best Wine Tour and Best B&B, adding additional testimony that the B&B and Wine Tour is a great choice for wine lovers of all ages. For those looking for more contemporary décor, Arcady is an ideal choice. To read more about Arcady Vineyard B&B, check out this INNside Skinny review on nextooze.com.
Our next stop was the Farmhouse at Veritas B&B, a brand new B&B located at one of the region’s most well-established vineyards. Surrounded by 40 acres of vineyards, with more being cleared on the mountainside nearby, the Farmhouse at Veritas B&B opened just last month. Once home to Patricia and Andrew Hodson and their four daughters (2 of whom join their parents in winemaking and event planning for Veritas), the rambling farmhouse has been transformed into a perfect B&B. While it was built in 1830 and many of the historic touches have been beautifully preserved, there’s a decidedly modern freshness to this inn. Upon entry, I pictured guests gathering in the common room with a billiards table and a retro juke box to enjoy wines purchased at the tasting room or the bottle of Veritas Viognier that comes with each room. Six spacious guest rooms (including one pet-friendly room) accommodate people of all ages in queen and king bedded rooms. In warmer weather enjoy breakfast at rod iron tables vineyard-side, with Chardonnay grapes all around. Four porches overlooking vineyards on three sides of the inn beckon guests with rockers just waiting for company. While Veritas has been a popular tasting room and event venue for many years, the Farmhouse at Veritas B&B is a brand new and undiscovered treasure. Read more about the Farmhouse at Veritas B&B in this INNside Skinny review on nextooze.com.
Just a little more than 2 miles from Veritas, the Afton Mountain B&B is clearly distinguishable via the bright red authentic English phone booth greeting guests in the parking lot in clear contrast to the historic Americana look of the exterior of the inn. Walk into the Afton Mountain B&B through the front door proudly bearing the Virginia B&B Association flag. A large and colorful stained glass window casts lovely light on the front hallway and you know you’re in a place where history has been meticulously preserved. Two parlors mean there’s plenty of room for guests to mingle or enjoy quiet couple time. Guest rooms include period antiques and artworks yet whirlpool tubs in some guest rooms are there for those looking for more modern amenities. A bureau with coffee, tea and freshly baked yummy-looking bars are right outside guest rooms to insure that no one goes hungry here. Irises and pinky-orange roses were in full bloom. Crediting the early spring, both Dan and Orquida Ingraham, co-owners of the inn, joined us in marveling at roses in full bloom in April. I realized that the pool just beyond the garden would be open soon as sunbathing season is right around the corner. Just down the road from Monticello and the Veritas Tasting Room, my husband commented “Now that’s the perfect B&B”.
When You Go
If you choose to fly from Boston, fly into Richmond or Charlottesville. All three inns are within 20 minutes of Charlottesville. However, because we I have family in Maryland, we caught a $69 flight on Air Tran into BWI and rented a car from Hotwire.com for $10.95 a day. It’s about a 3 hour drive from BWI to Charlottesville as long as you time it right around the Capitol beltway, and a scenic and affordable way to get to Charlottesville. Virginia is drivable from Boston, if you have the time. It makes a great summer road trip, and driving allows you to bring all the gear you might want, like bikes, coolers, and lots of clothes if you travel with the “bare maximum” like I do. From Charlottesville to Boston, it’s about 9-10 hours drive, depending upon traffic. Time it right going through NYC and around the Capitol Beltway, and you can make it in less than10 hours.
You simply can’t come to Charlottesville and not visit Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. The $24 House Tour includes a tour of the first floor rooms, the Slave Tour (highly recommended), the opportunity to stroll the gardens, the Jefferson graveyard and an insightful film too. For a more in-depth tour including the second floor bedrooms, take the Behind the Scenes Tour ($42 per person). Just 2.5 miles down the road, tour Ash Lawn-Highland, former home of James Monroe. It’s smaller but equally historic and interesting.
Afton Mountain B&B, 10273 Rockfish Valley Highway, Afton VA 22920, 540-456-6844 / 800-769-6844, www.aftonmountain.com.
Arcady Vineyard B&B and Wine Tours, 1376 Sutlers Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902
434-872-9475, www.innarcadyvineyard.com. Read more about Arcady Vineyard B&B on nextooze.com here.
Farmhouse B&B at Veritas, 72 Saddleback Farm, Afton, VA 22920, 540-456-8100, 540-456-8100, www.veritasfarmhouse.com/accommodations/. Read more about the Farmhouse B&B at Veritas on nextooze.com here.
For more information about inns and B&Bs in Virginia, visit www.innvirginia.com.