20 minutes from downtown Richmond and the airport you will find yourself in a little slice of heaven. Groomed horse paddocks, intertwined grape vines, and a welcoming front porch are the first sights upon making the turn onto the gravel entrance of Upper Shirley Vineyards. Upper Shirley provides wine tasting, event space, and a restaurant.
I recently had the pleasure of talking with Tayloe Dameron (Owner) and Carlisle Bannister (Partner and Executive Chef) of Upper Shirley Vineyards to learn about their new venture.
After taking a minute to bathe in the absolute beauty of my surroundings, I was greeted and walked through the spacious tasting room to a covered porch that extended along the back side of the building. On the porch were tables made from re-purposed wood (originally from the trees on property) and a flawless view of the James River. On the porch, my eyes moved from the light blue ceilings to the rich hardwood floors, attractive light fixtures, and comfortable chair and table I was seated in. I found my happy place!
Carlisle is the 4th generation family member that has been in the restaurant business. Since his first fried chicken success, Carlisle has been passionate about cooking. He provides Upper Shirley with an exquisite menu. When asked, "Why Upper Shirley?" Carlisle responded, "I want to provide an all in experience". Upper Shirley provides an exceptional dining experience, fantastic food, varieties of wine, and beautiful views.
The quiet serene view of the river and the large porches to relax and unwind were all part of Tayloe's vision. He believes and states, "Upper Shirley has a business model like no other. Serious consideration is taken creating an establishment focusing on the relationship of wine and the culinary experience." He values the importance of viticulture. He elaborated, "We offer first class wine, food, and the experience. We hired the right staff to make the business stronger and the customers experience better." He built a team of 40 people that share the same vision and passion for excellence in wine and superior culinary experience. It should be noted that Upper Shirley Vineyards was built to help preserve the area adjacent to Upper Shirley Plantation.
I was interested in learning more about their venue as a wedding space for ceremonies and receptions. I was not shocked to hear that there are options and backup plans for unpredictable weather! Nor was I surprised that all the details of the pre-wedding, ceremony and reception had been thoroughly considered. There are plenty of options for an outdoor ceremony either with a river backdrop or on covered porches. I discovered all things were truly thought of when I saw the bridal suite and groomsmen space (equipped with a large screen TV). Both were stocked with all the amenities one would want and need. Upper Shirley staff provides food and a drink or two before the couples say their "I dos" .
Either going out with friends or scouting out wedding venues, Upper Shirley Vineyards is a must visit spot. It is equally as intimate for a date as it is grand for a big celebration. The atmosphere coupled with top notch food and wine are what make it blog worthy! Carlisle will without a doubt provide a memorable culinary experience. The owners and staff will equally do their part in making it one of your favorite event space, wedding venue, wine tasting, and restaurant!
Special thanks to Carlisle, Tayloe and the staff at Upper Shirley for taking time for my visit.