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Vineyard to Table at Pippin Hill Farm

Virginia winery Pippin Hill

As you approach Pippin Hill Farm, the Granary is directly in front of you. This great hall is used for weddings and private events. Go to your left to get to the veranda and tasting room. Photo by MA Dancisin

The winding drive up to Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards brings you through five acres of sauvignon blanc, viognier and petit verdot nestled within the 2,300 acres of Bundoran Farm, a preservation development on the outskirts of Charlottesville. Approaching the Granary, the winery’s veranda awaits to the left with its stunning views and comfortable seating. There is no more pleasant way to spend an afternoon than sipping and nibbling here.

VA winery Pippin Hill

The tasting room at Pippin Hill Farm is filled with wonderful handcrafted pieces awash in natural light. Photo by MA Dancisin

Since opening in May 2011, Pippin Hill has made a name for itself as an outstanding wedding venue, but there is far more going on here. I recently met with Kelly Knox, Associate Director of Marketing, and she shared with me the owners’ extraordinary vision.

Dean Andrews and Lynn Easton Andrews are both hospitality professionals: Dean has established and operated hotels and restaurants world-wide, and Lynn’s attention to detail as the founder of Easton Events is well known throughout Virginia.

Their taste and experience are reflected in the many facets of Pippin Hill Farm and enhanced by their collaboration with a prominent vineyard consultant, accomplished winemaker and skilled local farmers.

Pippin Hill’s approach is called Vineyard to Table Cuisine. While the ambience and décor exemplify rustic luxury – handrubbed wooden tables, burnished metal chairs, milk-painted occasional tables, a shabby chic Queen Anne settee — the concept of Vineyard to Table adds an element of refined wine country sophistication.

Virginia winery Pippin Hill

Subdued colors and natural finishes create a soothing atmosphere. Photo by MA Dancisin

Kelly explains, “If Pippin Hill were a 250 year old farm winery, how would it have evolved? How would the vineyard, gardens, food and wine have changed moving into the 21st century?”  The answer is reflected in the above-mentioned focus on casual luxe and its soothing natural color palette, and a strong commitment to locavore cuisine. Breads, meats, cheeses and farm products served as part of your wine and food pairing are sourced locally then made creatively distinctive by Pippin Hill’s in-house caterer.

Amalia Scatena, whose previous positions include apprenticing with James Beard nominee Melissa Close at Palladio Restaurant, and chef de cuisine at Keswick Hall several miles to the north, is the executive chef.

Virginia winery Pippin Hill

In-house caterer Amalia Scatena crafts exquisite small bites to accompany your wine tasting at Pippin Hill. Photo by Jen Fariello Photography

Amalia studied in Italy at the Culinary Institute of Florence. So one shouldn’t be surprised that there is an authentic wood-burning oven in the tasting room.

You might be thinking, Oh, excellent pizza, but go beyond: oven-baked breads and rolls, grilled vegetables topped with grape must dressing, casseroles – the menu changes seasonally to align with what is available from Pippin Hill’s kitchen garden (slated to be further expanded in the coming years) and the surrounding farms.

Virginia winery Pippin Hill

Locavores will appreciate the farm-fresh ingredients. Photo by Jen Fariello Photography

Some recent offerings on the food pairing menu include spring pea and strawberry salad, grilled Carolina prawns with local chorizo sausage, or crispy Rappahannock oysters with ramps and a smoky pepper remoulade.

For dessert, an olive oil cake (a Tuscan specialty that is a favorite of mine) gets topped with candied lemon peel, petit mansang/rosemary syrup, mascarpone and vanilla cream – to die for! Your less adventurous friends may want to sample the outstanding charcuterie or cheese boards, each featuring local as well as international selections.

Virginia winery Pippin HIll

You can choose from Pippin Hill's Grab-n-Go selections and enjoy your picnic on the patio or courtyard lawn. Photo by MA Dancisin

New this year, and brought about by greater-than-expected Tasting Room popularity, visitors can Grab-n-Go. On weekends, these treats are ready for you to enjoy a picnic on the lawn with a chilled bottle. One may find hearth-baked focaccia brimming with local meat or cheese; fresh fruit and berries; strawberry/rhubarb shortcake; bread, cheese, charcuterie – a wealth of delicious choices.

The vines at Pippin Hill are under the supervision of acclaimed viticulturalist Chris Hill. The five acres of estate grapes are supplemented by a co-op of vineyard partners throughout the region via a leasing agreement.

All grapes in Pippin Hill wines are grown within the state of Virginia. Pippin Hill makes use of Michael Shap’s custom crush capabilities. That is, Dean and Michael discuss and agree on a wine’s distinctive profile, and Michael vinifies the harvest at his facility, Virginia Wineworks, a few miles away.

Virginia winery Pippin Hill

The one-of-a-kind tasting room bar was crafted from a single piece of 400 year old reclaimed cypress. The stunning view can also be enjoyed from the veranda. Photo by MA Dancisin

A full line of appealing wines are available to sample and purchase. I sampled two during my visit: Pippin Hill Chardonnay 2011 is from Travigne Vineyard and is crisp and refreshing on the palate – vinified mainly in stainless steel to capture the fruit’s juicy apple/pear flavors. Pippin Hill Cabernet Franc 2010 is medium-ruby in color with a sensuous oak/cherry nose. It’s very fruit forward, with good grip and brisk acidity. Additional selections include “V”, a viognier; a White Blend; Summerfarm Rosé, and Merlot. The reserve wines include a sparkling rosé, Chardonnay Reserve, Merlot Reserve and Winemaker’s Select Meritage Reserve.

Virginia winery Pippin HIll

The view from the veranda overlooks manicured gardens and a stunning vista of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo by MA Dancisin

The Andrews’ commitment to the highest level of quality – in both cuisine and wines – is clear. Their philosophy is stated this way: “Every aspect of Pippin Hill’s inception – from building design, to wine production and menu offerings – is focused on enhancing and complementing our natural surroundings. Pippin Hill is a leader in sustainable viticulture practices, the local food movement, and incorporation of ‘green’ design elements. At the core of our operating philosophy is a desire to draw upon our own natural farm and vineyard resources, while leaving as little for waste as possible.”

What they have achieved in their first year is truly remarkable. We wish them continuing success!

Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards
5022 Plank Road, North Garden, VA 22959
(434) 202-8063
Because of the wealth of food selections available at the winery, no outside food is permitted on the grounds of Pippin Hill Farm.

Virginia winery Pippin Hill

Photo by MA Dancisin