The closest winery to downtown Richmond, James River Cellars keeps tasters busy - nearly 20 wines are for sale. During the summer and fall, the winery offers a robust schedule of events to keep friends coming back, including the very popular Fridays on the Patio series (held every fourth Friday). The party runs from 6:30-10PM and includes a wine tasting, souvenir glass, live music, and light foods for purchase.
James River has a great, modern feel to it, and visitors seem to have their pattern worked out (lots of "regulars" here): fast-moving tasting at the small bar; step up to the window to buy your glass or bottle; out to the shady side patio to settle in.
A green front yard is a good spot for a ground-level picnic, or a nap.
James River prides itself on using only Virginia grapes in its wines. (Side note: Wineries are able to use up to 25% of out-of-state grapes and still label their bottles as "Virginia" wine. While most wineries endeavor to use only in-state grapes, poor growing years, in particular, can throw a wrench into the best intentions.)
James River's vineyards are off-site, in Montepelier, and include the challenging and hence unusual-for-Virginia Gewürztraminer.
In addition to the "Gewurz," wines have included Chardonnay, Chardonel, Vidal Blanc, Petit Manseng, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Touriga, and a Meritage (Bordeaux-style blend). James River also pays special attention to the sweet wines audience, offering a selection of both reds and whites.
Groups larger than 8 require an advance reservations. Kids and pets welcome; weddings and private parties; bring your picnic, or your RV; there's plenty of parking. Call ahead about group tours.
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