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On a weekend road trip to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend a wedding with my cousin,we decided to make a few convenient pit stops off of Rt. 29 and try some wineries we have never been to before. This was the perfect excuse to hit up Prince Michel – a winery I see all the time on my visits to the Charlottesville area. You can’t miss this huge, inviting winery, with three larger than life wine glass sculptures in front. It sits right on the main thoroughfare and is the perfect “rest area” for a 3 hour trip down south. And, we were happy to learn that it opens as early as 10am which was perfect timing as we got on the road from Fairfax quite early.

I usually like the smaller, more quaint wineries because of the charm and intimacy but upon entering this lovely building, I was quickly sold. Being the big shopper that I am, it took a while for me to even get to the tasting table because the wide variety of items in their shop – wine related and not – kept stopping me in my tracks.

Now, back to the wine experience. We were greeted by a wine rep who was so funny and engaging. He was definitely our entertainment for the day. We opted for the $5 tasting, which includes their reserve wines, however the main tasting, which includes an extensive list of wines, is absolutely free. You really don’t see that too often anymore.

I can’t say a bad thing about any wine on their list, but my favorites were the Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio, and their sparkling wine. I purchased one of each to take home. For those who like a dry rose, their 2006 Dry Rose is very light bodied, crisp, and made from 100% Merlot grapes – must be why I liked it so much.

We were also very surprised to learn that the widely distributed “Rapidan River” wines that you can find in just about any Virginia grocery store, is actually a Prince Michel brand. All these years, I thought Rapidan was a winery! (We certainly do learn something new every day). I’ve always been a huge fan of the Rapidan semi-dry Riesling and now I know why.

After our enjoyable and delicious tasting, we took the self guided tour of the wine making facilities. It was a nice and informative stroll through the (cold) walkway. In addition to my bottles of wine, I purchased a few fun things from the shop and we were back on the road to Lynchburg in no time! I am looking forward to a return trip to Prince Michel during which I plan to stay a lot longer and even try their on-site restaurant.

The Dish

Location: 154 Winery Lane – Leon, Va Tasting Fee: Free basic tasting or $5.00 for Reserve Keep the glass: No

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