New year-round farmer’s market steeped in history

Chris Pearmund is known for his stable of wineries and vineyards, but at heart, he’s a farmer. He doesn’t wield a pitchfork or sling bales of hay, his domain springs from the earth by converting vines into wine.

If that doesn’t sound like a conventional farmer, ask him about the weather and growing grapes. That is if you have time to listen to his response. Read: It’s not easy.

Thanks to his active imagination, he now has a store that further reflects his farming bona fides and those of more than a score of other local tillers of the land and artisans. The establishment embodies “down-home”.

On November 8, the Pearmund Farm Store unwrapped its horn of plenty. It began selling various goods such as hams, beef jerky, eggs, peanut butter, honey, jellies, jams, pecans, coffee, candles, soap, cider, kombucha, hot sauces, local art, and more. Twenty-five vendors (and growing) keep the store stocked. Wine from the three Pearmund wineries is also for sale.

Many of the products spring from Fauquier County’s artesian cornucopia, but they might hail from anywhere in the Old Dominion if it’s a quality product.

“We are trying to feature as many local products as possible,” said Megan Hayes, store manager. “There’s a lot of items we carry from Fauquier but also the surrounding counties.”

Indoor and outdoor seating is provided, including a patio and front porch. Since the winery is a grape toss away, conventional wine tastings are not offered. However, guests can order wine by the bottle for enjoyment on-site or off.

During the summer and fall months, fresh fruits and vegetables will be available, adding to what is already a market with depth. “We’ve reached out to local farmers so the store can become a market for their products,” said Pearmund. “During the winter, it will provide a venue for them to sell non-perishable items.”

The five-bedroom, 4,000 square foot farmhouse sits on a low rise just before turning right into Pearmund Cellars winery. In keeping with Virginia’s legendary past, it comes with its own historic story.

The home sits on property that was birthed as a land grant in 1743 to a Colonel Harrison, who served in the Revolutionary War. He built a cabin on the site, and today the 277-year-old dwelling is the base of the farmhouse.

The home had been leased for years, but recently the tenant moved on, offering an opportunity for Pearmund further to accessorize his 30-acre estate with another guest attraction. Fifteen acres of Chardonnay grapevines grow nearby.

Upstairs five rooms can be rented for private parties, ranging in size from two to 12 people. The fee is a $100 gift card that can be used in the store or at the winery, essentially making the rooms rental free.

“A couple can reserve a room shared with others. Or, it can be reserved exclusively for a small private party. We can provide food, and for three hours, you would have a parlor-like setting for family and friends.”

With Covid-19 constricting the urge for public gatherings, reserving a room for a small private event allows folks to entertain in a public setting while feeling safe.

“It’s like going to visit grandma’s house in the country. You can bring your food or we can provide it,” said Pearmund.

Another innovative offering is carry out gourmet meals prepared by Warrenton’s Café Torino. Dinners from two to eight can be purchased at the store Thursday through Sunday, starting at $35. It includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert.

The dinners are fully prepared and need only be oven bound to create a dining out event at home. Buy a bottle of wine, and an in-home repast is yours. Working folks take note.

With a fireplace outside and in a country setting, the farm store is a safe, COVID-19 respectful indoor and outdoor getaway that is family-friendly. Parking is available just outside.

“When Covid-19 hit, and everybody was retracting, I went out and planted a 112 Crepe Myrtles on my property because I remembered Audrey Hepburn once saying, ‘To plant a garden is to believe in the future’.

“The farm store is a seed for the future success of agriculture in the Piedmont. It’s our way of saying, ‘Come out and support our local farmers and vendors,’” said Pearmund.

The store is located at 6188 Georgetown Run Road, Broad Run, and is opened seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information on the Pearmund Farm Store, drop by  


Published in a November 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Cider Lab gains strong following

Posted on Aug 03 2020 | By

Summerduck father and son team generating fans with tasty craft cider

The plan was to open the Cider Lab and sell 200 gallons in the first ten weeks of launch. But a friendly visit from the owner of nearby Rogers Ford Farm Winery changed the plans just a tad.

“Johnny Puckett stopped by and tasted the ciders. He asked how much we were going produce, and we told him. He said, ‘No way. You’ll need a lot more than that.’” said A.J. Rasure, co-owner, along with his father James Rasure of the Cider Lab.

With a bit of scrambling, the nascent cider factory boosted its production from 200 to 500 gallons and unlocked its doors on July 11. The first day’s sales were 110 gallons. Good advice from the wine guy.

Since its opening, it has sold 400 gallons of cider in 15 days of operation. And consider they’re open on just Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Word gets around fast.

The two “cider scientists” behind the success story are a father-son team having a lot of fun. Both are employed full-time in worlds far removed cider.

James Rasure, 55, is a retired naval officer with five years’ experience in submarine nuclear engineering and 15 years in meteorology and oceanography. Today, he works as a satellite scientist at the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly.

A.J. Rasure, 32, was in the Marine Corps band for 12 years retiring to start a photography business focused on weddings and commercial real estate. He returned to college and degreed in physics and mathematics.

Currently, he is a physicist at the Dahlgren Naval Base. He is also assistant band director at Chancellor High School.

So, the question arises, when do these guys find the time to make cider?

“Between the hours of 5:30 and 11 every night,” said James Rasure. It would likely be seven days a week, but they take a break to sell their libations the rest of the time.

In the beginning
Enthusiasm and passion are hallmarks of these two energized cider guys. The sharp turn into cider started with an overproductive tomato garden. Years ago, James Rasure’s father told him you could make anything into wine.

“So, I made a tomato wine. It wasn’t very good. My wife thought we needed some help and brought a winemaking class for A.J. and me,” said the elder Rasure. The course, held at the Bacchus Winery in Fredericksburg, was seven weeks long, one day each week.

“We enjoyed making wine together so much we continued to go in every week after the course was over to make different kinds of wine,” said James Rasure. As can often happen in the world of fermentation, they were hooked.

Their inquisitiveness led to making apple cider for a friend. The guy decided he didn’t want to buy six gallons of the beverage. Since cider wasn’t the Rasure’s thing at the time, they decided to spice it up with Habanero.

It made the cider too hot, so some mango syrup was blended in. “It turned out so good we took our third batch to Red, White and Bleu Brew in Locust Grove to taste. They ended up purchasing five gallons a week for sale at the brewery,” said James Rasure.

The offering has been further refined since its inception and is today one of Cider Lab’s customer favorites.

Word of the unique flavors available at its laid back cidery dictated a soon-to-be production increase to 1,100 gallons, featuring six ciders in their tasting room.

“With the equipment we now have, we can push production to 2,200 gallons at some point,” explains A. J. Rasure. “But we like cider to age because it creates better flavors, especially with darker fruits like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. We don’t want to push production too fast.”

Given the number of customers coming through the front door, the pressure will build to balance quantity with quality, with the latter taking the lead.

Because of the newness of the cidery, there is a synergy developing between Rogers Ford Farm Winery and the Cider Lab. “They send people our way, and we send people to the winery. Together we’re trying to make the linkage between the two consumer groups,” said A.J. Rasure.

The lineup
When you enter the comfy Cider Lab directly ahead, behind a glass wall, is a view of its production facility. To the right is the tasting bar. They sell six selections ranging in sweetness from dry to five percent residual sugar. Alcohol hovers around five percent.

The offerings are:
Mango Habanero
Raspberry Cider
Pineapple Perry
Blackberry Jerk’m
Summerduck Cider

The tastings are $3 each or $15 for the six. Currently, they are not bottling any of the ciders. Purchases can be made by the glass or in two sizes of growlers. Picnic tables under tents offer a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the beverages.

James Rasure sums up the new enterprise by saying, “I am having so much fun reconnecting with my son and making cider. It’s just great seeing the community coming out here and having a picnic in our yard and drinking our cider. I could do this for the rest of my life.”

The Cider Lab, located at 5344 Summerduck Road, is opened Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Check out its website at


Published in an August 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

BOOK REVIEW: Beyond Jefferson’s Vines

Posted on Jun 17 2020 | By

The Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia
Third edition
By Richard G. Leahy

(300 pages, $19.99)

Just as the COVID-19 lockdown eases up, along comes an updated book guiding wine lovers to the best wineries in Virginia. Timing is, indeed, everything.

The Old Dominion’s vinous industry has been in economic freefall for the last two months. Tasting rooms have been shuttered across the state in the interest of public health. It’s unclear how many of the over 300 wineries will ultimately survive, but don’t bet against vintners whose passion for their art is renowned.

Richard Leahy is a knowledgeable wine maven who brings three decades of experience in observing the state’s wine scene. Whether a reader enjoys his treatise hearthside or on the road, it’s an informative and enjoyable book.

Wines and wine personalities come alive under Leahy’s keen eye for detail.

The book is divided mainly into three parts: The historical roots of the fermented grape in the Commonwealth, tours of numerous wineries, and a view of the industry’s expansion and future.

While Virginia lays claim to a 400-year history of winemaking, the reality is that much of that storied past was not very storied. Even Thomas Jefferson, the Nation’s first wine connoisseur, failed to grow and make palatable wine at Monticello.

Not until the 1970s did science and viniculture join forces to create what is today the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the country. Writing a book devoted mostly to the state’s modern era was a task of considerable effort.

