loudoun

article placeholder

On the Hunt… the Equestrian Marries the Gypsy

By Summer Stanley

The Equestrian Marries the Gypsy… That’s the tagline for the new fashion brand, sigAshop, which just made its debut this year. Juxtaposing country girl style with indie-rock and beach bohemian, co-founders/designers and Virginia hunt country natives, Jennifer Gray Calcagno and Brittany Hartz are bringing an edge to tradition right in our backyards – and we’re enchanted.

Earlier this summer, sigAshop celebrated the launch of their clothing label with a shopping event at Three Fox Vineyards in Delaplane on June 11. On this fiercely hot afternoon, they showcased their new collection, appropriately named “Never Ending Summer.” Customers sipped, browsed and tried on the line consisting of brightly colored, light and breezy dresses. The pieces are flowing, loose-fitted, some risky with low backs and plunging necklines, yet all with a signature image uniquely repeated in each of the patterns: horses.

“Travel inspiration is big for the brand,” Calcagno said. The name sigAshop comes from the Spanish word “siga” meaning “follow,” and both Jennifer and Brittany use this word to express a feeling of joy while following their dreams. They believe that wherever you travel, you bring a piece of that place back with you – you look back on it in a new light, and others see you differently as well. Certainly many of us can relate to wanderlust driven life experiences shaping who we are, and shaping our style.

So who’s wearing the designs? “She is a well-traveled woman in body and spirit, and ready to adorn her inner wild child. She’s looking for that standout dress she can wear to special events, like the races,” Calcagno explained.

Also true to resort-wear style, they’re versatile enough to be worn year-round. A gypsetter moves through life with an exotic, sophisticated and down-to- earth ease. This approach to wardrobe, exquisitely captured on the distant beaches of Bali, where the line is produced, translates just as carefree back home on the farm.

“The Never Ending Summer collection brings the perfect balance of our bohemian style mixed with our love of horses. It was a dream come true for us to bring these two separate worlds together into one,” Hartz said. 

In addition to the dresses are varieties of printed tunics, fringe tanks, head wraps, and other free-spirited accessories. Festival-ready jewelry and purses, handmade in Bali, are embellished with beads, feathers and tribal turquoise. Natural and beautiful, an effortless statement is created with each wear. Keep your eyes open for an expansion into home decor. Think dream catchers.

Currently, the clothing is available for purchase online, though be sure to look for sigAshop pop-up shops as they plan for select events here in Virginia’s horse country, as well as in Florida during the winter months. Visit shopsigashop.com for more boho chic redefined.

Veramar Vineyard Offers Enhanced Tasting Program

by Brian Yost

There is something a little different going on just across the mountains in the Shenandoah Valley. Veramar Vineyard has initiated what it calls an “enhanced tasting.” They’re still doing a standard public tasting, but also have instituted a program that takes a deeper dive into some of their best wines in a guided, small-group setting.

If you’re unfamiliar with Veramar Vineyard, the Bogaty family owns it along with Bogati Bodega in Round Hill and James Charles Winery and Vineyard a little further west in Winchester. In addition to producing wine, James Charles and Bogati winemaker Justin Bogaty also does custom crush for a handful of other Virginia wineries. The quality of the family’s wine is highly regarded throughout the Commonwealth.

I was invited to the first of these tastings in March, so I arrived at the appointed time and waited in the tasting room for the rest of the group to assemble. The small groups are limit- ed to a maximum of eight people. After everyone arrived, we were ushered into a private tasting room just off the main public space.


Once inside, we were seated at a tasting bar. At each seat there were a pair of wine glasses and a plate of excellent Charcuterie. Behind the bar was Tom Donegan, Veramar’s wine specialist, who conducts many of the winery’s special events. Posted on the wall behind him was a board listing the four wines that comprised the day’s tasting.

I love the format. There are other wineries in the Commonwealth that do food and wine pairings, but they’re done either as a part of the regular tasting or as special events conducted for the wine club. To my knowledge, this is the only winery in the state that has a regular food and wine-pairing program that is available on a regular basis for the general public. In addition, these are reserve or club wines that are being poured. In other words, they are Veramar’s premier wines.

After a brief introduction and an explanation of how things would proceed, Tom began to step us through the wines. We started with a Fume Blanc, which is a style of Sauvignon Blanc. Paired with French olives, the wine itself was excellent with bright fruit and perfect balance. It was probably my favorite of the entire event and I took bottles home.

After that great start, we moved on to a Chambourcin dry-style Rosé that was pared with Prosciutto. The acidity of the wine was perfect alongside the saltiness of the cured meat. Then on to a Merlot that had a nose you could get lost in. The red fruit of the wine was expertly paired with a very rich duck rillette. We finished
with the Veramar Rooster Red, which is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The dark fruit of the blend was featured alongside a won- derful aged Manchego and fig jam.

The formal tasting lasted about a hour. Tom did a great job leading us through the wines and for anyone learning about wine, the pairing format is a great educational opportunity.

I also found a certain sense of camaraderie among the members of our group and I very much enjoyed interacting with them. After the event ended, there was no attempt to shuffle us back out of the room. We were afforded an opportunity to purchase glasses or bottles of wine and there was time to socialize and trade notes with other members of the group.

>If you’re interested in attending one of these sessions, you’ll need to check the Veramar website for times. The enhanced tastings are conducted just a couple Saturdays a month and require an advance reservation. I should also point out that the tasting list will vary from session to session. So it may be possible to attend more than one and taste a different line- up. In any case, I walked away a huge fan of the program and the Veramar wines. I strongly recommend checking it out for yourself.

8 Fast Facts about Hugo Bar & Eatery

By Jessica Miller

8 Fast Facts about Hugo Bar & Eatery, Purcellville’s new cocktail lounge (opened in May)

  1. The owners are Michael Mercer and Jason Miller
  2. They sell wine on the go – 15% off cases.
  3. Cocktails are made with products from Purcellville’s Catoctin Creek Distillery.
  4. They serve pizza & calzone prepared on a brick oven hearth (see menu here).
  5. Hugo is located in the same renovated farm house as WK Hearth in Purcellville.
  6. The cocktails are inspired by Hugo Ensslin recipes (author of one of the most influential cocktail books ever).
  7. Tuesday nights are “flight nights” (3-2oz tastes of 3 different wines, whites or reds).
  8. $10 off of bottles on Tuesdays.

 

article placeholder

On the Hunt… for Everything Mint Julep!

By Summer Stanley

At long last, springtime in Virginia comes breezing in through open windows, riding on the scent of azaleas, magnolias, peonies and honeysuckle, and I find myself craving the kind of southern comfort that most would associate with derby fever. However, for me, Mint Juleps are warm weather refreshments to be enjoyed long after the “run for the roses” is over.

The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby since 1938 when they started selling the cocktail in signature glasses for 75 cents each. Not surprisingly, it’s also the official cocktail of the Virginia Gold Cup. Virginia, after all, gets some credit for the earliest printed references of Mint Juleps. In his book, Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America, British traveler John Davis mentions drinking them at a Northern Virginia plantation in the early 19th century.

Originally, a Julep was known for being any sweet and syrupy drink, often used as a vehicle for medicine. In the early days, it was likely made with rye whiskey or rum, and it wasn’t until the 20th century that Kentucky, proud of its bourbon, popularized it in the traditional recipe we know today: sugar, water, bourbon, fresh mint leaves and crushed ice.

Though sometimes served in a highball glass or even a pewter stirrup cup, you’ll most often find the drink served in a sterling silver julep cup, which in itself is a symbol of southern hospitality and makes for an appropriate gift on many occasions. The cups can be engraved with monograms or special sentiments, used for floral arrangements and centerpieces, and add instant class to a vanity or desk.

If you’re like me and can’t get enough of all things mint julep, there are plenty of ways to get your fix. I’ll bet on it! 

Where to hunt in Middleburg this weekend:

  •  Goodstone Inn & Restaurant in Middleburg has won many awards for its Virginia fine dining. The Restaurant at Goodstone features state-of-the-art, seasonally inspired cuisine with a farm-to-table emphasis. One of their specialty drinks happens to be the Mint Julep, and they have shared that recipe on their web site so you can create this refreshing cocktail at home, too. (Recipe below)
  • Join Salamander Resort & Spa on the terrace on May 7th from 3-7 pm as they celebrate with a Kentucky Derby event. You can sip Mint Juleps, delight in derby bite size fair, listen to live music, and experience “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” ($20/pp, Mint Julep bar and service bar are a la carte)

Where to hunt for julep cups:

Goodstone’s Mint Julep Specialty Cocktail

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups water

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon

8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves.

2. Fill eight cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person’s sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups. Serve juleps on a silver platter.

X