Birth of Artemisia Farm and Vineyard

By 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