Why They Hunt


A look into the Virginia bird hunting scene 

Written by Kaitlin Hill 

The phrase “bird hunting” likely, and appropriately, summons mental images of orange vests, double-barrel shotguns, and Boykin Spaniels in pursuit of pheasants. What may seem counterintuitive is the symbiotic relationship between hunting and conservation. However, a conversation about Upland Hunting with Piedmont-based hunters Kathy Theis, Teresa Condon, and Annie Bishop reveals a profound respect for and desired perpetuation of the circle of life, a dedication to their dogs, a razor-sharp focus on safety, and an appreciation of nature’s beauty. 

Distinct from the umbrella term of bird hunting, Upland Hunting focuses on a more narrow set of species. “Bird hunting is a broader term for any winged-bird,” Kathy Theis, a hunt guide at Rose Hill Game Preserve in Culpepper says. “You have duck, goose, grouse, or even woodcock hunting … Upland Hunting historically is just three specific species.” 

“Upland hunting is pursuing pheasant, quail, partridge, and the like, while walking through the countryside with your pointing dog and your shotgun,” Teresa Condon, local hunting enthusiast, says. “And, the birds are hidden in the ground cover.”

Teresa Condon with her English setter Dougal. Photo by Kaitlin Hill.

The distinction in the types of birds and where they can be found is important, as it influences the breeds of dog appropriate to this style and the role they will play during the hunt. “The dogs hunt by scent,” Theis says. “They smell the bird and then, depending on the type of dog, they either point or they flush the bird.” Most of them aptly named, pointers can include English setters, German shorthaired pointers, German wirehaired pointers, English pointers, and Brittany spaniels. And flushers are often cocker spaniels, springer spaniels, and Boykin spaniels, according to Theis. 

Regardless of the breed of dog, something true of all bird hunting is that powerful bond between person and pup. “Honestly, the main reason I hunt at all is for the dogs,” Annie Bishop, another local bird hunter, says. “For me, so much of it is watching the dogs work and seeing how their natural instincts and training have prepared them. And, when they are going through the brush or the marsh and bringing back a bird, they are about as happy as they’ve ever been.”

“We love our dogs,” Condon says. “They live in our homes, they come hunting with us, they are part of the family, and part of our hunting livelihood.” 

“We respect our birds. Our hunting, our love for hunting has fed our family…”— Condon

That love of animals described by Condon extends, perhaps surprisingly, to the birds that are hunted. “We respect our birds,” she says. “Our hunting, our love for hunting has fed our family. We eat what we shoot, and my children have been raised on quail, pheasant, and dove. They have learned to appreciate that.” Among Condon’s favorite recipes are pheasant pie, bacon-wrapped dove, and duck breast prepared like jalapeño poppers with cream cheese and jalapeños stuffed inside. 

Respect is a major factor in a bird hunter’s treatment of the environment too. All three women agree that conservation is a key aspect of the Upland, and more broadly, the bird hunting community’s goals. “Conservation is absolutely essential,” Theis says. “Without the environment, we would not have the game to hunt of course.” 

While Condon notes, “We’re great proponents of conservation, to keep the land open for all wildlife … Conservation is everything for a hunter and that is why there are many organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Unlimited that are constantly fighting off development to keep the land as an open space.” 

“One of the main drivers for me is making sure that we preserve the land, so that the wildlife thrives,” Bishop says.

A large part of preservation is, unsurprisingly, preserves. Preserves like Rose Hill Game Preserve, Primland Resort, Sundance Kennel and Hunting Preserve and Sundance Preserve (all in the Piedmont region) maintain huge swaths of land that might otherwise be threatened with suburban sprawl. 

Annie Bishop. Photo by Georgina Preston.

In addition, preserves offer beginners the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of upland hunting safely – a priority of all hunters. “Preserve hunting is definitely a good way to be introduced to the sport because it’s a little more controlled than wild bird hunting,” Theis says. “You know what you are getting into before you go out into the field.” 

Bishop, Condon, and Theis agree that familiarizing oneself with the sport, specifically the sporting equipment, is a must. “Start with being around a shotgun first,” Bishop says. “So much of this is about safety, so make sure you are comfortable.” 

“Safety is an absolute priority,” Condon says. She encourages anyone interested in bird hunting to “Go out and get some shooting lessons with clays, and then find a mentor to take you out bird hunting.” 

Once a new shooter feels safe around a shotgun, what gauge they use is “all up to personal preference” Bishop says. For upland hunting, participants commonly shoot with a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun, according to Theis. “But, there are a few select people who hunt with a 16 gauge or 28 gauge,” Condon says. “You have to have the right gun for the right person. And again, this should all be done before you go out hunting. And, of course, one must have the correct ammunition for the type of hunt you’re going to do.” 

With a season that runs from September to April, a bevy of local hunters, and preserves with guided instruction, now is the perfect time to try upland hunting. As Bishop says, “It’s about being outdoors…and understanding the beauty that surrounds us. It is a way to really enjoy where we live, because we are incredibly lucky to be where we are. We live in one of the most gorgeous places in the world.” ML

This article first appeared in the November 2021 Issue.

JK Community Farm and DC Central Kitchen Partner to Bring Fresh Produce to People Experiencing Hunger in DC

JK Community Farm and DC Central KitchenPartner to Bring Fresh Produce to People Experiencing Hunger in DC

STERLING, Va. (July 13, 2021)—Starting today, JK Community Farm, a 150-acre farm in Purcellville, Virginia, has partnered with DC Central Kitchen to expand its food distribution to reach those facing food insecurity in Washington, DC with healthy, organic produce and protein. As the nation’s largest nonprofit chemical-free community farm, it will donate close to 230,000 pounds of food in 2021 throughout the region with 40,000 pounds of food—the equivalent of 28,000 meals—going to DC Central Kitchen to combat hunger. 

“COVID challenged our efforts to keep up with demand, but we adapted our volunteer workforce and were able to increase yield to ensure more families had healthy meals on their plates,” explained Samantha Kuhn, executive director, JK Community Farm. “Our increased production is enabling us to grow our footprint, and we are excited that DC Central Kitchen is becoming a distribution partner to serve more with our healthy yield.”

Access to healthy, nutrient dense food is especially difficult to get in impoverished communities. The USDA reports strong correlations between food insecurity, and negative health outcomes including a higher probability of diet-related chronic disease – cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, kidney disease, and COPD. In Northern Virginia and DC, 160,000 people face food insecurity, and a large number of these are children. 

An iconic nonprofit and social enterprise that combats hunger and poverty through job training and job creation, DC Central Kitchen will be picking up from the farm twice per month. The farm’s nutrient-dense food will be used in the kitchens at DC Central Kitchen which provide culinary job training and prepared meals to local shelters and emergency mobile feeding sites, as well as using the fresh produce in produce bags that they distribute across the city.  DC Central Kitchen will also send groups of volunteers to harvest food at the JK Community Farm for distribution at DC Central Kitchen. Last year alone, DC Central Kitchen served 3.8 million emergency meals and brought healthy groceries to over 200 locations.

“DC Central Kitchen fights hunger differently, and we believe in the power of healthy food to create change. That is why we look forward to partnering with JK Community Farm to bring more fresh, local produce to our community.  Since March of 2020 DCCK has distributed 3 million pounds of fresh produce to the community, and this partnership with JK Community Farm will help to continue to bring the benefits of fresh produce, volunteer opportunities, and food education to our partners,” said Amy Bachman, director of Procurement and Sustainability, DC Central Kitchen. 

The farm’s other partners include Loudoun Hunger Relief, Food for Others, and Arlington Food Assistance Center. To nearly double production this year, JK Community Farm is planting on 14 acres—up from eight, as well as continuing to grow in high tunnels, greenhouses, and raised beds. It produces a variety of vegetables, such as lettuce, arugula, kale, broccoli, radishes, onions, Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, squash, zucchini, and protein.  The farm has also increased its volunteer workforce by 33 percent to meet its lofty goals.  Other changes at the farm this year include enhanced educational programming by incorporating a bee hotel, beneficial insect habitat, pollinator habitat, flowers, blue bird trail, and a sensory footpath. 

JK Community Farm, a 501(c)3 nonprofit started in 2018 with the support of JK Moving Services, seeks to have a lasting and healthy impact on struggling families within the Washington, DC metro region by growing and donating chemical-free, healthy produce and protein to those struggling with food insecurity. In addition to volunteer support, the farm relies on donations. The farm—which donates 100% of its yield—is efficient and can grow one pound of organic, healthy food for $1.18.  Every $35 donation ensures an additional two weeks of food for a person in need.

Contact: Shawn Flaherty, 703-554-3609

Meet Middleburg: Catherine Wycoff, Physical Therapist, Feldenkrais Practitioner

Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale

The thing about Catherine Wycoff is that although she is very friendly and accessible, she’s difficult to describe. She has so many talents and skills, so many degrees and certifications, that’s she’s hard to reduce down to something simple. One thing that rings true in her professional experience and current endeavors is that her main purpose seems to be helping people.

Every Friday, Catherine comes to her Middleburg studio on Federal Street to teach her Feldenkrais Method class. A few of her regulars sing her praises like a Baptist choir on Sunday. They have total faith in both Catherine and the Feldenkrais Method, which the founder, Moshe Feldenkrais, touted will “…make the impossible, possible; the possible, easy; and the easy, elegant.”

If that quote doesn’t bring you closer to understanding the method, try this—moving without pain through improving “kinesthetic sense”—the ability to sense, feel and coordinate easy, effective movement. It’s rewiring the brain to move more efficiently and easily. It is an effective approach used by athletes, people with special needs, seniors, and even musicians. Born and raised in Belgium, Catherine has lived and been educated all over the world. “My husband works for the state department, so I have lived a lot of places,” she says. An avid horsewoman, Catherine owns, rides and uses horses for therapy as well as providing rehabilitative therapy to horses. She lives in Lovettsville with her husband and has two children in college. She finds Middleburg to be a comforting reminder of small European towns and feels right at home with the town and countryside that reveres the horse.

Though the Feldenkrais Method is a bit elusive, the classes are not. The owner of Kinetic Balance invites you to join her for a Friday class at noon, at The Studio on West Federal Street.  “If you know what you do, you can do what you want,” she quotes Feldenkrais. “It has to do with awareness: Awareness is the key,” explains Catherine. For more information on the method, visit

This article first appeared in the January 2019 issue of Middleburg Life. 

A Look Back at the 2018 International Gold Cup

Photos by John Scott Nelson Photography

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these riders from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. While the International Gold Cup like the United States Postal Service has no official motto, the die hard Gold Cup fans could steal the postal workers motto for this October’s event.

Despite the not so cheery weather, fans donned their best hats and put on their smiling faces to brave the damp weather and enjoy what turned out to be an exciting day at Great Meadows on Saturday, Oct. 27.The lush green grass was a bit wet and made for some muddy boots, but the steeplechase races went on and the horses didn’t seem to mind. The day didn’t go to the dogs. However, the entertaining Terrier Races in the paddock did start the day and grabbed everyone’s attention. 

This article first appeared in the December 2018 Issue of Middleburg Life.


Virginia’s Largest Private Land Trust Protects Another 182.4 Acres in Albemarle County

Virginia’s Largest Private Land Trust | December 12, 2018

The Land Trust of Virginia, holding more conservation easements than any other private land trust in the Commonwealth, is pleased to announce that 182.4 acres of entirely forested land, located southeast of Batesville, Virginia, is forever protected through the landowner’s donation of a conservation easement.  Located in Albemarle County, Miran Forest has been protected with the intention of providing public access in perpetuity by the landowners, the American Environment Foundation.

The landowners have protected their property with the intention of providing public access in perpetuity for hiking and quiet enjoyment.  There is an existing public trail on the property, located along the forested steep western slopes of Long Arm Mountain.  The trail leads to the highest point on the property at the peak of the mountain, known locally as High Top.  From the peak, hikers can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding valley floors and nearby mountains.  Craig Davis, head of the American Environment Foundation said, “Our primary interest in protecting the property is to allow the wildlife a safe habitat and for people to enjoy the quiet of this beautiful mountainside.”

This property is highly visible from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway and portions of the Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest, making it a highly valuable property to protect in perpetuity.  The recording of this easement further enhances the existing land protections in the area.  Directly adjacent to Miran Forest is a property consisting of 206 acres under conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.  Additionally, there are numerous other conservation easements in close proximity adding important protections to the Virginia countryside.

Located approximately 2.5 miles north is another property in conservation easement with the Land Trust of Virginia, the Miller School of Albemarle.  This 637.4-acre conservation easement was recorded in 2016 and will forever protect numerous natural resources, open space, and scenic views for all to enjoy, especially the students of the school.  This property could have been divided into 34 different properties.  Both conservation easements, over the Miller School and Miran Forest, have no division rights retained, meaning that neither can ever be divided for development.

While a lot of work is being done in Albemarle County, there is still a lot more to do to ensure that bucolic Virginia is protected for generations to come.  The Land Trust of Virginia invites landowners, interested in hearing more, to contact Sally Price at [email protected].


Hanging History: The Official White House Christmas Ornaments

Story by Kaitlin Hill | Photos by Randy Litzinger

The tradition of decorating Christmas trees can often turn into a walk down memory lane, with each ornament acting as a ghost of Christmases past. Since ornaments are often given as gifts, the markers of special occasions or, sometimes embarrassing, reminders of now-grown children’s elementary artistic pursuits, they hold their own unique histories and serve as jolly juggernauts of nostalgia. Add string lights, weaving ribbon or twinkling tinsel, and the finished fir can tell the intimate story of a family, a new couple or a set of lifelong friends.

As Americans, our shared history is boldly and beautifully told across the country, and right here in Middleburg, on towering trees and magnificent mantels that are bedecked in Official White House Christmas Ornaments. For local Nancy Novak McMahon, the ornaments are both patriotic and personal. She orders multiples each year and has the entire collection—all 37—which she displays every Christmas. She received her first as a gift from a co-worker after moving to Virginia from Chicago.

The first White House Christmas Ornament, a two-dimensional golden angel with outstretched wings and a festive horn, was released in 1981. It bears a simple inscription, “Christmas 1981. The White House.”

“I had a new co-worker who, the first Christmas that we worked together, as a kind of welcome to the Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. area, gave me the White House Christmas Ornament, which I had never even known existed.” She continues, “I just thought it was the neatest thing and every year for eight or ten years, she always gave me an ornament as my Christmas present.” To Nancy, the ornament is special because of its ties to the Washington region and friends she made while living here.

Even since moving to Middleburg, McMahon carries on ritual by buying one for herself, and giving them as gifts, too. She even sends two as far as Holland, one to a close friend and the other to her friend’s in-laws, who recently downsized.

The White House Historical Association’s 2018 White House Christmas Ornament honors President Harry S. Truman. This ornament is designed to illustrate three significant changes made by him during his administration, one to the Presidential Seal, and two to the White House itself.

“They let me know, the ornaments made the cut…the [current] ornament is still up every year and has a place of honor in their new apartment.” They watch for McMahon’s package with the newly released ornament each year. She laughs, “It’s quite the tradition.”The ornaments started as part of an outreach initiative by the White House Historical Association (WHHA). Founded by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, the non-profit and purposefully non-partisan association was created as a means to educate Americans about the rich history of the White House. Twenty years and six presidents later, including her husband Ronald, former first lady Nancy Reagan launched the White House Ornaments as a continuation of Kennedy’s focus on historical preservation and education.

The first ornament was released in 1981, a two-dimensional golden angel with outstretched wings and a festive horn. It bears a simple inscription, “Christmas 1981. The White House.” Over the years, the ornaments became more elaborate, including colors, three-dimensional designs and even moving pieces.

In 1984, the fourth ornament is the first to depict a president’s face. Thomas Jefferson sits regally in a circle of gold, called “Jefferson’s Medal of Peace.” And in 1987, the first touches of color are added—evergreen wreaths with Christmas red ribbons adorn the “White House Doors.” The 1999 Lincoln-inspired collectible is a golden book inlaid with a pensive looking Honest Abe that even opens. The portrait was painted by George Healy and still hangs in the State Dining Room.

The 2007 White House Christmas ornament honors the first administration of President Grover Cleveland.

Not only do these annually revealed Christmas treasures showcase specific presidents, but they also capture moments in time and executive mansion memories that may have been forgotten. The 2016 edition is a gleaming red and gold miniature representation of the fire trucks that responded to the 1929 Christmas Eve blaze at the White House during a children’s gathering. Herbert Hoover, who was president at the time, invited the same children back the following year and presented them all with toy versions of the red engine as a keepsake.Each year, a new designer is selected to conceptualize the ornament. Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association says, “Over the years we have used various sources of design. We have had a competition among professional designers, a competition among design school students and we have used the design team at the manufacturer of our ornaments in Rhode Island.” He adds, “From time to time we even receive an unsolicited design.”

The process of choosing a design is collaborative. “We talk it through as a staff and with members of our board of directors and react to several designs,” McLaurin said. Sometimes the WHHA even asks artists to team up. “Occasionally, we will like a couple things from one design and a couple of things from another design and we will ask those designers to work together.”

As for selecting which president to feature each year, that decision was made long ago. “Fortunately for us, back in the Reagan administration when the idea was first presented to Mrs. Reagan to do a Christmas ornament, the decision was made then that we would feature a different president each year and we would do it sequentially.” He continues, “It started with Washington and we have now worked our way up to Harry Truman. That takes the politics out of it, that takes any favoritism out of it when we know that the next year, it’s the next president.”

The 2003 White House Christmas Ornament honors President Ulysses S. Grant and his family.

As McLaurin mentioned, 2018’s ornament honors Harry S. Truman, and highlights the renovations he made to the White House while in office. The front of this delicate white and gold ornament features the Truman Balcony added between 1947 and 1948. On the flipside, you’ll find The Blue Room, complete with an extravagantly decorated Christmas tree. Perhaps the most significant of Truman-era changes is seen in the Presidential Seal. Prior to Truman’s presidency, the American eagle’s gaze focused on instruments of war clutched in his left talon. Truman shifted the eagle’s focus to its right talon, which grasp olive branches of peace.Once a concept is selected, ChemArt, a veteran-owned small business—the same manufacturer that has produced every ornament from the start—is trusted to bring the vision to life. McLaurin says, “They have worked with us since the ornament started. They know us. They know the ornaments.”

Customers know the ornaments, too. And as McLaurin tells it, collectors are often eager to purchase the next in line. “There is a big excitement about what the ornament is going to be.” He adds, “Once you start collecting, you have the one the next year. Even more than that, once you start giving them as gifts, the recipient expects to receive one next year.”  Tracking down the ornaments is easily done, and if you happen to miss a year, don’t worry. The entire collection is available for order on the White House Historical Association’s website;

The Christmas Sleigh in Middleburg is one of the only shops in Virginia to carry the entire collection. “We are the largest supplier of this ornament in Virginia. We carry the entire series and we have them in stock all the time,” said Linda Tripp Rausch, who owns the Christmas Sleigh with her husband, Dieter Rausch. They are one of the store’s most popular sellers, and it is not difficult to understand why. In fact, the store had to reorder before Thanksgiving. “People are getting something that is unique, it’s historic, it’s a collectible and the proceeds go to a cause,” McLaurin said.

Their philanthropic nature reflects the holiday season’s focus on giving, but moreover, the ornaments themselves are manifestations of the true American spirit. A spirit that is undeniably patriotic, built by veterans and loved by both sides of the aisle. They speak to the class, elegance and majesty associated with the White House, and remind us of those who have come before us to make this Christmas, and those that follow, possible.


Lighting up the Night for All to See

Photos by Randy Litzinger

Joyce Mullins, owner of Mullwyck Manor in Upperville, Virginia, shares her love of Christmas with her friends, her family and even strangers. Joyce graciously offered her home, Mullwyck Manor, as the backdrop for this month’s cover shot. Although her home already featured three Christmas trees and decorations in every room, she offered her den as the backdrop for our Hunt Country Christmas tree which was designed and decorated by Linda Tripp Rausch and Diane Spreadbury of the Christmas Sleigh in Middleburg.The Christmas tree features two complete sets of collectible White House Ornaments, a nod to our nation’s history and our close proximity to Washington, D.C. However, what’s under the tree makes it distinctly Hunt Country. Look closely. The hostess went room to room and gathered her personal treasures to help get that perfect Hunt Country feel. She even added two of her own wrapped gifts alongside the beautifully decorated ones Linda designed and brought for the shoot.

Mullins, along with her son, Rick, creates her own spectacular decoration display that takes a week to put up and tear down for friends, neighbors and strangers to enjoy each year. Most notably, Rick decorates their pond every Christmas with dazzling lights that can be seen from the road. She gives him full creative liberty with the pond. “He just goes wild,” she says.Each year, the Christmas light elf tries to up the ante as he knows passersby are excited to see the latest installment. “It’s to make people smile as they go to and from work. Even when I am putting it up, they beep and wave. They expect it.”

If you happen to drive through Upperville as the sun goes down, be sure to keep an eye out for Mullwyck Manor. This seasonal spectacle is one of the community’s favorite traditions and is not to be missed.


This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.

Coq Au Vin.

Origin of a Recipe: Bringing a French Twist to the Table

Story by Aaron Lynch and Amber Sky | Photos by Amber Sky

Since 1981, L’Auberge Provençale has brought true, generational European “farm-to-table” to the Virginia countryside.

Writer Aaron Lynch with L’Auberge Provençale owner Alain Borel.

Writer Aaron Lynch with L’Auberge Provençale owner Alain Borel.

This month, we had the great privilege of visiting L’Auberge Provençale. L’Auberge Provençale is a quintessential French Country Inn and Restaurant located in picturesque White Post, Virginia. Owners Alain and Celeste Borel have created a remarkable Provence experience in their nationally acclaimed, four diamond rated establishment. Stepping into L’Auberge Provençale, I felt like I was transported to the luxuriant French countryside.

Alain Borel, who is a fourth generation French Chef, creates amazingly authentic French food, which makes for an unforgettable experience when appreciated with his incredible stories and recipe origins. Alain and Celeste are so friendly and passionately want each guest to experience a piece of the opulent French culture. They are extremely intentional with every detail and ingredient they incorporate. Alain invites one to savor his modern regional cuisine with a French flair by giving inventive commission to Head Chef Richard Wright who takes Alain’s generational recipes and creates contemporary versions that fuse the flavor and beauty of each dish.

Alain’s great-grandparents owned the Hotel du Louvre, in Avignon, France, and the recipe we will share today was perfected in that hotel over a century ago. Alain’s great-grandmother prepared the memorable Coq Au Vin for her family and her hotel guests. Coq Au Vin is a classic French stew with chicken that is slowly braised in red wine and brandy. Alain shared how once a year his family in France would use the lone rooster on the family farm to create this special Coq Au Vin dish. They would marinate the rooster for hours to make it tender and juicy. It is simply a divinely delicious dish!

Alain began his training to become a chef at the tender age of six. He worked as an apprentice to his grandfather and his first assignment was to peel and cut potatoes. When Alain was 13, he moved to Canada, where his father owned L’Auberge Provençale, just outside of Montreal. Alain continued his culinary training under his father and his uncle. At 14, he started his full-time career as a chef. Alain’s roots are Provence and he still stands firm on those today.

 L’Auberge Provençale Head Chef Richard Wright.

L’Auberge Provençale Head Chef Richard Wright.

Provence style is essentially farm-to-table with only using the freshest of local ingredients. In 1981 when Alain and Celeste came to Virginia, they set out to live and share the style of Provence. That was in a sense counter-cultural in the 1980s. Finding local fresh organic meats and produce did not really exist. The pair would travel north and south to find their ingredients. Being the inventive and creative chefs they are, they raised rabbits and pigs and created an extensive herb garden, vegetable garden, and orchard. After a time, they were able to procure local pork, beef, chicken, fowl, produce, and fruit that met their high standards for them to use in a sustainable farm-to-table Provence fashion. They were ahead of the time, stayed true to their convictions, and definitely influenced many to consider the Provence lifestyle.

Though the Coq Au Vin recipe was perfected at the family French hotel, Alain brought this recipe and many others to the west. L’Auberge Provençale’s goal is to enhance each dish to it’s highest standards. Alain is equally passionate about continually evolving his family recipes and cuisine. That was made so evident when we met with Alain, Celeste who adore watching Chef Rich take the family recipes and ingeniously embellish them. Today, L’Auberge Provençale uses the freshest local farm-raised chicken instead of a rooster. Sometimes Chef Rich adds lentils to his Coq Au Vin to give it a new spin.

L’Auberge Provençale is a family affair. Pictured: Christian, Alain, and Celeste Borel.

L’Auberge Provençale is a family affair. Pictured: Christian, Alain, and Celeste Borel.

L’Auberge Provençale’s owner is the epitome of what all chefs would want to be. As Shenandoah’s original farm-to-table chef, he is the essence of what a true “foodie” is. From a 200 to a 2,000 square foot kitchen and from chasing pigs around the fields to catering a 700 person wedding, he has experienced and perfected the culinary arts. The legacy continues through Christian, Celeste and Alain’s son, as the fifth generation Borel to complement the lifestyle of Provence. Christian is L’Auberge Provençale’s Certified Sommelier and Front House Manager. He oversees the extensive 8,000 bottle wine collection that was started before he was born. They hope the family business will only continue to grow through Christian’s daughter, Jacqueline.

The warmth and flavor of the Coq Au Vin dish are perfect for family and holiday dinners. It is a dish you can be creative with, just as L’Auberge Provençale continues to do. We are so grateful to Alain and Celeste for sharing L’Auberge Provençale and this century-old family recipe with us. Bon Appétit!

Coq Au Vin.

Coq Au Vin.

Coq Au Vin
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup smoked bacon, diced
1 (3-4lb) chicken, cut into eighths
Salt and pepper
1 cup of carrots, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
1 medium onion, sliced ¼” thick
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 ounces good brandy
1 bottle dry red wine, Burgundy
8 ounces chicken stock
10 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ stick of butter
1 ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
8 ounces pearl onions, peeled and par-boiled slightly
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thick, sauteed lightly
¼ cup chopped, fresh parsley


Marinate chicken pieces with wine, carrots, onion, garlic,
and half of the thyme for at least eight hours.
Drain chicken well reserving the liquid.
Separate chicken and vegetables and set aside.
Bring chicken marinade to a simmer and skim the foam frequently for 10 min.
Strain and reserve.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cook bacon, in a Dutch oven, in oil until crispy and remove from pan.
Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towel and season both side with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Sear chicken well on both sides in bacon fat and remove to a plate.
Turn heat to medium-low and melt butter.
Sweat carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper with no color for 10 minutes.
Add garlic and cook for one minute.
Add brandy and cook for one minute.
Sprinkle flour evenly over the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes.
Add a little of the wine and whisk until smooth.
Add the rest of the wine along with the chicken stock and the rest of the thyme.
Add chicken, bacon, and any juices that accumulated on the plate.
Bring to a simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
Add pearl onions and mushrooms and return to the oven, uncovered for 20 minutes.
Make sure chicken is cooked through and remove to cool slightly
(or place over a burner and simmer sauce to desired consistency).
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately with a nice piece of warm baguette.
Aaron Lynch is the co-creator of Origin of a Recipe and the chef-owner of
Hidden Julles Cafe in Haymarket, Virginia.

Photographer Amber Sky, co-creator of Origin of a Recipe, works alongside Lynch to share the chef’s vision with readers. Visit to read more. 

3rd annual Middleburg Music Fest International features Pianists Katerina Zaitseva and Nikita Fitenko

Pianists Katerina Zaitseva and Nikita Fitenko performed their favorite piano compositions On December 2, 2018  in the Greenhill Winery Barrel Room. The program took the audience through selected compositions by Schubert, Chopin, Grieg, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninov.

This event was part of the Middleburg Music Fest International, now in it’s third year, which has become a beloved yearly tradition for those who love the piano world.
After the concert guests enjoyed a reception to meet the artists and accompanied by wine and delicacies produced at the beautiful facilities at Greenhill Winery.

Dr. Zaitseva (Right) and Dr. Fitenko (Left) performing in the Barrel Room at Greenhill Winery.

About the Performers:

Internationally acclaimed pianist and Yamaha Artist Nikita Fitenko has performed recitals and with orchestras at important venues throughout Europe, Asia, South and North America. He holds degrees from the Saint Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory (BM) and from the University of North Texas (MM & DMA). He has also recorded seven commercial CDs for Altarus and Classical Records labels.

Dr. Fitenko has been invited to serve on numerous international piano competition juries. He currently holds the position of Chair of The Department of Music Performance at the Rome School of Music, Drama and, Art and at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; and he is also the Artistic Director and Co-founder of the Middleburg Music Fest International. Praised by Fanfare magazine as a pianist with an “imaginative and colorful approach”, Katerina Zaitseva has performed at major venues in the United States, Europe and Asia. Her six CD recordings released by the Classical Records label have garnered international acclaim. She is a winner of national competitions and awards including the MTNA Competition, SMU Concerto Competition, Von Mickwitz Prize in Piano as well as the University of North Texas Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award among others.

Dr. Zaitseva holds her DMA degree from the University of Maryland, Master of Music from the Southern Methodist University, Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas, and Diploma from the Music School under the Moscow State Conservatory in Russia. She is also faculty and the Levine School of Music.

Guests enjoying wine and talking to the pianist after the event. 

This event is made possible thanks to the patronage of Greenhill Winery and the support of the
Town of Middleburg. For tickets information please check the announcement on, as well as on and our Facebook page.
Read about last years event here. 

“Lucky 7” Charity Gala Celebrating Seven Years of Serving Individuals with Special Needs

November 19, 2018 | Courtesy of Sprout Therapeutic Riding and Education Center

Therapeutic Riding and Education Center’s “Lucky 7” Charity Gala and Gaming benefit kicked off the celebration of their “lucky” seventh year of serving individuals with special needs with fun, food, drinks, and a little “gambling”.

The gala was held in the organizations’ barn, complete with twinkling string lights, professional gaming tables with dealers and a farm to table dinner, courtesy of Fields of Athenry Farm and RSVP Catering.A cocktail hour eased guests into the night, featuring beer from Solace Brewing Company and wines by Slater Run Vineyards, both of whom partnered with Sprout on this special anniversary event. A “Big Board”, a fresh take on a silent auction, entertained guests by featuring items to anonymously bid upon. This “interactive” auction added to the excitement and theme of the night as guests could take their pick from any auction item listed on The Big Board, ranging from designer silk scarves, spa treatments, personal chef dinners, weekend getaways and more.Executive Director, Brooke Waldron, delivered an inspiring speech about the importance of serving others through the power of horses. With not a dry eye in the house, Sprout students arrived in the arena, accompanied by their trust four-legged friends and Sprout instructors for the “Sponsor a Horse” portion of the evening. With warmth and love in their hearts, guests generously bid to sponsor a therapy horse for an entire room – resulting in ALL seventeen of the horses being sponsored!With the generous support of the event sponsors of Sue Fitzgerald and Associates, Newstead Farm, Alison Robitaille and Family, TriSept Corporation Northwest Credit Union and many others, the “Lucky 7” gala was a huge success.Event Chair, Kristin Quinn, and her committee worked to make the gala a night to remember, and their efforts did not go unnoticed, as Founder and Executive Director Brooke Waldron revealed following the charity gala that support from all those who attended raised over $300,000. Save the date for next year as it’s sure to be a “don’t want to miss event!”



The field following the hounds.

Opening day for Snickersville Hounds

Photos by Joanne Maisano

The chilly weather arrived right on time for the kick off of the formal hunt season. On Sunday, Oct 21, Snickersville Hounds had their Opening Meet from Creekside, home of MFH Gregg Ryan.

The field following the hounds.

The field following the hounds.

Katrina Balding Bills leads the junior field with daughter Keara (r-l), son Kenny and John Ryan.

Katrina Balding Bills leads the junior field with daughter Keara (r-l), son Kenny and John Ryan.

Jt-MFH Gregg Ryan and his son, John.

Jt-MFH Gregg Ryan and his son, John.

Blackwater Beef of Middleburg catered a delicious breakfast after the meet. It was the perfect way to end a very cold morning.


This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.