“I’ve worked harder on this third edition than I did on the first one,” said Leahy. “It’s been five years since the last book. One hundred new wineries have appeared on the scene since 2015.”

To be sure he showcased the best performers, Leahy used the metric of wineries scoring only silver or gold medals in the Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition. The competition is the premier annual wine judging event in the state. Silver medals must have been earned in the last three years and golds the previous four.

Readers will learn about 11 new artisanal wineries who have garnered solid reputations in the recent past, along with advice on how to tour our wine country. Any publication luring residents out of their living rooms and backyards is most welcome.

As they reopen, the wineries are working hard to provide safe venues with ample social distancing. A glass of quality wine enjoyed in either a limited seating tasting room or outside with expansive views of fields, lakes, and mountains is a proven vaccine against boredom.

Fauquier County
When Leahy discusses Fauquier County, he focuses on several well-known wineries, including Pearmund Cellars, Granite Heights, Delaplane Cellars, Boxwood Estate Winery, Linden Vineyards, and RdV Vineyards.

The county can make a legitimate claim as being the birthplace of the modern era of the state’s wine culture. The first commercial winery was Farfelu (now closed), whose vineyard was planted in 1967. It opened as a winery in 1975.

The former Piedmont Vineyards in northern Fauquier was the third winery established and is remembered as the first to plant the Chardonnay grape in Virginia. Until the early 1970s, only native and hybrid grapes were grown here.

The ability to successfully grow the beloved but temperamental Vitis vinifera species launched the state’s success. The species makes 99 percent of the world’s best wines; think Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and many more.

“Fauquier County was clearly at the center of the resurgence of Virginia wine in the modern era,” said Leahy.

The author notes with pride the forward of his third edition is written by the legendary Steven Spurrier, the British wine merchant who organized the Judgement of Paris, a blind wine tasting competition held in 1976.

The tasting pitted the United States against the best the French had to offer. Both a California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon won first place, catapulting American wine onto the international stage. The movie Bottle Shock was based on the pivotal event.

Spurrier has stated that “My favorite North American wine region today is Virginia.” High praise from a worldwide expert.

The book also discusses the impact of climate change on the state’s industry. Bringing the point home was our recent spring freezes. Because of a warmer than normal winter, the vines experienced early bud break.

That scenario set the stage for cold snaps that can decimate vineyards in one chilling night. And that’s exactly what happened on two occasions to several unfortunate state wineries. If the trend continues, vineyard site selection and evaluating growing different types of grape varieties will assume greater importance.

Leahy notes that during the pandemic online sales of Virginia wine have increased. This trend is expected to continue even with the reopening of tasting rooms. Such sales often include discounts and free shipping.

But there’s no substitute for visiting small enterprises selling one of the most popular of social lubricants. Beyond Jefferson’s Vines will be a faithful companion for oenophiles as they return to both their favorite and soon-to-be-discovered new wineries.

Available at

Published June 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Hundreds of golfers flock to safe venue

Jimmy Mauro, the general manager of the South Wales Golf Course in Jeffersonton, has no experience as a hospital administrator. But after the rigors of trying to maintain a safe and “squeaky-clean” clubhouse and golf course during the COVID-19 crisis, he might have some relevant qualifications.

From early morning until the gates close at sunset, Mauro and his staff are cleaning, disinfecting, and making sure his customers practice social distancing.

Mauro is doing repeat duty at South Wales. He was the head pro back in the 1990s and a former member of the PGA. He is also a retired federal police officer.

“We are seeing a lot of players from around the region playing here since many courses are closed. I’m getting players from Northern Virginia, Maryland, and, of course, our loyal tri-county golfers,” said Mauro. “It’s gratifying.”

The governor has allowed Virginia golf courses to remain open. A typical course is up to 200 acres in size and groups of four or fewer are generally 150 yards or more away from each other.

Tommy Thompson owns the golf course. A third-generation home builder, his grandfather was a carpenter, and his father Ken was a professional builder as well.

Upon graduating high school, Thompson picked up a hammer and never looked back. Today, he owns Benchmark Homes, headquartered in Richmond. When asked how he is keeping the course operating, he said, “If it wasn’t for my staff, we wouldn’t be there. They are a very dedicated crew committed to serving the public.

“I do everything from afar since I live in Richmond. I talk to Jimmy two and three times a day to assess the situation. It’s not only Jimmy and the clubhouse employees, but our course superintendent, Johnny Smith, and his guys who are keeping the course looking great. It’s a total team effort,” Thompson said.

What’s different today from six weeks ago? Almost everything except the players’ handicaps. The changes start as you walk up the steps to the clubhouse.
A table outside the clubhouse displays the COVID-19-inspired course rules.

“We permit only one golfer at a time inside the clubhouse and in the restrooms. But that’s only the beginning of our COVID protocols. We sanitize each credit card and pen every time they are touched,” said Mauro.

The club serves no hot food. Only packaged candy, crackers, chips, soft drinks, and beer are available.

“All range balls are disinfected with Clorox and Dawn detergent after use,” Mauro said. “There are no water coolers on the course because we do not want players touching them. Ball washers have also been removed. I even sanitize the handrails as you walk up the steps to the pro shop,” he added.

One change most players readily embrace is six-inch sections of swimmer’s noodles that are placed in every hole on the greens. The blue foam inserts block putts from dropping into the hole, so if the ball just grazes the foam, it’s in. The flag pin is never touched.

When carts are returned after a round, everything a player touches is sanitized, including the floorboards.

Mauro said, “We intend to do everything we need to do to stay open. We are adhering to all state and federal guidelines for golf courses. All of these actions are for the health and safety of our guests. I also need to protect my employees too.”

When carts are available, it’s one player per cart. But due to the high volume of players, all the carts may be in play by mid-day, especially on weekends. In those situations, a player can walk or elect to ride with another player.

“I had 118 players last Sunday and only 34 carts, so it’s obvious, on occasion, we can’t always assign a cart to a single player,” Mauro said.

“The public is suffering from cabin fever. Almost everyone coming here thanks us for keeping the course open. Over 300 players a week are enjoying golfing in some of the nicest spring weather in years.”

Mauro said his rates are as competitive as most courses in the region. Weekday rates with a cart are $39; $44 on weekends. Seniors, law enforcement personal, veterans, first responders, women, and juniors pay $35 and $40 respectively.

The players
Mauro said that compliments on the course conditions have been numerous. “It’s the best shape it’s been in in years,” he said.
Indeed, it’s not hard to find players eager to share their take on the course and its conditions.

Ron Philips, a retired U.S. Army command sergeant major, lives in Haymarket. “I golfed the last three weeks here and have found everyone well-trained in the disinfection process. Jimmy is down-to-earth and takes care of your needs. The course is in good shape. It’s the only one I’m going to play until this thing clears up,” he said.

Ron Rosson, lives in Richardsville, Virginia and is an off-from-work machinist. He said, “The course has come back from a few years ago. It’s very playable today. The more you play it, the easier it becomes. The course staff is doing an excellent job.”

Jason Kidwell is the owner of Explore Kitchens and lives in Mclean. “My good friend went to Langley High School with me and now lives in Sperryville, so this is his home course. I’m out here because they have closed most of the Fairfax County park golf courses.

Once a week, I come out here to play with my buddy. South Wales is absolutely fantastic and has fast greens. It has one of the nicest staff I’ve encountered at any of the courses I’ve played,” he said.

South Wales’ general manager sums up his goal of staying open, “We want golfers to come out and get away from this terrible virus. We want them to relax for four or five hours and have a good time.”

Published April 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Planning for the new normal

Posted on May 19 2020 | By

Business owners envision a different tomorrow

The Nation is in suspended animation due to COVID-19, but the American can-do spirit will prevail. The winds of positive change will ultimately billow the sails of the economic ship of state and move the country forward. But it will take time.

Here’s how four county businesses view the lockdown and recovery.

Claire’s at the Depot
Claire Lamborne owns her restaurant like Tiger Woods owns his swing. The eatery is part of her very core, and she will fight to make certain it endures. To that end, she will again reopen for curbside service.

Her curbside service was offered for a short time when the economy was first placed in lockdown. But managing a crowded staff in a tight kitchen led to her suspending it, to the disappointment of her loyal customers. Now she’s back.

While answers to many questions about the recovery process are yet to be answered, she will not wait until they are to revive an income stream. “My accountant doesn’t have answers to my questions, and I need to find a tax attorney,” said Lamborne.

“In the interim, I think we solved some issues with the carryout and will soon offer it again.”

Lamborne thinks she can work around the tight kitchen issues while keeping her staff safe. While she has 36 employees, only mostly kitchen staff will be brought back at first. She believes curbside service will last longer than some people think.

Lamborne said, “Before we were trying to do food hot and that became very difficult. This time we’ll be doing curbside meals that are cooked and ready for reheating at home with instructions on how to reheat.”

The new approach allows for preplanning menu selections and calming the previously busy kitchen scene.

Will Lamborne’s new world mean a delay in her retirement plans? “Oh, my gosh, yes! The value of my business has dropped, so now I plan to work till I’m 80-years-old. I’m healthy, so hopefully, I’ll be able to that.”

Her closing thought on when she does reopen is she won’t be able to accommodate as many diners as before. “I think there will still be social distancing. We’ll need to get those patio chairs and tables painted,” she said, laughing.

Great Meadow Foundation
John Hochheimer is chairman of the board of the Great Meadow Foundation. He said they have had to cancel or postpone several of their planned events. The largest one to date is Gold Cup. It has been rescheduled for June 20, assuming conditions permit.

Twilight Polo was supposed to start May 23, but the potential new start date is now June 13. “Honestly, all of our plans depend on what the Governor recommends and what the requirements will be once the stay-at-home policy is lifted,” said Hochheimer.

“Our revenue is down some 20 to 25 percent.” He underscores the foundation is hurting because the delayed events are the core of their revenue. Nonetheless, the staff of seven is still working, and the gates are open.

“People are welcome to come out to Great Meadow and walk the grounds and exercise their dogs individually and in small groups. It’s largely a wait and see situation.” Fortunately, much of what was unfolding at the spacious outdoor venue was just ramping up.

Rescheduling the more significant events later in the year will save many of the season’s activities.

Several smaller events, like the National Rocket Contest, will be rolled over to next year’s schedule. Most of the cancelations are based simply on the unknown. Groups need to plan weeks or months in advance. Not knowing how the future will unfold leads to cancellations.

“We’ll continue to update our website when things are rescheduled. And we do welcome visitors to come out and enjoy the grounds. But I ask that people clean up after themselves and their pets,” said Hochheimer.

Fauquier Springs Country Club
Shawn Rogers is the general manager of the venerable club that was established in 1957. It has about 325 members. The facility has a restaurant, pool, tennis courts, and a golf course. While the restaurant is closed it is offering carryout service.

“One of the major complications we have seen throughout this situation are the protocols we’ve had to put into place to keep our club going. The Virginia Department of Health has been fantastic as to what we needed to implement.

“The Governor has allowed us to keep the golf course open, and our number of rounds are up. Every cart is sterilized before it goes out, and only one golfer per cart is allowed. We’ve removed the sand-divot containers from the carts and anything else a player might touch.

Players are not allowed to touch or remove the flag pin during play.” Rogers said.

The club’s most substantial revenue producers are its banquet and event operations. “We have been severely hurt in those areas. A lot of weddings and special events have been rescheduled. In March and April, we lost $150,000 in revenue. Every day this goes on, we are at risk of losing even more.”

Rogers thinks the country club will survive without difficulty for two to three months. After that, it will become more problematic. “Right now, we’re OK. But not as OK as we should be.”

Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce
Joe Martin has no medical degree, nor does he carry a black medical bag and a stethoscope. Still, he knows the pulse and temperature of the Fauquier County business community.

For over a decade, Martin has served as the president of the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce. He has successfully guided the organization’s 530 members through robust economic growth. Today, he’s a whirling dervish working to keep his “family” safe from harm.

“We have a weekly conference call with numerous regional leadership organizations strategizing on how to address the critical issues facing us. I’m also on Zoom calls daily with local, state, and federal agencies for the same purpose.

“The communication outreach across these dozens of organizations has been phenomenal. One minor but important aspect of all of this is we’ll be using these communication technologies from here on out,” said Martin.

To focus on real-world concerns and seek advice from chamber members and their guests, a monthly virtual luncheon is hosted by Martin, where attendees go “around the screen” and share successes, struggles and challenges. It’s an opportunity for one story to answer dozens of questions.

Martin finds it reassuring in such stressed times that most of the groups and individuals he’s interacting with generally have a positive feeling about the future. But the pain experienced by small businesses is of particular concern to him.

The downturn will end, and Martin, in concert with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, is working on a recovery plan to help make it happen.

Martin muses, “The recovery is not going to spring back overnight. It will be a slow and methodical process of likely a year or more. Yes, there will be pent up demand, but it will not be an explosive recovery. But it will happen. Staying focused and positive is key.”

Published April 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

County wineries struggle to survive

Posted on Apr 27 2020 | By

Industry in free fall as economy vaporizes

If ever there was a time to buy a bottle of Virginia wine, it’s now.

After 40 years of robust growth, the 26 winery owners in Fauquier County and some 275 statewide are faced with a make-it-or-lose-it scenario that will unfold over the next several months due to COVID-19.

The emotional and financial pain facing these small business owners is reflective of millions of other businesses nationwide. But envisioning a vibrant sector of the local economy going up in smoke is almost unimaginable, given where they were two months ago.

“We will not grow grapes or make wine this year,” said Brian Roeder, owner of Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane. “I think we are going to lose at least half of the wineries in Virginia, probably more.”

He will block fruit production of his healthy vines by pulling the flowers on the young buds.

Roeder thinks it’s not just “hobby” or boutique wineries at risk, but at least 20 percent of the serious businesses that produce large case volumes for sale to individuals, wine shops, and restaurants.

On March 10, Roeder realized it was going to be a monumental challenge to survive the financial hit his business had taken and initiated a plan to remain viable.

He terminated the employment of all 60 of his employees. Some have offered to assist him gratis during the crisis. “We have a wonderful group of people here,” he said.

Not wishing to encourage his customers to leave their homes, he has not taken advantage of pickup bottle sales permitted by Virginia, but rather is selling wine at a 20 percent discount and offering free shipment. It’s “the deepest discounts we’ve ever offered.”

It’s challenging to square Roeder’s usually optimistic view with his take on the current situation. “I believe we are going to be in an economic depression within months, and it will probably last years,” he predicted.

An analogy he shares with business associates and the county leadership is, “The U.S. economy was a dragster headed down the track at 200 mph when it was thrown into reverse, blowing the engine and transmission but not deploying the chute.

“I’m going to have to tear my business apart, everything I’ve spent years to build, simply to find a way to exist,” he said.

Jim Law is the proprietor of Linden Vineyards in Linden.

All of his sales were to people visiting the winery and to restaurants; almost all those sales have ceased. But what has been a positive surprise for him is, “the number of people calling us and ordering wine, which we ship. I did not expect that.”

These are loyal customers who understand the hardship he is facing, he said.

Like Roeder, Law does not offer bottle sales onsite. Since social distancing has been put in place, guests are not allowed on his property. He said, “We are taking the whole isolation thing very seriously. We do not want to contribute to getting people out of their houses.

“I am not speculating as to how this will ultimately unfold, but when things do open up, it will look very different than before. We will likely restart with reservation-only visits, so we can control the number of people coming out here. Social distancing will continue to be an issue, and we want to control that.”

On another sobering note, Law observed that because of the recent mild winter, bud break is occurring earlier than in previous years. That has the potential of setting up a dreaded frost scenario.

If a hard freeze hits before the final frost date of May 10, it could decimate the grape crop, literally nipping it in the bud.

Luke Kilyk, owner of Granite Heights Winery in Warrenton, echoes the assessments of his fellow vintners. “It has been devastating for us, and I think every winery across the board is seeing that devastation. Our business is down by at least 75 percent.

He said, “We do not host weddings and other large events, but for those who do, they will have to face those realities too.”

Kilyk also observed that now more than ever, wineries will need to focus on quality wine because that’s what will drive consumer purchases, not entertainment and events.

His winery has a carryout sales system in place as allowed by law. Customers order by phone or email, and upon arrival at the winery, an employee walks out and places the paid order in the trunk of the vehicle to maintain social distancing.

Kilyk has a successful law practice in Warrenton and said, “If it weren’t for my primary income, I would be in dire, dire straits. My law firm is what is holding the winery together.”

He too opines if a debilitating frost occurs because of the mild winter, money will be needed to protect his vines, an investment he will be forced to make to save his business.

Chris Pearmund, the owner of five wine businesses, including his eponymous Pearmund Cellars in Broad Run, said, “To survive we are doing a lot of creative marketing and outreach to our customers.

As a result, we are hurting, but doing better than expected.
“But, if we do not do creative things, we will die.”

Among his tools are $100 gift cards selling for $80. All of his wines that have won gold medals are selling for $25 a bottle. Given that a wine bottle holds 25 ounces, he promotes the sale as “selling gold for a dollar an ounce.”

To further enhance his “gold sales,” he includes free shipping.
He has laid off close to 100 part-time employees, keeping only managers on the payroll.

To survive, Pearmund underscored the need to stay in touch with his customers and continue to be creative in maintaining close relationships.

One timely product he produces is a high-end organic hand sanitizer. It costs $45 a gallon to make, and he gifts a bottle to his customers and business clients.

Pearmund quoted Audrey Hepburn invoking where he is philosophically today, “To plant a garden is to believe in spring.” To that end, last week, he planted one thousand grapevines and 107 trees at his Broad Run winery.

Published in March 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

County businesses tack into the wind

Posted on Apr 27 2020 | By

With recovery in limbo surviving in place prevails

With over 1,900 businesses in Fauquier County, there are likely 1,900 stories of how to survive the current coronavirus landscape. Entrepreneurs build companies employing educated risks. Those critical skills are now being used to carve out their futures.

The challenge is to assess business threats when even tea leaves are not much help. Nonetheless, a can-do spirit ranging from locking down and protecting assets to ferreting out new revenue streams is now in play.

Salon Lou
Salon Lou is an upscale Warrenton hair salon owned and operated by Lori Nicholson. Nicholson spent over a dozen years, and multiple career starts before realizing her long-held dream of owning a salon. It opened in 2015 and has been a success from her first cut.

Today the shop is shuttered, and her 15 employees laid off. Nicholson said, “It’s almost surreal for my team and me. We were all in shock for the first two weeks. In the third week, we said, ‘OK, what are we going to do with ourselves?’”

Maintaining esprit de corps was foremost, so conducting virtual cooking classes with her employees helped soften the blow of not being able to man scissors, dye, and hair dryers. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

The downtime has also been devoted to virtual online training classes to maintain and enhance hair treatment skills and support professional educations. “A major industry show was canceled, so a lot of my stylists are taking classes online.”

Her furloughed employees have applied for unemployment. The process is frustrating and time consuming because millions of unemployed are tackling the same problem. “I’ve had to help some of my employees get it,” Nicholson said.

She has had a lot of clients call and ask if she could come and do their hair. Unfortunately, state licensing laws and insurance companies will not permit most hair styling to be performed off-premise.

More importantly, she does not want to take the chance of infecting the community or her employees by going off-site. When the economy does open up, she thinks, “We will be bombarded. Clients want professional hair jobs. They do not want to cut and color at home.”

It’s also going to change how her employees will interact with customers. “We can’t do our job six feet away. We’ll probably end up wearing gloves and face masks. Everybody will be scared of going back into the workforce.

“Currently, I can sustain my business for two to three months. After that, it’s going to be questionable,” Nicholson opined.

Piedmont Press & Graphics
Tony and Holly Tedeschi own Piedmont Press & Graphics. The couple has over 50 years of print and design experience backed by the perspective on how to survive cyclical business swings.

The current bleak landscape could be their ultimate challenge in navigating a turbulent economy.

Tony Tedeschi said, “My company is still open because we were declared an essential service because we produce mailings and signage, both important to the economy. But we’ve lost work on promotional materials for concerts, festivals and equine events.

“Losing business like the Gold Cup was hard because it’s one of our bigger jobs of the year. I would estimate our business is down 60 percent.” The drop in revenues occurred almost overnight.

Tedeschi was already preparing for a recession, which he thought was overdue. He learned a lot by surviving the 2008 recession, so he was better prepared by saving money, both corporate and personal. Their first move as owners was to stop taking paychecks.

He also asked his employees to shift to a 32-hour workweek, essentially taking a 20 percent reduction in pay. “We have enough money to go a couple of months, keeping our 15 employees working.” He has an unused line of credit and has applied for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is a loan for small businesses.

It’s a forgivable loan, as long as 75 percent of it goes to the paychecks of the employees as well as their health care benefits.
If he is approved for the loan, it will give him an additional 75 days of relief.

With all his planning in place, he thinks he is a long way from bankruptcy. He also is in the process of creating some new products and is poised to spend money on marketing.

“Where you make your money is when you come out of a downturn. We want to be ready when that day comes. I’m not panicked about the situation. It’s going to be bad and painful, but people are doing their best to pull together and survive.”

Regeti’s Photography
Amy Regeti manages her family’s Warrenton business that has, “Pretty much been set on pause. We are solely devoted to photographing weddings, and all our clients are postponing their plans. That will have a domino effect going into the 2021 season.”

The effect of postponing weddings to the following year is to block valuable dates that would have gone to new business.

Regeti said, “It limits what we can take on. We service about 25 weddings a year, all of that that has pretty much jumped to later in the year.

That business will likely jump again, dependent on the timing of the economic recovery. “I would be surprised if we shoot even one wedding this year.

“A lot of our clients are shifting dates because they do not want to hold a wedding and a reception with everyone wearing masks. It’s not how they want to remember their special occasion.”

The family business is a full-time job, but her husband does some work for the federal government. He has been able to retain his security clearance and continues to work, providing much-needed family income.

Home Sweet Home Improvements

Tom and Dawn Wotton’s Bealeton company is a design, build, and remodeling firm with four full-time employees.

One of the first actions Tom Wotton took after social distancing was implemented was to reach out to past elderly clients and see how they were faring. Often that resulted in face masks being delivered to the individuals for their protection.

His business is still operating and has about a three-month backlog of work; only a few of his current client’s projects slowed down. Nonetheless, fresh leads have stopped.

When on-site, his crew quarantines off a section of the home that is being remodeled and works with hand sanitizers, gloves, safety glasses, and face masks. CDC guidance materials for home construction crews are included in the company’s regular safety talks.

Some of his suppliers and subcontractors initially wanted to stop residential work, and Wotton told them his clients were OK with proceeding and gained the cooperation of the vendors.

Wotton said, “Yes, we are feeling an impact of what’s going on. There are two fronts in play here. First, there are the health and safety issues, and we are managing that part of it. Secondly, there is the financial front. If we can produce, we need to continue to produce. It’s that simple.”

Published in April 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Restoring faith in humanity

Posted on Apr 25 2020 | By

Note: This article was published before COVID-19.

Habitat ReStore shaping current & future lives

Buy a sofa to help a family. Sounds like a comfy proposition for both parties, eh?

In fact, it’s not just a sofa that makes the magic work. Gently used refrigerators, home furnishings, electrical supplies, plumbing items, windows, doors, kitchen cabinets and a variety of appliances, large and small, all contribute to making lives more rewarding.

This fair market exchange works because of the legendary non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1976. Habitat has helped more than four million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve more than 800,000 homes worldwide since its inception.

It is the largest not-for-profit builder in the world and its success is touching lives even here in Fauquier County. While donations fund much of the institution’s operating revenue, its unique retail outlets, known as Habitat ReStores, also funnel dollars into local affiliates tasked with building homes.

And less one thinks Habitat dwellings are gifted to people gratis, rethink the idea.

Habitat applicants must be willing to attend required workshops on successful homeownership, live in the neighborhood where their home is being built, contribute at least 400 hours of sweat equity towards its construction and cover the home’s mortgage and other monthly expenses.

It takes big bootstraps to slip into the American dream. Nonetheless, qualified applicants jump at the opportunity if it is afforded them.

But donations and a homeowner’s commitment alone do not raise the roof and that’s where ReStore plugs the gap. While there are nearly 900 Restores in the United States, they are not ubiquitous to all communities.

Fauquier County is fortunate to have one since the dual purpose of funding Habitat homes while providing quality used merchandise to our citizens is a double win for the community.

Restore locally
Unlike typical retail stores where merchandise is standardized from month-to-month, Habitat’s home improvement selections will vary from day to day, even hour to hour. Why? Because its “merchandise managers” are the local citizens supplying the store on a steady-stream basis.

What you don’t find at 10 a.m. might well be on sale at 3 p.m. Turnover is rapid and the “Whatdathink they’ll have on sale today” proposition makes it a fun place to shop.

“When you first walk into the store, you’re going to get bombarded by our furniture selections. There are tons of furniture for sale. Something we put on the floor in the morning will be gone later in the day,” said Georgianna Granillo.

Granillo is the store’s director and heads up a paid staff of six full-time and part-time employees. The crew is augmented by some 22 part-time volunteers who circulate in and out of the store throughout its five-day a week schedule. The store is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Further highlighting the contributions to the county, on occasion individuals who have had minor run-ins with the law will be given the opportunity to work off community service sentences at the store.

Granillo has overseen the store’s operations for almost five years, joining the Habitat team one year after the store opened in 2012.  She gained her retail experience working for several big box stores in the region.

“I’m very happy to be here. It makes me wish I had jumped into the Restore job a long time ago. Working with the staff, volunteers, customers and donors makes me feel really great,” she said.

One of the other satisfying things about managing the store is the recycling concept it thrives on. Items brought in that are deemed acceptable and end up on the showroom floor typically have years of use left in them.

Granillo explains a lot of the donated items might well have been headed for a landfill and unnecessarily destroyed when they could see a continued productive life. ReStore offers a second life to such quality items.

“I feel really good about that. It makes me feel ‘Green’. In addition, all those items are bringing in money to support our mission,” she explained.

Pricing on merchandise is based on condition and quality. Popular living room furniture typically ranges from $50 to $250. “However, we had one high-end leather sofa set that was in excellent condition and originally sold for over $2,000. That one sold for $700,” she said. “But that was on the really high side of our pricing.”

There are items the store does not accept: unframed mirrors or glass, appliances over 12 years old, used mattresses, box springs, clothing, toys, baby furniture, and dishware.

Safety issues and possible manufacturers’ recall dictate whether certain items are not accepted. “We don’t want to transfer something to a home and have it hurt someone,” she said.

One popular feature of Restore is donor pickups. The store has a dedicated truck that operates four days a week throughout most of Fauquier County, and at times beyond, based on the size and quality of the payload.

A typical run will include five to six stops a day. Donors simply contact the store and set up a convenient time for the truck to swing by and relieve them of quality but no longer needed items.

The service is particularly beneficial when a refurbishing project leaves a homeowner with furniture or appliances hoping to find a new abode.

As a result of the work and love produced at the Warrenton Restore, Fauquier Habitat for Humanity builds one or two homes a year for those in need. Make your contribution to the effort by stopping by and purchasing a useful home product.

The ReStore is located at 617 Frost Avenue in the Food Lion shopping center. For store hours and more visit

Published in 2019 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

The sporting life

Posted on Apr 25 2020 | By

Note: This article was published before COVID-19.

National Sporting Library & Museum dedicated to bucolic pursuits

The first thing you are drawn to is the life-size statue of a riderless horse in military saddlery, head hung low in exhaustion, eyes closed.

It stands majestically in front of a Middleburg library and museum and is a unique and intriguing study in contemplation.

