CIDER & ALE
CAN RURAL LOUDOUN BE SAVED? The Struggle to Preserve the Countryside
“America’s Routes” Project: Protecting Historic Roads
AUTUMN OUTDOORS Dog Paddling
Fly Fishing at Rose River Farm
AUTUMN 2019 • $5.95
“The Hunt in Belvoir Vale” by John Ferneley Sr. Photo courtesy of National Sporting Library & Museum
Discover our Traditions while creating your own... Shopping, Dining, Arts, Horses, and History VA Fall Races
Horses History Dining Shopping
Jumping Rocks Photography
• Sept. 15:
National Sporting Library & Museum Polo Classic at Great Meadow
• Sept. 21:
Art in the ’Burg/Octoberfest South Madison Street, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
• Sept. 28:
Land Trust of Virginia Tour de Conservation Bike Ride
October • Oct. 4:
Leading the Field: Ellen Emmet Rand exhibit opens National Sporting Library and Museum
• Oct. 4-6:
Conference on the Art of Command presented by Mosby Heritage Association
• Oct. 12:
65th running of the Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park
• Oct. 17-20: Middleburg Film Festival • Oct. 24-26: 1000 Miglia Warm Up USA
November • Nov. 7-9:
The Christmas Shop
• Nov. 15:
A Matter of Light, the Art of Andre Pater Book Signing and Lecture, National Sporting Library and Museum
December • Dec. 6:
Lighting of the town Christmas Tree
• Dec. 7:
Christmas in Middleburg
Red Fox Inn
Jodi Miller Photography
The Middleburg Business & Professional Association in support of the local business & retail community.
540 . 687 . 8888
VA Fall Races
www.visitmiddleburgva.com Red Fox Inn
Old Firehouse Hill, Castleton
The original 3 BR farmhouse c.1912 has been enlarged to accommodate a gourmet kitchen, great room & outdoor spaces that beckon with gardens & cool breezes. Original portion includes a main floor suite & a den/office with fireplace. Geothermal HVAC. Salt Water Gunite pool and 3 BR pool/guest house. Perfect getaway on 24 acres! $799,000
Rolling Hills Farm, Sperryville
Spectacular land in an excellent location are the defining characteristics of the Rolling Hills Farm. It is 121.5 acres of rolling hills, pastures, streams and woodlands in the heart of the most scenic part of Rappahannock County. Located about 3 miles south of Sperryville. Outstanding views in all directions. $1,035,000
Three Meadows Farm, Flint Hill
Three Meadows Farm is a 3 BR/2.5 BA cedar-sided home. The home delights with custom built-ins, a stone chimney, a spacious deck and epic views. The 10 acre property includes a 2-car garage with 2 BR/1BA apartment above, cabin sauna, meadows and a pond. Comcast Internet available. Private, but close to the village of Flint Hill for great dining options. $699,000
Hughes River House, Sperryville
Hughes River House is a delightful American ranch-style home that marries easy one level living with a great deal of country charm. Walk to the Hughes River or listen to river sounds on your front or rear deck. The spacious 4BR/3BA home is ideal for a full-time residence or a weekend getaway. Includes a 2-car garage. Reno in 2018. $425,000
Sunrise Summit, Sperryville The Farm On Red Oak, Woodville
Sunrise Summit delights the spirit. The 50.2 AC property has over 1,700 ft of frontage on the Hughes River. The lot is a pleasant mix of open fields and old growth woods, with Old Rag on the vista. $650,000
High on Red Oak Mountain, this 102.5 AC property has a stunning location, views and potential. The property lies on the western side of Red Oak. It includes historic old buildings, several streams and beautiful mountain terrain. $795,000
Sperryville Pike, Sperryville
Picture perfect circa 1920s Colonial close to Sperryvilleâ€™s Main Street. This 3 BR/2 BA home on a half acre lot has been lovingly maintained over the years. Sip your morning coffee by the cozy wood stove before you walk to the Village. $395,000
37 Main Street, Sperryville, VA 22740
P o t oma c Ashburn
Middleburg Front Royal
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ON THE COVER Driving enthusiast Flora Hillman and one of her ponies on Willisville Road. Hillman and her husband moved to Loudoun County to enjoy the unpaved roads. Photograph by Douglas Graham
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M A R
Sh en an do ah
— Walter Nicklin, Piedmont Virginian founder
IRG T V
A “ ffinities, not simply geography, create the Piedmont’s unique regional identity. We strive to give voice to this special — even magical — place in the hopes that it remains so.”
FEATURES AUTUMN 2019 • VOLUME XIII • ISSUE 3 IN MEMORIAM
H ER I TAGE
Artists of Rappahannock Fall Art Tour
Glen Gordon Manor
BY WALTER NICKLIN
Mary and Cassie Come Home BY JOHN MCCASLIN
PEOPLE OF THE PIEDMONT
Special Section Loudoun County
Corry Blanc BY ED FELKER
The Loudoun Comprehensive Plan
FOOD AND DRINK
12 Michelin Ambition Gordonsville’s Restaurant Rochambeau BY KAITLIN HILL
Autumn Recipe Pumpkin Bisque BY KATILIN HILL
Cider in Virginia The Resurgence of a Popular Historical Drink in the Piedmont BY KIT JOHNSTON
Marvelous Madison The County’s Enticing Highlights Beckon
What Does it Mean for Western Loudoun? BY CHARLES HOUSTON
Preserving Loudoun’s Network of Historic Roads BY EMILY HOUSTON
BY NANCY BAUER W IL DL IFE A ND PR E SER VAT I ON OUTDOORS
42 Soothing Souls at Rose River Farm One of the Finest Fly Fishing Destinations on the East Coast
46 A Day in the Wild is Worth a Thousand in a Cage Nikki Stamps’s Dedication to Wildlife Preservation and Education
BY ED FELKER
BY NATHAN RAY
The Noah Option
Hopkins Ordinary’s Ale Works
A Day on the River with Your Best Friend
Acting Individually Can Make a Difference
BY JENNIFER WALDERA
BY ED FELKER
BY RON MAXWELL
Extraordinary in Sperryville
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Every Great Painting (or Family Fiddle)
Deserves a P. H. Miller Studio Frame
FOUNDING EDITOR: Walter Nicklin
CO-FOUNDERS: Arthur W. (Nick) Arundel, Sandy Lerner
PUBLISHER Dennis Brack EDITOR Pam Kamphuis ART DIRECTOR Kara Thorpe SENIOR EDITOR Gus Edwards
圀栀攀爀攀 攀瘀攀爀礀 昀爀愀洀攀 椀猀 愀 眀漀爀欀 漀昀 愀爀琀⸀
Lovingly played by a Piedmont musician Original frame designed and made by the P. H. Miller Studio
A match made in Heaven? No, made right here in Berryville 䘀愀爀洀椀渀最琀漀渀 刀椀瘀攀爀 戀礀 倀攀琀攀 䈀攀爀最攀爀漀渀
Gilding, Carving and Restoration Services offered
䔀愀猀琀 䴀愀椀渀 匀琀爀攀攀琀 䈀攀爀爀礀瘀椀氀氀攀Ⰰ 嘀椀爀最椀渀椀愀 ㈀㈀㘀 ⠀㔀㐀 ⤀ 㤀㔀㔀ⴀ㌀㤀㌀㤀 椀渀昀漀䀀瀀栀洀椀氀氀攀爀⸀挀漀洀 眀眀眀⸀瀀栀洀椀氀氀攀爀猀琀甀搀椀漀⸀挀漀洀
1 East Main St. Berryville, Virginia 22611 email@example.com www.phmillerstudio.com
Antiques & Home Décor
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ASSOCIATE EDITOR Ed Felker FOOD EDITOR Kaitlin Hill SALES DIRECTOR Jim Kelly ACCOUNTING MANAGER Carina Richard Wheat CIRCULATION MANAGER Jan Clatterbuck 540-675-3338 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Glenda Booth, Kristie Kendall, Pete Pazmino, Tony Vanderwarker, Carla Vergot, James Wilkinson BEAGLE MIX Angel The Piedmont Virginian is published quarterly by Rappahannock Media, L.L.C. 11 Culpeper St., Warrenton, VA 20186 540.349.2951, firstname.lastname@example.org Subscription inquiries: 540.675.3338
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FAVORITE Find us on Facebook • Gifts and Home Décor • Antiques • Reclaimed Furniture email@example.com • Local Art & Products • Authorized Fusion Paint Dealer Mon-Thurs: 10-5 • Painting & Jewelry Making Workshops Fri-Sat: 10-6 • Custom Made Furniture Sun: 10-5
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All editorial, advertising, reprint, and/or circulation correspondence should use the above address, or visit the website: www.piedmontvirginian.com The editors welcome but accept no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts and art. Reprints or bulk copies available upon request. Single-copy price, $5.95. One-year subscription rate, $19.95, Two-year rate, $33.95 © 2019 by Rappahannock Media, LLC. ISSN # 1937-5409 POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to The Piedmont Virginian, P.O. Box 59, Washington, VA 22747.
Angel, Farewell BY WALTER NICKLIN
magazine’s masthead tells readers what people at the magazine do: their job responsibilities and titles – circulation manager, art director, etc. But “Angel,” listed on the masthead since the magazine’s inception, didn’t really have a job description. Not defined (and therefore limited) by what she did, she was simply what she was – a “Beagle Mix.” A rescue dog, no one knew Angel’s age, exactly; but she was at least 16 years old when she died in July, suddenly and inexplicably becoming totally paralyzed. Remarkably vigorous till the very end, she had, only four days before, dog-paddled down Compton Rapids on the Shenandoah’s South Fork. Though not a genetically bred “water dog,” she loved to swim. On canoe trips, she would invariably jump in the water in order to swim from one canoe to another (like most humans, she always wanted to be where she wasn’t!). She loved to run and romp across the Piedmont’s open fields. In the woods, she loved to scamper on the rocky outcroppings, as if she were part mountain goat. So when her legs gave out – so abruptly, so improbably – she must have wondered, “Why?” Is that what she was asking as her dark pupils stared into mine? Could some human sense of irony or stoic recognition of injustice possibly mitigate the pain? Virginia’s Piedmont is a dog-friendly place, so in the magazine’s early days I took Angel everywhere. On many ad sales calls, I think it must have been her “cute” presence that closed the deal. Or when an editorial contributor experienced writer’s block, she became what is now commonly called an “emotional support animal.” Though she never knew the destination when walking on a leash down Old Town Warrenton’s streets (to the bank, library, business meeting, coffee shop?), she always confidently led the way. Head high, tail forever wagging, Angel made passersby smile: “Here comes Happy Dog,” they would say. Unlike most humans, she never pretended there was some grand purpose or goal propelling her. She was just exploring, curious, appreciative, and open to the world as she found it. This world was especially generous in the smells that only a
canine nose could detect. Her hidden world, she sought to share but I could witness only vicariously. Like most humans, she had character flaws – therefore “no Angel.” Given her abandonment as a pup, she had a neurotic fear of being left alone. As she aged, preferring the company of humans, she sometimes got grumpy around her fellow dogs. But, then, I know many humans who feel similarly about their own kind, growing increasingly misanthropic in their old age. Though she couldn’t be characterized as especially courageous, Angel was noble nonetheless. One day, Lassie-like, she ran for help to save someone who had fainted and fallen into a pond. She seldom barked or howled and never whined. Her bonds with humans were never simply transactional; she didn’t need to be fed or petted to show affection, whether curled at one’s feet in the magazine office or consoling terminally ill patients in the hospital. Angel is buried now at the tree line on a hill near the Rappahannock River where she liked to roam. But she’s not dead, for her nose retains its endless curiosity and her friendly tail doesn’t stop wagging as long as those whom she touched still live. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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OUR CONTRIBUTORS Nancy Bauer is the author of the book Virginia Wine Travel Journal and the owner/author of the Virginia Wine in My Pocket travel app and website. Nancy also writes HurryUpGirl.com, the lifestyle blog for women over 50.
November 2-3, 10am to 5pm More Than 40 Studios and Galleries
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Ed Felker is a graphic designer, photographer, writer, outdoorsman, and Virginia native. His award-winning writing and photography have been featured in many fine Virginia publications. Ed can most often be found outdoors near his studio overlooking the Potomac River, usually with a camera, often with a fly rod, always with a dog. Douglas Graham’s award-winning career spans over 35 years as a staff and freelance editorial photographer. His work has covered national and international news, national politics, professional, Olympic and college-level sporting events. He retired from the Economist Group in Washington in 2014 but continues to freelance at the local level. He holds first place news photo awards in many categories from Florida Press Association, World Press Photo Contest, Virginia Press Association, Virginia News Photographers Association, North Carolina Press Association, The White House News Photographers Association and the National Press Photographers Association. Kaitlin Hill is a Culinary Institute of America trained chef with a B.A. in History from the University of Richmond. After completing her culinary degree, she worked in New York as a professional pastry chef, recipe tester for Saveur magazine, and editorial assistant to renowned food critic Gael Greene. In 2015, she returned home to Washington, D.C. where she currently runs a catering business and works as a freelance writer and photographer. Charlie Houston, a Georgian, was introduced to Virginia’s Piedmont while at Washington & Lee in Lexington, developed six million square feet of corporate office buildings during his career in Atlanta, retired young and moved to a small horse farm near the village of Waterford. Conservation issues fill his calendar.
Emily Houston, in addition to being a member of the America’s Routes team, is on the board of the Loudoun County Equine Alliance (LoudounEquine. org), editor of Horse Times magazine (horsetimes.net) and a member of the Rural Roads Committee of the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition. Kit Johnston is a science and engineering reporter who for 45 years has written on the side for a variety of respectable publications about her not so hidden passion for food. She earned her M.S. degree in journalism at Columbia University. Nathan Ray is from Haymarket, Virginia and is currently in his second year at the University of Virginia. He is interested in Media Studies and Communications, and would like to pursue a career in journalism. At Virginia, he is involved in the University’s creative writing program, podcasting organization, Filmmakers Society, and Jazz Ensemble. Jennifer Waldera shares her hunger for, and curiosity about, food, drinks, and exploration as a freelance writer for numerous mid-Atlantic and online publications. Read more of her work at jenniferwaldera.com and follow her travels at @jlwriter on Instagram.
We want to hear from you! Please contact us with story ideas, photo submissions, article reactions, comments, questions, or upcoming events that would interest our readers. firstname.lastname@example.org | 540-349-2951 | piedmontvirginian.com facebook.com/thepiedmontvirginian | instagram.com/thepiedmontvirginian
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HERITAGE BY JOHN MCCASLIN
Mary and Cassie come home to Glen Gordon Manor ‘Our family history is a part of this place’ BY JOHN MCCASLIN
ary and Cassie Jasper — 95 and 93 years young respectively — still recall the German POWs who labored in the fields surrounding the private Gordon estate in Huntly, where the sisters cooked, served and cleaned during the 1940s. While their halting English prevented the prisoners from ever saying much, their polite gestures and growling stomachs did plenty of talking. “They couldn’t speak the language,” Mary explained to her daughter, Janet Timbers of Harrisonburg, describing how the two young sisters, who grew up in Huntly, would occasionally provide the POWs with cold drinks or a bite to eat. “The universal language was food.” On a late summer Saturday, the two ageless Jasper sisters finally got their turns to be served — a surprise luncheon in their honor at today’s renowned Glen Gordon Manor — where they were once employed. “They worked for the family matriarch, whom they called Mrs. Gordon,” explained Timbers, who arranged for the special luncheon attended by 30 close friends and family, including a grandson and niece who arrived from California. “I never heard my mother or aunt say anything negative regarding working for Mrs. Gordon or at the Gordon estate. They both eventually moved to Baltimore to work for Mrs. Gordon.” In fact, Mary and Cassie’s father and mother — George (born in 1890) and Julia B. Jasper — were themselves employed by Mrs. Gordon before their daughters joined her small staff. “My mother learned to cook here,” noted Timbers. “They threw a lot of parties. Mom would go to Pennsylvania with Mrs. Gordon and also to her Baltimore home. She and her sister were strong African American women. The road wasn’t always easy back then, but they leaned on each other for support.” 8 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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GLEN GORDON: HOSTING ROYALS... AND POWS
To free up manpower on the European front, the U.S. War Department in 1942 began moving Axis prisoners to POW camps primarily in the southern United States. Virginia housed more than 17,000 German POWs during World War II, with one primary base camp between Chester Gap and Front Royal. Helping to alleviate wartime shortages, many of the POWs provided agricultural labor in farms and orchards in the Piedmont. Prisoners were picked up each morning, often accompanied by a single guard, and returned to their camps in the evening. Over the years, Glen Gordon Manor, a luxury country inn set on 45 acres in Huntly, has hosted members of the British Royal Family and set the scene for many memorable hunts and balls. It traces its roots to 1833 as a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop. Located at 1482 Zachary Taylor Highway in Huntly, it offers guests rooms and fine dining. Phone 540636-6010 or visit www. glengordonmanor.com
Above, Top: Mary and sister Cassie Jasper are seated for a surprise luncheon in their honor at today’s Glen Gordon Manor in Huntly, where they once cooked, served and cleaned when it was a private estate. Above, Bottom: Mrs. Gordon’s small staff in Huntly included Mary Jasper, housekeeper Annie Russell, butler and chauffeur Charles Smith, and Cassie Jasper.
Now, rather than catering to Mrs. Gordon and her many guests, Mary and Cassie all these decades later are seated at the manor’s large dining table, where Glen Gordon innkeeper and esteemed chef Dayn Smith gladly handles the cooking. The ladies — Mary lives today in Front Royal, Cassie in Baltimore — were delighted to peruse the many black and white photographs the family compiled from their days at the Gordon estate, while in the background a saxophonist played Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” “There is nothing but good stories here,” California oncology nurse Stephanie Banks remarked in a toast to her two aunts after a prayer was offered and lunch served by Glen Gordon’s attentive staff. “Our family history is a part of this place.”
As Vibrant as the Fall Foliage
Enter the Annual Artists of Rappahannock Fall Art Tour
ach year as dramatic color sweeps across the Blue Ridge, the dynamic Rappahannock County artists’ community treats visitors from near and far to an extraordinary weekend experience. This year’s 15th Annual Fall Art Tour on November 2-3 will offer 29 open studios and 12 galleries for guests to explore and enjoy. More than 100 local artists will be displaying their fine art works and providing opportunities for interaction and learning from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The large number of exceptional local artists participating in the annual tour are not by chance. They are drawn to and inspired by the county’s scenic beauty and
the strong sense of community nurtured by the nonprofit Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community (RAAC) and its unique event. Each year, the event has added new local artists eager to open their studios and participate along with returning artists. Five new studio artists and one new gallery have joined those that over a thousand visitors return to see each year. Information about all the artists and images of their artwork may be viewed at www.FallArtTour.org. Follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts for more photos of artists' work as well as sneak peeks of their studios and the beautiful and inspiring scenery of Rappahannock County. The self-guided tour begins in “Little Washington” Virginia at the Washington School’s Main Gallery, 567 Mt. Salem Ave., with a dazzling professional display of representative artworks. For a $10 weekend admission fee, visitors are given a guide and map with detailed directions. Guests also receive information on artists’ demonstrations, food and drink options, and other local services. If you want to savor the numer-
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“Emerald Hill View” 24” x 30” Oil on canvas by Kevin H. Adams
ous and remarkable offerings, plan to come for the entire weekend. Tickets can be purchased in advance at insidenovatix.com or eventbrite.com and brought to the Main Gallery for your weekend sticker and viewing of artworks to map out your personal trip. Or you can also join the satisfying fun at the spur of the moment — just don’t miss it!
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PEOPLE OF THE PIEDMONT
CORRY BLANC: BLACKSMITH AND DESIGNER BY ED FELKER
People of the Piedmont is an ongoing portrait series spotlighting compelling individuals of the Piedmont. Captured in genuine moments through the lens and words of Ed Felker, the subjects are portrayed immersed in the pursuits that get them up in the morning and drive them all day.
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CORRY BLANC’S childhood memories are rich with the sights and smells of a metal shop. He fondly recalls watching his grandfather build hot rods, repair farm equipment, and everything in between at his shop in Georgia. A tinkerer by nature, Blanc used to take his toys apart to see how they worked. During his teenage years he got into ceramics. “The concept of taking raw materials and creating something useful, beautiful, and long-lasting was really intriguing,” he said. Then one summer his uncle, who owned a metal fabrication studio, asked him to help with a railing installation. “I was instantly hooked,” he said, and wound up apprenticing under him for the next four years. He found himself in Charlottesville after following a girl to grad school at the University of Virginia. “That relationship didn’t work out,” he said. “But I fell in love with central Virginia and never looked back.” There he landed a job at a local blacksmith studio where he forged metal for the first time. “As soon as I started forging, I realized how similar it is to working with ceramics,” he said. “You basically start off with a certain amount of mass and reshape it to the design you want.” He caught on very quickly and after a year decided to branch out and start his own shop in Charlottesville, Blanc Creatives. The focus at the time was high-end residential iron work such as railings, gates and hardware. But in the market downturn of 2008, custom iron work was a luxury not many were looking for. To make ends meet Corry supplemented his metal business with catering, bartending, and waiting tables. Blanc then got the idea of bringing his two worlds together, and felt he could make a better frying pan than what he was seeing in the restaurants where he worked. The rest, as they say, is history. Using nearly indestructible carbon steel, Blanc Creatives’ flagship line of cookware got noticed among local chefs first, then far beyond. Blanc earned top prize in Garden & Gun’s “Made in the South” Award in 2015. That changed everything. He went from creating 10 to 15 pans a week with one assistant, to his current level of producing as many as 75 pans a week with more than 15 employees. Corry’s role at the shop has changed much over the years. He has transitioned out of the production shop and has allowed his crew to take over. He spends his time on the big picture now, designing and prototyping new products, overseeing production, and planning out the future of the business. “I have my own personal studio now where I still heat and beat out products from time to time,” he said. “But the day-to-day is pretty much spent stoking the fire that has become Blanc Creatives.”
Michelin Ambition at Restaurant Rochambeau in Gordonsville STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAITLIN HILL
ined with trees and a stretch of adorable homegrown shops, Gordonsville is a picturesque example of the small town aesthetic characteristic of Virginia. However, in the center of town, just visible between the leaves, hangs le drapeau Français, inviting locals and out-of-towners alike to experience refined dining that is distinctly and authentically French at Restaurant Rochambeau. Named for Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, Restaurant Rochambeau is a Francophile’s dream. The space pays homage to its namesake, a pivotal figure in the American Revolutionary War, who led a French military force that helped the Thirteen Colonies secure independence. In his honor, a massive print of Rochambeau’s family chateau covers the sidewall of the elegantly laid dining room. In the back, a grand fireplace and shrine to Escoffier add to the general ambiance Française. But for Jacqueline and Bruce Gupton, the restaurant’s owners, the French connection runs much deeper than dining room décor. In 2015, Gordonsville became the Sister City of Rochambeau’s hometown, Thoréla-Rochette, and the Guptons are friends of his descendants. Even more, a portion of the restaurant’s profits is donated to Les Amis de Rochambeau, an organization committed to maintaining the estate and keeping the Comte’s memory alive. Unsurprisingly, when the Guptons started their search for an executive chef, they insisted the new recruit be as authentically French as their establishment. Enter Chef Bernard Guillot, who joined the team in April. The Brittany-born chef started his cooking career at the hotel and restaurant school of Saint-Brieuc, France, and refined his skills under the tutelage of all-stars like Jean and Pierre Troisgros and Frédy Girardet. Over 40 years, Guillot added to his impressive resume with stints in Canada, Corsica, Hong Kong, Japan, and Portugal and time spent cooking for high-profile clients like Mick Jagger and former President George W. Bush. Additionally, his talent and hard work resulted in numerous Michelin Stars, his induction into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, and a Diplome d’Excellence from the United Nations. Now in Gordonsville, Guillot plans to bring the same caliber of cuisine to diners from the community and day-trippers from as far as Richmond or Washington, D.C. He says, “I cook the same for everybody, for whomever, celebrities or locals. The quality doesn’t change.”
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Above: Chef Guillot brings his French background and Michelin-rated skills to Restaurant Rochambeau in Gordonsville. Facing page, clockwise from top: Chef Guillot pairs rich dark chocolate ice cream with fresh fruit and a pantry of spices for a memorable final bite; Many of the herbs and vegetables served at Rochambeau are grown in their backyard garden; The Virginia bass is caught locally, but the flavors of the Pavé de Loup de Mer are internationally inspired.
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8393 w main st., MARSHALL, VA 20115
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sieur and a traditional French charcuterie plate, including Pâté de Campagne, rillettes, and cornichons make for great snacking while enjoying a cocktail. But perhaps, Guillot’s secret ingredient for excellent dining is his own personal blend of ambition and humility, manifested in the plans he has for the restaurant’s future and the trust he puts in his team. Guillot says, “I like the challenge. I think coming here, the challenge was very interesting. We can only go up…The objective is the Michelin.” He continues, “It is not easy to get the one-star and to keep it for one year, two years, seven years. It is very hard.” No stranger to Michelin accolade, he knows that this prestigious culinary status is only accomplished with trust in, and mutual respect for, each member of his team. He explains, “I am always learning. I can learn from the best and I can learn from the guy doing the cleaning. I have respect for all the people I work with.” He continues, “If you have no team, you can forget about it. Respect for the people is 98 percent of the job.” And the remaining two percent? Guillot responds to the suggestion that his success is owed to his raw talent with a small chuckle and sly smile. But he doesn’t deny it. Whatever the formula, Guillot is just getting started, and the Restaurant Rochambeau experience is not to be missed.
Photo by: Tara Jelenic Photography
Photo by: Tara Jelenic Photography
For proof, look no further than the magnificent plates Guillot presents showcasing his mastery of French technique, inspired spice blends, and use of regional and organic ingredients. For dinner, try the Pavé de Loup de Mer – Virginia bass over vegetable ratatouille. The skillfully cooked and locally caught fish sits on a nest of tender vegetables swimming in a pool of expertly spiced sauce. A symphony of flavors, the sauce contains no less than 21 spices ranging from savory to sweet. Ginger, cinnamon, and star anise give the sauce a subtle warmth and a hint of sweetness, while Sichuan pepper and cayenne add a delicate bite. Despite all the contrasting flavors, the dish isn’t overly busy and each element shines brightly in every forkful. Desserts feature Guillot’s artillery of spices too. Decadent dark chocolate ice cream is proudly perched on a seat of remarkably flaky puff pastry and swirls of chocolate mousse. Chocolate overload, if such a thing exists, is cleverly avoided with the addition of fresh strawberries, dried star fruit, and a spiced sauce that cuts the richness with a hit of heat, courtesy of cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom. Though for a true taste of France, Guillot’s menu has no shortage of French classics. Brunch offerings include Soupe à L’Oignon, Quiche du Jour, and Poulet Provençal. In the bar, Croque Mon-
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www.danieljmooredesign.com WED-SAT 10AM-6PM & SUN 12PM-4PM
FOOD CRANBERRY HARVEST CRACKER RECIPE AVAILABLE AT PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM
PUMPKIN BISQUE with Cranberry Harvest Crackers
STORY, RECIPE, AND PHOTO BY KAITLIN HILL
s the poster produce of the fall season, pumpkins are most commonly used for Halloween decor, autumnal pie baking, and everyone’s favorite spiced latte. But more than jack-o-lantern material, this member of the Cucurbitaceae family is a versatile ingredient that adds flavor, texture, and its vibrant orange color to an array of culinary applications from savory to sweet. Even better, it’s good for you too. Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A for healthy eyes and a strong immune system and has a good dose of fiber for a balanced diet. Some studies show that consuming pumpkin may even help slow the development of wrinkles because of the plant’s high beta-carotene content. This season, put your pumpkins to good use with my recipe for Pumpkin Bisque paired with Cranberry Harvest Crackers. Canned pumpkin is transformed into a rich and velvety soup with the addition of chicken stock, bacon, spices, and a splash of cream. And my homemade harvest crackers are ideal for dunking. The cranberries make the crisps slightly sweet while the combination of nuts and whole flax seeds adds a crave-worthy crunch. You can make the crackers a few days ahead and whip up the soup in under 30 minutes for those chilly fall nights that require quick and cozy dinners.
SERVES 4 INGREDIENTS:
2 strips of bacon, chopped ½ of a medium onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, sliced 3 cups of chicken broth 15 ounces of pumpkin purée ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg ¼ teaspoon of black pepper ½ cup of heavy whipping cream 1 handful of parsley, for garnish salt, to taste
1. Place a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat and add the chopped bacon. Sauté the bacon until it is evenly browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside. 2. Next, add the chopped onion to the pot and sauté in the bacon grease, stirring occasionally, until translu-
cent and tender. This will take about 5 minutes. Season the onions with salt. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Top the onions and garlic with the chicken broth, pumpkin purée, nutmeg, black pepper and more salt (about a half a teaspoon). Stir to combine. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully ladle the hot soup into a blender. Purée the soup until completely smooth before returning it to the pot and adding the cream. Cook for 5 additional minutes over medium heat while stirring to incorporate the cream. The soup can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the fridge and reheated over low heat.
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CIDER IN VIRGINIA then and now
Three Piedmont Cideries are bringing this historical staple back to popularity BY KIT JOHNSTON
ool days and cooler nights spell autumn and apples in Virginia. And in the old days that meant grandpa would be out back pressing apples for hard cider that would have grandma giggling by Christmas. Hard cider — referred to simply as “cider” — was once America’s preferred drink. From colonial days until about 1850, men, women, and children drank an amazing amount of it every day because, among other things, it was easy to make, safer than water, and cheaper than imported wine or tea. In Cider Hard and Sweet, Ben Watson reports that in 1767 in Massachusetts alone folks drank on average more than 35 gallons per person. Back then most farms grew a wide variety of apples, all for cider. Renowned Virginian pomologist Tom Burford says that by the 1650s, apple orchards with thousands of trees of hundreds of varieties were growing across the Colonies “specifically for cider.” Favorites among our founding fathers included the Harrison apple which Burford describes in Apples of North America as making “a very dark rich cider with exceptional mouthfeel.” Sadly, the golden age of cider in America didn’t last. By the mid19th century, U.S. cider production had fallen off for many reasons including the Civil War, industrialization, abandonment of rural areas, and a preference for beer among newer émigrés. Enactment of Prohibition in 1919 delivered the coups de grâce. Once prolific orchards and exquisite heirloom apples were left to rot and began to disappear, some, like the Harrison, to the point of near extinction.
ALBEMARLE CIDERWORKS (EST. 2009)
Over time, American pomologists began to pay attention. Burford rediscovered the Harrison and helped found North American Fruit Explorers to unearth other forgotten cider varieties and distribute the stock. And in a far corner of Virginia just shy of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a retired businesswoman and her husband decided to plant trees with cider making in mind. Diane Flynt set about learning about the old varieties, grafted and planted those she preferred, and began what turned into years of cider-making classes and workshops. In 2005, Diane became the first cider maker of the modern South to release a traditional cider (as in dry, not sweetened, made with pure apples and yeast, not flavored or watered down) with juice from her own heirloom fruit. Before closing the doors to Foggy Ridge Cider some 12 years later, Diane was nominated four times for the James Beard Award for her ciders and support of American’s still infant craft cider industry. A panel of food and wine critics reviewing a small batch of these ciders for The New York Times in 2013 ranked Foggy Ridge’s cider on top as a highly welcome change from the sugary, watered down, mass-produced ciders flooding the new American cider market at the time. Today some 26 mostly craft (not mass-production) cideries dot the Virginia landscape, 17 more than in 2017. Those featured here — Albemarle CiderWorks (the state’s oldest), Potter’s Craft Cider (second oldest), and Hinson Ford Cider & Mead (a newbie) — are committed to making exceptional ciders that honor cider’s golden age while reserving the right to play for fun at least once in awhile. albemarleciderworks.com
Albemarle CiderWorks is a feast for the eyes when its 12-acre orchard is in bloom or laden with fruit. The orchard, nursery, production facilities, and tasting room are all owned and operated by the Shelton family, principally Charlotte Shelton and brothers Chuck, Bill, and Todd. I first met the family through next-generation daughter and niece Anne at the Second Annual Virginia Cider Festival last July. Two CiderWorks ciders were on hand to sample that day, a dry single varietal of Goldrush apple and an off-dry Ragged Mountain blend, both very clean, refreshing, and distinctly apple-y. A few days later I was on my way to North Garden to interview Aunt Charlotte. Although retired from teaching and the investment brokerage business, Charlotte never really retired from gardening. And it is this, in a way, that led to the orchard and everything else CiderWorks is today. 16 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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BY MARY GRAHAM (1), COURTESY OF VALLEY PIKE FARM MARKET (1), COURTESY ALBEMARLE CIDERWORKS (3)
Clockwise from top left: Apple harvested for pressing; A selection of ciders from Albemarle Ciderworks; Festivities at the Second Annual Virginia Cider Festival where 500 folks endured 100-plus degree heat to sample 40 ciders from 16 cideries; Albemarle Ciderworks cider; Harvest at Albemarle Ciderworks
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CIDER When family members began migrating to the farm in the 1990s, Charlotte, once chair of the North American Fruit Explorers local chapter and dear friends with Tom Burford, began planting non mass-market fruit trees “in a way that sort of got out of hand.” What to do at that point became the question, so after consulting Burford, the family planted more increasingly rare cider apple varieties. Then in 2000, they created a large cold storage unit and as the orchard bore more fruit, Chuck pressed some for juice. And, as Charlotte says, “It was good.” Should they make cider became the next question, so after consulting others, the family moved forward with buying a larger press in 2008 and completing their production facility and tasting room in 2009. For that first year Chuck bottled two blends — Jupiter’s Legacy and Ragged Mountain — and Royal Pippin, a single varietal. All three remain on the tasting menu today along with some 15 other blends (Ragged Mountain remains my favorite) and varietals (Hewes Crab is the one for me here). POTTER’S CRAFT CIDER (EST. 2011) Charlottesville potterscraftcider.com When Dan Potter landed a job at Tuckahoe Plantation near Richmond, his first local food systems idea was to start a farmhouse brewery with most or all ingredients grown right there. Dan knew beer — he’d been brewing it for years with his buddy Tim Edmond from college days. But the James River rose and drowned Dan’s crops, so he turned to cider. In the fall of 2009, he saved a 5-gallon carboy of apple juice the plantation pressed each year, added yeast, then forgot about it until he saw the yeast had settled. So he kegged and carbonated it, smelled and drank it, and grabbed the phone to call Tim. Because this pure, dry, unsweetened, unwatered down elixir was unlike anything he had ever tasted. “This,” he told Tim, “is what we should be making.” So they did. By spring 2011, they had found a farm in Free Union with an old vet clinic to turn into a production facility. They bought the best cider fruit they could find from nearby orchards. They pressed, fermented, and tasted, and by summer’s end they were distributing cider samples to Charlottesville “touchstones” such as Beer Run and Blue Mountain Brewery. In 2012, they started an orchard with Hewes Crab apples and now plan to add more heirloom cider apple varieties. I first tasted Potter’s Hewes Crab at Pen Druid’s Yeaster and fell in love with its clean complexity. A few months later, I tasted their Farmhouse Dry and Oak Barrel Reserve at the Cider Festival and was equally impressed by them. Other releases coming soon include a new Oak Barrel Reserve, a Pelure de Pomme, and a Cranberry Orange Reserve. But the big news, when it is announced, will be the grand opening of a new production facility and tasting room in a 1924 stone manse named Neve Hall near the 29/64 interchange just below Charlottesville.
at willow grove
W W W . I N N A T W I L L O W G R O V E . C O M 18 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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CIDER HINSON FORD CIDER & MEAD (EST. 2018) Amissville Hinsonford.com The cider making team at Hinson Ford Cider & Mead — Dave Shiff, Dennis Kelly, and Mary Graham — may be the most experienced team making cider in Virginia today. During a sunset interview on the cider house lawn, Dennis revealed he and Mary started making cider as high school sweethearts some 40 years ago and never stopped, even involving the children as they came along. “When it was just Mary and me, we’d come to Rappahannock to pick apples at Apple Hill Farm in Old Hollow. Not sure what kind of apples, but we made cider from them mostly as a nice way to get tasty alcohol. We also made cider from Yellow Delicious, Stayman Winesap, and pear trees. The ciders were pretty hard and dry. Learning how to do better came with time, experience, and help from Annie Proux, author of Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider. Dave recalled how for about three or four years he and two buddies would convene each fall as the “Rappahannock Cider and Debate Society” to prep newly harvested apples for cider and discuss current affairs. “In one day, we would press from 10-15 bushels. Then I made the cider and we drank it. Mostly we had mixed results, but our most successful was a blend.” Then he had an epiphany about the kind of cider he would like to make. While in Normandy, France, Dave took a side trip to a farm with extensive fruit plantings and was offered a taste of French cider, Norman style. “I knew I liked cider, but this was absolutely wonderful. It wasn’t as
dry as what we do here at Hinson Ford, it was a bit lower in alcohol, and it had some residual sugar. But man, did it taste of apples!” After many years of sharing stories, ciders, and ideas about going commercial with local cider, Dennis, Mary, and Dave gradually decided the time was right to go in together on Hinson Ford Cider & Mead. “Much is happening very quickly in the dynamic American cider market today,” Dennis says. “We, for one, have been quite lucky to get a lot of help and support, including from our Amissville neighbors who are excited and happy to have something new and interesting to come to.” Hinson Ford has also established a strong connection with one of the few commercial orchards left in Rappahannock. That connection, with Thornton River Orchards, can be thrilling when Alan Clark or daughter Megan call with 60 gallons or whatever of juice they think Hinson Ford will like because, as Dennis says, then we have to decide, “do we play?” Usually, he says, “our answer is ‘hey, bring it on.’” Popular ciders on Hinson Ford’s cider menu these days include a low-alcohol Ginger and sophisticatedly oaked Brehon. New and still available as of this writing is a Spitzenberg varietal Dennis and partners are wild for (and having tasted it, I am too). Others to come include Port Barrel-Aged Cider, an off-dry spiced cider sweetened with local honey called Matriarch, and a new blend entitled “643” for the state route number of Hinsons Ford Road.
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Extraordinary in Sperryville
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| AUTUMN 2019
Hopkins Ordinary’s Ale Works BY JENNIFER WALDERA PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM
n the quaint Main Street of Sperryville, lined with cozy shops and spots for dining, stands Hopkins Ordinary, a picturesque 200 year old historic home owned by Kevin Kraditor and Sherri Fickel. The impressive structure, originally built by Johns Hopkins, and later expanded upon in the 1900s, serves as a comfortable bed and breakfast for travelers to and through the town. While the presence of a bed and breakfast in an area that is a popular destination for hikers as well as wine, beer, and spirits enthusiasts may be expected, the operation in the basement of this beautiful home is where the surprise lies. Around the side of the large home, under the shade of mature trees, is the entrance to the basement brewery, Ale Works, also co-founded by Kraditor and Fickel. After operating the bed and breakfast for nearly ten years, the couple opted to open the operation in the cozy downstairs space in 2014. Kraditor and Fickel, having always shared an enthusiasm for both food and entertaining, had dabbled in culinary creations prior to brewing including meat curing, cheese making, and offering cooking classes. It was when Kraditor traded his cheese making knowledge for brewing know-how with a close friend that he delved into homebrewing. In four years’ time, he decided to offer his beers in the space that became the brewery and the small local community was instantly supportive. “We have a group of core regulars, 20 people who didn’t know each other before who are all like a family now. We didn’t expect to build that kind of community — it’s very rewarding,” remarks Kraditor. While about a third of the brewery’s visitors are comprised of locals, there are also a number of tourists and, naturally, guests from the bed and breakfast (for whom the first beer is on the house) who populate the tasting room to try any of the nine beers on tap at the time. Kraditor’s brewing philosophy revolves around the concept of creating true-to-style beers with a consistent flavor profile. He attributes that consistency in part to the malting process at Copper Fox Distillery where he sources his grain. While Kraditor likes to rotate seasonal beers into the selection and offer a diversity of choice,
Clockwise from left: Kevin Kraditor makes beer in the brewery room of he and Sherri Fickel’s Bed and Breakfast in Sperryville; A street view of Hopkins Ordinary Bed and Breakfast; Kevin and Sherri in the brewery room; One of the guest rooms at Hopkins Ordinary PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| AUTUMN 2019 21
BEER there is still a level of consistency of offerings on the taps. “There’s always something light and something medium. We try to have one each: dark, IPA, light, smoky,” Kraditor explains. The most popular of his brews are IPAs and the light Belgian-style Little Deviled Blonde. Still others have devoted followings, like the End Of The Trail Pale Ale which once sold out in two weeks. Unique to the brewery are their blended beers. Combined straight from the tap, the blends marry two or more brews together for a unique flavor. While the Winter Blitz is a mixture of whichever wintry beers are on tap, the Quarter Porter is a combination of one-quarter porter, which is rich, barrel aged, and sports 10% alcohol, and threequarters stout or brown ale. The Beekeeper, for which Sherri was the catalyst, mixes one-half IPA with one-half Wildfire Honey Brown Ale. “Gradually he has gotten more and more creative,” says Fickel of Kraditor’s brewing.
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While Kraditor is the brewer, the two work in tandem when it comes to flavor profiles, with Fickel often contributing creative ideas and feedback on flavors. “Up next we’ll be doing a black lager and black IPA,” Fickel says. “We’ll also be brewing our Never Again Pumpkin Ale,” Kraditor laughs as he explains that while he is not a fan of trendy beers, last year’s brew was inspired by an unexpected pumpkin that grew in their yard and the beer’s popularity is the motivation for bringing it back, despite its moniker. While the operation itself is somewhat small with a one barrel system that produces about 60 - 65 gallons per week, the couple is grateful for that, citing their ability to make their own creative choices and to experiment. “If we make a happy mistake, there’s no one to explain to or to make demands,” says Kraditor. While the tasting room was initially comprised of only the small bar in the base-
| AUTUMN 2019
ment, the two have expanded the reach of the brewery on and within the property over time. The backyard is host to a beautiful biergarten and more recently the room adjacent to the bar area was transformed into a comfortable space with a speakeasy style setting. Stone and exposed brick line
BEER Ale Works brews twice a week, yielding over 60 gallons of beer for the weekend visitors.
the walls while low lighting illuminates the tables and loung seating replete with books, magazines, and games. Windows on the far side of the space offer street-level views while maintaining the intimacy and hidden feel. Meanwhile, though a food menu is not available, the brewery sells local products like a salty/ sweet kettle corn, and the two intend to begin serving soft pretzels made on site with a housemade stout mustard. “The goal was to make it feel cozy,” explains Fickel. With so much support from the com-
munity, it is natural that Kraditor and Fickel would work with their neighbors as well. “We regularly collaborate with Pen Druid. We call each other, get ideas and feedback, talk about regulatory issues,” Kraditor says of his relationship with one of Sperryville’s other breweries. Kraditor also sources locally when possible, citing Water Penny Farm, Sunnyside, Jenkins Orchard, and the aforementioned relationship with Copper Fox Distillery. They also make regular donations to charity events. “We feel very much a part of the community — other places send people to us and we send people to them, particularly bed and breakfast guests,” says Fickel. For those who want to take in the aroma of brewing wafting from Ale Works from the comfort of a room at Hopkins Ordinary, there are five available in the home with semi-private porches as well as woodburning fireplaces in all but one. Detached from the home is also a small pet and child friendly cottage that sleeps five and overlooks the biergarten. Rooms are refined, yet
comfortable, with the artwork of Kraditor’s own uncle, as well as local artists, on the walls. “A French man once called the decor French country but we just call it clean and simple,” says Fickel. Never skimping on details of food and drink, the two offer not just breakfast but also homemade cookies and a selection of wine from their own curated cellar including bottles of red, white and rose. After fourteen years of bed and breakfast ownership and operation, and nearly five years under their belts with the brewery operation, both Kraditor and Fickel are excited to continue to be a part of the community. “Our philosophy is that we like to keep it fun, be flexible, and roll with any changes that happen,” says Kraditor. To try Ale Works brews, visit onsite at 47 Main St, Sperryville, VA 22740. Tastings are available Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 3-7 pm and growlers, howlers, and 22 ounce bottles are available for sale.
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THE MANY MARVELS OF MADISON The County’s Enticing Highlights Beckon BY NANCY BAUER
f you’ve spent time exploring Virginia Wine Country, it’s likely you’ve met Madison County, maybe without even knowing it: her farmlands fall on either side of Route 29, the road between Charlottesville and Northern Virginia, and her western flank edges up the slopes of Shenandoah National Park. The county’s five wineries are as different as the wines they craft, and each tells a unique story, from the quest of a billionaire owner committed to shining a light on the state’s vinicultural stars to the earnest eco-practices of one of Virginia’s tiniest wineries. This casual, three-day retreat is built around Madison’s wineries, though any traveler with a taste for backroad exploration will find plenty here to like. Wear your sneakers, but toss the stilettos in the back, just in case.
DAY ONE Arrive mid-day and check in at the Madison County Visitor's Center (110 N. Main Street, Madison) for maps and breaking news, then make a beeline for a made-from-scratch lunch at the Café at Yoder’s Country Market, which is owned by a very industrious family from the local Mennonite community. Pick up some baked goods – maybe a few hand-held fry pies, shoofly pie, or German chocolate cupcakes - to snack on later or to stash for breakfast tomorrow morning. Picnic outside at the tables hewn by Amish and Mennonite craftsmen (available for purchase), then take a stroll through the petting zoo, which gives you peeks at everything PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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TRAVEL from alpaca to exotic fowl to potbellied pigs. Take Rt. 29 North to “downtown” Madison and stroll the shops on Main Street like SheShe, an upscale consignment shop, and Market on Main in the old post office building. Under one roof you’ll find a bakery, crafts, consignments, and even a spa for facials and more. Just outside of town, be sure to stop in at Clore. The showroom features handcrafted early American style furniture that is prized up and down the East Coast. Head back to Rt. 29 North to reach Prince Michel Vineyards and Winery. One of Virginia’s oldest and largest wineries, with a production of around 50,000 cases annually, Prince Michel was founded by a French couple in 1982 and the wines have been made by Brad Hanson for two decades. Brad’s long standing relationships with vineyard owners throughout the state guarantee that Prince Michel has access to some of the best fruit around. In fact, Brad’s wines have been awarded more than 400 medals in competitions. Prince Michel sells three lines of wines: Prince Michel, with high-end craft wines like Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and meritage blends; Rapidan River, for more casual drinking; and Carter Mountain, from the esteemed area of the same name in the Monticello AVA. The big oval bar in the tasting room can handle dozens of visitors – fun for peoplewatching – and a huge array of wine merchandise ranging from kitschy to clever helps fill those waiting-for-the-next-pour moments. After your tasting, take a self-guided tour along the catwalk overlooking the wine production area below, where 26 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
Early Mountain Vineyards Wine, Bavarian Chef
all the magic happens. Or call ahead to arrange for a personal guided tour or private barrel tasting. There are numerous B&Bs, cabins, and lodges scattered throughout Madison. But for this wine weekend, check in to one of Prince Michel’s luxurious Suites located amid vineyards behind the winery. Decorated in French Provincial style, each has its own fireplace, kitchen, and private patio with mountain views. For dinner, a 15-minute drive brings you to Elim at the Inn at Meander Plantation for a truly special meal. The prix-fixe, four-course menu can contain such delicious offerings as quail, duck, trout, venison, pork, or seafood, complemented by a flight of four Virginia wines. Seating is at 7:00, sharp. | AUTUMN 2019
DAY TWO Today you’ll discover Madison County’s great outdoors. Take your pick: fishing or horseback riding will fill your morning. At Douglas Dear’s Rose River Farm, Dear has recreated an experience similar to what he found enticing about Colorado and Montana – trophy trout fly fishing in quiet, pristine, surroundings. Tip: For full immersion, book a yurtstyle cabin on the property next time you visit. If you opt for horseback riding, head to the stables at Graves Mountain Lodge, where you can ride for as little as an hour or as long as six. The gentle horses wind their
way through fields, orchards and woodlands. Cross streams, enjoy the flora and fauna, and notice the quiet. For a traditional down-home lunch at an old-fashioned price, Graves Mountain Lodge serves reasonably-priced family-style all-you-can-eat country ham, catfish, rib-eye, fried chicken, or rainbow trout, depending on the day. A full buffet is served for Saturday dinner or lunch and dinner on Sundays. After dinner, $5 buys you a hay ride and marshmallow roast on Fridays and Saturdays. After all the physical activity, relax at DuCard Vineyards. Owner Scott Elliff built one of Virginia’s first solar-powered wineries; ask about a vineyard tour to learn about his green initiatives and why DuCard was named Green Winery of the Year. Settle down in the warm wood-toned tasting room or slate patio with a bottle of gold-medal Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Rose, or the more unusual Triskele. The name comes from the ancient Greek describing a blend of three elements, for instance earth, water, and fire. DuCard’s version features petit verdot, cabernet franc, and merlot, fusing into rich flavors of blueberry and cherry with hints of violet and sweet spices. On selected dates, DuCard also offers a seated tasting, featuring current releases, premium selections and rare library selections no longer available to the general public, with gourmet food platters to accompany the wines. No reservations are required but check their website for dates. Or round up a group for the winery’s wonderful private Wine & Food Pairing event in the barrel room, led by the winery’s very personable chef; much
Sunflower cupcake bouquet by CakeKrums
of the food is grown in her own garden. By advance reservation only. Tip: DuCard’s dedication to all things green is evidenced by their complimentary TESLA electric car charging station. No charge to charge! Great place to take your half-hour+ break. Five miles from DuCard will be the county’s newest winery and brewery that opened in July. Blue Quartz Winery is co-locating with Shotwell Run Brewing Company, so visitors will be able to sample wines, beers, and cider in the same tasting room. Also relatively new on the scene is Revalation Vineyards, fifteen minutes away heading back toward Route 29. No, not a misspelling, the winery is near the town of Reva, and had its grand opening in March of 2018, with their first vintage harvested in 2014. Owners Julien and Francoise Seillier-Moiseiwitsch have planted viog-
Madison Arts Exchange
nier and chardonnay and have a pinot gris, vidal blanc and cabernet sauvignon in bottle. Francoise started a viticulture training program at Madison County High School where students have the opportunity to sample Virginia grape juice and verjus. The tin-roofed log cabin that serves as the winery’s tasting room has superb views of the nearby mountains. For dinner, try a local institution. Many of Madison’s early settlers came from Germany, and while not an original settler, son Jerome Thalwitz continues in his parents’ footsteps at the Bavarian Chef. Open since 1974, this traditional German restaurant dishes up the
MADISON MAINSTAYS Affordable, quaint and homey, connect with the locals at these eateries. Miranda’s Family-friendly Southern cooking Address: 217 N. Main St Facebook: @Miranda’s Pig N Steak American, barbeque Address: 313 Washington St Website: pigandsteak.com Mad Local Southern eclectic, burgers, sandwiches Address: 218 N. Main St. Website: toasttab.com/mad-local Jenny Lynd’s Pizza Pizza Address: 312 N. Main St. Website: jennylyndspizza.com
best wiener schnitzel (breaded veal in the style of Vienna, nothing to do with hot dogs), and sausages like bratwurst and weisswurst accompanied by the requisite side of sauerkraut, along with pork, chicken, steak, and fish dishes. Servers in traditional Deutsche costumes add to the fun. In case you haven’t had your fill of beer with dinner, a visit to Bald Top Brewery to sample an array of artisan beers is in order. Owners Dave and Julie, along with brewer Mike, source materials locally and grow ingredients on their own farm that are used to craft a full spectrum of delicious beers. Open until 11pm on Fridays and Sat-
Giovanna’s Italian Eatery Italian Address: 2679 S. Seminole Trail Facebook: @GiovannasItalianEatery Cakekrums Baked goods, cupcakes Address: 7385 Wolftown-Hood Rd. Website: cakekrums.com Wolftown Mercantile Store Fried Chicken Address: 3801 Wolftown-Hood Rd. Facebook: @WolftownMercantile Piedmont Deli Sandwiches, charcuterie and cheeses Address: 1173 N. Main St. Facebook: @Piedmont Deli
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28 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| AUTUMN 2019
When Jean Case made the decision to invest in Virginia wines, she vowed to broadcast the exceptional quality and diversity she believed possible in this emerging region. Early Mountain’s “rising tide floats all boats” commitment is most evident at the tasting bar, where a “Best of Virginia” line-up of pours lets visitors try out carefully vetted wines from excellent vineyards around the state. Make your selection and stay to enjoy live music on the weekend. Early Mountain also does lunch, including fresh, seasonal salads, sandwiches, and dessert. Time permitting, end your Madison County stay by stopping to shop at Plow & Hearth or Southern Grace, on opposite sides of the highway, a twominute drive down Route 29. Merchandise available through Plow & Hearth’s downhomey catalog is displayed at the retail shop at the rear of the property and includes quilts, bird feeders, trellises, lawn furniture, garden clogs, and much more. The outlet in front is devoted to discontinued and discounted items so you’ll find bargains galore. Southern Grace is known for its display of outdoor water fountains, the largest in the state, as well as an eclectic assortment of home décor and garden pieces. Heading further south, check out MAD Arts (Madison Arts Exchange) with something artsy for everyone – more than 200 local artisans show a variety of one-of-akind items here. Shopping for whimsical hand carved garden art? Shed Lady Janine, director of the MAD Arts complex, expanded to a second location, M.A. Outdoors and More, to show large size wooden sculptures and yes, garden and tool sheds too.
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A Credit Union’s Commitment to Serving the Community
Helping generations of members achieve their financial dreams.
VA Community Credit Union has spent the last 65 years helping generations of members make their financial dreams come true. Its commitment to its members, and the financial health of the communities it serves is the cornerstone of its operation.
As the name indicates, UVA Community Credit Union is a community-based organization, which is dedicated to helping its members realize their financial goals and strengthening the communities in which they live, work, and attend schools. Throughout the years the credit union has remained committed to helping members—whether it was owning a home, sending their children to college, or enjoying a secure retirement. Another way the credit union has made an impact in the communities it serves, is through hiring industry experts who are also longstanding members of the community. You may already be familiar with many of these people because they’ve lived in our community for years and are a part of the credit union’s family. They are dedicated to helping you discover the credit union difference and how membership in UVA Community Credit Union can help you be YOU!
William T. Butler III (Tripp) | Sr. Commercial Loan Officer Tripp has over 20 years experience in the financial services industry and is passionate about building business relationships in Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Madison, and Rappahannock counties. The credit union’s commercial loan portfolio includes real estate, construction, equipment, and vehicle loans as well as lines of credit. Tripp is instrumental in engaging local businesses and providing financial education awareness to local businesses and its employees. You may have seen Tripp tapping his foot and singing along at the credit union sponsored Orange Downtown Alliance Summer Main Street Music Series this summer. Amelia J. Stansell | Sr. Commercial Loan Officer Amelia, the most recent addition to the credit union family, is here to help provide solid commercial banking solutions for members with business locations in Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, and Rappahannock counties. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Amelia believes in serving her community to make it a better place to live, work, and do business through volunteering. In 2018, Amelia was nominated for “Business Person of the Year” by the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of Leadership Fauquier, an active Rotarian, Chairman of Experience Old Town Warrenton, and is a Be the Change Foundation board member. Trevor Rollison | Mortgage Loan Officer Looking for a home in Culpeper or Warrenton? Trevor has over 18 years of financial services experience and can provide you with options to make the home of your dreams a reality. Based out of the credit union’s Culpeper and Warrenton branches, Trevor is an expert at assisting home buyers with the mortgage application process as well as refinancing existing residential mortgages, and regularly receives 5 star reviews on Zillow. As a member of the Greater Piedmont Realtors, he works seamlessly with real estate agents to ensure your home buying experience is smooth and meets timeframes that are important to you. He shares his experience and advice about the local real estate market during seminars hosted by the credit union.
Jackie Bowles | Branch Manager, Culpeper A familiar face, and lifelong resident of Culpeper, the credit union was thrilled to have Jackie join the team when it expanded to the Culpeper market. Jackie’s smiling face and can do attitude can be found at 633 Meadowbrook Shopping Center. She has 30 years of experience in the financial industry and is deeply rooted in the Culpeper community. She represents the credit union during the 3rd Thursday Concert Series, Culpeper Business Industry and Education Day, and is very active with the Chamber of Commerce. Samantha Black | Community Relations Specialist Samantha has worked in financial services for the last eight years, and was recently the branch manager at the credit union’s branch in Warrenton, where she helped many members achieve their financial goals one-on-one. Now, as a community relations specialist, she coordinates larger education opportunities for the entire community including: financial education programs for local schools, seminars at the credit union, and for local employers through the credit union’s CU @ Work program. She also manages local sponsorships and donations. She is on the credit union’s scholarship review committee that annually awards a total of $27,000 to 18 high school students in its field of membership. Jomo Hylton* | Financial Advisor/Financial Planner Jomo assist families, individuals, and small business owners in achieving a higher level of financial independence and security through holistic, comprehensive solutions. In addition to his expertise, he has partnerships with various other resources which help uncover needs and provide solutions. Look for Jomo out in the community swinging a hammer or perhaps painting. He is an avid supporter of Habitat for Humanity and participates annually with home construction. * Insurance Representative of MassMutual. Registered Representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. a member of the MassMutual Financial Group. 530 Gaither Road, Suite 350, Rockville, MD 20850. 301.355.5800. MassMutual is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. Local sales agencies are not subsidiaries of MassMutual or its affiliated companies. Securities and investment advisory services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC., Member SIPC. Local sales firms are not subsidiaries of MassMutual or its affiliated companies. CRN202107-251269
Fiona Waln Branch Manager, Blackwell Road Fiona is a very familiar face in the community having spent the last 23 years in the financial industry serving Fauquier County. She manages the day-to-day operations at the credit union’s branch on Blackwell Road in Warrenton by helping members navigate the process of saving for college, starting a business, and planning for retirement. Fiona is active with the credit union’s CU @ Work program that provides affordable financial services to employees of local businesses.
VA Community Credit Union is a not-forprofit, member-owned cooperative that provides a wide range of convenient and professionally managed financial services to its members. Membership is open to those who live, work, or own a business located in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, or Rappahannock. Any business entity located in its membership area may also join. Over 70,000 Virginians and hundreds of Virginia-based businesses have discovered “The Credit Union Difference” and are part of something special as members of UVA Community Credit Union.
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Loudoun County Divided The threat to rural Loudoun
n the words of our founder, Walter Nicklin, “Affinities, not simply geography, create the Piedmont’s unique regional identity. The Piedmont Virginian strives to give voice to this special— even magical—place in the hopes that it remains so.” As proponents of preservation of rural areas, open space, and history, we keep an eagle eye on what is happening in Loudoun County currently, as it serves to warn other Piedmont counties of encroaching development. As the fastest-growing county in Virginia, with some of the most spectacular rural landscapes to be found within 50 miles of a major metropolitan area, Loudoun is now a hotbed of battles between those who seek to preserve — in its western environs, at any rate — its history, landscape, and rural way of life, and those who support the westward march of suburbanization and urbanization. To this end, three Loudoun conservationist residents, writers Charlie and Emily Houston and photojournalist Doug Graham have come together in this issue to present us with an overview of the threats to Loudoun and some of the efforts to preserve its rural areas. Graham’s iconic photography of rural Loudoun graces the pages of these articles. 32 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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In 1853, Yardley Taylor (a Quaker resident of Lincoln and an ardent abolitionist) drew the first detailed map of Loudoun County. His remarkable work, housed in the Library of Congress, not only identifies all of the Countyâ€™s roads, but names landowners and occupiers, locates 77 water-powered mills and the many churches and houses of worship that existed at that time. This map was an essential guide for commanders during the Civil War, as they moved their troops and supplies, and plotted their strategies. Today, most of the roads on the Yardley Taylor map are still in existence, proof that the intervening 200 years have not significantly altered this transportation network. Courtesy of Library of Congress, copyright 1854 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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The War Over Loudoun’s Comprehensive Plan Like St. Paul’s Transformation on the Road to Damascus, a Developer Becomes a Conservationist BY CHARLES HOUSTON
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BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM
he Piedmont Virginian celebrates the good life in the foothills of Virginia, but forgive me. This article is not so happy a tale. In fact, much of it is a warning to other Piedmont counties. While this piece should be neutral reportage, it’s difficult to hide my conservationist leanings. I’m proud of them. On June 20, after three-plus years of work, Loudoun County’s new Comprehensive Plan was approved by the Board of Supervisors. It landed with a thud. Developers, realtors, and the Chamber of Commerce did not get the growth they wanted. Conservationists believe the plan permitted too much growth and had many other flaws. Some Supervisors opined that, since neither side was happy, the plan was “balanced” and, therefore, good. I opine that supervisors were jaded, tired of constant barrages from competing businesses and conservationist interests, and simply wanted the unhappy process to end. The Plan must be viewed through many lenses. You know what’s at stake: beautiful rural lands, farms large and small, a genteel way of life, horses grazing, bold streams, artists and artisans, centuries of history, networks of rural roads that take you back in time and not just to some destination. And more.
Quaker Lane, a road dating to the 18th century, was built to connect the nearby mill along Beaverdam Creek to the road heading to Middleburg. Many of Loudounâ€™s rural roads were designed to connect its prosperous mills to the local market. This one-lane, 100-year-old Luten bridge is one of many remaining throughout the county, and their installation was the last major improvement to these rural roads. The Luten Bridge Company built various designs of concrete bridges in the early part of the 20th century, based on the patented designs of Daniel B. Luten. Recently, VDOT threatened to replace several of them, but the community protested and the bridges were preserved, leaving them in place to serve another century. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Dialogue with a developer
36 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
ists possibly stopped after the early chapter on general goals for the parts of Loudoun that are in the Piedmont, its “Rural Policy Area” and the “Transition Policy Area.” They should have had more coffee and read a later chapter, “Housing.” It’s a developer’s dream and a nightmare for us conservationists.”
Current supervisors took office in January 2016 and their terms would be full with the regular work of running a big, prosperous county. I conjecture that board leadership wanted a “big issue” that would crown their term, something more than just overseeing day-to-day matters. A new comprehensive plan fit the bill. Virginia’s commonwealth code commands counties to write new plans every five years, and Loudoun’s current one was overdue. The county had metastasized from about 165,000 people at the last plan, to more than 400,000 today. This merited a new plan, and that was a meritorious goal. Conservationists were deeply cynical. After all, why did previous boards ever let
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Loudoun get so big? Worse, all the progrowth forces were pushing for a new plan, the Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, the Dulles Area Association of Realtors and similar groups. During the preceding several decades, the county had commissioned biennial surveys of citizens, and in every single one, the two biggest complaints were growth and congestion. Year after year, the public had been ignored. Cynicism was justified. Potential threats were impossible to ignore, so conservationists donned their helms, gauntlets, and greaves. It was a challenge since a pro-growth county staff had its thumb on the scales, adding bureaucratic weight for developers. Skirmishes began in March 2016 with a “Plan Charter,” which was a tip-off of trouble ahead. It was filled with pro-growth language, stressed the need for economic growth, and said that a new plan must embody “market realities,” meaning as many houses as realtors could sell.
BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM
When Loudoun’s war resumes over a new zoning ordinance, the opponents should remember an adage from the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu: “Know your enemy and know yourself.” I wanted a developer to explain the business side of the conflict, so I interviewed myself: “Tell me about yourself.” “My name is Charlie Houston and I developed a lot of signature corporate office buildings all over the south. My projects were never controversial. We carefully chose sites that would not pit us against a community.” “In Loudoun,” I said, “there are constant squabbles.” “Perhaps, but we had the same motivations.” “Such as…” “Benjies. I’m a capitalist, and in most places, I believe growth and profits are good. Some places need an economic boost. Others hardly need more people or a stronger economy, but want it anyway. The Virginia Piedmont is a special case. Many new folks want to move here and homebuilders want to build houses for them. Building more houses to meet demand is basic capitalism. Because of community objections, though, that’s easier said than done.” “So, what do developers do?” “They plan for the future. Citizens are usually just reactive and don’t plan for the long term. Developers’ quivers are full of arrows. Collectively, they fork over tens of thousands in campaign contributions and are experts at schmoozing politicians. It’s also not just about today’s money. Businesses and homebuilders understand something important that the citizens just don’t get. They successfully set the agenda and terms of the comprehensive plan debate.” “Did they have a case for what they wanted?” “Absolutely! That’s who they are. Think about it: If you live in a house or patronize stores or restaurants in a shopping center, that’s because a developer built them. Nothing wrong with seeking a profit. They and the conservationists are simply on opposite sides of some challenging issues.” “Tell me more,” I asked. “Home Builders and realtors actually got a ton of giveaways in the plan. The plan is dense reading and a lot of conservation-
PRESERVATION Allen Cochran moves his sheep from one pasture to another, on the roads around the village of Lincoln, Virginia. “It lets us believe we’re in another time, in another place,” Cochran says of his sheperding activity. Cochran is a third generation resident of Lincoln, and a descendant of Quakers who settled in Virginia in the 1700s. The three roads that intersect in the village form a crossroads that marks where most of Cochran’s life, and the lives of his parents and grandparents, have unfolded. Cochran used to move his livestock by loading them in a trailer, a process that took all day and required lots of help from family and friends. By using the roads and the skills of a couple of Border Collies, the job is done in an hour.
This charter stipulated that the new comprehensive plan must have robust public input (it did, though citizen input was overwhelmingly negative,) and must enjoy “strong community support.” (What it got instead was a strong community revolt.) After concocting a catchy name — Envision Loudoun — the plan moved ahead according to mandated procedure.
An overview of the comprehensive plan
The new plan is divided into logical sections: “Introduction,” “Quality Development,” and “Visions” for specific areas, including the creation of an urban planning area around the much-delayed Metro line. Natural and heritage resources. Housing. Fiscal management. The Countywide Transportation Plan. The “Visions” for specific areas became the casus belli — the impetus for the conflict. Conservationists had a narrow focus: The Rural Policy Area and the Transition Policy Area, but it was the Housing section that left me reeling.
Supervisors knew that “messing with the west” would bring political havoc upon them. Thus, they publicly promised that the rural area would be left alone. To a great extent, it was. The plan projects that by 2040, 695,000 people will live in Loudoun, almost 300,000 more than it has today. That was frightening, but there was a hotter, focused flame. The Transition Policy Area (TPA) was planned just as its name suggests: a transition zone between the densely subdivided east and the bucolic west. The TPA was supposed to be mostly low-density residential, retaining its country roots, but its proximity to the eastern suburbs made it the homebuilders’ next target. The TPA became the primary battlefield in the war over Loudoun’s comprehensive plan, its Gettysburg.
The process begins
The board created a “Stakeholders Committee” to produce a draft comprehensive plan. It was dominated by builders, realtors, and business interests. Conservationists had several seats on the committee and fought a guerilla war behind the scenes. The influential Loudoun Preservation and Conservation Coalition did yeoman’s work preparing item-by-item rebuttals. This had minimal success with the hard-core stakeholders, or later, with the even more hard-core planning commission. Later, the coalition was effective in informing the supervisors of the problems with the plan. The county’s planning director, Ricky Barker, oversaw the stakeholders’ work, which soon slid into a two-year morass. A frequent comment then heard in the county building was “Envision Loudoun is off the rails.” Barker was fired and responsibility given to Charles Yudd, the deputy county administrator. An effective executive, Yudd got things back on track.
There were more stakeholder hiccups. The most memorable was in a public update to the supervisors. The head of the stakeholders, a software salesman in real life, proposed an additional 18,000 or so houses in the TPA. Supervisor Matt Letourneau famously asked the guy, “What planet are you from?”
Handoff to the planning commission
When the stakeholders finished, their draft plan went to the planning commission. In Loudoun, it’s a powerful and controversial pro-growth group that often diverges from citizens’ wishes and even from the wishes of the supervisors who appointed them The commission cited a study: “Housing units provided were not keeping pace with the evolving needs and demands in terms of availability, type and price.” That later became “meeting unmet housing needs” and was the plan’s foundation. Think about that: It implies that Loudoun will take controversial actions today for the purpose of accommodating people who don’t even live here. Some examples: flexible density, greater building heights in many areas, modifications to zoning and design standards to get cheaper housing, a focus on “affordable housing.” For perspective, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, we have exactly 169 homeless people. Helping them does not require any of the changes the plan says we need. I believe that the ubiquity of “affordable housing” is not because of some spirit of kindness, but is a ruse by homebuilders to get by with smaller lots. Planning commissioners almost obeyed one dictate from the supervisors: to leave the Rural Policy Area (RPA) alone. They couldn’t help themselves, though, and moved about a square mile from the RPA to the TPA, where they proposed denser housing.
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BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM
Millsville Road in southwestern Loudoun is adorned by the dry stacked stone walls that are distinctive to this area. The stones were removed from the rocky fields (thus called fieldstones) to create arable land, although the better quality rocks were used to build the stone houses that are also a unique feature of the northern Piedmont. In the 18th century, Loudoun was still frontier territory, and stone walls served more to keep wild animals out than domestic animals in. Stone walls built in 19th century Loudoun often used enslaved labor for construction. Today, Loudoun’s unpaved road network is a “living museum” that attracts tourists, including bicyclists, who specifically seek these special gravel roads for recreation.
Housing Über Alles!
Loudoun’s biggest problem was never addressed. Planners speak of housing “in the pipeline,” of which there are 49,000 countywide. These are units that could be legally built today on undeveloped parcels which have appropriate zoning. The rural area faces thousands of these potential houses. The comprehensive plan is based on controversial assumptions: That Loudoun needs a stronger economy (odd, since it’s the richest county in the country) and must have more housing to support economic growth. (Debatable.) That it must accommodate everyone outside the county who wishes to move here. (That’s styled as “unmet housing needs” and is a realtor-driven construct.) That we must have much more “affordable housing.” (Nowhere does the plan say how much such housing we should have, or where it should be.) The final plan contains a lot of developerapproved statements: Give density bonuses and “other incentives” in “appropriate” areas 38 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
to address unmet housing needs. Fast-track applications for Affordable Dwelling Units. Incent a mix of smaller or affordable housing, though it doesn’t say how much affordable housing we need (only a “sufficient amount.”) Zoning would be further changed so that “Clusters are the preferred residential development pattern.” Loudoun has many cluster projects, all at a much higher density than normal, and I can think of only one which does not offend its neighbors. The plan suggests consolidating small lots for agricultural use — a worthy goal. There’s also been talk of letting small parcels consolidate to be large enough for conservation easements — even better. Save Rural Loudoun has a dire warning about zoning and densities in the plan. “It will be the death of northwestern Loudoun” since zoning there is less protective than in the Middleburg area. Some 67 square miles of prime farmland have already been lost, per the Virginia Farm Bureau, and without
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better zoning, Save Rural Loudoun projects greater losses.
Conversation with a conservationist
Alizee “Zee” Minette lives near the village of Philomont in the middle of Loudoun County. Zee and her husband own a 30acre farm. She rides, now in their outdoor ring, but sadly remembers riding on the unpaved roads and through unfenced land and woods. Then a developer bought the big farm next door. Zee became an outspoken conservationist and is not shy about sharing her opinions. “Let me start with some basics,” Zee said. “Then I’ll give you an angry earful.” I was eager to hear both. Zee began, “There is much talk about ‘future residents,’ their ‘anticipated needs’ and ‘unmet housing needs,’ but citizens don’t want anymore growth. This is populism vs. special interests. Loudoun’s plan should begin with a population cap, then address how to meet it, even
PRESERVATION if that means downzoning. Instead, this plan has bad assumptions and wacky ideas, like accommodating everybody who moves here. Remember, any new housing, anywhere in the county, will cost all taxpayers. Suburbanites and rural folk get equally hurt.” Zee jested, “Now I’m getting cranked up. The plan has a lot of giveaways, such as free or subsidized land for homebuilders who might, just might, build something affordable. Can you imagine an official plan that gives free land to developers? If we get stuck with that, then make giveaways available only to nonprofit organizations. “The Plan also wants ‘affordable housing’ to be by-right. I don’t like that. There’re too many by-right uses now. I prefer requiring things to get Board approval, since at least there’s some political accountability.” Zee had one more thing to say. “Loudoun has 255 miles of unpaved roads. They give character to the county and are safer than higher-speed asphalt but these roads are getting more traffic from cluster developments and cut-through commuters. The hunt used to come through here but now we can’t ride on unpaved roads and the woods have turned into McMansions.”
I next interviewed an important spokesman for rural preservation. In return for anonymity, he gave me some unvarnished thoughts. “It should be titled ‘Blueprint for Destroying Loudoun.’ People want middle-class housing, as proven by the houses they buy. I’m cynical – who is pushing this? Mainly builders, for density and profits, but a lot has come from starry-eyed planners and consultants who thought they were writing a plan for Portland or Poughkeepsie. Sort of an idealistic Lake Wobegon, where everyone and everything is simply average. “Here’s one: ‘Strong demand for housing necessitates strategies to increase density, incentivize innovation in unit types, facilitate affordability and …to reduce development costs.’ And who do you think gets the benefits of reduced costs? Not home buyers. “Then here’s a purposeful lie: ‘The public expressed broad concerns regarding rising housing costs and the availability of diverse housing products to meet the needs of the
county’s growing population.’ I was at most of the meetings. I knew what the people wanted, and it was the exact opposite of what’s in the plan!” The man grew philosophical. “To propose all these major changes suggests that something is really wrong with Loudoun. It’s not. We have a good and happy life here, but this plan will end it.” I’d just heard a lot of anger. I will add my own.
A curmudgeon gets a bully pulpit
The language of the plan is off-putting, chock full of words that once were simple but now are trendy or even political: holistic, sustainable, diverse, dynamic, inclusive, innovative, collaborative, outreach, lifestyle, vision. Did junior consultants write it on their laptops while Starbucks-ing? I object to more than silly words. The plan wants a range of housing types and prices to attract businesses for our “economic health.” Data centers disprove this idea, as do the “Help Wanted” signs all over Loudoun. We’re already the richest county, so why do we need more economic growth that would bring in more people and cause more congestion? The plan says “significant changes to land use and zoning regulations will be necessary to address the county’s housing needs, with a particular focus on identifying appropriate areas for new residential growth, redevelopment and increased residential densities.” I would reverse it: There would be no housing growth, no increased densities anywhere, and much tougher zoning regulations. To the push for affordable housing, I’d advise, “Get a roommate.” The plan says that in-commuters “lose important social and employment connections” and thus we should build cheap housing so they can become Loudouners. Let that sink in. Supposedly it’s Loudoun’s obligation to ensure good social connections for out-of-staters. It wants to reduce zoning and design standards to get more affordable housing. This and much of the plan is social engineering, not land-planning. It is also full of foolishness, like its idea of sending “housing ambassadors” to towns to help them meet unmet housing needs. What condescension! I also ponder what groups are behind this huge push for cheaper housing. Suggestions?
I can be foolish, too. We already have affordable housing. It’s located in West Virginia and Maryland and we don’t have to pay their astronomical schooling costs. Nor do they congest our roads with trips to the bank, grocery, and so forth.
The supervisors get political
After about three years, the new comprehensive plan had departed the stakeholders, been redrafted by the planning commission, and been sent to the board of supervisors. They were hamstrung by a Virginia law that gives boards only 90 days to review the plan. Supervisors griped, but the county attorney could find no way around this stipulation. There’d been rumors that the board was angry at what they sensed the planning commission would do, and already had staff working on revisions. Still, they were hampered by the 90-day deadline. The board could have opposed the plan and sent it back to the planning commission to buy time for careful review. The commissioners’ attitude? One of them, Cliff Kierce, cackled to me, “If they deny it, we’ll just send it right back, as-is.” Conservation groups rose in opposition. Save Rural Loudoun was one, as was a coalition of villages. The most effective was COLT – the Coalition of Loudon Towns -from Middleburg in the south to Purcellville in the middle, and so on. They spoke wonderfully, but the train had left the station. Here’s another prescription from the plan, “Develop an Unmet Housing Needs Strategic Plan.” This is to address unmet future housing needs and county staff work is now underway on the issue. The plan also wants focus groups of builders and employers; the people were left out. All of this should be left to the next board of supervisors, to be elected in November.
Beware of creeps bearing gifts
A comprehensive plan is essentially guidance. The ultimate battle will be over how it’s translated into a new zoning ordinance. Ideally, the new board of supervisors will take action to change or repeal the plan. This story is a warning to other counties: Cultivate politicians and use those contacts — and perhaps some contributions — to influence any new planning or zoning effort. Be proactive.
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A Passion To Preserve Loudoun’s Historic Roads BY EMILY HOUSTON
oudoun's old roads pre-date America, carved out of the hilly terrain by early settlers who built prosperous agricultural communities in the northern Piedmont. Terrible wars, slavery and the struggle for freedom, the coming of the automobile, and the modern era of commuters living side by side with farmers, all make the history embedded in the roads the tale of a very American experience. The crunchy sound of tires rolling over the gravel, whether those of a car, bike, or horse-drawn carriage, evokes the possibility that one can indeed go back in time. Their imperfections annoy some, but their authentic and warm feel, the natural traffic-calming they provide, and the sense of place they add to the county have created dedicated fans. The need for these gravel roads to function as part of a transportation network in the 21st century has highlighted the quandary of how to preserve them as authentic historic assets without succumbing to demands for high-speed, efficient travel. Of the 700 miles of public roads in the Rural Policy Area, more than a third (approximately 260 miles) are unpaved. Will they be able to remain that way? The Rural Road Committee, a preservation/conservation-oriented group which works with VDOT and local politicians to advocate for the unpaved road network, has been successful in lobbying for improved maintenance of the gravel roads. The Committee recognizes that the increased traffic this historic treasure is enduring, coupled with the expectations of the growing number of residents living in suburban-style subdivisions, threatens these historic roads. It became apparent that there was a missing ingredient in the efforts to protect Loudoun’s unpaved roads: a widespread appreciation and knowledge of their history, beauty, and value in the County's rural life. An informal meeting between two preservationists, an award-winning journalist and a highly-renowned photographer began to surface ideas. A group including preservationists Jane Covington and Mitch Diamond, award-winning journalist Danielle Nadler, historian and educator Richard Gillespie, and highly-renowned photographer Douglas Graham was formed. Using the talents of the small group of passionate people with expertise in a range of areas, a project to honor the history, beauty, and way of life for which these roads are the backbone was launched. Thus, "America's Routes" was born. The goal? To create a virtual museum honoring the roads and their role in the history of Loudoun and Virginia, as well as to impassion their preservation. Piedmont Fox Hounds Huntsman Jordan Hicks keeps the hounds close as he makes his way along Quaker Lane on an early February morning. The oldest fox hunt in North America (founded in 1840), the Piedmont kennels are located near the village of Unison in southern Loudoun county. Early settlers brought hounds of various types from Britain, France, and Ireland, and by 1900, the American foxhound was a breed of its own.
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America’s Routes Initiatives: •
Documenting, with photos and videos, the beauty and evidence of history along Loudoun's rural roads to be archived for future generations. Telling the stories of the day-to-day life that continues to unfold on the farms and villages these byways connect, weaving today's life on the roads with tales of their past. Creating an authoritative documentation, road by road, mile by mile, of the road network's status as an authentic and unique historic asset, worthy of recognition by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the National Register of Historic Places. Providing tours for visitors to experience Loudoun's countryside, whether by car, bike or on foot.
Additional components — books, pocket guides, phone apps, a curriculum for history teachers to use, a highlysearchable website making all of the information available in one place — will be possible once funding is secured for these primary projects. America's Routes has a website (americasroutes. com) providing samples of some of the work done so far. Tax-deductible donations can be made through the website. America's Routes is an independent committee of the Mosby Heritage Area Association.
BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM
The Long Road Home America's Routes Video and Brochure Win Prestigious Awards
In June, America's Routes photographer Douglas Graham and ABC7/ WJLA reporter Jay Korff won an Emmy for their documentary "The Long Road Home" about the America's Routes project. “No one with America’s Routes wants to discourage Loudoun’s success. On the contrary, members believe the region’s economy thrives thanks to the county’s bucolic charm,” Korff says in the documentary. The documentary also won Korff, Graham, and WJLA drone operators Richard Chamberlain and Alex Brauer the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for Excellence in Video. Earlier this year, the promotional brochure produced to introduce the America's Routes project won the Gold ADDY award in the world's largest advertising design competition. Designer Nathaniel Navratil, writer Danielle Nadler, and photographer Douglas Graham received this recognition. In March, Douglas Graham won first place for feature photography from the Virginia Press Association, for his work on the America's Routes project. Both the video and the brochure can be accessed via the America's Routes website.
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SOOTHING SOULS AT ROSE RIVER FARM One of the finest fly fishing destinations on the east coast offers the healing power of the river to tourists and charitable organizations alike BY ED FELKER
hen Douglas Dear purchased 200 scenic acres in Madison County 15 years ago, his sights were set on building a cabin as a respite from the D.C. suburbs where he, his wife Jennifer, and their two boys could fly fish the pure waters of the Rose River or just relax. He has since transformed the property into one of the region’s most desirable private fly fishing experiences, and with the addition of unique luxury accommodations on an adjacent property, turned Rose River Farm into a genuine vacation destination. Dear, an avid fly fisherman, bird hunter and outdoorsman, saw the need for an uncrowded fly fishing getaway that was close to Washington, DC, yet felt far away. With the river limited to only 5 guests a day, an angler might fish all day without encountering anyone else on the river, save for a glimpse through the trees or perhaps a lunchtime meeting at the spacious riverside gazebo. And when you are here, immersed in the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it does indeed feel far, far away, despite being only about 90 minutes from the Nation’s Capital. The fishing – catch and release fly fishing only – is excellent. Ilene Smith and her husband Dean have fly fished famous waters all over the world and are regulars at the farm. She finds Rose River Farm comparable to waters they fish in Oregon and Montana, and considers it among the finest fly fishing for trout on the east coast. The easily wadeable river is a fun challenge for beginners and advanced anglers alike. “We personally have fished with expert and beginner fly fisherman at the farm, and both have had the most thrilling and satisfying experiences,” Smith said. Expert individual and group fly fishing lessons and private guiding services are also available at the farm for those wishing to maximize their chances of success on the river. After a fly fishing trip to Argentina, Dear got the idea for adding accommodations on an adjacent property to the main farm. “I had seen some canvas yurts that I really liked but knew they would never hold up in the humid Virginia climate,” Dear said. 42 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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“Our stretch of the Rose River is some of the purest water in the State of Virginia. It is regularly tested for both water quality and aquatic insect populations. With strict catch and gentle release fishing our trout population stays strong year round.”
Far left: Rose River Farm’s affable owner Douglas Dear can be seen driving his classic FJ45 around Madison on nice days. Above: Participants in a Project Healing Waters event at the farm. Bottom left: Frequent farm guest Ilene Smith with a beautiful Rose River Farm rainbow trout. Bottom right: Healthy, fat trout are a staple at Rose River Farm.
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“So I decided to build a modern version of a Mongolian yurt but from cedar, glass, and steel.” The three luxury rental cabins are perfect for anglers fishing at the farm or nearby streams, each appointed with angler-friendly details like a fly tying table and a place to hang waders to dry. But with a wall of windows and large porch to capture stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Rose River Valley, and a world of nearby sights and activities to take in, the cabins are perfect for any nature lover looking for a midweek break, a weekend getaway, or a full vacation. Staying at the yurts (which are booked separately from the fishing) provides an opportunity for fly fishermen to explore some of the beautiful native trout waters that abound in the area. The Rapidan, the Upper Rose, the Robinson, and many others are within a few minutes of the cabins. “It’s hard to imagine a better experience after an incredible day of trout fishing, than to unwind on the deck of a yurt, watching the sun set over the mountains,” Smith says. “It’s a little slice of heaven.” Rural Madison County is close enough to Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, Richmond and the Tidewater to make it an easy getaway, but rural doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do (unless that’s what you want, of course!). There are countless ways to enjoy the area. Old Rag, just minutes from the farm, was recently ranked one of the top 25 hikes in the world by Outside Magazine. White Oak Canyon, even closer, is one of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Golf courses, shooting preserves for wing shooting, wineries, craft breweries, and great restaurants can all be found nearby. It’s easy to see how beneficial it can be to spend time in a beautiful place, “standing in a river waving a stick,” to borrow fly fishing writer John Gierach's words. Nature, water, and quiet have been soothing 44 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Top: Three luxury yurts are available for rent year round. Bottom: The bucolic Rose River valley looking out toward Old Rag Mountain.
souls forever. So it’s natural that Dear has opened the gates of Rose River Farm for many charities. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. uses fly fishing and associated activities to help wounded veterans. Everything about fly fishing – from the act of tying flies, casting, and landing fish to simply being surrounded by nature – is good for the soul. As the founding Chairman of the Board of Project Healing Waters, Dear has hosted annual fundraising tournaments since the organization’s inception at the farm. In 2011, Rose River Farm was named the organization’s National Home Waters. In addition to the many events for disabled and injured service members, the farm regularly hosts groups such as Reel Retreat, which uses fly fishing as therapy for men with cancer, Casting for Recovery, and The Boy Scouts of America. Dear has recently become involved with the May Fly Project for foster kids, helping to sponsor two kids to come to the farm for Trout Unlimited’s Youth Conservation Camp. It was the first time the two had ever been on a plane. “They both said it was the best week they had ever had,” Dear said, finding both joy and sadness in the statement. Dear, who was recognized in 2011 as a National LL Bean Outdoor Hero for his work with Project Healing Waters, knows the impact a place like Rose River Farm can have, and works tirelessly to facilitate groups helping those who need healing. “An important aspect of the farm has always been sharing it,” he said.
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A Day in the Wild is Worth a Thousand in a Cage Nikki Stamps’s Dedication to Raptor Rehabilitation and Environmental Education BY NATHAN RAY
o you want to see a baby fore cannot live in his natural habitat. So, vulture? He’s our latest edNikki hopes that one day he will be able ucation-hopeful!” This is to serve as an ambassador with her raptor a rather surprising proposieducation program. tion, especially if asked while one is being “What I’m trying to do is get him over ushered into the dining room of somehis fear of humans,” Nikki elaborated. one’s house. “He’s really terrified. He’s going to be on But on a bright summer’s day when this the counter in his crate for the next couple question was proposed to me, I wasn't just of days. The last time I worked with a nonat any residence; I had the pleasure of bereleasable vulture it was very successful, so ing a guest in the home of Nikki Stamps, a I’m hoping he will come around.” Virginia Department of Game and Inland Despite the impressive collection of Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Linatural wonders that decorate the walls censed Wildlife Rehabilitator and Master of her cozy home, Nikki has not always Falconer, in Warrenton. worked in animal rehabilitation. “You Jovial and animated, Nikki is dedicated get redefined over and over again through not only to providing medical attention to life,” she asserted. This belief is evident in a injured birds of prey, but also to educatreflection upon her career path, which has Nikki Stamps with “Dr. Finnegan ing the people of Fauquier and surroundseen Nikki’s energetic migration from one WHOO” (a.k.a “FInny”), ing counties on the importance of such enterprise to the next. From becoming a lia Great Horned Owl, the fiercest animals in the ecosystem of northern Vircensed S.C.U.B.A. instructor to exploring predator in the night sky. ginia through her new non-profit organizaas a boat captain and skydiver to working tion, Bird in the Hand. Her enthusiasm for her work radiates from as a registered nurse and operating room nurse for more than 30 her like beams of light, and she flutters around her home and yard years, she has focused not only on filling her time with action, but cooing to her falconry birds and rehabilitation raptors the way one also on facilitating the journeys of others. might gush to a pet dog or cat. “Once you do something exciting and adventuresome, there reFollowing her through the kitchen, I was seated facing a table, at ally is that adrenaline rush,” she smiled. In regards to the breadth of the center of which gently rested an animal crate. As Nikki opened her different occupations, Nikki simply explained that “I would see the door to the carrier, the occupant was revealed: a young, molting something that was really awesome and I’d just pursue it.” vulture, with grey fluff and black feathers mingling along its surprisThat adrenaline rush has led Nikki to her present adventure: wildingly large, stooping frame. “He’s the latest hopeful for my educa- life rehabilitation. With her background as an operating room nurse, tional program at Bird in the Hand,” Nikki explained. “According she is not the squeamish sort, and so is uniquely suited for the proto the young man who rescued her, her family had been living in a fession. “I don’t mind if the animals come in and they’re wounded. barn loft for the last several years, and the farmer decided he didn’t All of that is comfortable for me,” she said. “I am also very fortunate want them in the barn anymore. He went into the loft and scared the to be able to work with Wildlife Veterinarian Care, who help me group of vultures out. But this one couldn’t fly so he hit it, breaking diagnose and treat injured wildlife.” its wing in three places and injuring its right leg in the process.” Her interest in rehab began in her youth, when her uncle found Although the goal of animal rehabilitation is always to rehabilitate a kestrel falcon tangled in barbed wire and brought it home to her the animal so it can return to life in the wild, medical examinations and her mother. Eager to help, the two went to the local library to indicate that this young scavenger will never be able to fly, and there- find books on how to care for the injured animal. Inspired by their 46 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Barn owl, “Aoife.” Barn owls are a species of concern in Virginia due to loss of habitat and use of rodenticides.
WILDLIFE positive experience with the bird, Nikki and her mother proceeded to practice the sport of falconry for the next four years, learning how to trap birds of prey in the fall, train and hunt with them in the winter, and release them back into the wild in the spring. “Trapping and keeping a falcon during the winter months gives it a leg up in its hunting skills,” Nikki said. “If the hunt isn’t successful, the bird still eats and lives to try another day. Releasing the bird in the spring allows him to move on and live a natural life as a raptor. That is what we are always aiming for…a successful return to the wild.” There are many misconceptions surrounding raptors and the sport of falconry. Dating back almost 4,000 years, falconry, or hunting with birds of prey, fosters a symbiotic relationship between man and bird, the actions of each mutually benefiting the other. “Falconry is really about more than having a bird,” Nikki remarked. Instead, she asserted, the sport is about “being an engaged observer and going along with [the bird] while he’s doing what he was created to do — hunt,” noting that it requires both a state and federal permit to possess and hunt with birds of prey. It is important to understand that, although falconry focuses on hunting, raptors are not vicious animals. “Raptors are perceived as killers. The truth is that none of these animals hunt unless they’re hungry,” Nikki explained. In fact, despite the perceived dangers of birds of prey to humans and livestock, humans pose more of a threat to the birds than the other way around; wild raptors have between a 70-90 percent mortality rate in their first year. “Even when you’re one of the top predators, you have a lot to be afraid of,” Nikki not-
From left to right: “Thistle,” the red phased eastern screech owl. Thistle was hit by a car, and as a result has a detached retina and another parially detatched, that would make it impossible for her to survive in the wild. “Julia” (a.k.a. “Jewels”), a red-tailed hawk who came into wildlife rehabilitation with several injuries. After their first year molt, redtailed hawks gain the rust red tail they are famous for. Barn owl, “Aoife” showing off her cute personality.
ed. “Pesticides, rodenticides, cars, cats, people, other birds of prey… there are a lot of things out there that can get a raptor.” When she left home, she put a hold on her practice of falconry. It was not until years later that Nikki, living in Fauquier and now certified in wildlife rehabilitation, returned to her work with birds of prey, serving with an organization known as the Native Wildlife Rescue group. “Nobody was helping raptors,” she related, explaining that “everyone had their own niche, which meant that hawks and owls were left out.”
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Nikki, however, was undaunted by the powerful creatures and became the raptor specialist in the group. When asked what makes her rehabilitation work worth the effort, Nikki smiled her response. “Getting to see something go free…my rehabilitation sponsor told me, ‘One day in the wild is worth 1,000 in a cage,’ and I believe that’s 100 percent true.” Concerned about all the misconceptions about raptors, Nikki began Bird in the Hand, an organization dedicated to educating the community about raptors and their purpose in the local environ-
ment. “Each one of these animals has a beautiful niche in the ecosystem that absolutely has to be maintained or everything crumbles. You might not see it or understand it, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important,” Nikki insisted. With a two-fold mission of helping audiences understand the importance of raptors and inspiring the community to maintain and preserve the environment, her organization runs demonstrations for schools, libraries, small groups, picnics, corporate seminars, and community events. She said, “I realized halfway through my wildlife rehabilitation career that I could rehabilitate small mammals and birds for the rest of my life without actually affecting anyone but the individual animals. I really wanted a chance to affect people and cause them to love wildlife as much as I do. Bird in the Hand is the perfect platform for that.” Nikki’s aspiration for the program? To get people excited about the world around them. “A heart captured and captivated by wildlife today may transform the world of tomorrow,” Nikki contended. With the help of the presentations offered by Bird in the Hand, her audiences can gain an appreciation for the majesty and mystery of the natural environment. “It’s very liberating,” Nikki argued, explaining, “You can live your whole life and everywhere you go you’ll find the fascination and the wonder of the natural world. And it’ll be a little bit different everywhere, which makes all of your life an adventure.” For more information about Bird in the Hand, please visit birdinthehand.net or on Facebook at Bird in the Hand Conservancy.
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The Noah Option
Actually, sometimes acting singly can make a difference. BY RON MAXWELL
BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM
esidents of Virginia’s Piedmont, nature lovers as we are, understand the growing threats to wildlife and the wilderness required to sustain it. In 2016, the biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson published what many consider his most important book, a treatise on saving the planet entitled Half-Earth. Wilson’s remarkable book reminds us that every living thing is the result of millions of years of evolution. We have all arrived here together: the perfect possum, the perfect bear, the perfect fox, the ‘almost’ perfect human. Now however, we are living in a precarious moment wherein our species, Homo Sapiens, supposedly the ‘smart’ species, is recklessly and mindlessly on course
to destroy the rest of life on earth, not by means of a nuclear war but by eating, killing, poisoning, and crowding out all wildlife everywhere, including in the oceans. Is this an exaggeration? According to Wilson, “Researchers who study the trajectory of biodiversity loss are alarmed that within the century an exponentially rising extinction rate might easily wipe out most of the species still surviving at the present time.” As a result of protected status, the gray wolf has made a comeback in the American West, but if protections are removed they will be relentlessly hunted again. When free license is given to exterminate pups in their dens, it won’t be long before the gray wolf is
right back at the edge of extinction. At the current rate of killing, the African elephant will be extinct within seven years. One species of rhinoceros became extinct a year ago; another will soon become extinct if the poaching and hunting is not stopped. Mind boggling though it may be, even giraffes are being shot for sport, as trophies. But while outright shooting, trapping, and other direct means of extermination have been unleashed on the world’s large fauna for centuries, it’s the ongoing encroachment of ‘development’ and ‘progress’ that has accelerated habitat destruction, which hastens the ultimate death knell for our wild animal cousins. We’ve been inculcated over time to accept uncritically euphemisms for mass murder: we harvest, cull, manage, control. Bird species, in particular, are in steep decline as clearcutting and look-the-other-way ‘selective’ cutting have drastically reduced their myriad habitat not only in Amazonia and the Malaysian archipelago, but all across North America, as well. The clear cutting of forests in the southeast U.S. is a catastrophe for wildlife habitat and ecosystems unique
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of human activity reduces the population size of more and more species, raising their vulnerability and the rate of extinction accordingly.” Conversely, if human populations can accelerate the replacement of extensive economic growth with intensive economic growth, with an intention to enlarge wilderness instead of reducing it, biodiversity and wildlife conservation can be protected and enhanced. We should bear in mind that the beautiful world our species inherited took the biosphere 3.8 billion years to build. Are we going to continue down the current path blinkered and undoing all of this wonderful creation in the space of a few human generations? An aspect of Half-Earth I find both appealing and empowering is that restoration of wilderness is not dependent on big governments or international treaties. It’s a
concept that any one person and any community anywhere can implement. We don’t have to wait for legislation or a finding from the EPA. Practicing HalfEarth means you can just leave half of your
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own property in wilderness. It means you can save as many trees as the forests you can own. It means a grove of trees and the wildlife it supports is of far greater intrinsic value than the price of its timber in board feet. It means a local community can decide to reverse outdated and counterproductive policies of ‘growth’ and ‘development’ to see the deep wisdom in just letting things alone – in letting nature be nature. Thanks to the presence of the Shenandoah National Park, citizens in all the surrounding counties can voluntarily expand the wilderness beyond the park boundaries, therein extending and protecting wildlife corridors, habitat, and ecosystems. This can be done at the regional, county, and municipal levels and by private property own-
ers on their own initiative. Isn’t that an empowering thought: that we can actually do something to improve the harmony of life and of all living things right here? That we can confront and reverse species extinction and biodiversity loss right here. We in the Virginia Piedmont are already blessed with the big head start bequeathed us by wise people who came before, people who in some counties ingeniously devised long-sighted, comprehensive plans that have succeeded in protecting much of the Piedmont for generations unborn, both wild and human. We in proximity to the Shenandoah National Park are within striking distance of achieving Wilson’s admirable goal within our own counties, even within our own lifetimes. We could be one of the very first regions in America to make Half-Earth a reality in our own backyards! Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the motion picture Gettysburg. He resides in Rappahannock County.
BY DOUGLAS GRAHAM (3)
One such shift is to see wild animals not as nuisances, pests, or threats, or only as useful commodities to be monetized, but as fellow travelers on life’s long journey on earth, to be respected, admired, appreciated, just for who and what they are. I believe it’s one of the many reasons tourists flock to the Shenandoah National Park and why we love living in Virginia’s Piedmont. Because in addition to our domesticated animals and beloved pets, we are in regular contact with a host of wild animals that enrich and enliven our days. “The biosphere and the ten million species that compose it (can) no longer be treated as a commodity, but as something vastly more important – a mysterious entity still beyond the boundaries of our imagination yet vital to long-term human existence,” says Wilson. He posits the notion that the only way to save our wild kin as well as ourselves is to secure half the planet as wilderness, just to leave it alone. He argues, with elegance and power, that only in this restoration do we
begin to have a chance to, first, slow and, eventually, stop the ongoing catastrophe of mass extinction. Wilson argues that, “Every expansion
“WATCHFUL MOTHER BEAR” BY MATTHEW HUNTLEY, COURTESY OF SCENIC VIRGINIA
to this part of our country. Our predicament is deeply imbedded in our genes. Primates (that’s us) are wired to think in terms of the immediate future. Simply put, “How do we get from today to tomorrow?” It’s how we survived and thrived over the millennia; how we escaped the sabre-tooth tiger or endured the numbing cold of the high latitudes. But now our species’ incredible reproductive success blinds us to the longer-range damage we are doing. We’re just not wired to look decades or generations into the future. We can do it, but it takes an effort, a certain re-thinking of priorities, a shift of consciousness; coming to grips with the truth – that we are just part of the intricate web of life – not its creator, not its master, not its angel of death.
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DOG PADDLING A Day on the River with your Best Friend BY ED FELKER
54â€ƒ PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| AUTUMN 2019
Winnie, an 11-yearold Wirehaired Vizsla, figured out on her very first float that letting someone paddle you around while you watch the scenery slide by is the best. It is without a doubt her most favorite thing in the whole world, and it’s a neat thing to know that about your dog and be able to provide it from time to time.
pending a day kayaking with your dog can be an immensely enjoyable and rewarding experience. However, as with most things involving water, dogs, or especially both, smooth sailing is not guaranteed. But with the right gear and a little preparation, chances are good you’ll be able to enjoy relaxing outings on the water with your best pal. I am not a professional kayaker or dog trainer, but I’ve learned a few things along the way paddling with my dogs, and I have some tips to help you get started. Know your dog. Before you head out with your dog, know his comfort level with water. The boat ramp is not the place to learn that your Basenji is terrified of water or your Labrador is so exuberantly in love with it he cannot be contained. Make sure your dog is comfortable playing in and around water first. You also need to have control over your dog – a solid sit/stay is a must. Even if your dog is small, you can’t paddle with a Shih Tzu on your lap. There will be times when you must attend to kayaking tasks and your dog will need to be able to find a parking place for a bit. Know your boat and make sure it’s dog-friendly. Do your research. Find the right boat for you. Not all kayaks are created equal when it comes to dog-friendliness. For instance, hard plastic kayak hulls are slippery and uncomfortable for dogs. You should be familiar with your boat and extremely comfortable not just paddling it in different conditions, but safely getting in and out of it before introducing four more legs to the equation. Borrowing a boat you’ve never paddled before and throwing your Malamute in the front – and I feel like this goes without saying – is a recipe for disaster. Know your conditions. Don’t try unfamiliar or difficult water with a dog in tow. They rely on you to keep them safe, so be aware of water levels, dam releases, and weather conditions. Get an app for river levels and make a mental note of the closest gauge reading every time you go out. Introduction. Have your dog climb around your kayak in your yard. Show her her spot. If she’s apprehensive, you can have her sit on one side while you call her straight across it from the other. Praise, reward, repeat. You know the deal. Gearing up. You and your pup both need a personal flotation device (PFD). Bring a leash, but do not leash a dog on a boat. Bring fresh drinking water for both of you and a bowl for him, particularly in hot weather and especially if you’re on salt water. Your dog will need a pad or mat of some sort, and a safe spot in the boat to settle down. Bring snacks, treats, and maybe a toy to throw if you stop to stretch your legs along the way. And no matter how experienced you are, have a dry bag with you for valuables and anything not waterproof. If you think you’ll never get dunked, you’ve never caught a smallmouth while kayaking with a 70-pound Wirehaired Vizsla who has never seen a fish before. Speaking of fishing. Make sure you and your buddy are extremely comfortable with kayaking before you introduce fishing. Start on land first. Even if you can’t show your Beagle a bass in person, he’ll at least see you waving a stick around and propelling an enticing looking thing at the end of the line into the water. Dogs will react differently to this. I don’t recommend waiting till you’re in a boat to find out how. You are at your most vulnerable when landing a fish. Your full attention is on the fish, your dog is most likely very excited, and the lure is in or near the boat. This is one time when a firm, reliable down/stay command comes in handy. Hit the water. Start small, just a short test run to make sure your dog will take to it. If he does great, don’t push it. End on a good note. Once you commit to a point-to-point float, have possible places in mind to stop for a bathroom break. Have a plan at the ramp. This is easy to forget, but especially on popular waterways in the summer, boat ramps can be crowded. Plan on there being people fishing, loading and unloading boats, milling around in the way, and generally not paying attention to their kids or dogs right where you need to put your boat. Have a leash for your dog handy and ready to fasten, and make his safety your first priority. You can look for your phone later, for now watch out for the guy repeatedly backing down the ramp at different angles in the same pattern you’d use to paint a wall with a roller. If this all seems overwhelming, just break it down into pieces. Start by finding some friendly, shallow water, and just splash around with your dog. Have fun. Take your time. And if you’re patient, when you get to the point where you and your dog can be equally relaxed on a boat floating along and watching wildlife together, let me tell you, there are few better ways to spend a day. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| AUTUMN 2019 55