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Virginia's Horse and Wine Country

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Photo: Baerbel Schmidt

In Washington, D.C., the jockeying is all political, but drive some 50 miles south and you’ll find the real thing, in the heart of Virginia’s horse country. Ever since Thomas Jefferson built Monticello here, the pastoral foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains have been a sporting ground for a certain class of power players—folks like the Mellons, Harrimans, Grahams, Jackie Kennedy—coming down to weekend with their thoroughbreds and beagles. The region’s social calendar still revolves around the International Gold Cup and Virginia Gold Cup steeplechases, run every October and May, respectively, on vast, impossibly green rolling plains. A newer attraction is the burgeoning winery scene. Head south past countless horse farms to Charlottesville, and you encounter some of the state’s best chefs and best bottles.

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Inspired by: Virginia Unbridled — by Matt Lee, Published Aug. 2007

Hotels (3)

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    Red Fox Inn

    The Red Fox Inn evokes the charm of colonial Virginia with its 1728 stone building and period furnishings. Originally established as a tavern, the

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    Keswick Hall

    The foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, south and west of Washington, D.C., are a playground for the city’s old guard, their horses, and

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    Goodstone Inn & Estate

    Formerly an 18th-century plantation, this 265-acre estate is now home to a luxury inn surrounded by dairy pastures and winding creeks. The 18 guest

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Restaurants (5)

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    Market Salamander

    Part café and part gourmet food shop, Market Salamander is a collaboration between owner Sheila Johnson and D.C. chef Todd Gray. The dining area is

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    Coach Stop Restaurant

    A classic neighborhood diner.

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    Ashby Inn & Restaurant

    Located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains just an hour west of D.C., the 1829 Ashby Inn is home to an acclaimed New American restaurant servi

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    The Clifton Inn Restaurant

    At the intimate Clifton Inn, the decadent rusticity of the rooms—claw-foot tubs, Mascioni linens, fireplaces, but nary a ruffled window treatment i

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    Palladio

    Virginia is one of the country’s fastest-growing wine regions, and Palladio is one of the best restaurants in the state—it’s built on the grounds o

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Activities (8)

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    American in Paris

    Owners Carol and Gary Konkel share 20 years experience and a discerning eye for mid-18th to mid-19th century American antiques with a specialty in

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    Gold Cup

    The most festive time to visit Virginia's horse country is during Gold Cup race weekends, which happen in October and May every year.

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    Monticello

    in 1770, Jefferson sold some of the land surrounding Monticello, his sprawling Palladian home up in the hills just outside Charlottesville, to an I

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    Kluge Estate Farm Shop

    Patricia Kluge, an heiress and philanthropist, entered Virginia's wine game in 1999, and the estate was initially dismissed by many critics as a la

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    Gadino Cellars

    Located in Rappahannock County, Virginia, this small, family-run vineyard was founded in 2004. Owned by Bill and Aleta Saccuta Gadino, who began ma

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    Chrysalis Vineyards

    Chrysalis Vineyards, located outside Washington, D.C. near Middleburg, Va., encompasses 71 acres on which 20 grape varieties are grown. Production

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    C&O Bar

    A dimly lit college watering hole.

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    Blue Ridge Parkway

    While the masses descend on the North Carolina portion of the famed 469-mile-long parkway, those in the know head to this 121-mile portion from Way

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Similar Trips (3)

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  • Guide to Asheville, NC

    Virginia, Asheville

    Encircled by the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains, and a five-minute drive from the bucolic Blue Ridge Parkway, the North Carolina town of Asheville has been drawing travelers in search of a holistic h

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  • Driving Southwestern Virginia's Mountains

    Virginia, Roanoke, Abingdon, Floyd

    On the southern outskirts of Roanoke, the slightly down-and-out atmosphere of pawnshops and converted industrial buildings gives way to a more pruned, suburban feel. Then after an innocuous-looking

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  • Touring Virginia's Vineyards

    Virginia, Washington, Charlottesville, Barboursville

    After 200 years of trying, Virginia's wines are finally worthy of consideration…and with well-appointed inns and B&B’s at every turn and multitudes of historical markers, wine-touring here makes pe

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