Back when I had a side hustle as a winery tour driver, customers sometimes asked me to choose our next place to visit on the fly. If we were near Crozet, I invariably headed to White Hall Vineyards, which is out of the way and offers a feeling of discovery. You approach on a gravel driveway that threads through some of the 48 acres of vines under cultivation, pass through an opening in the hedge, and enter a compound shaded by tall oaks. The Italianate building has a luminous burnt sienna coloring. Along the front,
a wide green canopy of wisteria tops a sturdy pergola.
It reminds me of places I’ve visited in Napa Valley, which may be intentional. In the early ’90s, before Tony and Edie Champ bought the property, they scouted California wine country, and perhaps took some aesthetic cues for White Hall, which opened in 1994. Around that time, California wines bore a big, fruit-forward style, and many of White Hall’s wines also fit this profile. The vineyard won the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition in 1997 and 1998, with a 1995 vintage cabernet sauvignon and a 1997 gewürztraminer, respectively. After you enter the front doors, and the wide-plank wood floors convey you into the tasting room, you will notice many bottles with medals hung around their necks.
Good winemaking requires high-quality grapes, of course, and the 800-foot elevation and mountain breezes at White Hall present fine growing conditions, moderating Virginia’s withering summer heat. According to Tony and Edie’s daughter, Lisa Champ, the 2019 harvest produced a bumper crop of chardonnay and an impressive haul of petit verdot. The vineyard’s chardonnays I’ve tasted are deep and round, like the so-called “buttery” ones from California. The petit verdot, blended with a little merlot and cabernet franc, is also full-bodied and well-structured.
White Hall Vineyards takes a little extra effort to find, but after visiting, who knows, you might even recommend it to other wine lovers.
5282 Sugar Ridge Rd., Crozet. 823-8615. whitehallvineyards.com