Archive for May, 2015

Louizos Papadopoulos began designing custom jewelry in Greece when he was 12 years old. By age 17, he joined a large design firm in Athens and continues to “work on the bench” today.

IMG_1093 (1)He also handcrafts wine at his Opal winery. Creating beauty from jewels and grapes is his passion. But it doesn’t stop there. Visitors to Molon Lave Vineyards also experience the landscaped beauty of his winery. Papadopoulos is an artist and the world his palette.

If his life’s work appears to come naturally, there’s good reason. His father, Louis Papadopoulos, owner of Mediterranean Cellars in Warrenton, is a fourth generation jeweler and has been making wine since 1961.

Jewelry design and winemaking are part of his son’s DNA. “Winemaking is kind of inherited to us. In Greece everyone would make wine for the house,” Louizos Papadopoulos explains.

Father and son moved permanently to the United States in 1984 and built a successful jewelry design business in Northern Virginia. In 1989, the family purchased the property in Warrenton and planted their first vines.

But jewelry design and winemaking are time consuming and his father decided to retire in 2000 to devote full-time to building and operating Mediterranean Cellars. The winery opened in 2004.

A year prior to its launch, the Molon Lave property was purchased for the purpose of providing additional grape supply for his father’s winery. The original hobby had become a serious business and the decision was made to open a second winery.

Molon Lave opened its tasting room in 2009 and has replicated the family’s jewelry success in Virginia wine production. The 50 acre winery currently produces 4,000 cases a year with a production goal of 8,000 cases.

Currently there are 12 acres under vine with an additional six acres to be added this year. More than 10 varietals are planted including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

IMG_1096“Our motto and philosophy is to combine European style winemaking with grapes grown in Virginia. We are doing it in a way you can taste the fruit itself without having to guess real hard what you are drinking. We don’t standardize the wines the way they do on the West Coast.

“We try to enhance the existing fruit using Old World winemaking,” said Papadopoulos. 

For some Old Dominion wineries building a business that will eventually be run by the owners’ children is a primary goal. Molon Lave embraces the strategy.

Papadopoulos’ three daughters play active roles in the business. Katherine is the tasting room manager, Evy the office manager and Leah studies at George Mason University while assisting at both wineries.

Louisos“They are the third generation of our active winemaking family,” Papadopoulos said.

His wife, Alex, focuses on entertaining jewelry business customers who visit the winery; a considerable clientele since the firm has been in operation for 31 years.

The enjoyment of wine is enhanced by a graceful setting and Molon Lave delivers on the concept. The winery’s tasting room is framed by a 2,500 square foot patio and walkway that leads to an 8,300 square foot pavilion located on a knoll overlooking the winery, vineyards and a two and a half acre pond.IMG_1098

To sip wine and gaze upon the peaceful Virginia countryside defines relaxation; a goal most guests have in mind when arriving on the property.

The name of the winery reflects both the owners’ culture and life philosophy. Molon Lave is an ancient Greek phrase meaning “Come and get them”.

It was the response uttered by King Leonidas to a demand from an overwhelming large Persian army for his small Greek force to lay down their arms during the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

The defiant military response embodies the dignity and pride of the Papadopoulos family.

It also sounds like a gracious offer to their guests to taste the wines and then “come and get them”. An offer responded to daily.

Molon Lave is opened seven days a week from 11 to 6 p.m. Visit them at for additional information on their wines and special events.


John’ Pick of the month IMG_1103

Molon Lave Vineyards 

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon 


This award winning 100 percent cabernet sauvignon was aged for 14 months in French and American oak. The wine displays the depth of a well-crafted cab showcasing red and black fruit a silky mouth feel and a smooth dry finish.

The wine is also Kosher for Passover meaning it was kept free from contact with grain, bread and dough during production and aging.


Published May 14, 2015 in the Culpeper Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Pepper’s Grill welcomes new chef

Posted on May 08 2015 | By

When hunger strikes Pepper’s Grill is there to serve; breakfast, lunch or dinner. But dinner time is prime appetite country and the restaurant has a new dining room chef with a lengthy resume written in the kitchen.

Pepper's chefIn December, Mike Tylar figuratively placed his chef’s toque on and began redesigning the dinner menu at the respected local eatery. Since then the number of diners has increased each month.

“Business has increased 15 to 20 percent in the last few months,” Tylar said. “My goal is to get it up to at least 50 percent” over last year.

That’s the kind of goal setting the dining-out public loves. The reason any business succeeds is paying customers. And in the restaurant industry tasty food is the catalyst for ringing cash registers.

A profitable menu is a diner’s delight, producing the sought after win-win situation.

The reason for the winning formula lies in the lengthy resume Tylar brings to the kitchen. He has been cooking throughout the Piedmont region for years, including 25 years at The Bavarian Chef in Madison; a restaurant that enjoys a four-star Yelp rating.

“I have been cooking all my life starting at age 15,” said Tylar, 51. Most of his career was centered in Orange and Madison counties but when the opportunity to work at Pepper’s came up he pulled his German apron off and headed north to Culpeper.

“I had been cooking German food for a long time and wanted to try something different,” said Tylar. Germanic food tends to be heavy with large portions. “It’s rich but good.”

Pepper’s offered the opportunity to create a much wider array of dinner menus. Tylar has not disappointed himself or his customers. New menu items have included red pepper soup, cordon bleu, and a Chesapeake seafood dish of shrimp, scallops and crab wrapped in a puff pastry.

One dessert favorite is his fresh cheese cakes. “They really seem to like the cheese cake,” Tylar said smiling.

Other attractive options luring the local dinner crowd are daily specials; shrimp and scallop Italiano, and chicken alfredo are among the new entrees.

In addition to his chefs’ duties, Tylar will be assuming control over staffing and eventually food and supply ordering.

Pepper’s Grill has a large dining room capable of sitting over 200 diners. It hosts weddings, receptions, business meetings and a host of other special events. It also has a vibrant catering service for business and private events; either for pickup or delivery.

On major holidays special menus are designed to serve both local and out-of-town guests. The upcoming Mothers’ Day celebration is a “prime” example.

Pepper's Sign“Our specials that day will include prime rib with fried oysters, swordfish with dill cream sauce, roast pork with a chive cream sauce and chicken with wild mushrooms.” Mom is smiling already.

Tylar underscores he’s had great staff support since coming on board. Everyone has worked hard to increase the caliber of the dining room. “David and Adan Olmos, an uncle-nephew team, has provided a lot of good help. They’ve been great,” said Tylar.

Of course the menu offers a selection of wines and domestic and craft brews, including some Old Dominion favorites.

The restaurant adjoins the Best Western hotel making it an ideal home away from home for family and friends visiting the Piedmont region.

Peppers’ Grill is located at 791 Madison Rd in Culpeper. It is opened daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Visit for serving times and menus. Call 540.825.1037 for reservations.


Published in the April 30, 2015 edition of the Culpeper Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Culpeper goes Caribbean

Posted on May 08 2015 | By

Fusion’s Restaurant & Lounge spices up local eatery scene

Fusion'sLisa Walters’ husband, Ivor, hails from Jamaica. Early in their marriage she realized food from his native country was essential to their dining table. And for 25 years she has kept a smile on his face as she mastered the cuisine of the Caribbean islands.

Today, that smile is spreading across the faces of an increasing number of Culpeper citizens. “Be happy, Mon!” might be the expression heard from customers as they rise from her dining tables. After all, authentic Caribbean food is as inviting as white sand beaches and blue ocean waters.

In April, Culpeper’s dining scene gained even more traction with the opening of Fusion’s Restaurant & Lounge located at 201 S East St. The restaurant is the culmination of Walters’ extensive kitchen experience.

“I’ve been catering for over 10 years. I did private parties and other functions,” Walters said. Her brother-in-law had a restaurant where she also helped out, developing her management skills to run her own place.

“Everybody told me that I should open a restaurant so my food could get out to more people. So that’s what I decided to do.”

The restaurant seats 88 and is appointed with colorful orange walls and dark brown chairs and tables creating a festive atmosphere in which to enjoy her creative dishes.

The menu is a blend of Caribbean and New American cuisine, a term used to describe the flavors of American cooking blended with a variety of foreign dining components. It embraces the innovative use of seasonings and sauces.

Fusion aptly describes the food and thus the name of the restaurant.

When asked how she would describe her food, Walters responds with one word “Spicy”. But dishes can be prepared from mild to well-seasoned, depending on a diner’s preference.

“Most people love my jerked chicken. That’s my specialty. It’s served with peppers and herbs,” Walters said.

caribbean foodThe chicken is marinated overnight in jerk seasonings then soaked the next morning in another marinade to make it juicy before being char-grilled. It’s typically served with rice, peas and sautéed cabbage. “But you can substitute cole slaw.”

A unique feature of the restaurant is their tasting menu. See something you are tempted to order but not sure how it tastes? Simply ask for a bite before placing the order.

It’s an inviting offer given the diversity of food on the menu. As one peruses the choices available “taste before you order” is an attractive option reducing the stress of ordering a dish you may not be unfamiliar with.

So how diverse is the menu? Very. A quick scan reveals a variety of dishes, including jerked chicken, curry chicken, curry shrimp, brown stewed chicken, oxtail, curry goat, shallow-fried stewed fish, jam down shrimp, shrimp tacos, fried plantains, grilled jerked sardines, and more.

Old standbys with a Caribbean touch are also offered such as Fusion’s jerked hamburger.

The lunch menu averages $10 and dinners $12 to $17. The restaurant currently does not serve breakfast but plans to do so in the future.

And if your work schedule curtails sitting down and dining, consider that 50 percent of the business is carry out. “We encourage calling ahead so we can have it ready but they can stop in anytime for carry out.”

Walters underscores that while Caribbean food predominates, American entrees are also available. “We have a chicken tenders basket, a shrimp basket, shrimp and grits, salads and, of course, hamburgers. We are not limited to just Caribbean.”

The eatery is also a family affair. Her son Victor works along side his mother and “does a bit of everything.” Mom has done a good job raising her right-hand man.

A good selection of beer, wines and cocktails are available at both lunch and dinner and the lounge segment of the business invites weekend partiers to stop by for a libation after a movie or show. “We are open to 2 a.m. on weekends.”

So how does the owner-chef feel about her growing business? “It’s a good experience. It’s wonderful having someone tell you they enjoyed your food. That’s what I do it for.

“I invite people to come out and help make our business a success. I want them to just try it. We already have regulars coming in,” said Walters.

Fusion’s is opened Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11:30 to 2 a.m.  (540) 825-0700.


Published in the May 7, 2015 edition of the Culpeper Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES