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Rees Jones golf course and New Kent Winery highlight The Club at Viniterra near Richmond, Virginia

Katharine DysonBy Katharine Dyson,
Special Contributor
Club at Viniterra golf course - no. 13
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The Club at Viniterra's 13th hole is a hilly challenge. (Katharine Dyson/TravelGolf)

NEW KENT, Va. -- Ideally located northwest of Williamsburg near Richmond, The Club at Viniterra is on its way to becoming one of Virginia's most desired golf communities. Set in wine country, the handsome architecture of the New Kent Winery vies for attention with a challenging Rees Jones-designed golf course climbing over hill and dale.

When completed, the plan calls for three neighborhoods with estate and villa homes, an equestrian center, and a village of shops, restaurants and services all designed to help Viniterra's residents lead the good life.

The Club at Viniterra opened for play in 2009, and while golf operations are currently operating out of a temporary building, plans call for a grand 12,000-square-foot clubhouse to open in 2014.

Although designed as a private golf course, the club at this time is open for public play.

"We try to give our golfers a private-club experience," Josh Speight, head professional, said. "Since opening the course to the public in 2012, we've seen our rounds jump from 9,000 to 21,000 rounds." So the word is out: This is one fine track, especially for those with handicaps between 5 and 20.

The Club at Viniterra: The golf course

Viniterra is a fair course but a long one stretching to 7,700 yards, an especially good test for women and short hitters with a couple of long holes such as the first, a par 4 ranging from 463 to 339 yards, and the 11th, from 463 to 377 yards. Still, the par 3s are quite reasonable, and with seven tee boxes, if you hit from the tee that best suits your game, you can have a great day of golf.

Cut through the trees, the golf course has a few doglegs along with plenty of fairway and green-side bunkers, mounding and tall stands of trees. The rolling terrain adds to the challenge. "The tree line is played as a hazard," said Speight. There is water, too, but generally it does not come into play much unless you stray off course.

From the tee on the signature 10th hole, you can see a small vineyard on the right along with a pond, but with a wide rolling fairway, you have plenty of room to land your drive without hitting the water or the grapes. "Everything's right out there in front of you," Speight said. "Good shots are not penalized."

There is so much wooded hilly land. Except for one house adjacent to Viniterra's 10th hole, you see no other houses as you play, nor do you see another fairway except for a peek here and there. The landing areas are generous, such as on No. 4, a straight-out bombs away hole.

Drama is also part of it, as found on hole 12. This dogleg left, defined by trees on both sides, requires a carry over swales to the hilltop. And you have choices when approaching the green on 15, featuring ravines and two ways into the hole.

Viniterra member Roland George said the course reminds him of Spain's Valderrama Golf Club.

"There's just something about both places," George said. "When you stand up on the tee box and look out: Every hole is framed so well, and there are no tricked-up holes at either course. What you see is what you get." George and his wife, Mary, live in the Boddie-Noell sister development close enough to walk to the extensive practice area where you find all natural grass tees along with a chipping area, putting green and bunker.

The Club at Viniterra: The verdict

The Club at Viniterra represents one of the best deals in this exclusive Virginia countryside. Memberships are available with no monthly minimums or assessments. Although there are now about 90 members, the goal for membership is about 450.

The Winery, a few steps away from the pro shop, sits on a ridge overlooking acres of vineyards where grapes are harvested to make wines such as its Patriot blend of Niagara and Vidal, award-winning Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The building is a work of art, rendered through the clever use of recycled warm woods and stones supplied by E.T. Moore, the largest supplier of recycled and vintage fine woods in the world.

Eco-friendly reclaimed materials used in construction include roof trusses made from old railroad bridge trestles, cypress doors from the old Jefferson Hotel, handmade nails from a local blacksmith, reprocessed copper, post and beams from a 300 year old Connecticut warehouse and even pre-Civil War bricks.

There are three neighborhoods within New Kent Vineyards. Four Season's has a projected build-out of 1,450 homes ranging from the mid-$200,000s to mid-$400,000. Viniterra -- the gated, Estate section -- offers acre-sized home sites with custom residences starting at 2,200 square feet and prices from the upper $400,000s. The Arbors features wooded and cul de sac properties.

When relaxing after golf at Viniterra, University of Minnesota basketball coach Tubby Smith said, "Viniterra reminds me of our upcoming Minnesota team: young but maturing fast. It's a beautiful golf course with wonderful views offering players of all talent levels a challenge but still fun to play. Viniterra is one of the best new courses anywhere, and I look forward to playing again soon."

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New Kent WinerywineryClub at Viniterra golf course - 14th hole

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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