Archive for November, 2015


Women of the land

Posted on Nov 23 2015 | By

Fair farmers of the Piedmont

Women represent 30 percent of all farmers—either as operators or co-operators— according to the most recent 2012 United States Department of Agriculture census.

It’s a surprising number given the traditional view of farming as male dominated.

_DSC0942Here in Fauquier and Prince William counties those percentages track closely with national statistics. And yet, a woman’s role on the farm is seemingly hidden by the perception that only men drive tractors, plant fields and raise cattle.

Think again.

Women gravitate to working the land for number of reasons. Historically, a farmer’s wife always played an important role on the farm. Today, the urge to work the land is reinforced by an emphasis on healthy eating, a return to an agrarian lifestyle and the entrepreneurial spirit women have brought to other industries.

In addition, the growth of farmers’ markets has created venues for women to sell produce and other farm products directly to the consumer. In 1994 there were 1,755 such markets nationwide. Today the number exceeds 8,000.

“Farm to table” resonates because producers and consumers know the value of wholesome food. Women play an important role in the burgeoning movement.

There are a host of stories of women in agriculture in our region. Here are three typical producers.

Powers Farm
Melody Powers, 32, has always been interested in eating healthy food. She grew up on a hobby farm in northeastern Pa. and moved to Virginia as a young women. She held a few conventional jobs before moving with her husband, Kevin, to Fauquier County in 2013. They purchased a home on 11 acres.

“We always wanted to start farming,” Powers said. Kevin Powers still works full-time off the farm. She devotes all her energies to farming their small operation. Currently she tends an acre of vegetables and a quarter acre of hops.

The hops are sold to Old Bust Head Brewery in Warrenton. Her husband hopes to start a commercial brewery of his own in the future.

Her crops include tomatoes, watermelons, peppers, beets, celery, beans, winter squash and more. She markets the produce at the Manassas Farmers’ Market on Saturdays during the growing season.

This year she started a Community Supported Agriculture enterprise. CSAs are a system in which a farm operation is supported by shareholders in the local community who share both the benefits and risks of food production.

A full membership in her CSA costs $550 annually and entitles the buyer to a bag of fresh vegetables each week over a 20 week period. Half shares are also available.

“I look forward to growing my CSA. I really enjoy it. I use no sprays or chemicals” so the food embodies the best of fresh produce.

Her goal is to have two acres in production. She explains that every farm has a “microclimate and you always are experimenting to find out what grows best.

“I think local farms are really important to communities. I feel lucky I get to do this. It is hard work and takes perseverance but I enjoy being my own boss and watching plants grow,” Powers said.

Visit for a full description of the farm’s produce.

Harvester Farm

Restin' Easy

Restin’ Easy

Bethany Seal, 29, comes from a farming family and her parents still work the land. The family moved to their Nokesville farm when Seal was in middle school. She recalls seeing one of her neighbors raising cattle and thought to herself “I think I want a cow!”

Seal graduated from Virginia Tech in 2007 with a degree in Agriculture and subsequently obtained a degree in Veterinary Technology. The lady farmer has her bona fides.

Today she and her husband, Bradley, have a herd of 80 registered Black Angus cattle with the goal of growing it to 200 head. They artificially inseminate both their cows and heifers to obtain industry leading genetics.

As is often the case for aspiring farmers, her career began with participation in 4-H activities. She showed her cows as a teenager and continues to do so today. The family owns three different farms and rents a fourth for a total of 1,400 acres.

Reflecting on her work she explains she and her husband employ a “divide and conquer” strategy to each day’s tasks. In the morning they assess what needs to be accomplished and independently tackle the work, sharing experiences at the end of the day. They are both full-time farmers.

A typical day involves checking the status of the herd to assure the health of each animal. Particular emphasis is placed on brood cows that are close to calving. A brood cow and calf can cost as much as $4,000 so maintaining bovine health is critical to a successful operation.

Supporting work involves repairing fences, haying and rotating pastures so herds do not “eat it to the bottom”. In the fall, fields are planted to assure a hay crop for the winter months. Weighing between 1,200 to 1,400 pounds, each a cow is a virtual eating machine that must be catered to for maximize profit.

“If you want to farm you have to love it. There are days you’ll look in the mirror and wonder what you’re doing. It’s hard work,” Seal said. “Being a farmer is not for the faint of heart. You cannot be afraid to get dirty and sometimes you have to take one for the team and end up covered in manure.”

Another reason the consuming public owes a debt of gratitude to farmers.

Seven Oaks Lavender Farm
Deborah Williamson hails from a multi-generational Pa. farming family. During her teenage years the family moved to a farm in Catlett. It was a hobby farm with all the “Green Acres” suspects of chickens, calves, ponies, horses and a big garden. “It was a lot of fun,” Williamson said.

Nonetheless, by the time she was a young woman, she left the farm to seek her fortunes elsewhere; first in the Virginia Tidewater region and later in New York City. “I swore I’d never live in the country again. There’s not a whole going on there” for a grown woman.

But when her son, Lincoln, was two-years-old she realized she did not want to raise him in the Big Apple. “I wanted to raise him in fresh air and around my family so I moved back to the farm. I have three brothers and a sister and we all live within 15 minutes of each other,” Williamson said.

A trip to France with her mother and sister created the idea of starting a lavender farm. She researched the business and found there were few such farms on the East Coast.

Lavender has a long history of cultivation. During colonial times the flower was grown for a variety of uses including sachets for use in closets and drawers to scent clothes with its floral aroma.

It is also known for its calming and relaxing effect and as an aid for sleep. You can cook with it or just smell it to reap its calming benefits.

Williamson and her mother, Edith, jointly work the farm and have almost four acres of lavender under cultivation. Customers do most of the harvesting. In early June, the crop is ready to market and customers come from around the state to buy the flowers.

In season—June and July—an entrance fee of $4 for children and $6 for adults is charged in addition to 15 cents for each cut stem. The perennial plant grows up to six feet wide and produces 2,000 flowers each.

The farm was started in 2003 and opened to the public in 2006. Four years ago Williamson became a full-time lavender farmer. “It allows me to be the kind of mom I want to be because I get to work at home,” single parent Williamson said.

Her son is now 16-years-old and plays on the Kettle Run High School varsity football team.

“It’s been a struggle but with the help of my family we made it through. For the past four years we have been quite profitable.” She devotes full-time to the farm’s success.

For additional information on the farm’s operational hours and products visit


Published in the Fall 2015 edition of the Piedmont Business Journal.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery

Posted on Nov 14 2015 | By

Over three decades of successful winemaking

It’s fitting the original founder of Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery was a Frenchman; France has produced wine for over 2,000 years. Jean Leducq and his wife Sylviane established the winery in 1982 when Virginia was in its wine infancy.

But in 2002, Jean Leducq died and his wife sold the winery to Kristin Swanson Holzman. Together with winemaker Brad Hansen, the pair has grown Prince Michel into the fourth largest winery in the Old Dominion, producing 45,000 cases annually.

Brad Hansen

Brad Hansen

“I have been with Prince Michel for 16 years. I couldn’t imagine a situation arising that would make me jump away from this,” Hansen said smiling. “We have kind of a family relationship. It goes beyond just showing up. We are all looking out for each other even out of the work place.”

The family-like atmosphere may well be the basis for the quality wines produced at the Leon facility, located on Route 29 south of Culpeper. Karma goes into every bottle coming off the bottling line.

The winery produces two brands: Prince Michel and Rapidan River Wines. The former are traditional drier wines and the latter sweeter and fruit wines. The branding employs market segmentation providing customers a wide spectrum of wines to choose from.

Proprietor and vintner
Holzman and Hansen have a long working relationship that dates to when she sold grapes to Prince Michel over 15 years ago. Holzman farmed Ivy Creek Vineyards in Ivy, a respected vineyard that consistently produced quality fruit. Hansen established a long-term contact with her that eventually led to her buying Prince Michel.

Prior to grape growing, Holzman was a successful interior designer specializing in luxury yacht interiors. Her success led to establishing her own design company in Florida and eventually purchasing a historic property in the Charlottesville area.

The land was producing Viognier and Merlot grapes and set the stage for her next career as winegrower. The serendipitous purchase of her grapes by Hansen led to her buying Prince Michel in 2005.

As a young man Brad Hansen earned a degree in Botany and a Master’s Degree in Enology. He worked at Chateau St. Michelle and Columbia Crest in Washington State before returning East and to the eventual position as winemaker at Prince Michel.

In 1990, he married his wife Lydia and together they raised two “winery children” at Prince Michel, Christian and Isabella. “Both of our children grew up in the winery with me. I have lots of great stories of them helping me clean barrels, tanks, and doing other winery work,” Hansen said.

The hard working winemaker and family man has earned more than 400 medals for his wines.

Vineyard strategy
When Leducq established the winery 33 years ago, he grew his vineyard to 500 acres under vine; an exceptionally large planting even by today’s standards.

But it was also an era when vineyard managers were struggling to decode the secret behind what grapes to grow where. The “somewhereness” of a grape’s soil and climate is critical to sussing out the best properties of the fruit.

One grape that failed to fall in love with Virginia was Riesling; Leducq had planted 150 acres of the varietal that eventually had to be abandoned. Like many pioneers he left a legacy useful to future grape growers. Riesling is not widely grown in Virginia today.

As a result, in 2002 Hansen began sourcing fruit from quality vineyards from around the state. The strategy offered two advantages. First, it created a diversity of flavor profiles and secondly mitigated the dangers of a given seasonal crop failure by eliminating the “all eggs in one basket” approach to farming the delicate Vitis vinifera grape.

“I cherry picked the better Virginia vineyards and developed long-term relationships with the owners,” Hansen said.

Prince Michel WineryToday, the original Prince Michel vineyard has been reduced in size to six acres under vine; Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are the two varietals grown on site. The majority of fruit is now sourced from six premier vineyards scattered across Virginia.

Ask a winemaker what wine he or she is most proud of and you’ll likely get a hedge answer such as “all of them”. But of course.

In reality, a handful of beauties will truthfully come to mind for most winemakers.
Acknowledging that crisp, white wines are his summer favorites Hansen says, “When the weather turns, I’m in love with Symbius.”

Explaining modestly that the red blend “makes itself”, the effort in creating it belies that opinion. “We take all of the reds from a vintage and Kristin, Lydia and I blind taste them. We will taste 300 or 400 glasses and come up with the best of the best,” Hansen said.

Out of the seemingly endless number of potential red blends comes Symbius. “If I am not satisfied with that vintage blend, I will not make the wine that year,” Hansen emphasizes.

Typically, the final product receives four to six years of barrel aging before it is released to its waiting followers.

Prince Michael Vineyard and Winery is opened seven days a week. For information on hours of operation, events and more visit

                                            John’s pick of the month

Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery

2010 Symbius


A rich blend of Bordeaux varietals, the wine displays a deeply colored red in the glass with aromatics of black fruits and currants. On the palate, full-bodied flavors of blackberry and currant dominate followed by a long, silky finish.

Pair this red beauty with a petite filet mignon and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. To further enhance its enjoyment, add a gently crackling fireplace.


Published in the October 15, 2015 edition of the Culpeper Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Whiskey Rebellion Redux

Posted on Nov 09 2015 | By

Moon shining brightly on legal & illegal distilling 

In 2005, there were some 70 craft distilleries in the United States. Today, over 700 are in operation and a few years hence it’s projected over 1,000 of the watering holes will grace the Nation’s landscape.

Craft distilleries generally produce less than 10,000 bottles annually; often much less. By comparison, bourbon producer Jim Beam churns out 90 million bottles a year. The $70 billion distilled spirits industry is dominated by the major producers. Small distilleries generate less than 1 percent of sales.

Home pot still

Home pot still

On the amateur side, some industry observers believe there are over 50,000 home nano-distillers who are operating without a license; not a risk-free endeavor for scoring a few bottles of liquor considering the severe penalties for firing up an unregistered still.

Here in Virginia, there are 21 holders of distilling licenses; many of them producing less than 5,000 gallons annually. The most recent entrant is Old House Vineyards and Distillery in Culpeper; sales began in June 2015.

So what’s driving the resurgence in booze?

The demand for hand-crafted, artisanal beverages and the creative urge to produce such libations, coupled with the reduction of licensing fees to operate smaller distilleries.

The cost of obtaining a legal license in Virginia is modest; $450 for producing less than 5,000 gallons annually. But it takes serious money to buy the stills and other related equipment; putting a $200,000 dent in the checkbook is not uncommon.

