It is no secret that Virginia is steeped deeply in history and also pouring over in the wine industry. With this in mind we wanted to create a tour that embodied the best of both of these worlds…the Jefferson Trail.
Last Friday, I travelled to Charlottesville to explore the possibility of creating this new trail. My first stop, Michie Tavern conveniently right off of I64 at exit 121. Greg MacDonald, executive director was more than accommodating to give me a tour of the property and explain the history of this fabulous old tavern. This isn’t just your great, great, great grandfather’s watering hole! There are several shops on site offering period toys, books, games, beautiful crafts and clothes. The original structure that was actually purchased and moved to the property by Mrs. Mark Henderson in 1927 offers tours and tons of interactive opportunities for children and adults alike to learn the rich history of the tavern.
The Metalsmith shop offers wares in brass, copper, silver and more.
My biggest concern when I am creating a tour route is the timing. We strive to keep the clients on a leisurely pace but not book the route so indulgent in time that it creates unnecessary charges. Whenever a lunch or dinner location is involved on a tour, it becomes very difficult to manage time. The Michie Tavern staff has it down to an absolute science when it comes to feeding with flavor and efficiency. The buffet was mounded high with hot and delicious fried chicken, biscuits, stewed tomatoes, mashed potatoes and more. For dessert, an incredible peach cobbler a la mode with candied pecans. (As I type this, my tummy can’t help but growl a little). The tavern staff is well versed in all things historical to Albemarle/Charlottesville and don’t mind chatting with you about the history of the property. Despite the ability of the tavern to feed so many so quickly, you never feel rushed and more importantly, due to the design of the Ordinary, you never notice more than just the people sitting next to you. It’s a wonderful experience especially when topped off with a tour of the shops on the property. I left behind more than a few coins at the Metalsmith shop and Clothier. These shops along with the General Store will amaze you with the inventory of 1800′s styled wares and accessories as well as numerous goods with the VA’s Finest Seal. Even though I started my exploration at Michie Tavern, this will actually be the second stop on the Jefferson Trail.
The Visitor Center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
The first stop is to be a tour of the house and grounds at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. This was to be the first time since a 5th grade field trip (that was quite a few years ago) since I had visited the home of our founding father. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have picked a more busy weekend than the 4th of July holiday. I of course didn’t prepurchase tickets because I wasn’t quite sure of when I would be coming through. The next available tour was over an hour away and I still had at least two more stops to make before 5pm. I decided to look around the Visitor Center and see what there was to keep guests occupied and entertained while they waited for their tram to start the tour. My goodness! There’s a museum, a cafe, a gift shop and even a movie. I could have easily spent the hour just at the Visitor Center but alas, I had a schedule.
The Jefferson Trail was almost complete. I just needed one more component, a tasting of some fine Virginia wine. The final stop on our newest route is to include a tasting at Jefferson Vineyards. The property was sold by Thomas Jefferson to a Florentine viticulturist who shared Jefferson’s ideas of adding Virginia to the world map of wine producers. Unfortunately, disease in the vines and the Revolutionary War prevented this venture from coming to fruition. However, if good old Mr. Jefferson could see us now he would most certainly be grinning from ear to ear and raising a glass of Voignier. The wines, views and staff at Jefferson Vineyards are always inviting and exceptional. We feel that this will be a perfect ending highlight of the newly created Jefferson Trail and offer a wonderful dynamic to an incredible tour.
Just a sampling of what’s available in Metalsmith Shop at Michie Tavern
This tour is currently available and priced starting at just $130 per person* for local Richmond area pickup and only $106 per person* for local Charlottesville area pickup. All fees, transportation cost (including chauffeur gratuities), buffet lunch, Monticello tour tickets and fun at the vineyard are included with the per person pricing and the tour is scheduled for approximately a 7 hour run Richmond pickup/5 hour run Charlottesville pickup.
Our tours offer a little something for everyone young, old and in between! Stay tuned for more travels through Richmond, Albemarle and beyond as we prepare to create Apple picking tours, Pumpking excursions, Haunted House Terror Trails and our infamous Tacky Light Tours.
*The per person pricing is based on use of one of our fabulous 16 passenger Limo Coaches with a full 16 passengers aboard. Any additional time over alloted tour time is available for $100/half hour or $200/hour.