By Kathy Johnson
Sporting a Governor’s Cup Gold Medal, Afton Mountain Vineyards is putting their best foot forward with a new look.
The home of the former owners has been transformed into a warm setting for the tasting room. Rich adobe colors inside are inviting and the wood ceiling beams, overstuffed chairs and couches provide a wonderful location for sampling some of the fine wines produced at one of the oldest vineyards in the area.
Elizabeth and Tony Smith, owners since April of 2009, realized the value of Afton Mountain Vineyards when they were looking for a vineyard location. Graduates of Albemarle High School, the Smiths spent 20 years in Tidewater before “coming home.” With the original goal set at “growing good grapes,” the Smiths looked at many pieces of land to start a new vineyard before deciding that this existing vineyard is ideal.
“Our focus is on making great wines and providing an intimate, beautiful setting in which our customers can enjoy them,” Tony Smith explained.
“With our backgrounds in various aspects of real estate,” Elizabeth Smith said, “we know the old adage; ‘location, location, location.’ We knew that Afton Mountain Vineyards (AMV) was a premium vineyard site in a gorgeous setting. With the first vines planted here over 30 years ago, the grape varieties, trellising systems and other management practices have evolved and are now producing outstanding fruit and wine.”
“If you haven’t been to AMV recently, come back to see our tasting house,” said Tony Smith, “and enjoy our new releases, including our 2009 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that just won a gold medal in the Governor’s Cup.” The vineyard won the only gold medal awarded to a Sauvignon.
“Family is important to us,” said Elizabeth. “Tony and I grew up in this area. We are glad to be back in the beautiful rolling hills where our parents still live. We are so happy to have our son, Hunter, work with us in the business as our marketing and distribution manager. And, we are very fortunate to have Robbie Corpora, the son of the previous owners, still working with us as our vineyard manager.”
The newly remodeled area offers a perfect location for special events. The vineyard can host dinners for up to 24 people, receptions for 75, and indoor or outdoor events on the terrace for up to 150.
Then there are the special public events. “We are excited to host our first Afton After Hours of the season on Saturday, May 28, said Hunter. “Our customers will enjoy live local music by Eli Cook from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.” These “After Hours” will continue on the fourth Saturdays throughout the summer with a different local musician each month.
Some of the other local performers scheduled to appear include Tara Mills and Friends, Crys Matthews and Trees on Fire. There is no cover charge for these events.
Outside a very large (100 pounds plus) beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog strolled across the terrace area. This is Piccolo, a part of the extended family. Owned by Crozet resident Robbie Corpora, Piccolo is the resident greeter and will gladly share his space outside with visitor pets so long as they are on a leash and owners take care of clean up should nature call. “It is not glamorous work,” said Hunter. “Sunday is my favorite day. It’s family day. Saturday is our busiest day, so Sunday is a nice chance to catch up with each other and our customers and friends.”
Wines offered at AMV include Gewürztraminer, a Riesling, Chardonnays, Petit Verdot, Mountain White, Rose, and Red, and some special blends including Festa di Bacco, a super-Tuscan style containing Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.
Afton Mountain Vineyards is open year round Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, except for holidays. For additional information, call 540-456-8667, or visit them online at www.aftonmountainvineyards.com.