Archive for August, 2019


Birth of Artemisia Farm and Vineyard

Posted on Aug 16 2019 | By

Delaplane couple blend green passion with expertise

It’s interesting how some careers progress on multiple fronts and in a lightning flash fuse into a single objective. It might be called a “Boom” moment.

Such a scenario is unfolding on a farm in Delaplane that’s managed by two young realists with idealist’s passions. It’s a yin and yang approach that seeks to balance their lives and the land they’re working on.

Meet Kelly Allen, 30, and Andrew Napier, 34, who are personal and business partners that have turned to the land to nurture themselves and a variety of in-demand crops.

It’s a story millions of Americans dream about. Locked in cubicles behind blue-hazed monitors and connected to their hearthside by hours of bumper to bumper traffic legions of worker bees fantasize about casting it all aside and embracing a more nature-like existence.

Allen and Napier took the plunge and made it happen but spent years, perhaps unknowingly, positioning themselves to enter their new world. It might be called serendipitous coalescing.

Education & experience
“I graduated from Goddard College in Vermont with a degree in sustainable agriculture. I worked for (widely known and respected) Doug Fabbioli at his winery in Leesburg. I then spent some time in AmeriCorps teaching sustainable agriculture to tribal students near Santa Fe.

“Today I’m working in wine distribution throughout western Northern Virginia. So, my background is split between production and distribution,” explains Kelly Allen.

Andrew Napier says, “My introduction to wine was working in restaurants. I very quickly became the wine buyer for a couple of restaurants and that got me deeper into the industry.

“I then got a job working for Jim law at Linden Vineyards for two years where I learned a lot about grape growing and winemaking (Law is one of the most respected viticulturists and winemakers on the East Coast).

“From there I worked for The Whole Ox in Marshall and learned about sustainable butchery.”

The young couple was in the process of earning their bona fides. The “Boom” moment came after they had forged a personal relationship with each other as a result of their similar careers.

While working at The Whole Ox Napier developed connections with many people in the local community. One couple, David and Patricia Vos, had recently purchased land contiguous to their horse farm in Delaplane where Miracle Valley Vineyards had been located. The winery closed in May of this year.

Linking up with the Vos’s was fortuitous as evidenced by the established couple’s Facebook Foundation page mission statement: “To ensure the diversity of life on earth, by planting billions of trees to restore environmental balance, support imperiled populations, and advance thoughtful advocacy.”

Hmmm…sounds like a connection to sustainable agriculture.

Enter Allen and Napier.

Farm vision
Team Vos, Allen & Napier was thus created. On June 30 the couple moved to the farm and commenced a rebirth and expansion of agricultural products on the productive land.

The first task at hand is reviving the eight-acre vineyard that had been planted but not fully maintained by the former winery.

The vineyard has eight grape varietals and its restoration is job number one in a long-term farming expansion the couple will engage in over the next several years. Since there is a grape shortage in Virginia contracts will be established to sell a portion of the viable fruit this fall.

Removing and replanting some of the other vines will dictate waiting a few years before subsequent fruit is marketable.

Given their interest in sustainable agriculture, the long-term goal is to reduce the application of chemical sprays as much as possible. Such a goal must be balanced with the reality of growing the Eurasian grape species, known as Vitis vinifera, in Virginia.

The heat, humidity, fungus and insect depredation visited upon these delicate vines is relentless.

“Because the vineyard has seen some neglect it would not be in our best interest to try and grow the grapes without some chemical application. They are not healthy enough to support that kind of biosystem.

“Right now, we are using integrated pest management or IPM,” said Napier. It allows for slowly reducing the level of spraying.

IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests and their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties.

Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made to remove only the target organism.

“We are undertaking a two-step approach. First, we must create a healthy microsystem and then plant grapes that are more appropriate to the area where they’re growing,” said Napier.

Given Virginia’s wine grape shortage, restoration of a healthy vineyard will produce a viable economic return while simultaneously aiding the wine industry by producing more high-quality grapes.

As the vineyard is brought under control additional agriculture products will be grown. “We’ll incorporate other cash crops as we go adding a layer of security to our business in the future.

“Mushrooms, culinary herbs, garlic, lavender and other things that we know will generate security will be planted,” said Allen.

As with all thing’s commercial, investment drives success. Allen & Napier are embracing a funding source called Kickstarter to assist the farm’s goals and help them thrive in the years ahead.

Kickstarter is a funding platform where creators can share and gather interest on a particular creative project they’d like to launch. It’s entirely driven by crowdfunding, meaning that the general public and their financial support helps the projects being promoted.

For those who would like to assist the efforts of these two young and passionate farmers the couple’ Kickstarter page will go live in a few weeks.

You can support them at Or write directly to

In summing up how she and Napier are embracing their new lifestyle, Allen says, “Everything we do, on and off the vineyard, is all about play. Life is short. It’s meant to be enjoyed.”

Published in the August 14, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Magnolia Vineyards opens new tasting room

Posted on Aug 09 2019 | By

Amissville winery takes incremental route to success

Virginia’s torrid winery growth is cooling off. Twenty years ago there were about 60 wineries statewide. Today 312 dot the Old Dominion landscape making Virginia the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the U.S.

But the last few years have seen just a handful of new entrants. Why?

As with all business trends, answers abound but the success of other artisanal libations has taken some of the air out of what was a juggernaut of success.

Craft beer, distilled spirits and now cider and mead are on the ascendency stalling the industry’s growth. Added to the increased competition from other social lubricants are a grape shortage and the dramatic increase in the cost of entry into the business.

There are now fewer couples or families bootstrapping their way to success. Often it takes an investment of two million dollars or more to secure a pastoral setting, plant a vineyard, procure the needed equipment and build an attractive winery and tasting room.

And don’t forget the passion and almost nonstop work required to make it all happen.
In short, “smarter and harder” is the new mantra for success. Magnolia Vineyards embodies both strategies.

Italy First
Owners Glenn and Tina Marchione are both of Italian descent. In 2006, they journeyed to Italy and visited Glenn’s relatives, toured a winery and became smitten with the idea of opening one of their own.

Fortunately, they are both fiscally conservative and in the ensuing years created a blueprint on how to pursue such a dream on a modest budget. Being employed full-time in Northern Virginia as IT professionals helped bankroll their vision.

“We did everything in stages. We spent one and a half years looking for the property. If the winery didn’t work out, it would be our retirement property,” said Glenn Marchione. The step-by-step planning process is still the hallmark of their growth strategy.

In 2008, they purchased 25 acres on Viewtown Road followed by an additional contiguous 25-acre acquisition. The setting met the requirements of a winery while fulfilling their desires for the home they had built.

Tina & Glenn Marchione

The couple planted the first vineyard block themselves with help from volunteers. Then an eight-foot-high deer fence encompassing 20 acres, including the seven-acre vineyard, was installed.

The basement of their home doubled as a tasting room until recently when they opened a new tasting room within view of their home.

“Everything we’ve done has been incremental, said Glenn Marchione. “In the beginning, we made wine for two years at Fabbioli Cellars in Leesburg before we released it in 2013. Then we opened the tasting room in our home the following year. We wanted to see if the public liked our wine.”

Positive social media and on-site customer compliments reinforced their decision to proceed. “At that point, we could have shut the doors and it wouldn’t have financially destroyed us.

“But securing a mortgage and breaking ground on the new tasting room was the point of no return. It now had to be a viable business. We waited five years to establish a record of producing wine that would sell,” said Marchione.

Today, Tina Marchione still works full time in Northern Virginia. Glenn balances his workload between the winery and IT consulting. The couple works seven days a week logging 10 to 12 hours a day.
This year Magnolia Vineyards will produce 1,000 cases of wine annually.

Their goal is 2,500 cases which they envision as sustainable to permit shifting to full-time retirement.

“Retirement”, of course, meaning working full time at the winery. The goal is five years out.

Vineyard & Wines
Currently, there are seven acres of grapes under vine on the property. An additional two acres are cultivated at a nearby winery. Plans are to establish an additional five acres of vines on site that will enable them to reach their ultimate production goals.

Increasing success has also permitted the wine couple to hire a staff of three who help pour at the tasting bar during their operating hours of 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

“It allows us to greet and welcome our customers. “We’ve found guests like to talk with the owners and are often surprised we are also the winemakers. Otherwise, we’d be stuck behind the bar,” said Tina Marchione.
The winery produces eight selections including their popular Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Like many wineries, Magnolia Vineyards has a quarterly wine club of two bottles each. Due to production constraints, they’ve had to cap club membership until more wine is available to new members.

This might be deemed a “good problem” but the owners are eager to expand membership once availability can meet demand. There is a waiting list that interested wine lovers can be placed on.

Club members quickly become family and known by their first names. Dropping by the winery might be viewed as a visit to a country club where management knows your name, the members of your family and wine tastes.

In reflecting on the investment in time and money, Glenn Marchione says laughing, “On occasion after a rough week I tell Tina, ‘We could have had a heck of a wine cellar and vacations for all the time and money we’ve invested.’”

Tina Marchione echoes the sentiments but quickly adds, “We really love what we’re doing. We’re happy to be doing it.”

For oenophiles who have not had a chance to check out the new digs at Magnolia Vineyards swing by and feel the love in both the tasting room and the bottle.

For the full success story drop by the digital winery at

Published in the August 7,2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

What are your most enduring memories? Graduation? Marriage? Children? Grandchildren? Oh, or county fairs?

No event better symbolizes summer than a fair. It’s a reflection of everything that can bring joy to people’s lives.

Who hasn’t caught a glimpse of a young lass tending her dairy cow while waiting for the judges to render (hopefully) a blue-ribbon decision? Then there’s the thrill rides, games of skill, demolition derbies, monster truck competitions, live musical entertainment, and food galore, including cotton candy.

Seemingly every attendee is either smiling, laughing, or possessing a satisfied expression. Fairgrounds are joy-filled grounds.

One the largest and best-organized fairs in the Old Dominion, the Prince William County Fair will raise its curtain for the 70th year on August 9 at 10624 Dumfries Road in Manassas.

Everything a fair can offer 17,000 fun seekers will be in play until the gates close on August 17.

So how does an extravaganza like the Prince William County Fair come about?

The volunteer-driven performance is passion in action and owned by the Prince William Veterans Farm Club. One of the few paid positions is its director of business operations, Diane Burke. The “Queen of the Fair” earned her bona fides through years of active participation.

“I started attending the fair from the time I was a baby,” says Diane, adding that the fair was their family vacation spot. “I was involved in it with my brothers and sisters and showed cows and pigs.

“My father worked for Northern Virginia Electric. He’d bring his crew out, and they would hang the lights for the fair and take them down when it was over.”

As the years rolled by, Diane’s participation and responsibilities grew. As the mother of a son and daughter, it continued to be a family affair with her own family participating. One of the volunteer highlights of her work today is managing the baby contest.

Over 100 babies are entered annually in two age groups: 9–18 months and 18–36 months.

The tikes parade down the “runway,” smiling and flashing their best personalities at the judges. The winners are crowned the Prince and Princess of the fair. “Among the prizes is a loving cup,” Diane says with a laugh. “But for the winning parents, it’s mostly about bragging rights.”

With the passage of time, the emphasis on livestock exhibition has faded as the county has become more suburban than rural. As a result, many of the youth activities today are centered on arts, crafts, and photography. Diane points out that many children participate in the home arts portion of the fair, which is important because it reflects everything the kids have done over the last year.

Regretfully, all good things must come to an end, including this beloved annual tradition. Increasing insurance liabilities resulted in the decision to sell the 86-acre fairground, so 2019 marks the fair’s final showing, making it a historical event for everyone who attends.

“It’s going to be sad and nostalgic for me,” says Diane, who notes that she will certainly shed a few tears when the fair closes. If that’s the case, it will be the rare occurrence of a tear falling on the fairgrounds.

But for the legion of joyful attendees, it will be an opportunity to book some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. For a full description of the hours, numerous events, and more, walk through the fair’s virtual gates at >

Published in the August 2019 edition of Discover Prince William.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

The mountains are calling

Posted on Aug 02 2019 | By

Staying young and connected in the high country

The fountain of youth is movement. Science has proven this so many times most of us glaze over when we are urged to get out and about. Neighborhood walks often fill the prescription for staying healthy but they can get boring.

Often done individually and on the same route month after month the natural joy of walking can begin to fade. And come winter many prefer to gaze out the window rather than don the fleece jacket and hit the pavement.

What might be a cure for the exercise blues? Hiking clubs.

Hiking organizations embodied the two most important keys to longevity and mental well-being: exercise and social connection.

The lack of social relationships is as much a risk factor for death as smoking or obesity. People with limited social involvement or feel lonely have a 29 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 32 percent higher risk of stroke.

An obvious but underutilized path to wellness is to stay active within a community of like-minded folks.

A stellar example of this powerful connection of body and mind are thru-hikers who each year embrace the challenge of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.

The AT is the most iconic of long-distance mountain footpaths. Stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine it rises and falls along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains for 2,192 miles.

Three million hikers annually spend some time on sections of the trail. Some 4,000 committed outdoor enthusiasts attempt to complete the entire hike in one season. It typically takes five to six months.

Only one in four succeed.

But anyone who attempts the journey will become part of a “tramily”; a group of hikers who start their journey about the same time and bond as they seek to complete the entire trail.

The AT speed record stands at 41 days. Karel Sabbe reached the trail’s end at Mt. Katahdin last August completing the AT faster than anyone before him.

Forget reaching for the calculator. That’s an average of 53 miles a day.

Another AT giant is Warren Doyle who completed the entire AT hike 18 times. That’s 39,000 miles. After graduating from college and earning his master’s degree he realized, “I had to do something no one was telling me to do—no rewards, no cheerleaders, no scholarships, something I was not going to get paid for,” Doyle said.

Recently a young thru-hiker stayed overnight at the Gravel Spring shelter in the Shenandoah National Park and left these comments in the shelter’s log book:

“The inexorable march of time drags us along in its wake. We are allotted a small measurable span in which to leave our own stamp upon this sphere. Humans, in general, are pressed to rush and strive; a race to see who has the most when they die. But in taking the trek on the Appalachian Trail one can meander, smell the roses, and find oneself. What you walk away with from your quest depends upon your daily decisions and timeline. Make the most of every day and avoid mindless marching. Immerse yourself in the experience doing all possible – practically. One wouldn’t want to gaze back through the years wishing one could have seen and done more. So, eat drink and be merry with your extended “tramily” making memories to span a lifetime! Square Peg (trail name). June 25, 2019.

Sensitive and heartfelt words by an individual who likely will spend a life involved in hiking with friends.

But the vast majority of today’s active seniors are not seeking to conqueror the Appalachian Trail. They may simply be looking for a group of like-minded hikers for exercise and camaraderie.

Blue Mountain Hiking Club
There are numerous hiking clubs in the DC Metro area with the premier organization being the Potomac Appalachian Train Club. The club maintains over 1,000 miles of trails in Va., W.Va., Md. and Pa.

Our tri-county area is fortunate to have a local organization that is popular with a group of some 270 hikers; many of them seniors. It’s called Blue Mountain Hiking Club and it sponsors numerous monthly hikes in addition to backpacking, skiing, and cycling excursions as the seasons dictate.

Typically, each hike has about ten attendees offering the opportunity to get to know your fellow hikers and establish enduring friendships. The distance averages 5-8 miles; no marathons for these folks.

Each hike is led by an experienced trail maven so attendees do not have to plan routes, carry maps or even be concerned about transportation. A small day pack with a snack and a couple bottles of water is the only investment necessary to become linked with this convivial group of “mountaineers”.

At the end of each outing, the hearty band gathers at a local tavern or restaurant to “rehydrate” and break bread. The organization embodies the spirit of a shared, health-centered experience.

The founder of the club is Andreas Keller, a retired international banker and native of Switzerland. Keller’s enthusiastic personality defines the spirit of the club. He is eager to introduce trail newbies to the joys of hiking and is affectionately known as “Special K” to his friends.

At the completion of one of his backpacks trips, he reflected on the interesting group of people he met on the trail.

“It was a highly inspiring night and as I reflected on this by the campfire, I felt bonded to all there and I realized our commonality was a deep love for nature and for spending time to explore it.”

Most Blue Mountain hikes depart from Clevenger’s Corner on Rt 211, eight miles west of Warrenton or from the Marshal Food Lion.
As the famed naturalist and environmental philosopher John Muir once said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

To become a member and learn about upcoming hikes visit

Published in the July 31,2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES