New! Napa Trip Planner

Armchair Sommelier Logo

Field Trip: Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery

I’ve driven by Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery hundreds of times (it has a great location right on Route 29 in Leon, Virginia), but we’ve always been on the way to or from somewhere else, so we never stopped.  But a few weeks ago, we had a Carpe Vinum moment . . . and pulled over.

I LOVE the metal wine glass sculptures in front of the winery . . . I want one for my yard!

The wine tasting room at Prince Michel is circular and insanely busy.  But I’m not talking about people, I’m talking about tchotchkes — they’re everywhere.  And clutter makes me a little twitchy (you can call me Felix).  My girlfriend and I felt a little like we were tasting wine at a Cracker Barrel.  The tasting bar is welcoming, and the hostess was friendly and approachable, but I was on sensory overload before we tasted a single wine.  I’d be really nervous if I was trying to taste wine and watch little hands in here!

Case in point . . . here’s that rattlesnake wine bottle holder you’ve been looking for.  Oh!  And how ’bout a flask tie?  For those times when you need to look like a professional frat boy.

Prince Michel has a self-guided tour, which is an interesting option, but we weren’t really in a tour mood, so we skipped it.

We tasted a total of 12 wines for an obscenely reasonable $5.

BTW, Prince Michel has what just might be the most adorable dump buckets EVER:


Prince Michel Pinot Grigio 2010 ⭐⭐/82
We were told these are the only grapes grown on-site at Prince Michel.  The remaining grapes are sourced from other vineyards in Virginia.  I get an unexpected bleach note on the nose — really hoping it’s just the glass.  Almond and herb flavors with a steely finish.  There’s some lime in here, but overall, not much going on.  $19/bottle.

Mt. Juliet Petit Manseng 2008 ⭐⭐/84
My favorite of the “white flight”.  Banana and clove note on the nose.  Reminds me of a sugar cookie with a pear finish.  $30/bottle.

Prince Michel Viognier 2010 ⭐⭐/81
A decent backbone of acidity with a creamy texture, yet the balance still seems off.  Loaded with tropical notes of mango and coconut.  $15/bottle.

Prince Michel Chardonnay 2010 ⭐⭐/80
Aged in 85% stainless and 15% French oak.  There’s some peach notes in the glass, but overall, nothing special.  $15/bottle.

Prince Michel Barrel Select Chardonnay 2010 ⭐⭐/83
Aged 2 years in French oak.  A lovely petrol note on the nose.  The oak is very present on the finish — vanilla and buttered toast.  $19/bottle.

Prince Michel Cabernet Franc 2010 ⭐/75
Ooof.  Sour and aggressively tannic.  Not a fan.

Mountain View Cabernet Franc 2009 ⭐⭐/83
Aged in French oak.  I really like the mint note that runs throughout — a departure from the vegetal component I usually find lurking around a Cab Franc.  A little tannic right now, I’d love to taste this one again in a few years.  $30/bottle.

Prince Michel Merlot 2010 ⭐/79
3% Shiraz.  The edges on this wine are just harsh.  Where’s the fruit?  Reminds me of pepper crackers.  $15/bottle.

Prince Michel Merlot-Cab Reserve 2008 ⭐⭐/80
LOADS of pepper obscure fruit notes.  There’s some smoke on the finish, too, but again, it drowns out the fruit.  $15/bottle.

Prince Michel Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ⭐⭐/80
Thin and astringent, with violet candy notes on the nose.  $15/bottle.

Crown Orchard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ⭐⭐/80
Sour, smells like WD40.  Maybe some currant . . . really hard to discern.  $30/bottle.

Prince Michel Symbius 2010 ⭐⭐/84
42% Merlot, 32 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Cabernet Franc.  The blend is paying off here — definitely softer and more complex.  $30/bottle.

Prince Michel also has a “sweet flight” of wines from their second label, Rapidian River.  I’m not a fan of sweet wines, so I passed.  The flight consists of a couple of sweet Rieslings and a whole array of fruit wines (raspberry, blackberry, peach, etc.).  There’s also a chocolate wine. Shudder.  That said, I know plenty of folks who only drink sweet wines, so if that’s your bag . . . you might want to give it a try!

The Bottomline:  For me, the wines at Prince Michel are mostly meh.  The stars of the party are the Mt. Juliet Petit Manseng and the Prince Michel Symbius.  I encourage you to visit and form your own opinions — my palate is my palate, not yours.  Prince Michel has a great location, and I’m sure you can find a cozy corner to sift away an afternoon . . .



Armchair Sommelier Wine Tasting Guide

Spice up your next party with our FREE wine tasting guide! Learn what to look, smell, and taste for while appreciating your favorite bottle. We’ve also included a printable tasting notes template and a tasting wheel.

More Posts

Living in an Unscented World

I’m a smeller. I smell everything. All the time. I evaluate/buy everything based on how it smells. Shampoo, laundry detergent, deodorant, lotion, eye cream (who