Living in the midst of Virginia’s hunt country has it’s perks. One of the nicest, aside from the scenic backdrop of rolling hills, miles of painted four board fences and Gone With the Wind sunsets, is the pageantry of the horses and hounds. Just a short distance down the road from the popular Keswick Vineyards in Cismont, Virginia is a must do for Thanksgiving.
At 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning the church bells toll and the annual Blessing of the Hounds is celebrated as an outdoor service at Grace Episcopal Church established in 1742. This prayer service was first held on November 28th, 1929 and is a well loved tradition that “dates back to the eighth century when St. Hubert ( the son of the Duke of Aquitaine) was hunting on Good Friday and saw a stag with a luminous crucifix between it’s antlers. He allowed the stag to get away and ultimately founded a monastery where he bred the black and tan hounds. He later was canonized by the church as the patron saint of hunters”.
Formal fox hunting attire is elegant and functional. The uniform consists of scarlet colored coats worn with white breeches or black blazers with buff breeches and both always worn with a black hat and black riding boots. Stock ties accentuate white shirts and are protective and functional. In case of an injury, the tie can be removed and used as a tourniquet, sling or bandage and pinned using the simple stock pin.
This has become a family tradition on Thanksgiving, all bundled up with warm clothes, a cup of hot coffee and standing huddled with others awaiting the entrance of the horses and hounds. The horses and hounds arrive promptly clip clopping with their riders in fox hunt regalia under the shadow of the Grace bell tower. The hounds rustle around, responding to their masters direction and sniffing for some of the treats tossed from the riders on horseback. Horse tails swish, snorting sounds and frosty breath in the cold morning air while the voices softly sing anthems of patriotism. It almost seems as though the animals are hushed by the quiet notes of America the Beautiful and My Country Tis of Thee.
The sun rises above the tower of Grace Episcopal Church and the crystal clear blue skies provide a brilliant contrast to the vivid scarlet coats, while we reflect with thanksgiving on the blessings we take for granted the rest of the year. If you haven’t been before, I highly recommend It. The children will love it and it’s great family time.
“Every day should feel this good.” The well known slogan of Vineyard Vines was apparent at the grand opening of one their newest nautically themed locations in Charlottesville and it felt really good! The VV concept is to have their clothing and accessories conjure an image of “enjoying the finer things in life, the things people love to do and dream about doing”. Founded in 1998 on Martha’s Vineyard by Shep and Ian Murray, the Connecticut raised brothers left the Manhattan corporate world to make “ties for others so [they] didn’t have to wear them”. Starting their business on an accrued debt of $40,000 , Shep and Ian have managed to turn the small business into a thriving American company with over 28 stores and affiliations with the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball not to mention colleges and universities. Nautically appointed, their stores display Vineyard Vines memorabilia, sailing gear and an “all hands on deck” sales counter set below a teak sailing yacht ceiling and the backdrop of a ship’s cabin.
The two brothers have become icons in the world of “haute-prep” and customers have a tradition of bringing in their old Vineyard Vines ties to be autographed. I like to think that Nolan Ross, the fashionably-preppy attired Hamptonite on the ABC TV series Revenge , shops at one of the original VV stores in New England. The same signature “fun” atmosphere Ian & Shep have injected into their retail stores permeated last Thursday evening’s event as popped-collared customers socialized, shopped and in keeping with the “vineyard flair” sipped glasses of Pippin Hill Chardonnay and Merlot while sampling carried trays of hors de oeuvres. Side note: I’m sure there has been more than one bridal party at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard (a premier destination wedding venue near Charlottesville) to don Vineyard Vines accessories.
One could almost smell the salty air of the Vineyard as corn hole toss games played at the entrance, photo ops flashed with Ian & Shep, and a duo performed live summer themed music at the door.
The successful evening ended as smiling shoppers left with whale embroidered ball caps and bags of whimsically colored clothing while Shep was noticed generously giving away merchandise to future young customers! I spoke later with Deborah Kahn and Hannah Nolan, both who love being a part of the new Vineyard Vines team, plus modeling the latest outfits for the Fall/Winter season. Their enthusiasm for the management style of the company as well as the quality products made me want to join the team as well. I’d have the best Christmas gifts to give, like the new ties with holly berries or candy canes or even lobsters with antlers….are you smiling yet? If not, pop into the store, you will be =)
I recommend checking out the Vineyard Vines blog too!
Seriously, do you need more than one? I certainly don’t! I noticed a video on NBC 29 in Charlottesville about horseback tours of vineyards and I wanted to share this information with all of you horse-wine-outdoor- photographer-romantic types. Check out the video below and the read why you should set aside some time for a visit to Pollak:
Horseback Vineyard Tours at Pollak, King Family & Glass House Wineries
#1 Reason to visit Pollak Vineyards The Wine! The wines are fabulous and you really need to try some of the award-winners like the 2012 Rose which won a Double Gold Medal .
#2 It’s harvest time and the scenery couldn’t be more beautiful in Central Virginia – except during peak Fall foliage With a Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop and a picture postcard lake just below the winery, Pollak is one of my favorite patios to soak up the views.
#3 The weather is glorious-ask anyone today and I bet they’re outside, except for me and I’m heading out in a couple of minutes!
#4 You can horseback ride through vineyards? Awesome! Indian Summer Guide Service offers these tours at Pollak, King Family or Glass House for a real down to earth experience, then stop in and sample a Virginia Viognier. The Pollak 2012 Viognier won Gold, Best of Category at the Atlantic Seaboard International
and Gold in the Monticello Cup!
#5 Buy Local, Drink Local! See you at the Vineyard!
Our friend Bill Sykes, (you may know him as the Wings Over Wine Country Ambassador for the Wildlife Center of VA) has now taken the initiative to help fund raise for The Wounded Warrior Project as well. This is a little out of my normal realm but I’m passionate about our Veterans and supporting this charity. Bill, a Navy veteran as is my husband, combines his hobby of making model airplanes (the kind you can really fly but shouldn’t because they’re just too darn beautiful to crash) and his support for the military to help create a fun event benefitting those who’ve served our country! This event should prove to be not only fun but an opportunity to eat great food and win some generous raffle prizes! Wonder if any wine is raffled?
Model Aviation Celebration Fly-in
On August 17th, 2013, join the pilots of the Fluvanna County Radio Control Flying Club (FCRCFC) as we celebrate National Model Aviation Day and raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The club field is located at 11176 West River Road, immediately north of the Fluvanna County Landfill.
- 9 AM to 4 PM with flying all day – big planes, small planes, scale planes and awesome aerobatic demonstrations! Come help us celebrate and “Get the Bug” for model aviation J
- Pilots’ Landing Fees of $10 will be donated to the WWP
- Guests admitted free with lunch (sandwich, side, and drink) provided by Two J’s Smokehouse in return for donation to the WWP. Please donate generously!
- Additional food/drinks available for purchase
- Raffle with GREAT PRIZES donated by local businesses and 100% of raffle proceeds donated to the WWP. Drawing at 2:30 PM
Grab a lawn chair and some sunscreen and come on out to the field to catch some great flying, learn about model aviation, and help raise money to support the Wounded Warrior Project! Hope to see you there!