It also represents in a broader sense what is at the heart of Fauquier County and the Nation: the sporting life.

The statue beckons the visitor like the North Star. It’s titled War Horse and is the first piece of art you’ll encounter before entering the internationally known facility.

Awaiting your visit are 21,00 other items of art, statuary, rare books, and more.

The statue was commissioned by the late Paul Mellon and represents the 1.5 million horses and mules who gave their lives during the Civil War for both the Blue and Gray; animals that are inherently and ironically peace-loving.

The bronze work springs from the hands of one of Britain’s leading animal sculptors, Tessa Pullan. The forlorn equine compels one to stop and gaze at the level of detail and poignancy that emanates from the art.

From the reins hanging from its head and lying on the ground, to a scabbarded sword on its saddle and its right rear hoof barely touching the ground, it’s emblematic of what you are about to experience.

Books, sculpture, and art that makes one pause reflect and admire.
Welcome to the National Sporting Library Museum.

The NSLM was founded in 1954 as the National Sporting Library by George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., and Alexander Mackay-Smith and sits on six acres in the village of Middleburg.

Ohrstrom was an avid fox hunter, president of the Orange County Hunt, and a breeder of thoroughbred and steeplechase horses.

Mackay-Smith was an author, horseman, and visionary leader who passionately promoted equestrian sports during the last century.

Together the two men gifted future generations the joy of all things field, forest, and stream.

Executive director’s dream
Today the museum and library are under the leadership of Elizabeth Von Hassell.

Von Hassell could be considered to the manor born for the position, a description she would quickly demur.

She was born in Winchester, raised in Berkley Springs, West Virginia, and from the age of 16, attended schools in Virginia.  Later she purchased a small farm in Clarke County with her family.

Field sports have always been part of her life. She grew up horseback riding, fox hunting, fishing, and shooting with her father and held an appreciation for the art and literature associated with those sports.

“I have the ultimate dream job. It is an honor for me to work with our team and board of directors here at the museum,” she says. “I’ve always thought it a privilege to live in the Piedmont.

I have a deep-rooted desire to protect our countryside because it’s essential to the viability of the sports we represent at the museum.”
Von Hassell’s resume reflects what she brings to the organization she leads.

After graduating from college, she worked in a variety of jobs unknowingly leading to her dream position.

Marketing, strategic planning, public relations, and similar positions in the corporate world of Madison Avenue, including a stint with a major pharmaceutical firm, led her to accept a job close to her heart: director of development at James Madison’s historic home, Montpelier.

The home sits on 2,650 pristine acres but like all land today was exposed to potential commercial and residential development.

“I worked diligently in making sure a large portion of that estate would be placed in a conservation easement. The effort was successful. Today, 2,000 of those acres are protected from growth in perpetuity,” says Von Hassell.

The portfolio
NSLM comprises two buildings on its property. One is a fieldstone country home that houses an extensive library. The second is a series of attractively connected brick buildings where the museum is located.

The grounds are surrounded by mature trees and landscaping creating a university campus-like setting as you walk the grounds.

In addition to the War Horse statue, other outdoor sculptures such as a fox, horse, and colt set the stage for what the visitor will experience within.

The library is unique in that it contains the largest collection of traditional sporting literature in the world. There are over 7,000 volumes of rare books dating from as early as the 1500s.

Subjects run the gambit from angling, horsemanship, shooting, wildlife, coaching, and numerous other subjects related to the out of doors. There is even a volume on dueling.

Unlike conventional libraries, scholars and interested visitors can arrange to peruse the collection but cannot take the volumes off-site given the rarity of the books and their often-priceless value.

The general public can arrange special tours in advance.
The museum contains over 800 pieces of artwork, statuary, and decorative art.

“It is without a doubt an absolute gem of a collection,” observes Von Hassell. Be prepared to spend some time as you walk through the museum. The collection draws a visitor in, almost demanding contemplation, as many scenes are of outdoor life in action.

Typical libraries and museums present collections to be viewed in a hushed environment. While this is true of the NSLM, it is just one of its many strengths.

It has an active calendar that seeks to make its programs an integral part of the local community.

Numerous events such as art classes, presentations, lectures, live concerts, and involvement with local schools place an emphasis on learning through participation.

Recently internationally known artist Andre Potter held a standing room only discussion on his new art book. He will return soon to teach a masters drawing class. “He is one of the absolute best contemporary artists alive today,” says Von Hassell.

Every Wednesday a gallery talk is held showcasing traveling exhibitions, new acquisitions, or permanent collection pieces. Each talk is original and not repeated. Reservations are not required and admission is free.

Recent exhibitions included a presentation by artist Paul Brown on pencil, pen and brush art, a roundtable discussion on African-American jockeys, a glass sculpture class held by artist Joan Danziger, and an equine sculpture workshop
Increasing membership is an important goal for the organization. Student memberships are $25 and adults $50, making it very affordable compared to other museums. “I think the cost is reflective of how committed we are to the local community.”

The NSLM is opened Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and youth. Children under 12 are free. Library admission is also free.

To make the facility as widely available as possible, SNAP and EBT cardholders are admitted at no charge.
After a tour of the library and museum consider shopping and dining in Middleburg
The village dates to 1787 and has many upscale shops and restaurants that will round out your day’s activities.

For an in-depth look at the programs, exhibitions and classes available at the National Sporting Library and Museum visit its website at

Published in the Fall 2019 edition of inFauquier magazine.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Note: This article was published before COVID-19.

Marshall hair emporium goes full service

There’s an average of 150,000 hairs quietly growing on a guy’s head. Multiply that by 22, and it’s the about the number of hairs Kristy Haase snips each day. Toss in two more stylists, and some 6.6 million strands are cascading to the floor of her popular shop each day.

That helps explains in part why Haase is doubling the size of her hair displacement factory, now located at 4199 Winchester Road, Suite G, in Marshall.
But it’s not just haircuts that have driven the expansion of the locks trimming shop.

On Saturday, February 29, the business will double in size when it moves next door from its current location and begins offering a host of new services.
Look for high-pressure tanning beds (reduces tan time from 20 to 14 minutes).

In fact, given the surge in vitamin D deficiency today, some health experts posit that periodic light tans are the most natural way to boost levels of the much-needed sunshine vitamin.

In addition, organic spray tanning, hair coloring, facial waxing of eyebrows, lips, and chins, professional massages, and an increased emphasis on women’s hairstyling are also newly available services.

What she had formerly created was a unique barbershop catering to men but also serving women. “About 90 percent of my customers are guys. But the men would tell their wives what we do. When the women came in, they didn’t see old barbers in overalls cutting hair,” said Haase chuckling.

What they did see is a shop staffed with experienced women and one man who knows hair from the roots up. At any given time, one would see Haase and one or two of her staff of four cutting or shaving while chatting away with their clients. Rock music played in the background and friendly banter echoed around the shop.

“I wanted a shop that was modern but with a relaxed atmosphere. That’s why I went with a rock music theme. I’m originally from Cleveland, which is the home of rock and roll, and I thought it was a cool idea to create a shop called Rock-N-Barbers.

“I started cutting hair back in 2001. I picked up a solid male following. I enjoy cutting men’s hair. I’m not too fond of doing coloring or permanents.”

In addition to custom haircuts, the guys get to choose their favorite rock genre from Amazon’s Alexa that stands poised to play classic rock or whatever rock music desired. None of the old formats will change with the expansion of the business.

Now more than hair
Her original concept was to focus on men’s hair. But to grow the business, the fairer sex needed a bit more attention. What created the opportunity to expand was the unexpected availability of a salon next door to her current shop.

Last August, the owners decided to move and vacated the space. It had a massage room, break room, quality bathrooms, and an upscale retail desk in the front.

Haase quickly realized taking Rock-N-Barbers to the next level was a two-step sideways move. Plans she had harbored for years crystallized in a heartbeat. The serendipitous availability of the 1,250 square foot space cinched the deal, and she spent three months writing a business plan to make it all happen.

In addition to further custom finishing the shop, Haase has hired an exceptionally talented hairstylist, Leslie Townsend.
“In addition to strictly cutting women’s hair, she’ll also be in charge of training the staff. She’ll be my go-to women’s hairstylist,” says Haase.

A massage therapist was brought on board too, Kerry Doheny, who arrives with her bona fides in place. She worked at a high-end salon in Tyson’s Corner that charges $185 an hour. Rest assured, you will not find that price tag on any of Haase’s new offerings.

Doheny will offer at least 10 different massages, including Swedish, sports, and cup massages ranging in length from 30 to 90-minutes.

In addition to a massage table, there will be a massage chair in front of the shop where quick 15-minute rubdowns can refresh and recharge stress-laden clients.

“Even a 15-minute session can be therapeutic and perfect for healing or preventing injuries,” says Haase.

Another new hire will be a receptionist who will staff the appointment desk and keep the shop looking as sharp as one of its freshly trimmed clients.

So what are some of the trends in men’s hair today? For sure, all manner of beards and goatees are fashionable.

“The younger guys also like cuts that are short on the sides and long on the top with parts. Before, it was a bit of a spiky look. Now, they want a smoother appearance. In fact, some younger guys are asking for perms because of their long hair on the top,” Haase observes.

She says that older men with thinning hair are increasingly going for a clean, super trimmed buzz cut. “The comb over is definitely out.”

Haase is excited and animated about her latest career shift. “I think the shop is going to do really well. It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s all coming together. I think our customers are going to like all the new services we’ll be offering.”

And if it gets a bit hectic for the energetic owner, she can always slip into the massage chair and let her tensions flutter to the floor, along with all those snipped hairs.

For the full cut on Rock-N-Barbers, its services, hours and scheduling appointments visit , or call (540) 364-8133.

Published March 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Getting To Know…Amissville

Posted on Mar 10 2020 | By

If fate had shifted slightly, Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer might have made his last stand just outside of Amissville on July 24, 1863, instead of 13 years later at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Custer engaged what he thought was a small force of Confederates from the side of Battle Mountain with 1,200 cavalry troops on that potentially fateful day. For the courageous but impetuous “Boy General,” it looked like easy pickings. Unfortunately, he had no idea he was attacking the entire Army of Northern Virginia, which was returning from its defeat at Gettysburg. After a brief but hot firefight, he beat a hasty retreat back to the Spindle House in Amissville.

The unincorporated community is located 12 miles west of Warrenton on U.S. Route 211 and is a quiet and pastoral village not too dissimilar to 157 years ago during the Civil War. It was first settled by French Huguenots and English.

The land it resides on was originally in Orange County and part of 5.3-million-acre Northern Neck Proprietary owned by Thomas Fairfax in the 1700s. In 1649, King Charles II of England granted the unmapped and unsettled region to seven loyal supporters.

It’s believed that individuals with the surnames Amiss and Bayse received land grants in the area from Lord Fairfax. Both families sought to have the town named in their honor so either an election or horse race was held to settle the question; history is not clear on what civic mechanism was employed. In any event, the Amiss family won, and the community became Amissville and not Bayseville. Joseph Amiss was appointed the first postmaster in 1810.

In 1829 the Bayse family donated land for the Methodist church, which still stands today. In 1833 Amissville became part of Rappahannock County. At the time it consisted of a general store, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and the Methodist church.

The heart of today’s Amissville is Hackley’s Store. Situated on the corner of Route 211 and Viewtown Road, it opened in 1902. It burned down in 1934 and reopened across the street at its current location that same year. It’s been a family-owned business for 118 years, and the descendent Mrs. Hackley still lives next door.

“Full service” might describe the quintessential country store. In addition to groceries, it sells pizza, pork barbecue, delicious sandwiches, hand-dipped ice cream, and more. It also rents trucks and is a UPS store accepting shipments and returns. During the summer, bluegrass pickin’ parties are held once a month out front. Residents set up yard sale tables and transact business while the music plays. It’s dubbed “Rock and Shop” by the locals.

Another well-known business just west of the village is Early’s Carpet. For over 50 years, the family-owned shop has served a legion of loyal customers. The store carries an array of flooring options from carpet, hardwood, tile, luxury vinyl, natural stone, cork, area rugs, and more. It also offers carpet and upholstery cleaning services, both in-home and in-store.

And what would a Virginia village be without a nearby winery? In this case, it’s just three miles south on Viewtown Road with the delightful name of Magnolia Vineyards. Owned and operated by Glenn and Tina Marchione, they journeyed to Italy in 2006 and visited Glenn’s relatives, toured a winery, and became smitten with the idea of opening one of their own.

After six years of operating out of the lower level of their home, last year they christened an expansive new wine cellar and tasting room that serves Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Sangiovese, and Merlot. Plans are to continue expanding their vineyard acreage and wine production in the years ahead, increasing production to 2,500 cases annually.

Amissville represents the best of Old Dominion villages and towns and is celebrating its 210th anniversary this year. Next time you drive west on Route 211, drop by Hackley’s Store for some barbeque and ice cream, check out the carpeting at Early’s Carpets, and before heading home, stop by for a glass of wine at Magnolia Vineyards. Oh, and don’t forget to come back for those bluegrass jams in the summer.

Published in the February 2020 edition of Discover Fauquier.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

To sell or not to sell

Posted on Feb 29 2020 | By

Emotions can swirl when seniors consider selling their home

The memories may be decades deep. A litany of holiday and family celebrations, neighborhood friendships, favorite nearby shops and restaurants and a deep connectedness that comes from the bond forged between couples and their home.

But time moves on and often owners are compelled to move with it. Yards that need regular attention, maintenance of living spaces larger than needed, and health issues making navigating stairs, rooms and basements a challenge; all can dictate a move.

For many couples, the decision is delayed as long as possible. Understandably so. The mere idea of tossing away years of accumulated stuff, packing endless boxes of possessions, and relocating to a smaller home or townhouse can force a decision to the backburner.

But there are alternatives.

A growing strategy for maintaining the status quo is aging in place. Some researchers believe that employing relatively modest changes can keep older homeowners nestled next to their hearth for years.

Advanced planning can start with an assessment of major home repairs that are looming. Is the roof over 20 years old? Are the heating and air-conditioning units pass their prime? Are some rooms ready for a new paint job?

The point is to invest in the home with the goal of not having to face large expenditures in the later years. This has the collateral benefit of emotionally reinforcing that the home will continue to be a safe and sound refuge.

Next, consider the balance of selling at the expense of seeking outside help with home maintenance and personal care. It can be difficult shelling out money for yard and landscape work when it’s a task that’s always been the purview of the homeowner.

But eliminating the worry of maintaining an attractive home can be worth the added expense of a seasonal contract for property maintenance.

Employing in-home caregivers and housekeepers may seem like a luxury but if the money is available, it may be worth spending. Commercial maid services cover the gamut of cleaning services ranging from dusting, vacuuming, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and more.

While cleanliness is next to godliness it’s also next to happiness. Employing outside and inside home services strengthen the commitment to age in place.

One example of personal care is Visiting Angels, a private duty network of reasonably priced non-medical home care agencies providing in-home care, respite care, personal care, and companion care. An office of the unique business is located in Culpeper.

Betsy Walker, a northern Culpeper County resident, recently employed Visiting Angels to help her and her husband Fred during her recovery from hip surgery. “My caregiver has been my lifesaver. The moment she enters the house she gets busy working. She has adapted to my routine. It’s a wonderful local service. We are lucky to have such caring people to call upon,” says Walker.

The budget for such expenditures may come from previous expense items. Vacations, auto travel, and dining out tend to lessen as folks age. These monies can shift from the pleasures of the past to the pleasures accrued by having increasingly stronger in-home support systems.

Beyond any additional expenses, there may be opportunities to have family and friends pick up some of the slack. Is there a friend, son or daughter that might swing by occasionally to wash hair, give a permanent, clean gutters, etc.? One should not feel guilty calling on people who they’ve supported in the past.

Finally, online shopping for home-delivered groceries prepared meals and the ubiquitous Amazon one-click world are other strategies making life easier during the golden years.

When it’s time
When declining health increasingly takes a toll on daily living, a move may be inevitable. Work together as a couple to make sure there is agreement on what the next move will be. The goal is to make the shift on your terms and not be forced into a quick or ill-considered decision.

While choices may seem to be limited, there are options:

Moving to a small home, condo or apartment.
Choosing to live in a retirement community.
Selecting a continuing care retirement community.

The third option has the benefit of a move that can accommodate an eventual nursing home environment if the need arises.

Once a decision is made to move, prepping is important. Begin by making a room-by-room assessment of what needs to be moved, what can be sold and what can head to the dump.

There are services that are available to make the process easier. Home junk removers are plentiful and can make the odious task as easy as pointing and saying, “That goes, that goes, and that goes.” Boom. Done.

An effective way to brace for the ultimate day is to start pitching stuff today. Start small. Regularly look for opportunities to toss out what’s not needed. If you have not worn a garment in over year, there’s a good chance you will never don it again. Donate it.

Begin with cleaning out the garage, closets and the basement. These can be difficult areas of the house to tackle since often they contained years of accumulated detritus. Momentum builds when discarding; the more you do, the easier it gets.

Regularly donating clothing items to charitable organizations along with serviceable home furnishings creates a mindset that if it’s not being used, it needs to be moved out. It also makes the ultimate move easier since there are fewer things to deal with.

Life might be like a car transitioning through its gears. As one accelerates through the early years the shifts are fast and furious. But when a couple finally hits the interstate of retirement, they should consider dropping into easy-riding overdrive and ease off the pedal.

Enjoying the hard-earned expansive views is their ultimate reward.

Published in the January,23 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.


The success behind Claire’s is…Claire

Posted on Feb 29 2020 | By

Warrenton restaurant maven celebrates 15th anniversary at the Depot

One of Claire Lamborne’s first culinary achievements occurred at the age of 16. Her father had passed away, and her mother was a career woman. Someone had to handle the kitchen duties and feed the large family of 10.

“The first fancy meal I made was baked Spam. I scored the meat like you would a ham, placed cloves in the cuts and made a mustard and vinegar sauce,” says Lamborne. Given the size of a can of Spam, it must have disappeared in a blink.

Lamborne, the owner of Claire’s at the Depot, moved from that humble beginning to an eventual restaurant career spanning decades, both in years and the legion of restaurants she helped make successful. A rolling chef gathers no moss.

From her modest experience with home cooking, she went onto college, marriage, and the birth of two children. For 14 years, she taught school and gave little thought to cooking professionally. But a unique opportunity arose in her early 30s when she was offered a job to cook at a restaurant in Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

During the stint, she purchased and lived on a sailboat and cooked at a well-known restaurant on the Caribbean island. “That was the beginning of my culinary career. I knew then that’s what I wanted to do for a living,” explains Lamborne. “I later moved back to Fairfax and attended culinary school and began working for several restaurants in the region.”

Not only had her desire for kitchen creativity been ignited, but an emerging entrepreneurial streak blossomed. She soon moved to Charlottesville and purchased a restaurant. “I made all the classic mistakes of someone getting into the restaurant business for the first time.” Lessons she pocketed for future use.

Next, she moved to San Francisco. “It was the food capital of the United States at the time. It’s where food was happening, and I helped open a restaurant there too.” Each year she was learning more each about running commercial eateries.

As her restaurant knowledge grew, she returned to Northern Virginia and began working at various upscale restaurants in Fairfax and Alexandria.

Then, a business acquaintance asked her to return to Charlottesville and bring her skills to bear in establishing The Ivy Inn, once part of a more significant estate known as the “Faulkner House”, named after William Faulkner, a southern aristocrat and distinguished writer in residence at the nearby University of Virginia. Today, the Inn is still a vibrant part of the city’s hospitality scene.

By now, a pattern was established. If a chef positioned offered a challenge and opportunity, Lamborne sprung. The next career catalyst was an ad seeking a chef in Warrenton. “I responded and ended up helping Angela Smith open the Legends restaurant.”

Soon after that, she was off to Marshall working at Marshall Manor, a high-end retirement facility. The owners agreed to let her cater on the side, which eventually led to a new business.

“My first big event was a benefit for the American Cancer Society held at the large estate known at North Wales, west of Warrenton. As a result, my catering career took off. I moved back to Warrenton and built a place with a commercial kitchen called Claire’s Too devoted to catering,” remembers Lamborne.

She labored for 11 years and became known as the region’s quality caterer, including a stint as the exclusive caterer for the Virginia Gold Cup races. Today, there are many similar firms in the area whose growth was driven by her early success.

After over a decade, it became apparent to grow to the next level she needed to significantly ramp up the business and purchase more extensive and pricy catering equipment. “I did not want to go in that direction,” says Lamborne.

Incredibly, about that time, another offer to return to the Virgin Islands surfaced, and the lady and her spatula found herself at a restaurant in Tortola, the largest and most popular island in the Virgin Islands.

After a brief two months near sand and sea, she returned to Warrenton at the age of 62, reflecting, “I think I have another venture left in me.” Gathering some local investors, she purchased the depot train station. She undertook a significant renovation of the aging building selling her catering business to help fund the purchase and its $400,000 update.

Claire’s at The Depot opened on February 3, 2005, and met with success until the recession of 2008 hit. With the restaurant faltering, Lamborne’s “guardian angel” Paul Rice, a successful tech entrepreneur, agreed to purchase the building for $1.2 million and pursue further renovations, if she continued to operate the business.

“After Paul bought the building in 2009 and completed the second renovation, it turned the business around,” says Lamborne. “We put in beautiful wood floors and created the tavern section with a bar while keeping the white tablecloth section in the back. The white table cloth scene is fading today, but we have the best of both worlds with formal and casual dining.”

The restaurant seats 80 with 40 additional seats on the patio for seasonal dining.

Then in March 2018, another financial curveball came hurling toward Lamborne’s home plate. Paul Rice had retired to Florida and wanted to sell the building. Not having the money to purchase the structure, it looked like Claire’s was again on the butcher’s block.

But a second “guardian angel” appeared in the person of Bobbie Crafts who operated a horse rescue sanctuary in Marshall. Knowing the value of the town icon to the community, Crafts purchased the building from Rice and lifted the pressure off Lamborne, who doubled down on continuing to operate the popular restaurant.

Today the restaurant is busier than ever. Drop by any evening without reservations, and you’re taking a risk on seat availability. From the She Crab soup, fried oysters, daily fresh fish, the tenderest of steaks, and more, the menu never fails to satisfy.

What does the future hold for Warrenton’s premier restaurateur? “I’m 77 years old, and I’m certainly not going to be at the restaurant when I’m 80,” says Lamborne smiling.” But I’m going to make sure when I retire that Claire’s will continue as a quality restaurant.”

So, rest easy northern Piedmont. Both casual and elegant dining will continue at 65 South 3rd Street into the foreseeable future. Thank you, Claire.

Published in the January 29, 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.



Posted on Feb 11 2020 | By

Celebrating the legacy of brunch

It’s was a brilliant October day in 1772 in Northumberland England. Mounted riders cantered across a high meadow surrounded by a pack of eager hounds. All at once the master of hounds cried out, “Tally-ho!”. Eighteen riders and 23 foxhounds rose as one and surged toward a nearby forest.

The hunt was underway. Within two hours spent riders, horses and hounds slowly ambled homeward. With or without a fox.

But the assembled upper-class Brits did gather for a decadent late morning repast of meats, eggs, cheeses, and breads. Oh, and adult beverages.

Welcome to the likely earliest vestiges of brunch.

More than a hundred years later, in 1895, a publication called “Hunter’s Weekly” first published the unique word that represented a dining experience positioned between breakfast and lunch. The following year the popular British periodical “Punch” reprinted the article and the tasty concept spread, reaching America by the late 1920s.

Stateside the first brunches weren’t offered in trendy New York or Los Angeles but Chicago. Movie stars who worked on both coasts and traveling by rail would stopover in the Windy City.

Cinema greats such as John Barrymore, Helen Hayes, and Clark Gable dropped by for brunch at the legendary Pump Room in the Ambassador Hotel. Word spread and the mid-morning repast grew in popularity.

The concept was so well-conceived it spread worldwide. Today travelers can experience Ackee & Saltfish in Jamaica, Bubur ayam in Indonesia, Hvevos Divorciados in Mexico, Dim sum in Hong Kong, Pets de Soeurs in Canada, Pongal in India, Tortilla Espanola in Spain and much more.

Many of the strange-sounding dishes are unfamiliar to Americans but are the go-to brunch victuals in their native countries. All thanks to yesteryear’s Brits.

Here in the U.S. brunch has evolved into a somewhat standard repast of scrambled eggs, omelets, hash brown potatoes, bacon, sausage, toast, and Bloody Mary’s.

Perhaps it’s time to scramble things up a bit more. Fortunately, there’s is a unique destination spot that accommodates that goal.

Upper Shirley Vineyards
There are over 300 wineries in the Old Dominion today. An impressive leap in numbers since the first one opened in 1978. Moreover, the quality of the wine has garnered Virginia vinous respect and catapulted it up to the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the Nation.

Yet its quality far exceeds its quantity. National distribution has been held in check because there is simply not enough of the exceptional wines to go around. The rascally Virginians drink most of it.

But as rare as finding a bottle of Virginia Viognier in New York City is, try locating a winery in the Commonwealth that has a restaurant. Much less one offering an exceptional dining experience.

The reason? Wineries and restaurants are two completely different businesses. Creating such a twofer takes smarts, skill and the rare trait of embracing risk. The owners of Upper Shirley Vineyards qualify on all three counts.

Suzy and Tayloe Dameron are the proprietors. They built the winery in 2013 on their 100-acre property that also showcases their historic private home and equestrian operation. It is located on rural Shirley Plantation Road, or Route 5, situated between Richmond and Williamsburg.

Asked if he had always had a dream of owning a winery, Tayloe Dameron’s response is disarmingly frank.

“The romantic answer would be yes, but it’s not true. We brought this historic property 20 years ago to raise our two kids. It was a beautiful, historic home but it wasn’t relevant and self-sustaining.

“So, we decided to plant a vineyard and make the highest premium wine we could,” said Dameron.

And where did the hubris arise to think he could accomplish that goal? Pedigree.

His family dates to the early 1700s in Virginia. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and served in the Army’s 8th Infantry Division in Germany. He went on to obtain a University of Virginia Darden School of Business MBA and subsequently launched a successful 22-year career in finance, mostly in Manhattan.

Early word on the street was to keep an eye on this guy.

Along the way, he purchased and moved into the private home on the winery’s property. Built in 1867 from bricks salvaged from a circa 1660 house that once flanked the manor house at nearby Shirley Plantation, the property came with built-in bona fides.

When you visit the winery, you can also call on one of the most historic homes in Virginia that are located nearby, Shirley Plantation. Its construction began in 1723. Tours are available year-round and if your visit to the winery is a first-time experience be sure to carve out time to see the mansion, or “Great House”.

Shirley Plantation is largely in its original condition and owned, operated and lived in by the direct descendants of Edward Hill I who lived there in the late 1600s.

The restaurant
Focusing on brunch, the winery’s restaurant is opened from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. six days a week with its midday menu in play. From 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. the menu is trimmed to shared plate offerings. Dinners focus on a series of special events, not nightly service.

The food is prepared by two chefs with burnished reputations: Partner & Executive Chef Carlisle Bannister and Chef de Cuisine, Ernie LaBrecque.

“We are all about sourcing food locally, rooted in a Southern-style using fresh ingredients”, said Dameron. “Carlisle has a great twist on our menu items and he’s not going to let anybody go hungry. His burger is the best on the East Coast and his shrimp and grits are to die for.”

A quick perusal of a late winter menu includes truffle frites, crispy fried oysters, warm brie, caramelized mushroom flatbread, San Marzanto tomato bisque, house-cured salmon, eastern shore crab bisque, and a host of salads with or without protein.

Focusing on a bit heavier fare will reveal specialties such as chargrilled chicken wraps, high- end burgers, cast iron quiche, southern fried chicken and more.

Accompanying the food are wines of exceptional quality. The Dameron’s work in collaboration with Michel Shaps who produces all of winery’s 3,800 annual case production.

The 22-acre vineyard is planted in popular varietals such as chardonnay, viognier, merlot, petit verdot, tannat, and others. Shaps is one of the preeminent winemakers in Virginia. This year his wines won one-third of the gold medals awarded in the Governor’s Cup competition.

Shaps has been lauded by numerous publications, including Saveur, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Washingtonian, Washington Post and more. He holds a degree in Enology and Viniculture from Lycée Viticole de Beaune, France.

“Upper Shirley is a marathon, not a sprint,” explains Dameron. “We do not serve large tour bus groups, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and other noisy and distracting groups. We are not going to allow ‘disruptors’ to ruin our guests’ visits.”

Sitting on the winery’s covered back deck with an exceptional lunch and glass of wine arrayed before you and gazing at the expansive lawn and James River beyond, one is grateful for a hospitality strategy that is centered on individuals, not crowds.

Embrace the “new brunch” and one of the most unique and wineries and restaurants in Virginia. Guaranteed future visits are triggered by the first one.

For a cornucopia of beautiful photography, delicious menu and wine selections and impressive staff profiles, climb the virtual stairs of Upper Shirley Vineyards and take the full tour at


Published in the April 2019 edition of Dine Wine & Stein magazine. 

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Back to the Future

Posted on Jan 27 2020 | By

Hinson Ford Cider & Mead: A Walk on the Dry Side

Over 400 years ago, the first Virginians struggled to turn grapes into wine. It was a lost cause.

Between the humidity, insects, unpalatable native grapes and the recalcitrant European grapes, wine became a rare sight on a colonist’s dinner table.

Of course, beer and whiskey kept our hardworking early citizens happy but hard cider was the drink of the masses.

Thomas Jefferson produced a champagne-style cider made with Hew’s Crabapples. It was his “table drink” bespeaking volumes since the Sage of Monticello was the Nation’s first wine connoisseur.

Throughout the 19th century growing and producing cider in Virginia was an integral part of our agrarian economy.

Over time, however, the potion largely faded as other adult beverages gained popularity.

Today, hard cider is making a strong comeback in Virginia and nationwide. One of the newest producers is Hinson Ford Cider & Mead located in Rappahannock County, appropriately known for its sizeable apple production in the early 20th century.

But mead shares equal billing with cider at the Amissville establishment. Mead is the oldest known libation in the world dating to 11,000 years ago. Most bottlings of both at Hinson Ford are fermented to dryness meaning little residual sugar is in the final product.

“New Tasty” could best describe what is unfolding at this small but artisanal business dedicated to the art of fermenting apples and honey.

As is typical in Virginia, history is linked to the name of the cidery itself. Hinson Ford Road, where the cidery is located, was named after Hinson’s Ford, a shallow crossing across the nearby Rappahannock River.

In August of 1862, Stonewall Jackson led a force of 77,000 men through the ford to position his troops for the looming Second Battle of Bull Run.

With a little imagination, one can picture the troops tramping past the future cidery; too bad they couldn’t have paused for a glass.

Red Orbs & Liquid Gold
The beauty of cider and mead are in their rural provenance. The art and science of their creation are embedded in a bucolic environment. Transforming the gifts of the orchard and the bee into flavorful social lubricants might be considered the highest and best use of both products.

So how did Hinson Ford discover its calling? Co-owner Dennis Kelly explains the epiphany occurred during his daughter’s wedding.

“Our daughter got married in 2015 at our place in Amissville. As a long-time hobby producer of cider and mead, my wife Mary Graham and I made several batches of mead.
“Of course, we also served champagne, wine, and craft beer but the mead kind of blew everything else away. We realized then we were on to something. It was very popular.”

It was Kelly’s good fortune that his neighbor Dave Shiff was a cider maker. A decision was made to join forces and build a cidery-meadery on Shiff’s 22-acre farm. It opened in 2018.

The ingredients finding a home in their flavorful bottles all hail from Rappahannock County. The apple juice is procured from Thornton River Orchard that is managed by orchardist Allan Clark. “He’s a wonderful orchardist and a good guy to work with.

“Ironically Allan was considering producing cider too and said, “Now I don’t have to worry about it. I’ll sell you the juice and you can make it,” said Kelly.

Most of the products are free from residual sugar and have a wine-like profile. Kelly is grateful for the large commercial cider producers because the exposure they’ve created for the libation. But he eschews sweet cider like a farmer haying a wet field.

Out of his current 11 offerings only one, a caramelized honey and maple syrup mead, is semi-sweet. Most of the others are dry and some lightly carbonated. When guests come looking for the sweet stuff the owners explain dry is their game and proceed to educate them on the elegant and crisp nature of the delicate beverages.

To create an even closer connection with its cider production, Shiff planted some 60 apple trees on his land that will start producing fruit next year and will find a home in their tasting room.
So, can any apples make quality cider? No. Similar to wine specific varietals are deemed best for producing cider.

“Winemakers would not use table grapes and cidermakers would not generally use Red Delicious, as an example,” explains Kelly. “Cider is often a blend of several different apples. As a general rule, the better an apple is for eating the less likely it will be used for cider production.”

Characteristics sought by cidermakers are a blend of sugar, acidity, and tannins.

The legendary Johnny Appleseed, who planted over 100,000 square miles of orchards, favored planting “spitters.” The apples were hard, small, and bitter but made great cider and applejack which was Johnny’s objective. Smart guy.

Unfortunately, Prohibition wiped out much of his work. When the Nation went dry in 1920, there was little use for either sweet or bitter apples. American’s did not consume a lot of fruit back then and most of the orchards were plowed under for other cultivation.

The Renaissance
Until about 15 years ago cider and mead were as rare as snow in July. But the phenomenal growth of artisanal wine, beer and spirits triggered interest on the part of cider hobbyists to test consumer interest by going public.

Like the first couple up on the dance floor, it wasn’t long before the number of producers began to grow. And the public began taking notice.

Today there are 820 cideries in the U.S. and mead is quickly catching up. In 2003 there were a paltry 30 such establishments nationwide. In 2018 there were well over 500 meaderies producing the drink of Vikings with an additional 350 planning to open their doors.

Here in Virginia, there are 31 cideries and 11 meaderies.

A guaranteed sign of success is when the Governor gets involved. Starting in 2012 Virginia became the first state to proclaim an official “Cider Week”. This year the celebration will occur November 15-24 and feature special tastings, pairings, dinners, events, and workshops.

Since Virginia is the sixth-largest apple producing state, it’s fitting the cider industry is being showcased with Richmond support.

To your health
Similar to many consumer food products today cider and mead are gaining traction for their health profile. “I think part of it is simply the younger generation looking for a new experience with a certain portion driven by people who are gluten intolerant and have similar health conditions.

“They can’t drink beer and they want something they can enjoy and tolerate. That’s true for both cider and mead,” says Kelly.

Some claim the medical properties of honey convey to mead drinkers. Honey has long been used as a health tonic because of its probiotic traits. When consumed it can have a positive impact on immunity and intestinal health.

It’s also used as a topical treatment for skin wounds and infections or taken by mouth for coughs and sore throats.

Scientists have found evidence that cider conveys the benefits of health-enhancing antioxidants. A pint delivers the same amount of antioxidants as a glass of red wine.

As with many such health claims, there is often limited medical validation so imbibers need to enjoy the liquid refreshments responsibility and accept with gratitude any health benefits.

The Tasting Sheet
To set your palate watering here’s a list of the current offerings at Hinson Ford. All are dry and lightly carbonated except one.

Brehon: Blend of eight Rappahannock County apples. 8% abv.
Ciderhouse: Blend of a dozen county varieties. 8.5% abv.
Ginger: Flavored with fresh ginger. 5.6% abv.
Hopyard: Dry hopped with Cascade and Amarillo hops. 8.5 % abv.
Scrumpy: Named for a traditional English cider. 7.2% abv.
Ruby: Blend of Baldwin apples, Montmorency cherries, and bittersweet cider apples. 9.8% abv.

Dark Skies Bochet: semi-sweet with caramelized honey fermented with maple syrup. 14% abv.
Elderberry: Fermented with Elderberry juice. 10% abv.
Orange Blossom: Made with orange blossom honey. 9.1% abv.
Goldenrod: Made with Goldenrod honey. 9% abv.
Strawberry: Fermented with strawberry puree. 8% abv.

Boutique in a special way
As with most immerging industries, both cideries and meaderies are unique in that large and fancy tasting rooms are the exception, not the rule. They are cozy and informal with the producers themselves often pouring the products with the same hands that created the beverages.

Such establishments are the polar opposite of a large, established winery. The seating may be limited but the attention manifold. Since passion is the fuel that drives the producers, they are eager to share not only the nuances and flavors of their products but also the hows and whys of production.

During warmer months a tasting should be followed by a glass on the grounds. After all, it’s not just tasting cider or mead, it’s banking a memory that will draw you back for another visit.

For a list of cideries and meaderies in the Old Dominion, take a peek into their digital taprooms here:

Published in the October 2019 edition of Dine Wine & Stein magazine.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES