Archive for July, 2016


Go take a hike!

Posted on Jul 18 2016 | By

National Park Service celebrates 100 years of adventure

On August 25, the National Park Service celebrates its diamond anniversary. President Woodrow Wilson established the NPS in 1916 and charged it with responsibility for protecting 35 national parks and monuments.

Today, the agency oversees more than 400 areas nationwide encompassing some 84 million acres. Nearby Shenandoah National Park is one of the crown jewels of the system.

Fauquier County residents are fortunate to have the federally run park within 40 minutes of their front door. The park has over 200,000 acres of forest, 500 miles of maintained trails, dozens of cascading waterfalls, peaceful backcountry camping and endless valley views.

landscapeThe center piece of the park is Skyline Drive that meanders the ridge line for 105 miles, from Front Royal to Waynesboro. The iconic Appalachian Trail parallels the Drive offering both vehicular or boot traffic the opportunity to step back in time and experience the mountains as the early pioneers did.

While hikes such as Old Rag Mountain and White Oak Canyon are still on the experienced hiker’s favorite list, dozens of other trails are pathways to a peaceful walk in the woods.

When you arrive in the high country, finding your way around SNP is simple.  Its trail obelisks and blazed trees easily guide a hiker from trailhead to trail’s end.

There are three color-coded trail blazes: white identifies the historic Appalachian Trail which runs 101 miles through the park; blue pinpoints side trails for hikers only; and yellow welcomes both hikers and horses. The park boundary is identified by red markers.

Fauquier County has its own organized hiking club called Boots ’n Beer. The seven-year-old club was originally founded as a men’s only organization but has expanded to include everyone, with one caveat.

Pilsner hikes are moderate ventures of about five miles and are open to family and friends. Stout hikes offer greater a challenge of eight to 12 miles and are reserved for men only.

Club founder, Jim Carson, believes working men need to take a regular break from office or field and seek stress relief through camaraderie and exercise.

“A few hours of walking in the woods are the greatest stress relief I know of,” Carson said. “It’s therapeutic and the quickest way to get out of your own head and relax.”

The club’s motto embodies its fun loving approach to the great outdoors: “A drinking club with a hiking problem”. Its whimsical logo depicts a pair of hiking boots, one with a mug handle and foaming beer head and the other lying on its side in a dreamy beer-induced repose.

Nothing is taken seriously here except physical and mental well-being. To join Boots ’n Beer visit

Oh, by the way, all hikes terminate with a hydration stop at a local pub or brewery for a cold draft and a bite to eat. Need we say more?


                                                  Hit parade of hikes

While there are hundreds of hiking options in the Shenandoah National Park, several are perennial keepers. Here are five proven favorites to place on your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed making tracks on these well-travelled trails. So lace’em up!

Old Rag Mountain: One of the most popular hikes in the mid-Atlantic region. The nine mile loop has spectacular panoramic views and offers one of the most challenging rock scrambles in the park.

White Oak Canyon: Some of the best scenic waterfalls in Virginia are on display on this eight mile loop. Be prepared for some serious elevation gain but it’s well worth the perspiration produced.

Dark Hollow Falls: Pressed for time? This stroll of less than two miles will reward with four waterfalls and an easy walk. It’s popular so mid-week hiking is suggested to avoid the crowds.

Stony Man: One of the more secluded loops in the SNP. The ten mile hike provides picturesque views of both the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains. There is a nice swimming hole on the Rose River to cool the motor down on this workout.

Mary’s Rock: This favorite can be approached as either a four mile or nine mile hike. The shorter version starts at the Panorama parking lot and ascends to stunning views in less two miles. The more adventurous can begin in the valley and ascend the Buck Hollow Trail to reach the top.

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is a rich resource on what to do and where to go in the park. Visit PATC at to purchase maps and guidebooks that will get you safely in and out of the mountains.

For numerous specific hike recommendations, visit Hiking Upward at


Published in the Summer 2016 edition of inFauquier magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Summer Gold

Posted on Jul 18 2016 | By

Governor’s Cup wine competition recognizes Fauquier’s best

Forget about traveling to Rio in August to see American athletes score some heavy medal. Gold medals are being poured out of Fauquier County wine bottles daily.

The Governor can attest to it.

IMG_5664A panel of world-class judges pushed away from their tasting tables in late February and announced the winners of the 2016 Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition. It comes as no surprise to county wine lovers that five Fauquier wineries strutted off with eight gold medals.

While the competition has been held for 34 years, in 2012 it was restructured to represent the highest standards of professional wine evaluation in the Nation. To be awarded a gold medal 432 wines were evaluated in preliminary rounds with 130 finalists scrutinized by 15 professional sommeliers, chefs, writers and retailers. Only 38 wines were awarded a coveted gold.

The overall winner of the Governor’s Cup was Keswick Vineyards in Charlottesville for its 2014 Cabernet Franc Reserve.

But if it’s a tasty bottle of Fauquier County white or red you are looking to score for a weekend barbecue or guest dinner, look no further than these winners:

Delaplane Cellars:          2013 Williams Gap—Bordeaux-styled red blend

Granite Heights Winery: 2010 Evening Serenade—red blend

2010 Lomax Reserve—red blend

2012 humility—red blend

Naked Mountain Winery: 2012 Petit Verdot–red

Pearmund Cellars:          2013 Chardonnay

2013 Petit Verdot–red

Vint Hill Craft Winery:     2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Fauquier’s strong showing reinforces the caliber of wine being produced by our winery proprietors. Congratulations to the winners, and all 26 county wineries, for their dedication to the vintner’s art.

But wait, there’s more!
Limiting yourself to just a handful of Governor Cup winners employs the “Let the experts decide” search strategy. But it deprives a wine lover of many other in-county jewels just waiting to the picked from the tasting room vine.

The best approach is to start visiting county vineyards and evaluating the wines yourself. It’s fun and nothing beats the “Oh, I like this one” smile that comes across the face of an oenophile when they discover a winner on their own.Vineyard

But when the schedule is tight and you want to target some respected wineries, here are a few additional wines that will take you to that summertime happy place.

Arterra Wines:       2014 Malbec

Barrel Oak:           2012 Petit Verdot

Blue Valley:          2013 Viognier

Chateaux O’Brien: 2011 Petit Manseng—full-bodied white

Desert Rose:         2014 Covert Cab

Fox Meadow:         2015 Barrel fermented Chardonnay

Linden:                 2014 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc

Philip Carter:         2014 Sabine Hall Viognier

So seek, taste and evaluate on your own. The thrill of the hunt is often more fun than bagging the perfect bottle. Achieving both is wine nirvana.



Published in the 2016 Summer edition of inFauquier magazine.



Categories : WINE ARTICLES