The People Behind The Parade

A few hours before the 11 a.m. Hunt Review, the traditional start of the Christmas in Middleburg Parade, Tara Wegdam helped her employees move crockery-laden tables to expand the aisles of Crème de la Crème, the Washington Street gift and tableware shop she owns with her husband Ben. “The parade brings thousands of people to town,” Wegdam explains. “We get so many people coming in dressed in big winter coats, we don’t want them bumping into each other or anything else.” When she heard the parade had begun, she went outside to watch the Middleburg Hunt, resplendent in their crimson and black coats, trotting down Washington Street under a crisp, blue winter sky.

In front of the riders came the hounds. One broke away from the pack and turned toward Wegdam. She felt a woosh of chilly December air, and by the time she saw the brown and white tail disappear through her open front door, the other 35 hounds had also rushed through on either side of her. She reached the shop’s front door and saw the interior had literally gone to the dogs. “They went everywhere, around every table, up and down every aisle. Then they came out and were back on Washington Street before I could say a word. They didn’t break a thing,” she recalls. Then she saw a pastoral painting that had been propped up against one table. It had slid to the floor in the commotion and in the center of the picture was one big, dark pawprint. “[It] sold almost immediately because the person who bought it couldn’t believe what had just happened and thought it was hilarious — what better souvenir for the day,” Wegdam remembers.

For Wegdam, the entire experience was magical. “There are other Christmas parades in other places, but nothing like this. Ours is really, really special.” Current co-organizer Michelle Myers offers another word to describe the parade: Unlimited!

“Last year we had to limit everything because of COVID-19. This year everyone is contributing,
everyone is part of it,” Myers says. This year, the parade will include — for the first time ever — a marching reunion of at least 10 members of Middleburg’s undefeated 1971 Little League team, most of whom haven’t seen each other in 50 years.

From dawn to dusk on Saturday, December 3, Route 50 and Washington Street will be closed to automobiles to make room for as many as 20,000 spectators. Parking for participants and spectators will be confined to intercept lots along the outskirts of town (see ChristmasinMiddleburg. org for more details). Most restaurants in town will be open during the parade’s midday pause to serve lunch. They will be supplemented by food trucks.

Jim Herbert, a commercial realtor who has helped organize the parade as far back as 1979, calls it “a genuine celebration of love and the Christmas message. It is also the best time of the year to show people what the Middleburg community is all about.”

He ticks off the statistics: A mile and a half long, beginning with the Middleburg Hunt (and their hounds!) and ending with Santa Claus on a horse-drawn carriage, lasting over an hour and a half (with a break in the middle for lunch) with spectators lining Washington Street “in every kind of weather,” including the blizzard of 2009.

“We all met at 6 a.m. when we heard that snow was expected. There was talk of canceling the parade, and if we had known what we were getting into, we probably would have,” Herbert says. But they didn’t.

Photo by Nancy Kleck.

The snow came down just as the hounds hit Washington Street, and photographers snapped what Herbert calls the “iconic” shots of the parade: the hounds leaping before 140 riders in bright red and black jackets peppered with big flakes that would soon fill the region in nearly nine inches of snow.

Penny Denegre, joint-master of the Middleburg Hunt, also has fond memories of the blizzard. “We have concerns when the weather gets very cold, but that time, and every other time the weather seems to be against us in Middleburg, it was magical.”

The Middleburg Christmas Parade is one of the hunt’s most important yearly activities, one that emphasizes the town’s unique relationship with Hunt Country and the traditions that go all the way back to Virginia’s colonial history. It is one of the only times when people who don’t hunt can watch the hounds and riders that do. And the horses know it. “We don’t have spectators normally. On the parade morning, the horses are always a little concerned when there is something out of the ordinary,” Denegre shares.

But when they round the corner at the top of the hill and the hounds take off, “it becomes this lovely outpouring of warmth.” When the parade resumes at 2 p.m., few groups are as highly anticipated as the thirty Middleburg Charros who demonstrate Mexican rope wrangling and rodeo skills that, according
to Charro rider Juliana Ortiz, have been passed down through her extended family for generations. “What we do is rarely seen in the east,” says Ortiz, who, when not teaching horses how to dance, is an accountant. “The decoration, the dances, the roping, and the salutes are all part of our heritage, so it is important for us to be in the parade and show everyone how exciting and magical it can be.”

New for this year will be even more of Ortiz’s cousins standing on horseback, jumping through ropes. “It started last year with one or two [of us] having some fun. Now everybody wants to do it!” she says.

The more than 100 corgis that follow are always a huge hit with children “because they are incredibly cute!” says Holly Hudimac, who will be joined by her dogs Abby and Panda. “This is hysterical and a lot of fun and the children love the dogs because they’re small and adorable. Where else are you going to see so many corgis in one place?”

Competing in cuteness will be the 70 children, ages 4 to 8, from The Hill School, dressed as elves and gift-wrapped presents. Having decorated the front windows of the Washington Street Safeway Supermarket during the previous week, some ride on The Hill School’s float. First grader Adelaide Hottel enjoys the float “because I get to ride with my friends, and we see a lot of people.”

“When I first saw the parade ten years ago, it was pretty spectacular. Of all the nice things you can do in Middleburg, it’s just wonderful to watch the town literally celebrate itself in the warmest, funniest, kindest way. To be part of this, even if it’s just to keep track of the kids and wave at the people, it’s pure joy,” shares Kelly Johnson, the school’s enrollment director.

The pure, distinctively snorting growl of thirty motorcycles decorated with antlers and flashing holiday lights, all ridden by members of the Winchester Harley Owners Group, is music to the ears of club president and Winchester motorcycle dealer Barbara Grove. “I prefer to watch from the sidelines and let the others get the glory,” says Grove, who is hoping to snag a table at the Red Horse Tavern, where, on any other weekend, bikers hailing from every point on the compass tend to congregate. “We love that ride to Middleburg so much that around fifteen years ago, we decided to help out,” Groves explains. For the past two months, members of the biker group have brought food on their rides from Winchester and given it to Seven Loaves food pantry. This year alone, the Harley Group has donated well over 1,000 pounds of food. “Canned goods, turkeys, whatever might be appreciated,” Grove adds. “We may not live here, but Middleburg makes us feel at home.”

Weaving in and out of the parade you are likely to spy Suzanne Obetz, the executive director of the Middleburg Museum, in her “emergency Mrs. Claus” suit. In addition to presiding over the town’s tree lighting ceremony (at 5 p.m. on the Friday before the parade) and handling any and all letters to Santa children may leave at the museum, Obetz is one of more than 100 volunteers who will “basically do whatever is needed to be done.” She adds, “You’d be surprised how often a child’s happiness, or the fate of the entire parade itself, can depend on a needle and thread, scissors, or, heaven forbid, a Band-Aid.”

The parade typically ends with Santa who bears an astonishing resemblance to Lost Barrel Brewery’s tap room manager, Bobby Martz. “It gives me an opportunity to see the magic on everyone’s face,” he says. “The holiday is all about magic, bringing back those nice childhood memories when everything happened to make you warm, and happy to be with family and friends. What better place to celebrate than Middleburg!” Mr. Claus likes Middleburg so much that he promises to visit Lost Barrel on Saturday afternoons following the parade, where, in addition to being available for photos, he will serve a range of non-alcoholic drinks and snacks for kids. When asked how he intends to slip up and down Middleburg’s numerous chimneys on Christmas, he simply responds: “It’s magic!”

This story first appeared in the December 2022 issue.

Middleburg Film Festival: Still Magnificent 10 Years On

Written by Laticia Headings
Photos by Shannon Finney Photography 

While walking the 340-acre property where the Salamander Resort & Spa now stands, actor Robert Redford suggested to his friend, owner Sheila Johnson, that she start a film festival. The conversation ignited a chain of events that ultimately led to the launch of the inaugural Middleburg Film Festival in 2013, the same year the Salamander Resort opened. 

Now celebrating its tenth year, the Middleburg Film Festival is a tour de force that rivals the likes of Sundance and Telluride. It quickly gained a reputation as a must-attend contender festival on “the road to the Oscars,” and has even received a prominent write-up in the October 5, 2022, issue of Variety Magazine, the entertainment industry’s leading weekly publication. “We set out to build something special that would be embraced by film lovers and ten years in, we’re proud of where we are and of what this festival has become,” Johnson says.

Longtime film producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, founders of Bona Fide Productions, have been on the festival’s advisory board since year one. Over the past three decades, they have  produced dozens of Oscar-winning and nominated films and audience favorites, including “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Election,” “Cold Mountain,” and “Nebraska.” Five of their films have been screened in Middleburg, including this year’s “Somewhere in Queens,” starring and directed by Ray Romano, who was also in attendance. Yerxa says, “I’m a big, big supporter of this festival because no other film festival has music, the kind of community, discussions and films, and this level of guests.”

Other prominent guests attending the festival this year included actor Brendan Fraser and screenwriter Samuel Hunter (“The Whale”), writer-director Rian Johnson and film editor Bob Ducsay (“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”), director Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Woman King,” “Love and Basketball”), director Noah Baumbach (“White Noise,”“Marriage Story”), director J.D. Dillard (“Devotion”), and actors Micheal Ward (“Empire of Light”), Anna Diop (“Nanny”), Stephanie Hsu (“Everything, Everywhere All At Once”), and Dolly De Leon (“Triangle of Sadness’). 

Yerxa adds that the international acclaim the four-day event has received makes it a desirable destination. “Studios and production companies feel like they need to have their film here, their clients, their director. They want to be here,” he says. “The festival has a lot of pre-existing conditions to support it but it’s mainly Sheila and Susan [Koch] being unrelentingly ambitious, and it’s paid off.”

Executive Director Susan Koch explains that the hard-earned success comes with year-round planning and extensive logistical execution. “It takes a tech crew of 15 working for four days to turn four venues -—Salamander Ballroom, Middleburg Community Center, Hill School’s Sheila Johnson Performing Arts Center, and the National Sporting Library — into state-of-the art movie theaters,” Koch says. 

A large outdoor tent is also set up to accommodate additional events, special concerts, and Saturday night’s after party at the Salamander. The resort’s elegant library is a favorite spot to hear Q&A’s with notable filmmakers, writers, directors, actors, and composers. “I love the library for conversations,” Yerxa says. “For seeing films and meeting people, this is the best film festival out there.”

This year’s milestone celebration was preceded by a Middleburg Film Festival 10-Day Countdown. Each night, a different local business hosted a free community event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. “We’re very grateful to the Town of Middleburg for all their support,” Koch emphasizes.

The Salamander Resort & Spa kicked off the countdown followed by Mt. Defiance Cider Barn, Boxwood Estate Winery, Lost Barrel Brewing, Master of Foxhounds Association, McEnearney Associates with co-sponsors Middleburg Life & Greenhill Vineyards, the National Sporting Library & Museum, Middleburg Community Center, The Hill School, and Old Ox Brewery. 

Terry Harrak and David Leifer, residents of Vienna, Virginia, attended three of the community events. “It was the best. We met all of these people and everyone was so welcoming, it was just like a big hug,” Leifer says. “We come to Middleburg all the time but have never been to the festival and didn’t really know anyone.” 

The couple attended all four festival days. “When we saw everything that the town was doing to support this, the 10-Day Countdown, we said let’s really dive in,” Harrak remembers. “If it weren’t for the countdown, we wouldn’t have extended our AirBnB and I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable as I did coming into this. I already felt like we had built a community and knew people.”

Community is a big part of what makes the Middleburg Film Festival run smoothly. It relies heavily on its local volunteers and those who make the annual autumnal pilgrimage from surrounding areas just to be part of the excitement. Roanoke resident Warren Dreiling says, “Getting to share and draw on that excitement…is something I really enjoy.” 

Dreiling is a first-year venue manager at the National Sporting Library and has volunteered at four previous festivals. “Being able to build people up – our volunteers, special guests, sponsors, film goers — and also help to enable all of this to happen is a big aspect of why I enjoy it,” he says. 

Romey Curtis is a Middleburg resident and volunteer who was born and raised in Hampshire, England. As a former actress, Curtis appreciates having the film festival in her backyard. “I love meeting the people and feeling that I’m making a contribution by supporting an artistic event, which is my particular interest,” adds the second-year volunteer who wants to lend her time again next October.

From the beginning, Sheila Johnson focused on making music a key cornerstone of the festival. Classically trained in piano and violin, Johnson has an esteemed musical background and taught music at Sidwell Friends School for three years. “It’s also about celebrating the film composers and the other unsung heroes behind the camera whose names you might not know but whose contributions are invaluable to the great films we screen at the festival,” Johnson says. 

Every year, a “Distinguished Composer Award” is given to honor the achievements of a film composer or songwriter, and the honoree is invited to give a live performance. Past recipients include Emmy and Oscar-winning artists Mark Isham, Marco Beltrami, Kris Bowers, Charles Fox, Nicholas Britell, Terence Blanchard, and songwriter Diane Warren. 

For the 10th anniversary, a special concert featuring this year’s honoree, Michael Abels (“Nope, Get Out, Us”), in addition to many past recipients, captivated the crowd. During the 90-minute event, each artist gave a live performance accompanied by a 45-piece orchestra while clips of their films and television shows were shown. 

“It was such an honor to be a part of that concert with so many incredible composers and artists who I’ve admired for some time. I greatly appreciated being included in that list,” says composer Kris Bowers (“Green Book,” “King Richard,” and “Bridgerton”). “Sheila Johnson is an inspiration, and it means such a great deal to have her support.”

The Middleburg Film Festival is known for its heavy-hitting Hollywood blockbusters, but it also offers a well-rounded roster of something-for-everyone films and documentaries. “I brought my nieces because I wanted them to see all of these powerful leaders and women of color in the industry who reflected what we look like,” says Terry Harrak, who is half Moroccan, and whose nieces are Moroccan and Latinx. “I wanted them to watch a film and then have the experience of diving deeper into its meaning.”

Diversity is a significant consideration when selecting films for the festival, and this year’s 45 carefully curated films were no exception. Sherrie Beckstead joined the Board of Directors in February 2022. “The festival’s mission recognizes and supports the power of film to inspire, educate, and engage audiences of diverse backgrounds and perspectives – and through this it helps build bridges of empathy and understanding,” says Beckstead, Partner of Liljenquist & Beckstead and President of The Lockkeepers Collection.

Films like “Good Night Oppy” harness the educational component of storytelling. The documentary chronicles the remarkable true story of two NASA robot rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and their mission on Mars to find evidence of water. Oppy, as she was affectionately nicknamed by NASA scientists, was only expected to stay functioning for 90 days, but remained in operation for 15 years. 

“Kids are buzzing about the film. We love that an 8-year-old girl seeing a Black female engineer who’s one of the lead NASA scientists on the mission may say, ‘I can do that!’” says Director Ryan White. “This film is about the best of humanity and coming together to do something extraordinary.”

In fact, extraordinary may be the best way to describe this year’s festival of films. “Those who were here felt it! It’s been magical and it will be lasting,” Harrak emphasizes, noting that she and Leifer will mark this weekend on their calendar every year. 

The future is bright for the Middleburg Film Festival and for those who want to share in its spotlight. “I am excited to begin planning for the next 10,” Beckstead says. “The human connection and camaraderie is a synergy and the best of what life offers to us.”

“There’s so many rewarding moments but I think the ones that mean the most to me are the comments from filmgoers who tell me they look forward to returning every year and that this is their favorite weekend of the year,” Susan Koch says. “It’s very special to us to experience the genuine sense of community that’s created by a shared love of film.”

Until next year, that’s a wrap! 

For more information, visit:

This article first appeared in the November 2022 issue.

The Spirit Plate

Written by Bill Kent
Photos by Callie Broaddus

Just before everyone sits down at the table, Chris “Comes with Clouds” White takes a large dinner plate and fills it with small portions of venison leg, fire-roasted oysters, tallow-fried quail, pemmican soup, three sisters stew, a dollop of pawpaw ice cream, and all of the other dishes guests bring to the November Frost Moon feast. But instead of digging in, he takes it outside.

“This is to welcome our ancestors,” explains White, a Cherokee senior elder and medicine man who lives in Bluemont, Virginia, with his wife René Locklear White, a member of the Lumbee tribe and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. “We want them to know we are grateful for the life they have given us and all the good things they have done for us.”

Exactly where he will put the plate on his 22 acres he won’t say. “The spirits would rather not be watched as they’re eating,” he explains.

What if birds, squirrels, or even a bear gets to the food first?

“The spirits can handle that,” he says. White adds that he has gratitude for all creatures. “We’re grateful every day for the Creator and what we’ve been given. Living creatures are part of that gift. Gratitude for this is one of the tenets of Native American people.”

What better way to celebrate than in a November ceremony that’s all about being grateful for the harvest? The autumnal chill makes the land and its inhabitants want to rest and relax, and friends, family, and community members come together to enjoy themselves in one big, bountiful feast.

Though, this isn’t Thanksgiving. 

The Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian is clear that some people with indigenous ancestors find the holiday to be problematic. An educator’s guide on the museum’s website states that many Native Americans have difficulty with the holiday because “the Thanksgiving celebrated today is more a combination of Puritan religious practices and the European festival called Harvest Home, which then grew to encompass Native foods.” The holiday can also be a reminder for some Native Americans that whatever peace was shared during that famed Massachusetts gathering did not last. 

Long before Europeans came to the American continent, Indigenous people held numerous celebrations that involved feasting. “Different tribes do different things, but we all have ceremonies around the solstices and equinoxes,” White notes.

Thirteen times a year, Chris and René take turns hosting feasts in their extended community that follow full moons. This month they will celebrate the “Frost Moon,” which traditionally marks the end of the harvest, the gathering of seeds, the drying, smoking, and preserving of food, and the distribution of food, firewood, and other staples to those in need.

Preparations begin with harvesting. René says that “planting and harvesting food is part of our spiritual DNA. We only take what is in season, when it is at its peak.”

Her mother used to tell her that what isn’t in season is poison. René tries to follow that guidance because “food is so much healthier, tastier, and beautiful when it’s at the peak season. We try to grow, forage and harvest all we need right here, so you won’t see us in a supermarket that often.”

The best of their harvest goes into the Harvest Bowl: a box, basket, or easily handled container  filled with items that neighbors want to share. Chris and René take what they want, fill a new box or basket with pickings from their gardens, and then take it to the next neighbor in the community network.

René says she never sees bruised fruit or over-ripe tomatoes in the Harvest Bowl. “My sister Janice taught me you would never think of keeping the best for yourself. She and our mother taught us many ways to preserve foods. If the receiver looks at the harvest as a gift, then they can’t help but honor that gift by using what they receive and sharing their gratitude with others.”

On the morning of the feast, Chris splashes cold water on his face. “Water is life, life is ceremony,” he says. Then he goes to his outdoor fire pit, places a bit of sweet grass on the wood, and lights it up.

Every guest invited to the feast must bring a dish that has special meaning to them. Some will also bring seeds for next year’s planting.

Carrie Fox, a member of the Lenni-Lenape, and her husband, Nathan, a carpenter, former Marine, and Cherokee, have a small farm in Berryville where they raise quail, ducks, chickens, honey bees, and seasonal vegetables. For them, the Feast of the Frost Moon is “one more way of reconnecting,” Fox says. “Growing up, we knew about our heritage but we were not immersed in practicing traditions. Chris and René have created a kind of intertribal space for us, and others who want to rediscover the natural world.”

Fox finds that growing, celebrating, and eating food that is part of, or relates to, the world of her ancestors is the most direct and satisfying way to do that.

And she’s not alone. Among this year’s best-selling non-fiction books is “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. A member of the Potawatomi Nation and an environmental science professor at the State University of New York in Syracuse, Kimmerer wrote the book for her academic peers. She never expected it to sell 1.4 million copies, or to be translated into 20 languages. 

“If we use a plant respectfully, it will flourish,” Kimmerer writes. “If we ignore it, it will go away.”

Kimmerer told The Washington Post that she “was sensing, as an environmentalist, this great longing in the public, a longing to belong to a place. I think about how many people have no culture, have no ancestral home….That sense of not belonging here contributes to the way we treat the land.”

Just last month, Kimmerer was among several artists, writers, scientists, and educators to get an $800,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation. 

Chris and René call this newfound awareness of Indigenous knowledge a “New Tribe Rising.” Earlier this year, René received a fellowship from the Lumbee Tribal University at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, to map out America’s Native Food Trail. In December, she will go to Minneapolis to meet Oglala Lakota Chef Sean Sherman, whose restaurant, Owami, was just named the best new restaurant in the United States by the James Beard Foundation.  

Owami is one of a dozen or so American restaurants now serving what Sherman calls Indigenous cuisine. (Among the first is the Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.)

In his 2017 cookbook, “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen,” Sherman asks, “Why isn’t the Indigenous diet all the rage today? It’s hyperlocal, ultra seasonal, uber healthy….This is a diet that connects us all to nature and to each other in the most direct and profound ways.”

In a recent New Yorker Magazine profile, Sherman spoke of the importance of seasonal feasts. “The best food just happens to us when we get together with friends and we just try things. As long as it’s fresh, grown by us, in season, or, if it comes from somewhere else, without any preservatives and processing — and we maintain our respect for the food as a gift we have been given — the results are almost always amazing for all of us. This isn’t about one of us being a great chef and the others sitting in awe of what that person makes. It’s about all of us sharing what we have, what we can do, what we can teach and enjoy.”

That’s why Clay Morris is invited so frequently to celebrational feasts. A restoration ecologist, ethnobiologist, and native wisdom keeper, he also teaches seasonal foraging courses at the Salamander Resort & Spa. Whenever a feast is scheduled, he takes his time to thoughtfully select a dish to make from over a hundred locally foraged Indigenous dishes that he knows.

How about an appetizer of pickled cattail shoots, pine cones, wild onion flowers, ramps and elderberry capers? Or smoked trout with mashed sunchokes, lamb’s quarters sauteed with wild onions, garlic mustard pesto, roasted burdock root, pashofa (pork with hominy), washed down with dandelion root tea and, for dessert, heirloom pears poached in elderberry syrup?

“All are made with ingredients that are right here in our backyards, prepared through the lens of traditional knowledge, and then brought to the level of fine, contemporary cuisine,” Morris says. Thinking it over, he decides he will bring the paw-paw ice cream. “Everybody loves it.”

Morris isn’t at work on a cookbook — yet.

Guests tend to arrive early to finish cooking their dishes or just sit around the fire and talk. “The fire is always a safe place of conversation,” White says. “It’s a time to catch up on how we’ve been, what new things are happening in our life and, as always, what we have to be grateful for.”

Any kind of complaining — about jobs, traffic, politics, social media, sports teams — is discouraged. A smudge bowl of burning sage and sweetgrass sits near the fire pit. The fragrant aroma helps guests cleanse themselves of negative feelings.

Children help with some of the cooking. “Kids will show an interest in everything and anything, if you will let them. It doesn’t matter if they grow up to be chefs. It’s important that they learn our ways so that they can feel a connection to the land and the Creator, and pass that on to their children,” White notes. 

As the night darkens, guests sit around the fire in a circle. Each guest takes a turn talking about their dish and why they brought it. 

Chris takes samples for the spirit plate. When he returns, there is a brief pause “in which we thank the Creator for the gift of life and everything else we have received.”

Then they dig in. ML

This article first appeared in the November 2022 issue.

Family Fun at Cobbler Mountain in Delaplane

Written by Lia Hobel
Photos by Michael Butcher

Cobbler Mountain is especially beautiful in autumn with vibrant tree canopies dotting a family heirloom now in its third generation. It’s a majestic, peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for visitors  and even the owners. “Every season on Cobbler Mountain is a gift of nature, wildlife, and changing plant life,” said owner Laura McCarthy Louden. 

The Louden Family.

A Celtic symbol is etched on the welcome sign and branded material. It’s a permanent marker designed by Louden, to emphasize the family connectedness that stemmed from her father’s heart when he purchased the mountain in 1959. Louden remembers her father, Lawrence Daniel McCarthy’s, dream to make it into a family working farm. His Irish heritage gave him a strong work ethic and love for nature. He taught in the countryside at a school in nearby Marshall. “He was a forward-thinker in the early 60s, inviting families with children in wheelchairs, walkers, and limited by sight or sound to explore Cobbler Mountain on hikes and camp-outs,” Louden shares.

Shortly after meeting the future Mrs. McCarthy, he was recruited to direct a facility in South Carolina in 1967, where Louden and her sibling would grow up. Her father passed at the age of 42, but her mother held onto the Cobbler Mountain farmland to save for her grown children.

In 2011, Louden and her husband, Jeff, made her father’s aspiration for the land a reality. They opened Cobbler Mountain Cidery out of their basement with a couple of ciders and a few wines and became Fauquier’s first cidery. Her husband’srecipes started in their South Carolina home where his craft hobby first developed. In 2006, they took the leap to move close to the Virginia farm to start researching the opportunity. After three years of planning and paperwork, a new infrastructure of road, electricity and wells began in 2008 followed by their hilltop house construction in 2009. By 2015, with the growing popularity of their ciders,  the Loudens chose to focus on them exclusively and constructed a separate building for larger operational use and visitor space. 

Today, guests who come to the mountain can sip on a hot toddy or choose from one of the two dozen handcrafted ciders on the seasonal menu. Currently, autumn flavors are bountiful with the Harvest Pumpkin, Kickin’ Cinnamon, Ginger Snap, Cinnamon Pumpkin, Cider Donut, and Maple Stout. Other in season ciders include the Jammin’ Cranberry Ginger, Cranberry Hard Tea, Cranberry Hard Seltzer and the Red Sangria. These are in addition to other ciders including the Pomegranate Black Currant, Wild BlackBerry Hop, Original Honey, Traditional Jeffersonian, Mountain Top Hop, Golden Pineapple Sunset, and Razzle Dazzle Raspberry.

Daniel Louden shows off what’s on tap.

On the drive  to the cidery, visitors will travel across Thumb Run Creek. The creek runs to the Shenandoah mountains and finally to the Chesapeake Watershed but originates from a neighboring spring dating to the 1700s, explains Louden. There is a second spring on the mountain above their residence that offers spring water used in the hard seltzer and hard cider production. “Many say it is the best water ever tasted,” she shares. Around the creek, guests can spot n year-round wildlife visitors, including resident families of black bear, deer, fox, raccoon, skunk, wild turkey, heron, and many birds including the pileated woodpecker all of which are featured on the cider bottle labels.

With over 90 wildlife-protected acres, the cidery is much more than a place to stop through for a crisp beverage. All guests, including children and pets, are welcome to hike the 45-acres of wooded trails with scenic vistas, as well as picnic on the sprawling grounds. For precautions, Louden notes that  hikers are required to sign-in to the guest log, as well as leave their ID and sign out upon return. They are also  encouraged to hike with a partner or group.

Thumb Run Creek.

To enhance the outdoor seasonal experience, warm campfires await guests and are scattered about the hillside. Louden recommends walk-ins come early to grab a spot, but they are available to reserve for larger groups or special occasions. “Throughout November, December, and January, many regular customers bring family and friends to celebrate the holidays,” she says.  Children are welcome to visit the “little bear cub playhouse,” which is hidden under the staircase of the cidery. There are also table games, like checkers, and options for coloring at the tables in the back game rooms. As an added treat for little ones, every September, a fresh batch of non-alcoholic cider juice is pressed and served on tap until sellout (usually by March). Year-round, youngsters may also order root beer on tap or the non-alcoholic sparkling fruit spring waters which have flavors changing each season. 

As their award-winning cidery continues to grow, the Loudens’ twin son and daughter, Daniel and Olivia, have also joined the cidery business, making it the family operation their grandfather had hoped for. ML

Cobbler Mountain Cidery

5909 Long Fall Lane, Delaplane, Va 20144

The cidery is open year-round for walk-ins on Saturdays 11:00-5:00pm, Sundays 12:00-5:00pm and weekdays by appointment. Groups of all sizes are welcome with advance planning.

Local dog groups meet monthly; the Fauquier Scottish Heritage Society hosts Game Outings; plus many special occasions are celebrated throughout the year.

Online Exclusive: Conversation with Kenny Grandon of Goodstone Inn

Written by Kaitlin Hill

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.

The Dine After the Dash: Hunt Breakfast Memories

Written by Heidi Baumstark

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.”

Photo by Karen Fuog.

“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.

IDENTITY & RESTRAINT: Art of the Dog Collar

Story by Richard D. Hooper

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.

Vine to Wine with Greenhill Vineyards

Written by Kaitlin Hill

“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.

Local Breweries Collaborate on Fall Beer

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.”

Representatives from Virginia-based breweries gather at Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn to make a batch of Collaborator.

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.

Behind the scenes at Old Ox Brewery.

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.

Family, Friends, and Forever Farm & Vineyard

Story by Will Thompson

“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.