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C'ville for Bachelorette dinner and wineries

We are a group of eight 30-something Chowhounds from DC heading to C'ville for a Bachelorette weekend. We eat at all of the great DC restaurants regularly and are looking for someplace upscale but not too stuffy as we want to be able to let our hair down and enjoy ourselves after a grueling day of wine tasting (ha!)... From what I can tell, the best spots seem to be C&O, Oxo, L'Etoile, Cassis, Hamilton's... am I missing any? Which of these, do you think, would give the best balance of great food plus great fun? Any good spots for pre- and/or post-dinner drinks? And if we are dressed casually from our day of wineries, would we feel underdressed at any of these?

And about that grueling day of wineries... recommendations fairly close to C'ville proper? Several of us have done the group of wineries to the west (Cardinal Point, King Family, White Hall), which we enjoyed. We generally prefer smaller, more intimate wineries (NOT Barboursville, for example), although we can bend on that for great wine (Kluge, for example -- is worth it?). And finally -- which wineries would be best for a picnic on the grounds?

Thanks C'ville Chowhounds!

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  1. Actually, none of the above. You should check out Zocalo
    It's very good food in a great setting. They also have a terrific bar. Rapture or Blue Light Grill and Raw Bar would be good options for drinks, but don't eat at either.

    From the group you did mention, Cassis would be the best fit in terms of casual, relaxed and good food. L'Etoile has the best overall food in my mind, but isn't the vibe you're looking for and is a bit more dressy feeling (not actually dressy, but dressy feeling, if that makes any sense). Hamilton's is a place I take my parents, not my friends (I'm also mid 30s). Oxo and C&O I don't have a lot of use for though others have different feelings; regardless, Oxo is also fairly dressy and not much on the relaxed, casual thing.

    The Kluge farmhouse was a nice place to sit out in the woods and have some wine and a "picnic" (they have tables). The wine is hit and miss (the sparkling was quite good).

    1. I 100% agree with CCB. Zocalo is the place to go. Food is great and the vibe is fun yet upscale.

      My favorite winery for a picnic is Veritas. They have beautiful land and lots of it (http://www.veritaswines.com). It too is west of town.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        do you think it would work in "nice" jeans? menu looks great. we're headed to town to see bruce in april and need a dinner spot. casual is fine but want some place nice since we rarely get a day without our kids like that! :)

        1. re: AMFM

          Yes, "nice" jeans would work fine. It's a very comfortable place...nice but not fancy, really. If I'm going, for instance, I'd be perfectly comfortable in jeans, but I wouldn't wear jeans and sneakers; I'd wear nicer shoes. I'd never feel the need for a jacket or tie or even a shirt with a collar, but I wouldn't wear a t-shirt.....that sort of place, if that makes any sense.

          If you go, the jack cheese fritters and NY Strip are my favorite dishes (although that may just be for the polenta fries....those guys know how to fry some things).

          1. re: ccbweb

            thanks. i often feel i can wear dressy jeans anywhere, but still like to make certain!
            oh and those are the things that my husband would LOVE on the menu! appreciate the recs.

      2. In addition to Zocalo (which is a great rec), I would suggest Maya (http://www.maya-restaurant.com/ ) on W. Main St. I was very impressed with every thing we ordered at this upscale Southern, meat and two place. I think the vibe is similar to Zocalo, although it's a much smaller place.

        1 Reply
        1. I liked Enoteca, although I'm not sure you'd want that after a day of wine-tasting!

          As for vineyards, we like Keswick a lot. Stephen, the winemaker, is from South Africa, and puts out some pretty decent wines. They have a nice picnic area, too.

          Have a great time!

          1. I'd highly recommend, Bang- restaurant just right off of the Downtown Mall. They serve Asian-style tapas, friendly for all veggie and meatavores, fun ambiance and decor, and FANTASTIC food. I'm not even sure that I can give favorites, as everything is great, but the 60 sec Sirloin, the tempura nori roll, and the Chocolate 3 way for dessert make this place a must-go if you are heading down that way. They have an outdoor patio and bar, good for mingling.


            I definitely second the thought of Rapture and Blue Light for drinks and mingling afterwards. If you want to dance, Rapture has a dance floor. Blue light has more of an 30s/ grad students/ residents crowd.

            1. Thanks for all of the feedback -- we definitely feel like we're on track now. But we need a little more help with wineries. We are staying near Standardsville (which is north of town) and the innkeeper recommended Stone Mountain as a beautiful place (not so sure she was recommending the wines so much as the view, which is fine, and this could be a picnic spot). So we were thinking we'd hit that first and then either head to Oakencroft followed by Kluge and/or Jefferson OR cut across to Burnley/Horton/Keswick (probably two of the three). Having gone to the Winelands in South Africa last year, I like the sound of Keswick -- but how are Horton and Burnley? We are purposely avoiding Barboursville as we like smaller, more intimate wineries. After the wineries, we are heading into town for dinner, which is why we're keeping it as close to C'ville proper as possible. And do you think that Stone Mountain is a must-do? Thanks again!

              1 Reply
              1. re: jcnorton

                Last June, I organized a bachelorette/winery weekend in C'ville. We were staying in Glenmore, so picked locations nearby. We did go to Barboursville, which had an interesting tour, and the wine's were good enough. Horton had in excess of 30 wines, many of them of the sweet/dessert wine variety. I wasn't so much a fan. Keswick is a nice location, but the wines are young. They blossom as you let them age, but I wasn't a huge fan in tasting them on site. King Family is fun, and sometimes holds polo tournaments right next door. My absolute favorite was Veritas. It's a ways away from the city (about 30 minutes up 250 towards Wintergreen). Lots of other wineries are around it, and King Family is on the way. A superb, yet casual, place to eat is Duner's. It's on Route 250 about 6 miles north of C'ville in Ivy, VA. This is a well-known locals place. I agree that Zocolo is a fantastic restaurant, great atmosphere and good nightspot. I was not impressed by Kluge, but that may be my personal taste in wine. I have not been to Oakencroft or Stone Mountain as of yet. If I were to suggest based on what you're looking for, I'd say you would be on the money with King Family, Veritas and Duner's/Zocalo. Not sure how far they are from where you plan to stay. I'm an out-of-towner, but I've heard good things about C&O and OXO. For very expensive French, go to La Fluerie in the mall (I still recommend Duner's for French-inspired). Horton is not good for a picnic. I don't think Kluge is either. I think you will probably like Burnley and Keswick.