Virginia wine country is an eclectic mix of historic structures: working farms sit next to stately stone manors; roadside diners and barbecue shacks aren’t too far down the road from hillsides of perfectly planted vines. All this Virginia-ness is offset by the misty Blue Ridge mountains. Thomas Jefferson was the first person to famously make grapes in this neck of the woods. He was a politician-winemaker, a hyphenate who happened to do both occupations extraordinarily well. Dave Matthews, the world-famous musician, followed in Jefferson’s hyphenate ways and, as of 2000, became a vintner.
Blenheim is the name of Matthews’s venture, so named for the property Jefferson and his bride, Martha, are said to have “rested and warmed themselves” after their coach stalled nearby during a snowstorm. In 1999, the Blenheim Farm was vulnerable to development, so Matthews went ahead and bought it and turned it into a juicehouse. The vineyard’s building housing the tasting room was made by Matthews and craftsman William Johnson from reclaimed wood. It allows you peer through paneled glass floors into the wine production facility below, which is kept cool by being nestled into the side of a hill. The vineyard itself stretches over 10 acres of rolling countryside about 20 minutes south of Charlottesville.
Not content with Virginia, Matthews also recently expanded his winemaking wanderlust to California, collaborating with award-winning winemaker Steve Reeder, Tom Gore, and Sean McKenzie. They created a line of environmentally-friendly wines they call Dreaming Tree Wines, which is so named, naturally, after the Dave Matthews Band track “The Dreaming Tree” from the 1998 album “Before These Crowded Streets.”
The partnership seems to have paid off, as they say “Great minds drink alike.” Their 2014 Crush Red Blend won a gold medal at the recent 2017 San Diego International Wine Competition, while the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc brought home the silver.