Virginia, the fifth largest wine-producing state in the U.S., now has more than 193 wineries in production and 22 wine trails to explore. And what better place to start your tour than where it all began? In 1807 Thomas Jefferson, often called America's first wine connoisseur, planted grapes at Monticello imagining his home state would make great wines to rival those of Europe. Now you can visit the Monticello Wine Trail around Charlottesville in central Virginia, the birthplace of American wine.

On the morning of Saturday, July 23, as part of the North American Wine Bloggers Conference, we hit the trail. Attendees boarded numbered buses, not knowing their destination, to visit wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. My bus (#3) turned out to be a fantastic pick giving me the chance to visit two favorite wineries and a new discovery just 10 miles south of Charlottesville.

Photo courtesy william couch via Flickr/CC