An Estate Home Worthy of Celebration

849_Club_Drive_Keswick_Estate_For_SaleFor many weekend visitors, the Piedmont region of Central Virginia is an escape from the hectic work week and a get-away to explore scenic byways through rolling hills, countryside rich in history and beauty. A chance to unpack a picnic basket filled with local artisanal cheeses and a fresh baguette alongside picturesque vineyards and uncork a bottle of  Virginia wine or bubbly.  For others, this is a privileged daily way of life; residents in and around Charlottesville hail from all over the world and choose to live here because of the temperate four seasons, the proximity to major East Coast metropolitan areas and the abundance of recreational, educational and cultural opportunities. In this particular case, the Tiemeyers, who have owned several homes and traveled globally, ultimately selected Keswick as their retirement home. The approach to  Keswick Estate transitions through the Keswick Hall resort, past tennis courts, a small vineyard, the splendid  “Hall”  hotel and Keswick Country Club. Passing through the electronic gate, a peaceful community of estate homes on acreage awaits, surrounded by  the newly redesigned Pete Dye golf course at the foothills of the Southwest Mountains. The estate home at 849 Club Drive was designed with attention to the smallest detail and is currently on the market for the very first time. We launched the listing with an invitation to meet not only the builder and designer, but also one of our favorite local wine makers, Claude Thibaut of Thibaut-Janisson, internationally known for his sparkling wines made in the traditional Methôde champenoise. Claude was born in Reims France, renowned for it’s world class  Champagnes and from there brought this style of wine-making to the United States. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy this home than sitting outside and taking in the view with a glass of Claude’s bubbly.

Claude Thibaut Hartley Botanic IMG_1923Guests previewed the exquisite home and gardens with a flute of chilled sparkling TJ Xtra Brut offering a relaxed atmosphere to chat with builder, Baird Snyder and Jimmy Grigg, architect of Daggett + Grigg about the elements that went into designing the home. All three- Baird, Jimmy and Claude have built their reputations on excellence and the home itself is equal in it’s perfection.  The home, lovingly known as Woodford House, was inspired by the owner’s childhood in Essex, UK and was created to reflect the stately elegance of an English manor surrounded by soft layers of landscaped formal and natural gardens. Sited on 2.49 acres on a gentle slope above the golf course, the home features over 7600 sq.ft, 4 fireplaces and a stunning loggia for outdoor entertaining, a clear favorite.

849 Club Dr Keswick VA 22947-print-032-17-exterior16-4080x2720-300dpiThe automatic humidity controlled Victorian style Hartley Botanic greenhouse adds a sense of fantasy to the garden, imagine enjoying morning coffee amongst the flowers or sipping champagne inside as the snowflakes fall. The golf course lot gracefully undulates to a gazebo and brook flowing just inside a sheltered fringe of trees.849 Club Dr Keswick VA 22947-print-057-56-exterior32-4080x2720-300dpi

A convenient 15 minutes to downtown Charlottesville, 7 miles to historic Monticello, minutes to lovely Keswick Vineyards and a golf cart ride to dining and amenities at Keswick Hall.  To make Keswick Estate your new home and enjoy the best of Central Virginia and to schedule a showing, please contact Traugott & Associates, 434.882.0824 at WelcomeHomeCharlottesville.com849 Club Dr Keswick VA 22947-print-005-20-exterior18-4080x2720-300dpi

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Trump Estate: Girls Night Out

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It’s been two months since I wrote Part One of this post!

Procrastination and life has a way of interfering with sitting back at a keyboard with a glass of wine and reflecting on how  blessed we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world. It actually took the Republican National Convention to spur me on to writing. Kerry Woolard, General Manager of Trump Winery, spoke last night at the RNC and Eric Trump is slated to speak this evening. I have Kerry to thank, along with the staff at Trump Winery, for making our stay exceptional.  Oh, and by the way, this is not a political diatribe, it just got me thinking. This is about an over the top Bed and Breakfast in Virginia wine country,  just a short drive down the road from the historic Monticello,  Ashlawn ( James Monroe’s home),  Dave Matthew’s winery Blenheim Vineyards, peach and apple orchards and our own charming downtown Charlottesville.

In thinking back over our stay,  I pondered as to why it was such an impressionable overnight  and several reasons came to mind.

One: As children we hear stories and read fairy tales about princes and princesses, castles and sumptuous living, but only a few people actually experience the daily lifestyle of the rich and famous. This was an opportunity to slip into that world, for a night or a weekend or a week.

Two: Trump does have the letter “T” everywhere and guess who has the same initials? So, when they handed us the remote control for the gate to the property and I kept seeing the “T” everywhere, well, it kind of did feel like home. The fact that the manor house has only (only!) ten suites, and due to the limited number of guests on our stay, my sister actually started calling it her home. Conversations began with “ I’m so glad you could come to visit me” and along with plenty of bubbly wine and giggles, we did make ourselves quite at home.Lumina_Boston_Photography_www.luminaboston.com_Charlottesville_Wedding_photographer_Trump_Albemarle_Estate_-0043

Three:  The approach through the vineyards and traversing through the rolling countryside with pastoral vistas, I was reminded of early 1800’s paintings of  England in  particular, a  landscape by English Romantic painter, John Constable of Wivenhoe Park  an English landscape park, and the estate of the Rebow family. John_Constable_-_Wivenhoe_Park,_Essex_-_Google_Art_Project

Four: Elegance permeated the property with two 1760 handmade Waterford crystal chandeliers, the elaborate ornamental rococo mantle in the dining room, the soaring 22 foot ceiling in the living room, hand-painted wallpaper designed in Paris and painted in India, garden statuary and formal rose gardens plus the Steinway grand piano-  all speak to a lifestyle of days gone by and made this home outstanding.

As I said, we were totally impressed!

Movie Night

So that night, we slipped on our slippers like The Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm (except there were only four princesses in this story) and danced and traipsed through the halls of the mansion down to the private theater, complete with freshly popped popcorn, loads of candy bars and BYOB Trump Sparkling Blanc de Blanc.              Lumina_Boston_Photography_www.luminaboston.com_Charlottesville_Wedding_photographer_Trump_Albemarle_Estate_-0095

Okay, so maybe we don’t look like princesses-we felt like princesses.

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Showing pictures of our “Pajama Party” at the Albemarle Estate,  I really wanted you to see how much fun you can have at the estate and it would’t be complete without sharing about our evening in the private theater. The room was used in the 1980’s to screen first release films and currently, state of the art surround sound and HD projection. For about $20 per person, you can reserve the theater for your group .

You’ll have the theater to yourself with tons of movies to choose from (you get to select only one though), all you can eat Reese’s and it’s really close to the indoor hot tub, sauna and outdoor pool area if you decide to do something else. I fell asleep and missed THE END but we had a short walk to our opulent suite and sweet dreams.

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I think the pictures speak volumes…it was a heavenly wake-up and the formal breakfast/brunch was artfully presented.

Afterward, we took advantage of the cool morning air, a bike ride and further exploring the property…

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A special thanks to my sweet daughter/photographer, Jillian Curran of  Lumina Boston Photography, the pictures were too many, too wonderful to include all in this one post.

I hope you have as much fun as we did!

THE END

 

 

 

 

Albemarle Estate and Trump Winery: A Girls Night Out

Lumina_Boston_Photography_www.luminaboston.com_Charlottesville_Wedding_photographer_Trump_Albemarle_Estate_-0057It’s all about presentation, whether it’s a creatively garnished plate in an elegant Michelin rated restaurant, an exquisitely wrapped gift or the initial dramatic entrance as you approach an estate property. It is an announcement of what is to come, a tantalizing expectation of an anticipated experience. In this case, large iron gates supported by heavy brick columns with the name Albemarle Estate and Trump Winery announce your passage into a world of opulence. We had arrived!Lumina_Boston_Photography_www.luminaboston.com_Charlottesville_Wedding_photographer_Trump_Albemarle_Estate_-0054I’ve been fortunate to be in attendance at some of the major events at Albemarle Estate including the announcement of the acquisition of the winery by Donald Trump , the official  ribbon cutting for Albemarle Estate Bed and Breakfast, gala events and a recent wine makers sparkling brunch. While researching  places to stay around Charlottesville, I couldn’t find a write up by anyone who had actually stayed at the B & B. As a member of the Trump Winery Wine Club and living in Charlottesville, I decided what better place for an indulgent girls getaway? No beach house for this group! No way!

Fabulously groomed ornamental gardens with tucked away sculptures, fountains, blooming Dogwoods, Cherry and Apple trees, Wisteria draping over arbors and perfectly chilled glasses of sparkling Trump Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay  awaited us.

Graciously, the men in our family  took over the job of babysitting and keeping up on the home front as we headed out on our own for a retreat a mere 30 minutes away in Albemarle County.

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Bye Bye Daddy! Bye Bye Elena!

 

The Surprise

After being buzzed in through the gate, we were able to park right  in front of the 26,000 square foot 45 room Georgian style mansion now Bed and Breakfast recently acquired by Donald Trump and part of the Trump Hotel Collection. We were greeted and delightedly found out we had our accommodations upgraded to the premier William and Mary Suite!  With  two luxurious  separate bedrooms, each with King size beds sumptuously made with 100% goose down pillows and comforters and Italian Bellino bed linens, two  55 inch LCD flat screen HDTV’s, and a Nespresso Beverage system.  The suite is  accessed via an alcove adjoined by a private dining room. Each of the two bathrooms boasted a wonderful extra long claw foot tub with all the spa Trump bath goodies, and a separate hot steam shower. This is my kind of living!

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The CelebrationIMG_7989

Myself, my sister from London, our daughter in law from São Paulo, Brazil and most recently, Raleigh, N.C., and  our daughter presently residing  in the Boston area, all came to celebrate being together, birthday, and friendship in Charlottesville  for a “Girls Getaway”.  The last time we were together was almost 4 years ago and it was entirely too long. Book bridesmaid parties, a fun time with your besties, your  book club or whatever, for a ridiculously wonderful “Girls Night Out”-preferably two nights if you can manage it-it takes a while to wind down. But do plan ahead. I planned this early and we scheduled on an off day which allowed us incredible privacy, lots of laughs and an all round grand experience. The more people in your group, the less you have to worry about bothering others since it is a quite intimate setting and others are looking for sanctuary as well. In retrospect,  It was a good idea that we had reserved during the week since the following day all 10 rooms were completely booked. The estate is a perfect venue  for weddings, functions and romantic weekends near the Monticello Wine Trail.

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Pool Time

Check in is at 3 p.m., if you get there right on time,  (we actually sneaked in a bit early, nabbed a freshly baked hot chocolate chip cookie or two, towels, lovely spa bathrobes)  head straight out to the pool. The staff  are quietly available to serve your needs and will give you a complete tour of Albemarle House prior to settling into your room or afterwards. The pool had just been heated and the hot tub was deliciously inviting after a cool Spring and welcome sunny day. Poolside towels are available, water bottles and  the fireplace in the cabana  can be lit for you upon request. The fitness room is nearby at the main house if you must workout as well as bicycles to ride around the property and vineyards.

What’s for Dinner?

Pay attention to the time, it slips away quickly and your options include heading back into town for dinner which is about a twenty minute drive, or (what we did) take advantage of the complimentary wine tasting at the Trump Winery, just off the grounds of the estate. They offer delicious fare and we called ahead to have our food ready to complement our tasting. They can also prepare plates “to go” and take back with you to the estate leaving you more time to enjoy the surroundings.

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One of the more popular and unique wines outside of the award winning sparkling wines at Trump is Cru, a dessert wine created by blending Chardonnay juice with grape brandy  then aged for over a year in American bourbon barrels. With 14% residual sugar and flavors of citrus, pear and a little bourbon, it can also be used as a mixer as well as an aperitif. It never fails, when I’m at the winery, there are always people walking away with a bottle or case of Cru. On our return, we took advantage of my favorite perk at Albemarle Estate (and the hardest item to give up) the electronic gate opener. Oh how desperately I wanted to keep it, while it was in my car we could pretend we were pulling up to  home !

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Stay tuned for Movie Night, the Morning After and the Gardens… Part Two: Girls Night Out at  Trump

 

 

 

 

 

3 Virginia Wineries for Fireside Sipping

untitled02Whether you are a native of the Old Dominion or a Virginian by choice, I’m reminded of a quotation, “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  In Virginia we have so many places to go! Historical, scenic, cultural and of course, the wineries and vineyards. Get out and shake that cabin fever!

It’s not the prettiest time in the vineyards, the vines are rough and scruffy, asleep waiting for the warmth of the sun to awaken them and the first buds to burst forth. However, it’s a great time to enjoy the wineries! Super Bowl has passed and Spring sports are just around the corner, in the meantime, what better way to enjoy a chilly day then to cozy up to a fireplace with friends with a glass of wine?

We have so many great wineries in Central Virginia, but I’ve chosen three of my favorite, all for different reasons but with a common element, fireside sipping. If you’re fortunate and have the option to go during the week days, you’ll not only avoid the crowds but can have some personal attention from the tasting room manager or even winery owners or winemakers.

All of these mentioned in this post are in the Western Albemarle, northern Nelson County area. All have Blue Ridge Mountain views, are gorgeous wedding venues (check out Borrowed & Blue) and all have  fireplaces.  Don’t miss the opportunity to head out on horseback with Indian Summer Guide Service like we did a while back with owner Ashton Beebe. Each of these vineyards offer horseback rides touring the vineyards.

While they all have much in common, each of the wineries has their own unique ambiance and appeal.

Nestled up close to the mountains is Afton Mountain Vineyards, one of the oldest vineyards in the area dating back to 1978.untitled01

Afton Mountain has the most intimate setting.  Stepping through the Mediterranean style exterior you feel as though you’ve been invited into Tony and Elizabeth Smith’s (owners of AMV) personal living room. We honestly stayed 2 and a half hours sharing a bottle of a perfect winter day Cabernet Franc and photographing with my new camera under the tutelage of our daughter, Jillian Curran of Lumina Boston photography- by the way-she does do weddings and will come to Charlottesville! Outside there are two patios and a covered pavilion offering more space for groups and special events. If you have a larger group (more than 6 or 7) please see the restrictions and special arrangements on their website. They really try to maintain an optimal wine tasting experience. untitled03

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Congratulations and Happy Chinese New Year to the Smiths and AMV for being chosen for wine pairings with the delicious menu prepared by Peter Chang and two other chefs at THE JAMES BEARD HOUSE in New York City as they celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

King Family Vineyards was on our list, of course, (love their Viognier) and in a rare moment we had the place to ourselves with the exception of one other couple. While the fireplace wasn’t lit, the tasting room host graciously offered more than once to light up the wood burning fireplace for us. untitled07

It was wonderful to see how King Family has expanded their space inside to accommodate the crowds of UVA folks and Polo fans that throng there when Spring rolls around. Like AMV, the tasting room offers a refrigerator case stocked with local snacks and has  additional fun wine lovers gift items in case you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for someone special. The new Library is available for special events as well!untitled09untitled08

The most dramatic fireplace in the area is at  Veritas  with it’s floor to ceiling rock wall. The spacious bar and upstairs loft is able to handle larger groups with multiple leather sofas and expansive windows illuminating the tasting room. All three wineries have outdoor patios and seating to soak up the fresh air when the days get longer and warmer. Fire pits and outside space heaters can offset the winter chill for those so inclined. We did a complete tasting here and again, were the only ones in the tasting room until another couple strolled in briefly. We selected a port style wine, the 2012 Othello, made with 75% Tannat and 25% Merlot grapes, packed with complex flavors of dark fruit, vanilla and coffee, perfect for sipping by our own fireplace at home.untitled10

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Clearly, winter and weekdays are a great time to relax and find new wineries to visit or revisit some of your all time favorites. Oh, what places will we go…next?untitled14

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Fun at the Vineyards

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Thibaut Janisson My Favorite Gift

Food, Family, Celebrations, Shopping! It’s the holidays and the pressure is on to entertain, so why not make life easy? Here are some ideas of upcoming events at our local Virginia wineries. Beginning with Black Friday ( I prefer Green Friday if you’re hung up on the sales aspect of the season)  at Grace Estate Winery and enjoy the ambience and views in Western Albemarle from the new tasting room. From November 27th-29th and take advantage of the 20-30% discount on three different wines. unnamed

ENTERTAINMENT 

Tired of leftovers? Take your friends for a nice country drive on  Friday Nov 27th 6-9pm where the Beatles cover band Abbey Road Unplugged will be at Glass House Winery,  and Two Brothers food truck will be servin up their fantastic southwestern style eats, so come hungry, too.  You can still bring a picnic if you like, but the food truck is fantastic, just so you know. No cover, no outside alcohol, no reservations.Buy some delicious gourmet wine infused chocolates while you’re there!  Tastings served throughout (noon-5:30).

 BARREL TASTING

Head to Keswick Vineyards and spend some time getting up close and personal with Keswick Vineyards 2015 vintage with Winemaker Stephen Barnard as you get to experience a barrel tasting of this very promising vintage!

Taste exceptional wines including  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Viognier as they develop and mature in the barrel. There will be 8 sessions, Saturday, November 21st, Sunday, November 22nd, Saturday, November 28th, and Sunday, November 29th from 10-1pm and from 2-5pm each day. You will also have the opportunity to purchase “futures” of these wines at a discount during the barrel tastings!

SHOPPING and SANTA

On November 28th and 29th “Deck the Halls” at Early Mountain Vineyards To celebrate the holiday season,  from 11:00am to 5:00pm.  On Saturday, Two Wishes  (if you haven’t heard them you’ve really been missing out!), and on Sunday, The Olivarez Trio with our friend Jeff Cheers, will be providing holiday music throughout the event. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, photos with Santa, cookie decorating and shopping for gifts from a wide variety of local artists and artisans .We went last year, it was lots of fun and ran into friends out with their visiting families. unnamed-3 

COCKTAILS and CANAPES at Pippin Hill Farm  

Celebrate the holiday season on December 9th 6-9 p.m.  with Pippin Hill’s Executive Chef Bill Scatena! Learn to entertain with small festive bites great for your next holiday party! Tickets will also include a cocktail demo that will explain how to mix flavors to create the perfect holiday drink!

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MASKS and BUBBLES!

On New Years Eve Veritas will be hosting their annual Masked Ball, an elegant event featuring wine and hors d’oeuvres followed by a five-course winemaker’s dinner at 8 p.m. in Saddleback Hall. There will be dancing until midnight, when the masks come off and the champagne flows! Breakfast follows at 12:30 a.m. So bring your mask and your dancing shoes to have great food, wine, and fun to bring in the New Year 2016. Tickets are $175/person.

For any of these events, please plan ahead, call now for reservations at the links provided.

Cheers to You and your Families as we ring out 2015 and celebrate the New Year 2016, Clink!

A Taste of Monticello with the Winemakers

A Taste of Monticello

Virginia wine fans, join us for a live tasting with three winemakers on Virginia Wine Chat

There is still plenty of time to order for this weekends special event!
Virginia Wine Chat – 3 Bottles of the finest Monticello wines

Virginia wine fans, join us for the September edition of Virginia Wine Chat, Saturday, September 27 at 7:30pm, presented by DrinkWhatYouLike.com, Virginia Wine Marketing Office, and The Virginia Wine Club:

A live tasting and interview with Emily Pelton (Veritas Vineyard), Matthieu Finot (King Family Vineyard), and Jake Busching (Grace Estates Winery ) moderated by wine writer Frank Morgan. The educational tasting and panel discussion will be streamed live via the Virginia Wine Chat UStream Channel. Participants watch the live panel discussion/tasting via UStream and can ask questions via Twitter by using the #VAWineChat hash tag.

This Wine Package will include one bottle of each of the following:

Veritas 2013 Viognier
King Family 2012 Meritage
Grace Estate Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc

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A Beautiful Day- Horseback Riding in Virginia Vineyards

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Ashton Beebe of Indian Summer Guide Service in Virginia offers vineyard horseback rides

It’s a Beautiful Day, Sky Falls, You feel Like It’s a Beautiful Day, Don’t Let it Get Away- U2

Crystal skies, frosty winds coursing the rows of dormant grape vines anchored on slopes of the Virginia piedmont….feeling the snowy terroir under hoof… it was a beautiful day.

Whether you’re a horse lover, wine lover or outdoor enthusiast, a ride on horseback through the Virginia vineyards appeals to the romantic in all of us. Don’t believe me? Gentleman, ask your spouse or girlfriend if she would like to venture out on horseback, escorted by a professional guide and finish at the tasting room of one of three spectacular award winning  wineries.  Ladies, ask your husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends or bridesmaids if they would enjoy a private tour like I just described….exactly!  Which is the same reason that I arranged for my sister ( fellow oenophile-fancy name for wino) and I to do just that!

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Cville UnCorked in Saddle

Veritas, King Family, Pollak Vineyards and Glass House Winery all snuggle up to the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains with views that arguably beat Napa Valley hands down.  All three wineries have joined with local cowboy, Ashton Beebe and his Indian Summer Guide Service, to provide a sensory experience that shouldn’t be missed. If you have any apprehensions about riding, no worries here, these horses are accustomed to the terrain and easy as can be with any novice rider.

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Chloe Hodson on Horseback at Veritas

We selected Veritas Winery  for our tour and would have gladly hit all three if time had allowed. Two Socks, Beau and Murphy (Quarter Horse Pintos) were brushed down and ready for our ride. Ashton had requested the lovely Chloe Hodson,  Manager of the Farmhouse and Retreat  at Veritas, to join us for an education about the grape varieties, the terroir and the history of Veritas.  We mounted and set off towards the slopes above Veritas casually chatting, getting accustomed to the gait of the horses.  In a matter of moments, we had established a connection-multiple connections-between the four of us. Chloe immediately tripped to the fact that her boyfriend, Elliott Watkins, assistant winemaker to sister Emily Pelton and originally  from the U.K. , graduated from  Plumpton College in England, for wine making, the same school that my sister is attending for her WSET.  I knew Ashton’s family from years before where we attended church together. Small world!

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Veritas Vineyards in the Snow

The ride was comfortable, horses snorting in conversation with each other, and we continued to ascend the slopes. Should you have any reservations about riding, Ashton will put you at ease and the horses follow each other, easily used to mountain trail rides. I wanted to take pictures with my camera, no easy task when  you’re trying to relax and just take in the moment; but Ashton was riding, reigning single handedly and snapping pictures with his own camera. A nice surprise and we lapsed into just savouring the experience.  At the highest elevation on our ride, Chloe pointed out a slope where future vines would be planted and quite possibly be tended on horseback due to the steepness. It was at this point that I felt like I was in Montana,  in another era, bygone days and away from the hustle of business, cars and crowds.

Sisters
Sisters

 

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Virginia is for Wine & Horse Lovers

Following our ride, we entered the  tasting room with it’s soaring ceilings and the “cork LOVE” display  playing off the slogan Virginia is for (wine) Lovers. Chloe and Elliott walked us through the extensive line up of wines produced at Veritas. Two wines of special note were first,  Elliott’s baby, a 2013 Rosé, which my sister is taking back to Plumpton College to brag on his winemaking skills. It was fun sampling wine with Ashton and getting the guided tour of the cellar and doing some barrel tastings.  

The other was the Kenmar, made with  Traminette grapes ( a hybrid of Gewurtztraminer and Joannes –Seyve (JS)  from Cornell. Emily’s  Veritas 2005  Kenmar brought national  attention to this young female winemaker as the winner of the Judge’s Choice Competition at the 2007 National Women’s Wine Competition in California.  Chloe explained the history of this wine, named in remembrance of her grandparents, Kenneth and Marjorie who passed away during 2001, the year of their first vintage. Her grandmother enjoyed sweet wines and asked that one be made to her taste, thus the Kenmar was born. As Chloe shared the sweet story about her grandmother, we couldn’t help but get teary eyed along with her. My favorite wine was the Harlequin Reserve Chardonnay 2012, a little oaky, buttery and served later at home with our favorite cedar planked Alaskan salmon. I admit that I do like creamy chardonnays…what’s wrong with that?

Chloe Guides the Wine Tasting

Chloe Guides the Wine Tasting

Our tour culminated at the winery, off horseback, (no drinking and riding despite our posed photographs to show off the link to the vineyards).  If you can arrange a horseback tour of the vineyards, try to arrange it during the weekdays when the tasting room is quieter and you can sit by the grand fireplace or really take your time learning about the wines. I cannot recommend this enough and look forward to the soonest opportunity to ride along again. Contact Ashton to arrange your vineyard tour at 434) 531-9679, he DOES answer his phone 🙂

Hanging out at the Veritas Winery
Hanging out at the Veritas Winery

If you want to create the ultimate package, horse back rides, massages courtesy  of Blue Ridge Massage Therapy ,  yoga, cooking classes, spa treatments and staying at the Farmhouse call 540-456-8100 for rates and reservations. Chloe is hands on in this area and can coordinate your visit with various pampering and adventures for your indulgences.

No, You Can't Do This!
No, You Can’t Do This!

 

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The Horses Ride!

Early Mountain Vineyards & The Secret to Hot Mulled Wine

Early Mountain Holiday Open House

Last Saturday turned out to be an unseasonably warm day in Central Virginia,but the Christmas spirit was alive and flourishing at the Early Mountain Vineyards' Holiday Open House. The tree was decked with gilded angels and grapes, beautifully appointed to greet guests.Christmas at Early Mountain Vineyards

Local vendors in the grand were set up for shoppers to purchase gifts and treats while sipping on some Early Mountain wines. Richard Leahy was signing his book, Beyond Jefferson's Vines, and if you're looking for a great gift for a Virginia wine lover, this is perfect.

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Hot Chili and cornbread, vegetarian bouillabaisse with crostini were available to pair with your wine selection. We had a bowl of each and the veggies in the bouillabaisse were scrumptious and the crostini was buttery and crisp, suffice it to say, I didn't share any of my soup.

Santa made an appearance for the children and music was provided by Greene County Ensemble, Antioch Baptist Church, Uno Baptist Church and Madison Bel Canto. Unfortunately, we arrived just a touch late for the music but seeing the children rolling down the hills and sitting by the outdoor fireplace made for a lovely holiday afternoon.


One of the highlights was Margaret Prior sharing her German friend, Irene's hot mulled wine recipe! There is a secret ingredient and the Cabernet France is priced so well that you could use it for this recipe :)  Thanks for sharing!  

Virginia Wine Lover Magazine Favorite Tasting Room Poll

If you haven’t subscribed to Virginia Wine Lover Magazine, the holidays are a great time to sign up for this publication. It offers wine news, gift ideas, events and information about local wineries to share with your holiday guests.

According to Virginia Wine Lover , the results are in from the  September poll asking readers to vote for their Favorite Virginia Winery Tasting Room.  Some 3,000 responses accounted for the top 25 winners selected from Virginia’s 220 wineries with tasting rooms. Selections were made on the basis of Friendliness of Staff (39%), Attractiveness of Location (37%), Staff’s Knowledge of Wine (19%), Proximity (3%) and Price of Tasting (2%). Several of the wineries that are local to our Charlottesville area made the list.

Cooper Vineyards in Louisa County, midway between C-ville and Richmond, took top honors as favorite tasting room. Perfect! Planning our first trip there this weekend which also coincides with their Holiday Open House ( free tastings Sat. & Sun. 1-5).  Many of you may already be familiar with Cooper Vineyards.They were selected for the Cooper staff friendliness, the architectural design of the tasting room and for their fine wines. Cooper Vineyards recently earned the coveted LEED Platinum certification( the highest standard) for excellence in “Green” building technology. They have one many awards already and their Noche dessert wine is extremely popular.  Made with Norton grapes and infused with chocolate, Noche is a versatile wine. According to Cooper Vineyards, it has hints of black cherry and raspberry complement rich aromas of cocoa with a chocolate ganache finish. Great for sipping, drizzled as a chocolate sauce over ice cream or combined with nutella for a chocolate fondue. This wine is definitely on my shopping list for Thanksgiving. These recipes can be found on their website or on VWL’s site.  

2nd place honors for best tasting room went to Early Mountain Vineyards.  Agreed!  This winery is a very popular spot, augmented with a most hospitable tasting room staff, offering select wines from the Commonwealth and an attention to detail to create a most enjoyable wine tasting experience. Located in southern Madison County, EMV has already established themselves as a TGIF spot and situated conveniently between NoVA and Charlottesville, a premier wine tasting destination. The event facility rivals Pippin Hill for country elegance and an exquisite wedding venue.

Prince Michel nabbed the 4th favorite tasting room for its Madison County location. Prince Michel was chosen as the exclusive winery to produce the official 250thanniversary commemorative wine for this year-long celebration. The  two wines chosen to pay tribute to this historic occasion are Prince  Michel’s award winning Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines are  made from grapes grown in the Monticello appellation of Virginia.  Embellished with the custom designed commemorative label, these wines  will be available in over 200 locations around the area. They will also  be available April 21 for tasting and purchase at the First Annual  Monticello Wine Festival at the pavilion on Charlottesville’s downtown  mall. Prince Michel also has a tasting room on Carter’s Mountain with beautiful vistas over  Charlottesville extending down to Nelson County.

Barboursville Vineyards,  Glass House Winery,  Keswick Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards and  Pollak Vineyards made the top 20 tasting rooms in Virginia.  Each winery is unique in its own right offering a little something different from the others. Barboursville for its history, longevity, and 5 star restaurant, Palladio, serving award-winning wines like Octagon and Nebbiolo. Glass House lends an atmosphere of the tropics with its glass conservatory and warm welcoming tasting room staff.  Top that off with Michelle Sanders’ gourmet chocolates and you could wrap up Christmas gifts right there.  Keswick Vineyards is a cozy tasting room in the heart of hunt country with a beautiful backdrop of historic plantations. With this many delightful wineries to choose from, it’s no wonder Charlottesville has become such a great weekend destination. I think you’ll need more than a couple of weekends to get a real taste of Thomas Jefferson’s wine country.

As a real estate agent, I’m finding more and more people choosing the Charlottesville area as their home. Parents who have adult children graduating from the University of Virginia are building homes here after becoming acquainted with all Central Virginia has to offer. The wine industry, education, the arts, temperate climate, health care and more are inspiring weekend visitors to purchase second homes within driving distance from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. If you’re interested in viewing homes for sale in the area, please call or email to schedule a visit. We’d love to welcome you to Charlottesville!

 

Sip & Shop-Mixing Pleasure with Pleasure

A fashion evening with a recipe for success in any ladies book!  Thursday evening  Early Mountain Vineyards introduced the winery to fashionistas from Northern Virginia all the way down to Central Virginia.  The attraction was an event called Sip and Shop featuring designs from Urban Chic,  Splendalla Personal Shopping services, complementary appetizers from Early Mountain and Thibault-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay!  Scene stealer: the prosecco poured over wild hibiscus flowers served in champagne flutes, as beautiful as it was delicious!  Capitalizing on the interest of wedding planners, fashion consultants and fashion bloggers, I foresee potential bridal fashion shows here or perhaps even a guys’ night with tuxedos and cigars on the patio accompanied by a robust red or smokey port? Just my thoughts….

Besides the lovely apparel including denim from 7 For All Mankind, Citizens For Humanity and J Brand in addition to the dressier items (a taupe lace overlay dress that I reeeeally wanted) it was just fun shopping and reconnecting with friends. Bonus, meeting other lady bloggers.  I met Dana Holler of Cville Fashion for the second time in a week, (other encounter at Cville SheBlogs ) and her good friend, Jeannine of Small and Chic Home having a good time as well.

Fashion bloggers Dana and Jeannine

Eric Kelley was on site photographing for EMV’s soon to be launched new website. Love to see his photos! Thanks to Peter, Eric, Wendy, Michelle, Heather and Margaret for the attention to everyone’s comfort and enjoyment!

Along that vein, the remaining portion of this post is devoted to photography, the pictures speak for themselves…

Enjoying our Red, White and Blue Flight