The days of moonshining in mountain hideaways may be fading just as urban hobbyists and professional distillers are gaining traction in the world of upscale social lubricants.

Fauquier County
Over two dozen wineries and one brewery are currently operating in Fauquier County but no distillery has yet opened its doors. Knowledgeable sources think it won’t be long before the county will be able to boast a trifecta of libation production; beer, wine and whiskey.

If the prediction comes to pass, look for the product to be hand-crafted and of superior quality. Our current alcohol alchemists have a reputation for excellence; creating highly rated “water of life” would likely be no exception.FullSizeRender (3)

As for the traditional moonshine trade in Virginia, in 1941, the ABC Division of Enforcement seized an all-time high of 1,771 illegal stills.

In 2011, a collaborative four-day air and ground operation between the ABC and Virginia State Police resulted in the discovery and destruction of just 25 inactive but operational stills in Franklin, Pittsylvania and Carroll counties. Clearly, things have settled down since the heyday of the professional moonshiners.

While few county amateurs are ready to crow about their home operation, it’s certain to be happening based on similar activity around the country.

Home nano-distillers are able to fly under the radar because selling their product is not in their “business plan”. Home distillers often eschew the moonshiner tag, largely considering it an insult. Their only goal is to enjoy crafting a beverage in extremely limited qualities, often as few as 3 or 4 bottles at a time.

As one home distiller of wine explained, “I purchased a small stove top distiller in Portugal 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve distilled wine into brandy more than 50 times and aged it in a 5 liter oak cask. As it’s consumed, I distill a new batch. And truthfully, while my brandy is good I can buy higher quality stuff. The fun is in the doing.” 

It’s the law
A misconception held by many is that producing distilled spirits at home is legal; just don’t try to sell the hooch. And while backyard distillation of a bottle of alcohol seems innocent enough, both federal law and the Virginia ABC takes a decidedly different view. In response to an inquiry to the ABC, their response read:

Producing ANY amount of a distilled spirit (even a single bottle for one’s own consumption) is a Class 6 felony with a penalty of 1-5 years imprisonment or jail up to 12 months and up to a $2500 fine, either or both. Simply possessing a still or distilling apparatus without a license from the ABC is a Class 1 misdemeanor, if convicted.

Wannabe moonshiners beware.

Published in the Fall 2015 edition of inFauquier  magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

South Wales Living

Posted on Nov 02 2015 | By

Note: After six years of writing for a wide variety of regional publications,  I finally got a chance to interview myself. The editor of our community magazine asked me to profile our family; which of course I embraced.

FullSizeRenderHidden from view while embracing the good life

Tucked away in a tucked away part of the world might aptly described the Hagarty home at the end of a cul-de-sac on Tattershall Way. The old chestnut “you can run but you can’t hide” might be true. But why would anyone consider hiding if the Piedmont region is beckoning with endless beauty and activity.



So it was in July 2001, John and Jean Hagarty pulled up 23-year-old roots in Reston and headed out to one of the prettiest little communities in the Old Dominion.

John had just retired from the U.S. Postal Service as an executive in its Government Relations Department in Washington, D.C. Jean would soon retire from Giant Food as a pricing analyst monitoring the firm’s competition over a four-state area.

What they left behind physically—but took with them emotionally—were four adult children; three sons and a daughter. Little more than a decade later, all four were married, nurturing 10 grandchildren and living within an hour’s drive of South Wales.

Second careers
So did the peace and charm of South Wales lure the retirees into rocking chairs? Hardly.

“When I first retired I would pinch myself in the mornings to make sure the golden years had actually arrived. But within three months I was antsy to do something,” John recalls.

That “something” was an eclectic group of fun jobs, including golf course marshal, pro shop employee, and milking cows at a local farm. “Jean wasn’t too happy with that job. Phew, did my clothes stink at the end of a shift,” remembers John.

Then lighting struck. Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg was seeking a cellar assistant and John applied and got the job. “Within two weeks of being hired, I learned the real title was ‘cellar rat’. I loved it,” John said.

Running a fork lift, pumping wine from one stainless steel tank or barrel to another, cleaning equipment and working endless hours at harvest time left John with a love of wine and winemaking.

A year later, he left the Middleburg winery for a shorter commute to Rappahannock Cellars in Huntly, located seven miles south of Front Royal. He worked the tasting room there and then assumed the position of manager, special events, a part-time job he holds today.

Jean's favorite

Jean’s favorite

He also became a home winemaker, producing over 40 cases of wine a year in his basement “cellar”. Three years ago, he expanded his social libation activities by becoming a home brewer.

Meanwhile, Jean was casting about for her second career. One day while joining John on a wine delivery, the owner of the Inn at Poplar Springs in Casanova offered her a position as office manager. “It was a beautiful and historic property. I enjoyed working there,” Jean said.

But after five years, she resigned to enjoy some time off.

Her availability soon became known to the couple’s pastor at St. Peter’s church in Little Washington who was seeking an office manager. She accepted the job on a three-day-a-week basis. Today, her management skills coordinate a broad range of activities at the little country church.

And it’s true, small is beautiful. The Catholic church in Warrenton has over 1,200 families; by comparison, St. Peter’s has 130.

“I love working there. It’s contributing to the community. You never know what you’ll be working on; a baptism, a marriage, a person in emotional or financial need, or a funeral. Church work spans the most emotional parts of a person’s life. I’ve made many wonderful friends there,” Jean said.

So does winery and church work embody all of the good life? Not quite. Jean is an ardent cat lover and tends to four house cats and four ferals. Even a trip to the mailbox will find Jean bending over to rescue a struggling worm seeking refuge in the moist lawn. “I call her St. Jean of Assisi, John said. “If it’s living, Jean seeks to comfort it.”

She also has devoted herself to “feathering the nest”. Visitors to the Hagarty’s residence often remark on the furnishings and color coordination.

John, on the other hand, seeks fulfillment of a different nature. He golfs twice a week, hikes and backpacks with a local club called Boots ‘n Beer (a drinking club with a hiking problem) and is active in the Knights of Columbus.

Hiking with Boots'nBeer

Hiking with Boots’nBeer

He also channeled his love of wine into founding of the South Wales Wine Society. The group has met over 45 times in the last seven years. “Getting to know your neighbors over a glass of wine is the heart of community living,” John said.

Six years ago the editor of Culpeper Times asked John to pen a monthly column on wine. The job led to writing for a number of regional newspapers and magazines. All of his work is posted on his web site Hagarty on Wine.

And mutually, John & Jean maintain two Adopt-a-Highway sections. The primary section is a three-mile stretch on Colvin Road, part of which borders South Wales. The second two-mile section is on Hume Road running past Rappahannock Cellars.

With respect to their highway cleanup activity, John reminiscences that almost 40 years ago he attended a conference where The Happy Warrior, Senator Hubert Humphrey from Minnesota, was speaking.

“I suspect it was one of his standard stump speeches. But it was a forceful declaration of how each citizen can make a difference in the quality of life in America. One line in the speech spoke about starting small, such as picking up a piece of trash beyond the confines of your own property.

“That thought resonated with me, and I have tried to employ the philosophy in my life. Small actions can, indeed, lead to meaningful change,” John said.

John and Jean Hagarty celebrated 50 years of marriage this past spring and show no signs of slowing down. Could some South Wales magic be in play here?

Fifty years and counting.

Fifty years and counting.

Published in the November 2015 edition of Life at the Trails.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Birth of the brews

Posted on Nov 02 2015 | By

Fermenting success at Old Bust Head Brewing Company

In January 2006, Ike and Julie Broaddus were riding high. The power couple had just sold their Century 21 real estate company and were casting about for a new venture.

It was a given further success awaited them. After all, by the time they placed their real estate firm on the market they had built it into the largest Century 21 company in the world, employing 400 people in 14 different offices scattered across northern Virginia and southern Maryland.

Nonetheless, it took a few years before the beer began flowing.

Ike Broaddus

Ike Broaddus

In the interim, the couple developed a deep interest in Fauquier County and worked for various non-profit organizations supporting land preservation. As a result, Ike Broaddus landed a job as board member, and then chairman, of the Vint Hill Economic Development Authority. Within a few years, he was its director.

Meanwhile Julie Broaddus pursued her interest in Fauquier history working on the county’s architectural review board and supporting historical events.

She also spent over two years researching and writing a manuscript based on civil war diaries of county residents. The document is used by researchers and will be published in the future.

In June 2010, Charles Kling walked into Ike Broaddus’ office seeking a building in Vint Hill for a brew pub. Kling held a degree in chemical engineering and had extensive experience as a commercial brewer of craft beers, acquiring multiple awards.

At the time, Kling was employed at the Patent Office and recalls he took the position “to get a real job and settle down. I soon realized that was not going to be a long term plan.” Once a brewer always a brewer.

Over the course of two years, Kling impressed the Broaddus couple with his smarts, drive and brewing expertise. It occurred to Ike Broaddus to join forces with the brewmaster; not just to open a small brew pub but a full brewery. Kling agreed.

So the two guys wanted to make beer; no surprise there. But a cooler head prevailed and forced an in-depth analysis of the proposed venture. “Ike and Charles worked for a year and a half to convince me that it was the right business for us to invest in,” said Julie Broaddus.

It was time well spent. Starting a business from scratch is a challenge. Less than 50 percent of small businesses make it past four years. A brewery is a major financial commitment. It’s not a sound move to roll the dice with the family bank account in play on an ill-advised project.

As the intense planning for the brewery unfolded, Ike Broaddus was steadily working himself out of a job. He knew that soon all the the properties for sale in Vint Hill would be snapped up leaving him unemployed. Type A personalities don’t like to sit around so the Ike-Julie-Charles team became Old Bust Head Brewing Company.

Taking Flight
After evaluating several properties, it came as no surprise that the brewery was located in Vint Hill. The next task, among many, was naming the business and creating a marketing plan. “I developed the brand,” Julie Broaddus said. “I came up with proposals to present to Ike and Charles.”

They all wanted the brand to reflect their commitment to quality, sense of community and nostalgia for Fauquier County. “We were rural. We were fun. We were down to earth. We were not a scary brand. Charles makes beers that are delicious. Anyone would love these beers. We wanted a brand that was inclusive,” Julie Broaddus said.

Her knowledge of county history also came into play. The Broaddus’ live on Old Bust Head Road. The oldest part of their home dates to 1734. Over 250 years ago, a wheelwright shop was located at the bottom of their property. It also housed a small moonshine operation.

One day one of the locals got deep into his cups and tumbled off his horse. It was an era of nicknames and the tipsy local became know as “Bust Head”. The name stuck and evolved over the ensuing decades with the nearby lane being called Old Bust Head Road.

Success again
Old Bust Head Brewery
This year Old Bust Head Brewing Company will produce 5,000 barrels of beer; that’s 1.5 million bottles. Full production will take at least five years to achieve; production will top out at 30,000 barrels annually.

So what does the brewery team think of their successful enterprise?

“It’s a wildly complex business. There are so many moving parts and that’s what makes it so much fun. And we are the only brewery in Fauquier County,” said Ike Broaddus.

“I started with a vague business plan and its been a lot fun to see how its worked out. It’s a dream come true,” Charles Kling said.

Julie Broaddus puts their success in perspective by saying, “We’ve hosted over 100 events in our taproom since opening. And we’ve given over $11,000 to charities in donated tours and tastings. We want to help others do good.”

Having fun, pleasing people and gaining satisfaction; sounds like the perfect business.

We’ll drink to that.

For additional information on the brewery’s operating hours and events, visit

Here’s to your health
Wine dinners are a common offering at many Fauquier County wineries. But today’s craft brews are so flavorful and diverse that beer dinners are rapidly gaining in popularity. Here’s a recent Old Bust Head Brewing Company menu for a dinner held at a local eatery.

Salad: Winter field greens, caramelized baby onion, Gorgonzola cheese, pickled walnuts, paired with Wildcat IPA

1st course: Smoked IPA braised pork belly, fennel cabbage slaw, paired with Virginia Hop Harvest Smoked IPA

2nd Course: Brewer’s lamb pie—a twist on shepherd’s pie—and prepared with plenty of beer, topped with cheddar leek mashed potatoes and paired with Bust Head English Pale Ale

Dessert: Chestnut porter brownie, vanilla ice cream, porter infused chocolate sauce, paired with Chinquapin Chestnut Porter

Hoppin’ good stuff 
Most beer drinkers divide into two groups: Those who like a strong hop impact in their beer and those who prefer a more modest touch. The former folks are typically called “hop heads” and wear the moniker with pride. The rest of the beer world often wonders, “How can you drink that stuff?”

But beer without some hop impact would be tantamount to drinking Kool- Aid. Hops are a critical component of any beer. They contain an essential oil with a very bitter flavor. The bitterness counters the sweetness from the malt and creates a balanced libation. It also acts to preserve the brew.

One of the strongest of hoppy beers is called an India Pale Ale. It can contain 60, 70 or even 100 IBUs, or International Bittering Units; an industry measure of the hop strength.

Conversely, a pilsner or stout beer will contain 20 to 30 IBUs. Currently, much of the domestic hop cultivation occurs in Washington State but there is a nascent Virginia hop industry that will be producing some distinctive brews in the years ahead.

Published in the 2015 Fall edition of inFauquier magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Warrenton Old Jail Museum

Posted on Nov 01 2015 | By

Living large not in the cards for yesteryears bad boys

The year was 1808 and the bandit was being hosted at the new jail in Warrenton. But unlike the town’s previous five jails this structure had four separate cells instead of just one.

What it didn’t have was furniture, heat or a jailer. The sheriff simply the tossed the miscreant into a small dirt floor cell and apparently fed him whenever the opportunity arose.

If crime paid back in those days, it came with a potentially high price in misery.

Warrenton Old JailThen in 1823, a form of local prison reform resulted in a second building being added to the eventual prison complex. Prisoners now had all the comforts of home; wooden floors, a wood burning stove and an attentive jailer who lived in the original jail building and provided home cooked meals. Home cooked. Not gourmet.

The jail went on to enjoy a 143 year run of hosting Fauquier County’s hall of shame members before closing in 1966. The “new” jail, off Lee Street, has been in operation for almost 50 years.

We know all these details and much more because of a long line of paid and volunteer members of the community who have slowly brought the old jail back to life.

The most recent and current “guardian angel” of the hoosegow is Teresa Reynolds, director of the Fauquier History Museum at the Old Jail.

“We came in when the buildings were empty. We reverted the kitchen back to 1823 conditions. When visitors come today, they actually see the original walls, floors, cooking hearth and pots.

“The cells themselves were reverted to the early years to let visitors get a good idea of what the original cells felt like,” Reynolds said.

The restoration started in the early 1970s and has patiently and faithfully brought the entire prison complex back to life.

Exhibits and more
In addition to reliving the life of incarceration in the 1800 and 1900s, the old jail has other fascinating exhibits. Upstairs in what is called the War Room there is a tent exhibit showcasing medical treatment during the Civil War. It contains surgical implements and other items used to treat soldiers.

“We explain how people died during the war; most people died from illness not gunshot wounds. They had septic, bad water and bad food conditions,” Reynolds said.

In the back building there are exhibits on the history of the local wine industry, 19th century hand tools, pre-automobile transportation and African American schools.

There were 37 African American schools in Fauquier in the 1900s. There is also an exhibit on the Underground Railroad that was used to secret runaway slaves to safety in the North.

To further bring history to life historians are periodically invited to give talks at the museum. Such past events covered the War of 1812, World War II and John Mosby.

There is a small admission fee to the Old Jail; $2 for adults and $1 for students, ages 11 to 18. The modest fees help cover the cost of operating the museum. “Less than 25 percent of our operating funds come from the county and town. The rest we have to earn ourselves to keep our doors open,” Reynolds said.

Warrenton Old Jail IIThe Old Jail is located at 10 Ashby Street and is opened six days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Tuesdays. Visit its website at for information on its tours, exhibits, gift shop and more.

                                         Spooky tours

One of the most popular programs the Old Jail hosts sponsors is its annual ghost tour. The tour starts in the museum with period costumed docents sharing stories about suspicious paranormal activity in the jail. It then moves on with a walking tour down Main Street where a variety of spooky stories are brought to life by the knowledgeable guides.

“There have been some bad people and odd things that have happened in town and we share that with the visitors,” Teresa Reynolds said.

The tour ends back at the old jail where everyone enjoys hot cider and tasty treats. The tours will be held this year every half hour from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on October 16-17 and October 23-24.

Reynolds encourages the interested public to sign up early for a tour. “All them are sold out every year,” Reynolds said.


Published in the Fall 2015 edition of inFauquier magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES