In September, Kenny Grandon took over the helm as Goodstone Inn’s new Wine Director. The Woodstock, Virginia, native and certified sommelier shares with Middleburg Life, in an exclusive online interview, what guests of the Hunt Country retreat can expect when they come looking for a good glass of wine.
When asked what brought him to Goodstone Inn, Grandon says it was, “the opportunity for growth and to expand my horizons” that really attracted him. He adds that he plans to “take on the already nice wine list and push it forward.”
Grandon comes to Goodstone after five years at the Inn at Little Washington, where he was the cellar master. In his new post he will manage wine needs for both The Bistro and The Conservatory and also hopes to “revitalize the retail wine program.”
Expanding on that, “I think it was started back in [the height] of COVID,” he says. “It gives guests the opportunity to email me their preferences of what they like, [so that] I can help them discover new wines in the range of what they would like to spend.” He finishes, “The guests have to come pick up the wines, so it’s a great reason to come to dinner as well!”
In addition to revamping the retail program, Grandon has his sights set on prestigious wine awards. “Right now, we have the second Wine Spectator award, but we are certainly pushing to get the Grand award of which there are only 97 in the entire world.” He adds, “That is my first goal. To do what I can to get that award.”
As for what types of wines he plans to bring to Goodstone, it will be a mix of vintages sourced from around the world and just around the corner. “I am going to have some old worlds because you have to have your French wines like Bordeaux and Burgundy. There will be some Italian and Spanish as well,” he says. “But I also certainly have a soft spot for Virginia.”
His partner, Melanie, is the winemaker at Cana Vineyards. “I have added some of her wines to the list and Boxwood as well.” He continues, “I’m excited to continue to expand the Virginia wine sections and use some in our upcoming tastings menus.”
Grandon is looking forward to the collaboration with the Goodstone kitchen staff as part of his new role. “Wine dinners will happen in the near future…I definitely plan to bring some winemakers in and do some fun dinners on the weekends. [That way] everyone can actually enjoy themselves. We can sell out The Conservatory and people won’t have to go to work the next day.”
More than wine dinners, his work with the kitchen is centered on a common goal. “We as a team are certainly pushing for Michelin recognition in the future. It’ll take all of us hard work to get there, but that is our goal. I’m looking forward to being a part of the process.”
As for personal goals he shares, “I plan to continue to study. Studying and reading to be continuously engrossed in wine.”
For those who cross Grandon’s path at Goodstone, they are in for a treat. Not only is he knowledgeable enough about wine to recommend the perfect bottle he says, “I’m a people pleaser. So, whatever I can do to bring a smile to someone’s face, to be a part of their experience, that has driven me for the past 16 years.”
This article first appeared online in November 2022.
In foxhunting circles, it is called “the dine after the dash.” Afterall, who wouldn’t be hungry after a morning of chasing a fox on horseback in the fresh country air?
The hunt breakfast is so named no matter what time of day the feast is served. Since hunts historically started with the rising of the sun, the first meal afterwards would be breakfast; hence, the hunt breakfast term stuck.
Here in Virginia, hunt breakfasts typically feature ham biscuits, stews, and desserts with equestrian and foxhunting themes. And of course, many hunts begin with the ritual of a stirrup cup – a bit of “liquid courage” – traditionally filled to the brim with Irish coffee, hot buttered rum or sherry; or, perhaps ginger brandy served to riders while their feet are already in the stirrups just before they leave for the hunt.
Saturday hunts are typically followed by the traditional hunt breakfast at the host’s property. Coming in from the field, riders peel off hunting coats trading them in for tweed hacking jackets, gather inside where it’s warm, and where food and drink are plentiful, to recount the drama of the hunt.
Recollections From Local Hunt Breakfast Hosts
Zohar and Lisa Ben-Dov of Kinross Farm near Middleburg host a hunt breakfast the Saturday before Thanksgiving for Orange County Hounds (OCH), opening their property to fellow hunt enthusiasts, friends, and guests.
Kinross, a 500-acre property under conservation easement with Virginia Outdoors Foundation, is near Wexford, once the country estate of former President John and First Lady Jackie Kennedy.
“We were living in upstate New York and Zohar wanted to hunt more often. So, we moved to Virginia for better weather, bought the farm in 1985, and since 1989, have hosted a hunt breakfast on the property – every year except 2020 because of COVID,” Lisa explains. Zohar has hunted with the Middleburg Hunt, Piedmont, Orange County, Loudoun, and Old Dominion.
The brick house at Kinross dates to 1837 and breakfasts were first held there. But the house was not large enough for the number of guests they invited, so Zohar built another complex on the farm that could accommodate additional guests. Lisa added, “For decorations, I picked different flowers depending on what linen colors I decided to use. Being originally from New Orleans, it became a tradition to serve jambalaya and horse-shaped cookies.”
At Kinross, people begin arriving around 9:30 a.m., and the meet kicks off with a stirrup cup of port or sherry. By 10 a.m., the hunt takes off. After hours of hunting, breakfast usually starts at 1 p.m.
Last year, the Ben-Dovs decided to have the breakfast outside and hosted it in the field. The menu included wonderful hot soups, ham biscuits, and sandwiches, and a full bar. Lisa recalls, “It was great! Everyone loved it. This year, I’m having it outside again.”
Another popular hunt breakfast is hosted the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Welbourne. Dulany Morison continues Piedmont’s long tradition of hosting at Welbourne, which sits on 520 acres that are protected in a conservation easement with Virginia Outdoors Foundation. But theirs is an evening affair, a cocktail dinner complete with Hunt Country attire.
When hounds come in around 2 p.m., riders take their horses home and get ready for the evening before returning. Bartenders are on the porches. Servers offer ham biscuits to start. Then there is a formal buffet spread in the dining room which includes beef tenderloins, sliced ham, and mashed potatoes. “We keep the menu pretty traditional,” Dulany adds. “And there’s always roaring fires in every fireplace. I also recall an old photo of children sitting on the stairs at Welbourne with dinner plates on their laps.”
“It’s a chance to interact with some of the landowners and riders to toast their ‘hopefully’ successful day,” Dulany says. “It’s a camaraderie-building occasion that benefits rider and landowner alike; it ties everyone together in support of the landscape. There’s a driving force and motivation to preserve the territory for fox hunters. And it’s trickled down to others who support the industry in so many ways: those who provide horse care, feed, equestrian supplies, caterers, designers, etc. There are so many layers. Some of the most passionate enthusiasts are those who are doing a lot of the work. They take great pride in it.”
Dulany and his wife, Eleanor, also subscribe to Orange County Hounds, and Eleanor is a steward on the OCH board. Since 2015, the Morisons have hosted a breakfast at their Stoke Farm in OCH territory. “We host it closer to Christmas, so everything is decorated for the holidays,” Dulany says. Stoke’s 285 acres are protected under conservation easement with Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
These breakfasts include hearty fare, live fires, and festive drinks – mostly red wine or bourbon is consumed, but there’s always a full bar. Dulany adds, “With these breakfasts, the host is thanking their fellow hunters and neighboring landowners for allowing the use of their land, and they serve as a venue for inviting others.”
Another local foxhunter, Rose Marie Bogley, has hosted her share of hunt breakfasts at her Upperville estate Peace and Plenty at Bollingbrook. She hunted with Middleburg Hunt from 1975 to 1985. In 1985, she moved to Bollingbrook where she has hosted breakfasts for Piedmont for over 30 years. Her estate includes a grand manor house that dates to 1809 on 400 acres, with 365 of those acres in a conservation easement with the Land Trust of Virginia.
Hunts usually start around 9 a.m. Before the pandemic, she hosted it as close to Christmas as possible. “I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Bogley shares. “During the breakfast, horses can be put in stalls since there are several on the property. We had valet parking and gave people rides up to the house. There’s a healthy crowd of about 100 at a time, people coming and going. It got bigger each year.”
Last time Bogley hosted, she served chili. “I found this wonderful recipe in a cooking magazine called Bourbon Chili; it was the best, everyone loved it,” she remembers. “It cooked all night, and at four o’clock in the morning, I’d come downstairs and could smell it. We had corn muffins too, along with ham, salads, and a big dessert table. I’m from Pennsylvania and my sister knew someone there who made really good nut rolls. We had a full bar – actually, two bars – and bartenders.”
Dulany sums up the significance of the hunt breakfast perfectly: “It’s a happy time during a cold season, and it’s a great way to celebrate a day of sport. Instilling this interest into the next generation is key on everyone’s mind in the fox hunting world. Hopefully, it will be kept alive for future generations.”
We can all toast to that. ML
This article originally appeared in the November 2022 issue.
Another must-see exhibition will open at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) on October 7. The exhibit highlights more than 60 dog collars from the 187 collars donated to the museum by Dr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Greenan in 2014. The exhibition is a collaboration between the NSLM and The American Kennel Club (AKC) Museum of the Dog in New York City which is sending 48 works of art from its collection to accompany the collars.
The first section of the exhibition focuses on collars and art from the 17th century into the middle of the 19th century. Among these collars is a very practical hinged, iron collar, and another iron collar of flattened disks with upturned spikes connected by iron rings. Both are from the 1600s.
Some collars in the collection are engraved with the dog’s name, the identity of its owner, or both. Others don’t have either but still convey the high status – its own form of identity – of its owner through both design and richness of material. One such example is an extremely large 18th-century collar from India which would have graced the neck of a Tibetan mastiff. The horsehide leather is set with brass-mounted, agate cabochons along with elaborate metalwork. Two other 18th-century leather collars are from Germany; one is adorned with brass seashells and bosses, the other with stylized initials.
Silver collars conveyed a similar cachet. Of those included in the exhibition, there is one identified as being from the year1834. It is a simple design, and, although the dog is not named, it identifies the owners, Miss C. & E. Senhouse. Their names are elegantly engraved above their beguilingly named abode, “Nether Hall,” a structure in Cumbria at the northwest corner of England with portions dating from at least the 1400s.
Pierced metal collars from the 18th and 19th centuries are certain to be among the highlights of the exhibition. These were made from wide bands of brass with sections removed leaving dates, letters, and designs as the surface. Contrasting leather was usually used as a liner, stitched to the collar through small holes near the upper and lower rims. An unusual example in the show has a metal liner with round-ended spikes bent over its rims.
The earliest painting on display is “The Lion Hunt,” dating from 1605 by the Flemish artist Paul de Vos. The Dutch artist Abraham Hondius is represented by several pieces including “The Amsterdam Dog Market” painted in the early 1670s. The scene is generally considered to be an imaginary construct. Nonetheless, it is an amazing painting with more than 40 dogs depicted, possibly to advertise Hondius’ expertise in painting them. In the lower right of the painting, an array of collars is laid out for perusal. Among other artists in this section of the exhibition are Philip Reinagle, George Morlandl, Henry Alken, and two paintings by Sir Edwin Landseer, including the well-known painting “Alexander and Diogenes.”
The other sections of the exhibition focus on particular breeds or types of dogs such as mastiffs, terriers, bulldogs, pointers, and setters. Included here is Richard Ansdell’s “The Poacher at Bay,” depicting a poacher trying to protect himself by desperately clutching to the collar of the gamekeeper’s mastiff. Some of the other artists on display in these sections are Percival Rousseau, Gustave Muss-Arnot, Arthur Wardle, George Earl, and George’s daughter, Maud Earl.
Collars extend through these portions of the show as well, displayed alongside breed types or by use. These collars feature styles that were becoming more broadly available through means of manufacturing including collars with linked metal plaques or bands and interlocking, delicate chains. Many of these were for simple practicality; others strove for a high degree of decorative pleasure.
The catalog of the show contains contributions by Dr. Timothy Greenan, Claudia Pfieffer, the deputy director and George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator at the NSLM, and Alan Fausel, adjunct curator at the AKC Museum of the Dog.
The show will run from October 7 to March 26, 2023, before traveling to the AKC Museum of the Dog in New York where it will be on display from April 5 through September 4, 2023. Finally, it will be at Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia, from November 3, 2023, until May 3, 2024.
This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Greenan, Garth Greenan Gallery, Mark Anstine, and Marianna Lancaster. ML
This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue.
“We have a team that believes in a wine experience that starts in the vineyard, works its way to the bottle, and into the glasses we pour and the information and passion we share,” says Jed Gray, general manager of Greenhill Vineyards. Gray and his team know that more than good soil and the right climate, making an exceptional bottle of wine starts with meticulous vine care, staying true to the land, and pride in the final product. Gray, along with David Greenhill, Ubaldo Morales, Ben Comstock, and Jenny Travers, invest their expertise, sweat equity, and an undeniable camaraderie in their craft to produce bottles as distinct as the property, process, and people on the path from vine to wine.
A sprawling 128-acres, the Greenhill property is the image of Virginia wine country complete with a stylish tasting room, historic stone manor, gorgeous vistas, and, of course, rolling hills of diligently tended vines. More than the aesthetics, it’s the dedication to the vines that is at the root of the vineyard’s success. “When you are dealing with vines, you are tending to them 365 days a year. It’s personal,” Gray shares. “Each vine is a little different and you can get to know not only a block of vines, but individual vines themselves.” Perhaps no one knows the vines better than Morales, who has worked on the property for 19 years. “I started on this land in 2003…When Mr. Greenhill bought the farm, I started working for him full-time. And, I’m still here.”
Nearly two decades on, Morales has seen the quality of the landscape improve. He notes, “The vines look nice, and the fruit grows differently than before.” And Gray adds, “Over the years we have implemented more sustainable vineyard techniques that produce a healthier canopy and healthier fruit. Everything we do is to make a healthier vineyard and we have seen the results over the past couple of years.”
Part of achieving optimum vineyard health is down to understanding the environment of the Middleburg American Viticultural Area. “We really try to understand what is happening in [our] unique microclimate,” Gray shares. He expands, “We plant varietals that thrive in [this] unique microclimate. Now that we have revitalized the land and learned what works best and what doesn’t, it has resulted in some unique fruits from our vineyard.”
Sustainable practices are aided by Morales’ vigilance in the field. Gray shares, “Ubaldo has this immense attention to detail and pride in his work. Growing the vine from bud break in the spring, watching the fruit mature, taking care of the vine to produce the highest quality fruit, when you pick it and know it is as perfect as you can make it, it’s insanely gratifying.” He adds with a laugh, “Essentially, he enjoys the fruit of his labors.”
The result of Morales’ dedicated tending and the vineyard’s agricultural practices are grapes ripe for picking and producing award-winning wine. This next step benefits from the talent and experience of Ben Comstock, Greenhill’s head winemaker. Comstock got into the wine world when a friend with a winery in Loudoun County needed help with his harvest in 2009. “When I started, I didn’t necessarily have a passion for wine. I actually fell in love with the work first, and then got to fall in love with the industry itself as the years went on.” Comstock brought that love to Greenhill Vineyards in 2018.
At Greenhill, producing premium vintages is as much a practice in adaptability as it is in standardized methodology, all while reflecting the relative newness and distinct terroir of the region. Of Comstock’s approach, Gray says, “Every single vintage is different, and the fruit that comes in is different. Ben allows the fruit and then the juice to speak to him [about] how he is going to ultimately create a final product.”
“Our goal, our ideal, is to make a wine from Virginia,” explains Comstock, understanding that in making it, Greenhill is helping define it. “There is no definition of what Virginia wine is supposed to be,” offers Jenny Travers, the assistant general manager at the vineyard. “So, we are part of a process of defining what Virginia wine actually can be.”
Crucial to defining Virginia wine is harnessing the terroir. “Everything [the team] does, they do in accordance with the terroir,” shares Greenhill’s owner, David Greenhill. “It’s not just the land, but the soil, the climate, everything that goes into the wine…We actually care for the vines in accordance with the elements that are here and not techniques from other areas that don’t necessarily apply,” he adds.
“It’s an evolutionary process where we are constantly educating ourselves with the fruit every single year and always striving to make a better product,” Gray says.
The result? Numerous award-winning and, as Travers says, “cult favorite” wines with something for every preference from Chenin Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon. “Our sparkling is something that people know Greenhill for. Our Cabernet Franc is amazing. Our Merlot is fantastic. And then we make two or three iterations of Chardonnay. Oh, and Petit Verdot. Those are some of the wines we are known for making exceptionally well,” Travers lists. When asked, Morales says his favorite is the Merlot.
Beyond the wine, the team at Greenhill applies the same laser focus when nurturing team camaraderie and guaranteeing customer enjoyment. “Me, Ben, Ubaldo and Jed, we all have separate roles, but we all work collaboratively. And we all like each other. I mean, genuinely like each other,” Travers emphasizes.
Just a few minutes in the tasting room or a walk around the grounds reveals an inter-employee warmth that spreads to each customer with whom the team members interact. “Everything we do is about an experience…And every touch we have with the customers is extremely important to us. It is something that every single person that works here takes pride in,” Travers says.
“We are not [only] successful because of our pride, but [also] because of our passion. If you can look someone in the eye and pour them wine and speak passionately about it, that resonates with the customer and their enjoyment and appreciation of the product is endless at that point. We have pride and passion in everything that we share with our [guests] and we stand behind that 100%,” Gray says. Travers finishes, “And that’s 100% from vine to bottle to glass.”
Pride, passion, and a spirit of camaraderie are served in abundance at Greenhill Vineyards making it a must-visit during Virginia’s wine month and beyond. Perhaps Travers puts it best when she says, “The celebration around the time you spend with people when you are drinking, that connection you make, that is extremely important [to us]. It’s extremely important to the business and it is extremely important to the experience.” ML
This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue.
Article by Diane Heletjaris Photos by Michael Butcher
Chris Burns had an idea. As the president of Old Ox Brewery, not surprisingly, the idea revolved around beer. Wouldn’t it be fun to get together with fellow Virginia craft brewers to dream up a new brew?
“What sparked this collaboration was that we are all distributed by the same distributing company, Premium Distributors of Virginia. It would be great to get everybody together to brew a beer, [which would] give us the opportunity to talk shop and have a good time. Customers would have the opportunity to try beer from breweries they haven’t had the opportunity to try,” Burns says. “Collaborations are pretty normal. The [brewing] community likes to get together, see how different people approach the same problems…We always learn something during these collaboration beer days.”
Julie Broaddus, co-owner of Old Bust Head Brewing Company, confirms the camaraderie of the experience. “I really like connecting with other local breweries. [We] all share a lot of the same challenges. It’s good to help each other out. [We] definitely want to do it again.”
Typically, craft breweries, like Loudoun’s Old Ox, produce small quantities of beer for a mostly local market. Their craft brews reach the chilled glasses of beer lovers several different ways. Locally, customers can drink at the taproom or pick up their beer while passing by. To reach a broader audience, craft breweries, like Old Ox, use the same distribution supply lines as the huge nationwide breweries. Any retailer served by the distributor can order craft brews right alongside the nationwide brands and sell it at their bar, tavern, restaurant, or store.
In August of 2022, six craft breweries from Ashburn to Charlottesville, that all use Premium Distributors of Virginia as their distributor, met at Old Ox Brewery and spent the day formulating a new brew. Others joined in, including representatives from the distributor, sharing tips, finding solutions to common challenges, and having fun preparing the ingredients for the new beer. The collaboration was a rousing success even before the first barrel of beer had been tapped.
They chose to brew was a lager, specifically a bock beer, and even more specifically, a doppelbock. Lagers originated in Germany and are brewed using a cool fermentation method in contrast to the warm fermentation used to make ales. Bock beers originated in southern Germany as seasonal lagers. Doppelbocks are historically (or maybe only mythically) tied to beers made for monks fasting during Lent and reportedly nicknamed “liquid bread.”
Doppelbocks are rich amber lagers in the Bavarian tradition. “This is a style we would love everybody to [have] an open mind [about] — a classic style with a rich history and a lot of integrity,” says Dave Warwick, founding brewmaster and CEO of Three Notch’d Brewing Company in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The new beer has been dubbed “Collaborator.” This is a nod to doppelbock naming conventions which typically end with the suffix “-ator.” Aldie artist Ryan Danger created the label which features the logos of the six breweries.
Warwick believes “Beer tells a story. Beer is world history.” Three Notch’d Brewery frequently creates special beers with input from customers for charity dinners, weddings, birthdays, and other events. They even did a beer to celebrate a divorce. “Needless to say, it was bitter,” Warwick says. “When Old Ox approached with the idea of doing a beer together, it was a no-brainer.”
As Broaddus says, “[This is] really a celebration of local craft. It’s a statement about how craft breweries are a different type of business. Breweries, in general, often have a more community-focused mission… [They] are gathering places for the community, something we’ve been missing, a place you can bring your family, go, and lighten up a little bit. What else do we have like this? Coffee shop? Not the same. Bar, winery? Not the same.”
The beer aptly named Collaborator is slated to be released in mid-October and will be available from all six breweries in a territory reaching from Roanoke to Richmond to Williamsburg and up into Northern Virginia. It will also be offered by Premium Distributors. Burns describes the flavorful amber drink as a pleasant beverage to “wind down and relax” with after the hurry-scurry of Oktoberfest. Charlie Buettner, brewmaster and CEO of Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton, Virginia, hopes Collaborator will demonstrate that, “There is unity in craft beer…[It will] show everyone we’re in this together.” ML
This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue.
“Each wine in here I could tell a story about,” says Bob Riggs, pouring a glass of Forever Farm & Vineyard’s signature label, Boykin Blend, in their tasting room.
The stories seem to flow as easily as the superb wine at this boutique, family-run winery nestled in Purcellville’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Bob tends to the vines and is the winemaker, while his wife, Teri Riggs, manages the business. Together they provide a personable and inclusive venue for savoring some of the best that Virginia winemaking has to offer.
The walls of Forever Farm’s cozy tasting room are lined with photos from Teri and Bob’s own lives – much of which were spent living around the world. Record covers and other artifacts with personal meaning mingle with bottles of wine adorned with the many gold and silver medals that their impressive varietals and blends have won in local and national competitions.
Forever Farm & Vineyard started when Teri and Bob decided to move to Loudoun County upon their retirement to be close to their family and friends. When they bottled their first wines in 2017, a harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chambourcin that became Boykin Blend, their intent was to make wine for the same family and friends as a hobby. A few short years saw their skills and their vines growing and multiplying. They decided to scale up to open a boutique winery for anyone who was interested in expertly-crafted wine in an inviting, community atmosphere.
Forever Farm’s roots – making wine based on a passion for the craft and serving family and friends – are still the ethos of their winery today. “It’s a passion,” Bob says. “We’ve won awards. But it’s really not about the awards. It’s about people enjoying and drinking the wine.”
“Being with people is our biggest thing,” Teri agrees.
Visitors can expect a concierge tasting experience with Teri and Bob on hand to match each person to the wine that they will love. Patrons can also expect to be welcomed as part of the Forever Farm & Vineyard extended family, with Teri and Bob sharing stories about their former lives as world travelers, their parents and children, and the stories behind those photos on the wall (including one of Teri dancing while making her television debut!). But perhaps the most compelling are the stories behind each cork popped in their tasting room.
Boykin Blend, for example, is a Bordeaux-style blend named for the couple’s beloved Boykin Spaniel, George, who died tragically but inspired them to rescue their current Boykin, 10-year-old Mojo. George peers out from the label of Boykin Blend, blissfully bounding toward his next adventure. One dollar of each bottle sold of Boykin Blend supports Boykin Spaniel Rescue in South Carolina.
Visioné (Italian for vision), a Sangiovese blend, honors the earliest beginnings of Bob’s interest in wine: growing up in New Jersey at a time when many of his friends and neighbors made their own wine.
Forever Farm’s Norton is made from grapes that are a product of a chance friendship and business exchange that resulted in a unique, deep purple wine that is evocative of holiday spices and dark fruits.
Among the many awards and recognitions that Forever Farm’s wines have received, each year of Boykin Blend has been awarded by organizations such as the American Wine Society, the Loudoun Wine Awards, and the Texas Int’l Awards. Visioné and Forever Farms’ Norton were both awarded a silver medal at the 2021 Loudoun Wine awards. And, it was announced that Norton won a silver medal at the 2022 Loudoun Wine awards. Many more of Forever Farm’s wines have been honored with similar accolades.
“It begins with making sure that you have great fruit to make wine with,” says Bob as Teri explains how he tends to the vines every day. “I even tell them that I love them,” Bob laughs. Perfectly spaced rows of hanging grapes stretch across the bucolic vineyard just outside of the tasting room walls. Teri and Bob’s care extends to all aspects of the winemaking process, from farming to bottling. “We pour the wine into each bottle, cork each bottle, cap each bottle, and label each bottle right here,” Teri emphasizes.
To accept a glass of wine from Teri and Bob is to participate in the Forever Farm & Vineyard story, which is based on the care that Bob puts into every bottle, the hours that Teri works to provide her guests with a comfortable, community-driven experience, and, of course, a really good glass of wine. ML
Forever Farm & Vineyard Winery is located at 15779 Woodgrove Rd in Purcellville. The tasting room along with outdoor seating is open every Saturday from 12 – 6 p.m., and select Sundays and Fridays. Forever Farm welcomes everyone including children and dogs.
The article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue.
We’ve all seen it, somewhere in our lives: that house on the hill.
Jon Hickox first saw Longfield Manor when he was a teenager. It stood on a rise along what he and his friends called the “cut-through” connecting Evergreen Mills Road with Route 50.
He would look at the house on his way to carpentry jobs or farm work. As one of eight children born to a Navy captain, he worked for everything, up to and including a business degree at George Mason, his first jobs as a contractor, and then, a residential and commercial developer.
He would see that same house during hunting season, when, after a long day in the woods, he would gift his kill to families who lived along the road. He was intrigued to know that the farm itself dates back to the 1700s and that much of the land had once belonged to Hunt Country legend Randolph “Randy” Rouse, former Master of the Fairfax Hunt.
“Every time I saw that house, I imagined that whoever lived there was happy in some way. Don’t get me wrong —I had a great childhood growing up in Burke Centre in Fairfax. I’ve seen plenty of great places to live. I’ve even built some. But this house was special.”
Twenty-five years later Hickox bought the house and the surrounding 35 acres. “I had put a bug in the ear of the developers that we should essentially get rid of the golf course community concept and put in a winery, kind of like farm-to-table but grape-to-glass. After I closed on the deal I drove out again [and] stood right where I was when I first saw the house. [I] said to myself, ‘I have to turn this into something amazing.’”
It’s been nearly a year since Hickox opened Old Farm Winery at Hartland. It is his fourth Virginia vineyard, second winery, and the first in Loudoun County and, perhaps, in the entire state, to not merely grow grapes, but act as an event center and community focal point for the Hartland community, an 800-acre Aldie luxury residential development.
For Hickox and his staff of eight, it has been a year of successes, lessons, and “moments so special that, for me at least, there’s so much more in being part of a community.” He continues, “It isn’t enough to put a good wine in a bottle and sell it at a fair price. I don’t see us as making wine. I see us making happiness.”
As he did when building houses, Hickox has done every job at Old Farm Winery from planting the vines, to working the tasting room, to restoring the farm’s main house.
His favorite job? “The crush. That’s spending twelve hours to harvest grapes, crush them all, send the juice to tanks, then cleaning everything up. It is extremely intense. To work with a team and to endure the great physical non-stop efforts all working towards a common goal in such a setting is an amazing experience. It’s like running a marathon but nobody can finish alone.”
All that crushing happens at The Winery at Bull Run, Hickox’s first foray into wine making. Currently celebrating its tenth year, Bull Run was born when the 2008 recession doomed another developer’s Centreville residential project. Hickox bought the land and decided that the region may not need more houses as much as a more attractive use of the countryside.
“I like wine but I don’t have a complex palate. What I enjoy is getting out into the open areas with my family and experiencing the history, the scenery, the flavor, and character of a place. You can do that with wine. It was enough to get me interested.”
He planted grapes, sited the tasting room to take advantage of the landscape, hired an expert winemaker, and promoted the winery to both nearby Washington, D.C. residents and Hunt Country locals.
He wasn’t sure if the winery was going to succeed until one day when he visited it anonymously on a summer weekend. “I saw that one woman was sitting by herself and seemed very sad. I asked very discreetly of the tasting room staff if there was anything we could do. They had heard she was going through a difficult breakup, so we left well enough alone. An hour later, I saw her talking to someone and her mood had changed a little.”
A month later Hickox heard that the two he saw chatting had become engaged at the winery. A week after that she came right up to Hickox and asked him if he owned the winery. “I said I did, was there anything wrong? She said nothing was wrong — in fact, so many good things had happened to her here, she wanted to ask me if she could have her wedding here. Of course, I said ‘yes.’ That was one of our first, and, as far as I’m concerned, best weddings at Bull Run.”
And it was proof for Hickox that wineries are more than just places to make, taste, and buy wine. “We have the opportunity to become part of people’s lives. Those people are a community, whether they’re from out of state or the next town over. From then on, I knew that putting a winery into a community could be a great thing.”
He admits the challenge of opening a vineyard during the pandemic “…was scary at times. I had to reassure my bankers that the pandemic restrictions would end and that people would one day want to go into an enclosed building and eat and drink. We had supply chain problems for what we needed to build the tasting room and restore the farmhouse. At one point the price of lumber went up 280 percent.”
Throughout his renovations, Hickox was careful to keep the simple, modest lines of the farmhouse. Inside, the rooms are slowly being renovated into meeting rooms and office spaces with a bridal suite taking up much of the second floor.
Hickox wanted to be a good neighbor to those coming into the Hartland development so he planted his vines to give open views to the nearby homeowners, and put some distance between them and the areas of the winery where festivities occur. Two older structures dating back to the 1700s will be converted into wine making and storage areas. A “family-friendly” area is located on a rise above the tasting area.
His wife suggested that he offer a Hunt Country-themed wine. Created by Bull Run Winery winemaker Ashton Lough (with a tip of the hat to Randy Rouse), the mildly sweet white “Tally Ho” has been this year’s best seller. “Our Tally-Ho, a white Virginia blend with Vidal Blanc, Traminette, and Seyval Blanc has been our flagship white. [It’s] named after a foxhunting term and our very rich foxhunting history in Loudoun County,” CJ Evans, the tasting room manager at Old Farm, explains. The winery also offers a hard cider — an unusual touch that reflects the regional roots.
“Then it was all about putting our place on the map. Ours isn’t like the wineries on major roads. People have to know where we are and want to find us.”
He sought a balance between themed nights for the neighbors and weekend events that would draw visitors from further away. Movie nights, trivia nights and wine pairings with cookies and barbecue gave way to weekend gatherings for Jeep owners, and six charitable fundraisers for causes ranging from breast cancer research to environmental preservation. “We reached out locally to find out what our community wanted to support and offered our facilities as a way of supporting them.” Evans adds, “We had a Lū’au-themed event with a pig roast, and fun and games for all. It was the first time …where I saw the promise in the space we are fortunate to have here.”
On Valentine’s Day, the winery offered a special contest for military personnel and first responders: a drawing in which the winner got a free wedding at the winery.
And it was at that August wedding of Army officer Nicholas Andrew Greene and Jordyn Emma Buckingham, that Hickox felt that Old Farm Winery was going to be a success.
“I walked around and, believe me, I was as nervous as a bride’s father. This was the most important moment in this couple’s life and everything had to go right.”
Did it? “Yes, it did, for them. For me, I walked around and I was surrounded by people who were having a good time. Even the ones that cry at weddings — it was all good. We made some happiness that day.” ML
This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue.
MIDDLEBURG, Va., Oct. 10, 2022 – The Land Trust of Virginia (LTV) is pleased to announce a conservation easement on Brian and Kalie Lasley’s property in Rectortown, Fauquier County. This 37.5-acre property ensures the scenic viewshed along Crenshaw Road will remain for future generations.
“I grew up in L.A. so I know what urban sprawl looks like when there is no type of plan in place,” said Kalie. “We’ve watched the development creep out to this area and know that will continue to happen unless something is done. That is part of the reason why we moved to this area, to be a part of a community that is and will remain, rural and so now we have played a part by ensuring that this land will not become a housing development.”
The Lasley’s property includes nearly 1,000 feet of frontage on Crenshaw Road and is located within the Cromwell’s Run Rural Historic District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register in 2008, this district comprises of over 14,000 acres of rolling farmland centered along Atoka Road. During the Civil War it saw significant activity due to its close association with Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby and his infamous Rangers. Though beef and dairy cattle are still raised there, horses have become an important basis of the economy, and the predominance of foxhunting within the district since the early 20th century has earned the area its sobriquet as Virginia’s “Hunt Country.”
Additional natural resources now protected include about 27 acres of “Prime Farmland Soils” or “Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance” and nine acres of forest.
“The Lasley’s have been wonderful supporters of LTV for many years and their property is a beautiful piece of rural Fauquier County,” said LTV Executive Director, Sally Price. “We are excited to record an easement with this family that truly understands our work and wants to ensure the future of our open space.”
The Lasley’s easement is the 220th easement completed by the Land Trust of Virginia. For more information about their work, please visit http://www.landtrustva.org.
About the Land Trust of Virginia
The Land Trust of Virginia is a nonprofit organization that partners with private landowners who voluntarily protect and preserve properties with significant historic, scenic, or ecological value. LTV has worked with 220 families, conserving a total of 26,145 acres in 24 counties in Virginia. While LTV charges landowners for their services, the fees charged only cover about 28% of LTV’s actual costs so fundraising is essential to our mission.
For the past 10 years, the Middleburg Film Festival has celebrated the best of film, connecting the Hunt Country community with the visual arts as a major stop on the path to the national awards circuit. Since its inception, the festival has become home to world and regional premieres, established itself as a recognized and celebrated destination for the arts, and welcomed some of the world’s most talented actors, directors, and filmmaking professionals.
This October will mark the festival’s 10th anniversary and attendees can anticipate more of what they have come to love over the past decade. As the air begins to crisp and the trees burst with fall colors, downtown Middleburg will be transformed to a hub for film in an event that Town & Country called “one of the most interesting (and influential) on the road winding toward the Academy Awards.” The four-day festival will feature carefully curated selections of films with opening night events on Thursday and screenings throughout the day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The festival’s 10th-anniversary selections will include some of this year’s most buzz-worthy blockbusters, powerful independent films, and captivating documentaries. The 2021 festival boasted 42 Oscar nominations among its selections including Best Picture nominee “Belfast,” Best Actress contender Olivia Coleman from “The Lost Daughter,” and Best Documentary Feature “Flee” — a record that organizers have set out to beat during the 10th anniversary.
Complementing the many films, the festival will also feature Q&A sessions and conversations with many of its previous special guests – a list that has included names such as Kenneth Branagh, Dakota Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Emma Stone, and Viggo Mortensen – as well as artists who are new to the festival.
Attendees can expect to hear from the movie stars, visionaries, and artists who bring storied passion, humor, and drama to life on the silver screen during intimate “Fireside Chats” at festival venues, “Wine & Conversation” events at local vineyards and breweries, farm-to-table dinners, and parties that promise to mix some of Hollywood’s brightest stars with local festival patrons. Among the festival’s out-of-town attendees will be many composer and songwriter honorees who are coming together for a once-in-a-lifetime concert featuring selections of their most memorable work.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be celebrating our 10th anniversary,” says Susan Koch, the festival’s executive director. “When Sheila Johnson founded the festival in 2013, it was with the mission to use the power of film to inspire, educate and engage our community and through this, increase our understanding of the world and one another – and our mission hasn’t changed since then. I think what makes the festival special is not only the quality of the films and conversations, but the sense of community that’s created.”
“We’re also committed to showcasing diverse voices and perspectives from all over the world,” Koch adds.
To prepare for the festival, the Town of Middleburg is planning a 10-day lead up to the event beginning on Monday, October 3 at Salamander Resort & Spa and ending on October 12 with a block party at Old Ox Brewery. “We’re very appreciative of all those who helped us along the way including our Board of Directors, Film Advisory Board, sponsors, the film community, and of course, the Town of Middleburg,” Koch says.
The 2022 festival promises to bring the red carpet experience to Middleburg while giving Hunt Country community members the opportunity to be educated, inspired, and entertained by some of this year’s most powerful films and talented filmmakers.
The festival is scheduled for October 13 to 16 at venues in and around downtown Middleburg. Advance festival passes and individual tickets are on sale now on the festival’s website, middleburgfilm.org. ML
This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue.
With the cool autumn air comes a desire to embrace the season and gather with friends and family at one of the many vineyards or wineries throughout the Virginia wine region. Luckily, no matter what vintage or grape varietals you prefer, there’s something for everyone in Hunt Country.
We’ve rounded up local wineries and vineyards that are ripe for the picking to consider adding to your fall bucket list or upcoming wine tour.
Three Creeks Winery
18548 Harmony Church Road Hamilton, VA 20158
For a hidden gem just minutes from Leesburg, wine devotees should not overlook Three Creeks Winery on Harmony Church Road. Owners P.J. and John Lawrence are known for their hospitality and love getting to know their patrons, making it feel like a truly intimate experience.
The adult-only winery offers vineyard views with outdoor seating in a serene setting. Grab a glass and have a seat near one of the creeks or head into the barn for a tasting to enjoy European-style wines in French varietals grown in Virginia’s soil.
The winery offers six reds and four whites as well as a rosé made with grapes from a selection of Virginia vineyards. Two of the reds include grapes from the state of Washington and Northern California. The 2019 Sur-Lie Viognier, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sur-Lie Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Melange Rouge all received silver medals at the 2022 Governor’s Cup competition.
19600 Lincoln Road Purcellville, VA 20132
Endhardt Vineyards is situated on 46 acres of idyllic rolling hills with 11 acres of vines. Located a few miles outside the village of Lincoln near Purcellville, owner Johannes (known as “Hannes”) Endhardt, and his wife, Sarah, opened the winery in 2021. “We are focused on creating memorable, high-quality Virginia wines while providing an incredible atmosphere to connect with family and friends,” Hannes says.
Guests will enjoy the beautiful vista overlooking grape vines while sampling their wine selection. Hannes recommends a stainless steel 2021 Chardonnay that is finished on some very light oak. Another popular choice is the 2019 Bordeaux blend that has 50 percent Merlot, 25 percent Cab Franc and 25 percent Petit Verdot resulting in “beautiful notes of red currant and dark cherry with a light pepper finish.”
Hope Flower Farm and Winery
40905 Stumptown Road Waterford, VA 20197
Picture meandering around a flower field bursting with color as you enjoy a house-made wine or cider. You can make this experience come to life with a visit to Hope Flower Farm and Winery!
October marks the height of dahlia season at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford — the perfect occasion to snip flowers and sip one of the farm’s seasonal drinks. The “cut your own” flowers at Hope’s harvest fields make it a sought-out destination for picnics, photo shoots, and outdoor gatherings. Guests can walk around the farm and see the gardens, the animals, and enjoy being surrounded by the floral beauty.
The farm features flower-inspired wines from around the world including a seasonally driven fall wine selection. In addition to wines, the farm also makes ciders including the “Jack Cat,” which is a hard apple cider with hints of hops. The newest addition to the menu is the farm’s Strawberry Lavender drink.
Purchased by Holly and Evan Chapple in July 2015, this historic 25-acre estate was the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Holly’s successful floral and event business, Holly Heider Chapple Flowers.
Holly was able to expand from her home-based studio of 23 years to the rural retreat that now serves as a gathering place to teach and mentor fellow floral designers.
The estate, once a working dairy farm, is named in honor of the Hope family that farmed the land for over 60 years. The farm includes a stone Quaker house built in 1820, three barns, a guesthouse, and a smaller barn which serves as a studio.
Already known as a playground for floral design, Hope Flower Farm is gaining a well deserved reputation as a social spot for a glass of vino in a field of flowers.
Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery
18301 Whitehall Estate Lane Bluemont, VA 20135
For a total crowd-pleaser, set your sights on Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery, located at Whitehall Estate. Towering 100-year-old trees offer shade and tranquility on this 50-acre countryside escape. Their slogan, “Come together and visit often,” accurately captures the ambiance of this Loudoun newcomer. In addition to pours of your choice, guests have the opportunity to sample a wide variety of dining options.
The property, a combination of rustic charm and southern elegance, has been owned by David Weinschel and Doug Armstrong since 1993. Previously Whitehall Estate, it served solely as a wedding and events venue until March when it was transformed into a brewery and winery. “Being a wedding venue for years, people would come out, they would enjoy this beautiful property and then we’d never see them again,” says Doug, who is enthusiastic about the new operation. They’ve been growing Cabernet Franc grapes on the property for 10 years, in preparation.
The name “Bluemont Station” is a nod to Bluemont’s rail line past. The line went right across the front of the property, connecting Washington, D.C’s social elite to a mountain “cool air” retreat. While visiting Bluemont Station Brewery & Winery, guests can check out a vintage 1926 train caboose that has been restored and is now a centerpiece of the facility and its brand.
October One Vineyard
7 Loudoun Street SW Leesburg, VA 20175
Recently added to the Leesburg scene is a wine tasting room called One October, or O1V. The owners, Bob and Loree Rupy, opened the shop in August after years of experience growing grapes and making wine at their vineyard. In 2013, they planted their first grapes for the brand on their 30-acre Bluemont property. At first, the Rupys sold locally at farmers markets and events before expanding to the Leesburg brick-and-mortar facility.
One October is open Wednesday through Sunday. O1V wines include a Viognier, Albariño, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Guests can either enjoy a flight or a glass on the outside patio or inside for a modernized, aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.
Eagle Tree Farm Vineyards
15100 Harrison Hill Lane Leesburg, VA 20176
Venture off Highway 15 and take the gravel road less traveled to Eagle Tree Farm Vineyards which occupies a beautiful slice of rural Virginia. The family-owned, chef-driven winery and full-service restaurant sells estate-grown and vinified wines for your enjoyment.
Eagle Tree is known for blueberry picking in the spring, but to wine enthusiasts and foodies, the place is much more. The picturesque grounds feature an outdoor pavilion with a wood-fired oven for pizzas and a nature trail. The property is open during the weekend and weekday evenings and is also family friendly. Lori McKeever and Head Chef, Jeff Judge, are co-owners of the restaurant and vineyard. The restaurant is open year-round. With Chardonnay, Viognier, Cab Franc, Talon, and Tannat, there’s something for everyone in your party. ML
This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue.