WELCOME TO BLENHEIM VINEYARDS
Established in 2000 by owner Dave Matthews, Blenheim Vineyards is located 20 minutes southeast of Charlottesville. With three vineyard sites growing seven varieties, the goal at Blenheim Vineyards is to make high quality wines that reflect the climate, soil, and beauty of the surrounding piedmont landscape.
Designed by Dave Matthews and master craftsman William Johnson and finished in 2000, the Blenheim Vineyards winery building was designed to have minimal impact on the environment.
The building is split into the tasting room above, from which you can peer through paneled glass floors into the wine production facility below, which is kept cool by being nestled into the side of a hill. Constructed from reclaimed wood fitted together with mortise and tenon joints, the timber frame tasting room is lined with south-facing windows and skylights, which facilitate full daylighting of the space. In fact, no electricity is required to light the space in the summer. In the winter, the lights are only turned on once it gets dark outside, and the tasting room benefits from passive solar heating throughout the day as well.
John Carter, Secretary of the Colony of Virginia and eldest son of Robert “King” Carter, obtained a patent in 1730 for 9,350 acres northeast of present-day Carter’s Bridge in what is now Albemarle County. It was here that John Carter maintained Carter’s Mill on the North Hardware River, and his son Edward built the first Blenheim house prior to 1799. The house was named in honor of the War of the Spanish Succession was fought and won by the British under the command of the Duke of Marlborough.
It was Blenheim where Thomas Jefferson and his bride, Martha, are said to have “rested and warmed themselves” after their coach stalled nearby during a snowstorm. Later, the Jeffersons continued on to Monticello on horses borrowed from Edward Carter. The property was sold in 1840 and the house burned a few years later.
Andrew Stevenson (Congressman, Speaker of the House, Ambassador to Great Britain, and rector of the University of Virginia) purchased the property in 1846. He then built the current home as a one-story Gothic Revival style cottage. Also located on the property are an assortment of 18th and 19th century outbuildings, including a school-chapel, smokehouse, pyramidal-roofed kitchen/laundry, and a library–all of which still stand today. The oldest house on the property–and potentially in all of Albemarle County–is the Claim House, which was built in the 1730s to secure or “claim” the original land grant.
Blehnheim’s period of significance spans the 18th and 19th centuries. Key points of significance are the property’s archaeological-historical, agricultural, and political/governmental associations. The resource was nominated to the Virginia Landmarks Register on December 16, 1975, and to the National Register of Historic Places on May 17, 1976.
*Reference: K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country
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