C’VILLE ESCAPE (ROOM)
NATURE OFF BALANCE
THE TRILLIUM TRAIL
Spring is in full swing along
Farmers, Friends, Beautiful Beer
SPRING 2020 • $5.95
The Cultural Treasure that Sold for $1
“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
• April 2-5:
Shakespeare in the ‘Burg
• April 18:
100th Running of Middleburg Spring Races Glenwood Park
• April 26:
Middleburg Hunt Point-to-Point Races
• May 16
Art in the ‘Burg
• May 22-24: Hunt Country Stable Tour
• June 1-7:
Upperville Colt & Horse Show
Exhibits at the National Sporting Library & Museum Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration
Red Fox Inn
The Thrill of the Chase
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
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ART AROUND US
In the Garden of Earthly Delights 17th Annual Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle Spring Art & Photography Show
In the Garden of Earthly Delights by Trish Crowe
All Aglow by Larry Patterson
irnew Farm Artists’ Circle’s annual spring show, scheduled for Sunday, May 3, from 1:00 p.m.-5:00p.m., is set to dazzle with 35 artists’ works in media including watercolor, drip, oil, acrylic, jewelry, pottery, and mixed. Photography features digital, film, tintype, and large installations. The program includes a sound art installation in the farm’s landmark silo by the University of Virginia’s Matthew Burtner, Karen McGlathery, and Madison native Willis Jenkins. In a play on Hieronymus Bosch’s 500-year-old painting “Garden of Earthly Delights,” artist Gail Trimmer Unterman will create a living sculpture in the center of the Barn Gallery while the three U.Va. faculty, with the Coastal Futures Conservatory, will create a sound art installation in the silo. McGlathery, a professor of environmental sciences and director of Environmental Resilience Institute; Jenkins, a professor of religion, ethics, and environment; and Burtner, a professor of music composition and computer technologies, have worked
together to teach participants how to compose within dynamic environments and to connect culture with conservation. Burtner, U.Va.’s Eleanor Shea Professor of Music, is founder and director of EcoSono, a non-profit environmental collective of environmentalists, musicians, and artists working for environmental sustainability. By involving the arts in environmentalism and nature, EcoSono cultivates a productive relationship between people and the places they inhabit. Through education, engagement, and artistic production, EcoSono defines a unique methodology for environmentalism and the arts. Trish Crowe, Firnew’s founder and director, says, “I’m honored to celebrate 17 years with our Firnew Artists as they continue to inspire, create, and literally push boundaries. Not only do they delve into the history of art, photography, and craft, they also challenge the landscape. They create beautiful imagery inspired by the land that will transcend your imagination. I hope you won’t miss a minute of it!”
FIRNEWFARMARTISTSCIRCLE@GMAIL.COM | TRISH CROWE: (540) 718-0370 | DEB ERICKSON: (434) 996-9048 2 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| SPRING 2020
MIDDLEBURG REAL ESTATE
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$4,400,000 | 474 AC estate in 5 parcels. Incl. lovely residence w/ 1st ﬂoor master suite, library, formal/informal dining & living/family room that opens to stone terrace. 3 tenant houses & equine facilities.
$2,399,900 | Equestrian dream property, 94 AC in Piedmont Hunt. 8 stall center aisle barn, outdoor arena, 11 paddocks, run-ins, 4 stall barn, log cabin & guest house. Renovated main house w/ pool, mtn & pastoral views.
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$2,295,000 | 33 AC custom estate w/ Goose Creek frontage. Ideal entertaining ﬂoor plan. Expansive patios, dazzling pool & pool house, raised garden, 3-car garage w/ apt. Equestrian amenities & ample trails.
$1,590,000 | 121 fenced AC w/ 4 pastures, gorgeous log/stone home & outbuildings incl. 50'x100' Wedgecore machine shop. Ideal design for livestock husbandry: 4 wells, automatic waterers, hay production + more.
$1,175,000 | Gorgeous property w/ Blue Ridge Mountain views & Hazel River frontage! Main home w/ addtl.l 3.79 AC parcel & guest home. Heated pool, screened porches, brick veranda & ample storage.
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$790,000 | 3BD/2.5BA historic log cabin c. 1781, 6+ AC. Smoke house, modern cistern, original HW ﬂoors. Cozy w/ 4 FP, wood stove, wood beams, built-in bookcases. Pond, pool, pool house/shed & gardens.
$275,000 | Gorgeous building lot min. from Round Hill in "Hamlets of the Blue Ridge". Private, end of cul-de-sac. Bldg site w/ scenic views. 4 BD perc. Borders large parcel in conservation easement.
$275,000 | Build your Hunt Country retreat! Beautiful building lot for your custom home in Middleburg Downs, a bucolic neighborhood a couple of minutes west of downtown Middleburg.
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s o u n t a i n
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ON THE COVER The Trillium Trail in bloom at the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, one of the largest stands of Large Flower Trillium in the Mid-Atlantic Photograph by Doug Graham
4 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| SPRING 2020
n ai nt
R ck no han
P o t oma c
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 SPRING 2020 • VOLUME IX • ISSUE 2 ART AROUND US
AGR I CU LT U R E
In the Garden of Earthly Delights
Peaches in the Piedmont
Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle Spring Art Show
The century-old Chiles Family Orchards BY GLENDA BOOTH
The Art of Linda Volrath
Expressing her vision in a unique voice BY ED FELKER
PEOPLE OF THE PIEDMONT
BY ED FELKER
FOOD AND DRINK
PIEDMONT HOMES CONSER VAT I ON
25 Off Balance
A global biodiversity crisis hits home in the Piedmont BY JOE LOWE
Food, music, and stories woven into a fine fabric BY JENNIFER WALDERA
The Trillium Trail
The Tea Cart
British High Tea in Berryville
46 Stepping Back in Time
Warrenton’s “Mecca” has been faithfully restored BY GARY CARROLL DOGS
N AT UR E
BY JENNIFER WALDERA
The works of Jamie Wyeth at the National Sporting Library & Museum
Bill Moore, Welder
A community institution sold for $1 to the right owner
Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration
Strolling through a spectacular spring landscape BY DOUG GRAHAM
50 Winslow’s Back
Walking a beloved dog down the long road to recovery BY ED FELKER
BY KAITLIN HILL
Growing Beautiful Beer
The Game’s Afoot
Faces at the Races
Wheatland Spring Farm + Brewery
Cville Escape Room gives you a chance to...well...escape
Rappahannock Hunt’s Spring Point-to-Point Races
BY ED FELKER
BY JENNIFER WALDERA
BY CAMDEN LITTLETON PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| SPRING 2020 5
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Classic Design • Traditional Techniques • Artisan Made Crafted right here in the Piedmont
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PUBLISHER Dennis Brack EDITOR Pam Kamphuis ART DIRECTOR Kara Thorpe
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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, email@example.com Subscription inquiries: 540.675.3338 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, $24.95, Two-year rate, $45.95 © 2020 by Rappahannock Media, LLC. ISSN # 1937-5409 POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to The Piedmont Virginian, P.O. Box 59, Washington, VA 22747.
3912 Seminole Trail, Charlottesville 22911 434-973-5641 ~ Monday-Saturday 9:30-5:30 www.fabricsunlimitedva.com 6 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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ART AROUND US
Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration The National Sporting Library & Museum hosts an exhibit of portraits of Wyeth by her husband, artist Jamie Wyeth
Clockwise from top, left: And Then Into the Deep Gorge (1975), oil on canvas, 36 x 46 inches. Iggy Visits Union Rags— Fairhill 2011 (2011), mixed media on toned paper, 4 ¼ x 8 ¾ inches. Sable (1988), oil and gesso on panel, 30 x 40 inches. Connemara (1987), oil on canvas, 37 x 73 inches. Winner’s Circle, Belmont Stakes (2012/2019), oil and acrylic on panel, 36 x 30 inches. (All images by Jamie Wyeth (American, b. 1946) on loan from The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection)
his special exhibition honoring the late Phyllis Mills Wyeth will be on view until June 28, 2020, at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg. A memorial exhibition, Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration, celebrating the life of Phyllis Mills Wyeth (November 13, 1940–January 14, 2019) features a selection of portraits created by her husband, contemporary artist Jamie Wyeth. From the late 1960s, and throughout the decades of their marriage, Phyllis Wyeth was his muse. He created intimate works that capture moments from her life, always reflecting her vibrant spirit and love of nature, horses, and dogs. An accomplished rider, Wyeth loved jumping horses, foxhunting with the Orange County Hunt, and competing in
point-to-points. At the age of 21, she was involved in an automobile accident. Undeterred by her resulting mobility challenges, she turned her passion toward carriage driving and remained an active and involved sportswoman. NSLM Executive Director Elizabeth von Hassell was a strong supporter of bringing Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration, which was generously underwritten by Jacqueline B. Mars, to the NSLM. She notes, “The exhibition is an intimate tribute by one of the most recognized artists of our time to his wife, a loving testimony to their 50-year marriage, and the embodiment of Phyllis’s tenacious spirit. I can’t think of a more fitting location to celebrate Phyllis Wyeth’s sporting legacy.” nationalsporting.org PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| SPRING 2020 7
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77 WSHOPPING LEE HWY.,CENTER, WARRENTON, VA 20186 540-347-7517 BEALETON, VA 22712 540-439-1270 Taxes are complicated. Getting your -taxes done isn’t enough - you need SHOPPING CENTER, BEALETON, VAyour 22712 540-439-1270 15135 MONTANUS DR, CULPEPER, VA 22701 540-825-8700 Taxes are complicated. Getting taxes VA done20186 isn’t enough you need 77 W LEE HWY., WARRENTON, 540-347-7517 your taxes done right. where come hire and train theis a Fauquier native and resident Carroll 15135 MONTANUS DR, CULPEPER, VA 22701 your taxes done right. That’s where we come in. That’s We540-825-8700 hire and we train the in. WeGary most qualified tax professionals to ensure you claim every credit SHOPPING CENTER, BEALETON, VA 22712 540-439-1270 qualified you claim every credit and with a B.Aand and M.A. from University of Virginia. He *most If you discover an H&Rtax Blockprofessionals error on your return to that ensure entitles deduction refund. Guaranteed.* you to a larger refund for smaller tax liability, we’ll refund you deserve so you get your maximum * deduction you deserve so you get your maximum refund. Guaranteed. 15135 MONTANUS DR, CULPEPER, VA 22701 540-825-8700 served in the U.S. Government for 25 years where * If you discover an H&R Block error on your return that entitles the tax prep fee for that return. Refund claims must be made
therefund calendar in which the returnwe’ll was refund prepared. you to during a larger foryear smaller tax liability, HRB TaxRefund Group,claims Inc. must be made the taxOBTP#B13696@213 prep fee for that return. during the calendar year in which the return was prepared. * If you discover an H&R OBTP#B13696@213 HRB Tax Group, Inc. Block error on your
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he worked as an analyst, supervisor of analysts, and an instructor for analysts. After retiring, he has continued 540-347-7517to work as an instructor for the military 540-439-1270 and several government agencies. He is married and 540-825-8700 has two daughters. 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 in national press and photography associations. 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.
Camden Littleton is a professional photographer and digital marketing consultant who lives in Charlottesville. When not photographing and creating content, she hangs out with her poodle, Grace (@gracelittleton on Instagram) and explores menus, music, and mountains with friends and family throughout the Piedmont. She grew up in Middleburg and graduated with BS in Communications from Appalachian State University. Joe Lowe lives with his family in New Baltimore and works as the Director of Digital Communications for American Bird Conservancy. Before moving to the Piedmont in 2013, he worked with the National Forest and Park Services in wilderness areas throughout the western U.S. 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. email@example.com | 540-349-2951 | piedmontvirginian.com facebook.com/thepiedmontvirginian | instagram.com/thepiedmontvirginian
| SPRING 2020â€ƒ 9
PEOPLE OF THE PIEDMONT
BILL MOORE: WELDER 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. 10 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| SPRING 2020
BILL MOORE’s welding shop sits just off a two-lane road passing through Lovettsville in western Loudoun County. He keeps regular hours, but they’re not posted anywhere. Everyone just knows. If it’s a weekday, and not too early or too late, he’ll be there. One of the first things you notice when you walk in is that virtually every surface inside the crowded shop is the color of graphite. If you haven’t caught him in the middle of welding something, Bill will greet you simultaneously with an outstretched, graphite-colored hand, and a conversation. Stories radiate from Bill like sparks. In fact, he seems made of stories. You might start chatting about the shop, the tool in his hand, or the project in the back of your truck that brought you here. But the conversation always goes somewhere else, somewhere interesting. It’s easy to get stuck chatting with Bill until you can’t for the life of you remember how you got on the subject you’re on, and by the time you leave you may find yourself late for dinner. He seems to remember everything, including dates from long ago: when he started welding school (four days before Elvis Presley died), when the shop you’re standing in was moved a few hundred feet to its current location, or the day when Bill, a young man at the time, was with his grandfather when he suffered a massive stroke right there in the shop. Bill’s grandfather and father were both welders, so in addition to formal training and decades of practical experience, Bill has absorbed literally generations of know-how, not to mention local lore. Bill is a local treasure. Not just because people have been bringing him chainsaw blades to be sharpened, tractor implements to be repaired, and ideas for parts or tools to be fabricated from scratch for as long as anyone can remember. But because he is, in part, the keeper of the history of the town. Not the visitor’s guide version, but the sort of meandering strings that, once you collect enough, make up the fabric of the backdrop of a place. Families who have been here since before there were cars. Businesses long gone. Tragedy, comedy, all of it. Virginia’s Piedmont is dotted with towns big and small and rich in history. And those towns have people filled with stories that are not found in books or on social media, stories that deserve to be shared and passed along. So whether you live in a place or are just passing through, and you come across a business that looks like it’s been around longer than you have, stop in. Support that business. Shake the proprietor’s hand, and start a conversation. You may be pleasantly surprised by where it goes.
Delectable Dining by Design
At Tavola, the food, the music, and the stories are woven into a fine fabric BY JENNIFER WALDERA PHOTOS BY CAMDEN LITTLETON
n any given evening, tiny Belmont’s side streets are speckled with pups with their people, running or walking against the backdrop of mature trees and architectural gems of varying sizes with residents inside hunkered down after the day. On surrounding streets, however, this Charlottesville neighborhood comes alive even on the dreariest of weeknights, with diners all over the area seeking out some of Charlottesville’s finest food. Among plenty of places to choose, the elegant, yet approachable and intimate Tavola (“table” in Italian) stands out, with bright lights featuring the restaurant’s name on its upper brick facade. Casual passersby are easily drawn in by the energy exuding from the rustic red doors and the expansive glass storefront windows. Glowing light from inside illuminates the smiling servers and enthusiastic guests engaged in comfortable conversations over wine and pasta with a background of carefully curated tunes. At once cozy yet bustling, the restaurant beckons. While the mood on Hinton Street is now cheerful, it was a solemn economic time in 2009 when Michael Keaveny first opened the doors of Tavola with grit, determination, and a touch of serendipity, as well as influence from his wife, Tami. It is Tami, too, who inspired the recently published cookbook, named for the restaurant, to celebrate Tavola’s tenth anniversary. “My wife Tami suggested it — we wanted to capture the vibe of Tavola in a book,” Michael explains. The book, however, cannot be accurately classified as just a cookbook. It is, instead, the type of cover-to-cover cookbook read
12 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Right: Guests are welcomed to Tavola Restaurant by the glowing lights, music, and interior elegance Above: Much more than a cookbook, Keaveny’s publication captures the vibe of the restuarant in its pages
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Above left: Michael credits his wife Tami for the idea of Tavola to celebrate the restaurant’s tenth anniversary Above right: In the end, it all comes down to Michael’s inspiration in the kitchen 14 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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that houses a collection of recipes intermingled with stories, tips, and, perhaps as important as the food, music notes, and wine pairings. The cover promises “10 greatest hits — music and food.” “We also wanted to pair each recipe with a song — music is a big part of what we do and part of our vibe,” says Michael. With that, the two embarked on the journey of finding food photographers, editors, and a publisher to help share the top ten recipes and stories of Tavola and Michael’s background, artfully paired with wine and musical notes. While the stories, recipes, notes, and pairings all come from Michael, the foreword from Hal Movius underscores Michael’s courage in opening at the time he did, and the value of the exceptional musical experience at Tavola. Movius describes Michael’s move to open the restaurant in 2009 as “audacious,” but continues by applauding the magnetic atmosphere of the open kitchen and overall ambiance, with special attention to the music. “It wasn’t just that the songs were wonderful; it’s that they were obscure, and disproportionately anchored in the 1970s — a time of love, soul, bitterness, and cheesiness. One-hit wonders, B-side beauties, deep tracks from great bands,” writes Movius. As with any successful restaurant the primary focus is on perfection in the preparation and presentation of the food, but Michael considers his music and storytelling as part of the experience, as well.
“There are jokes about how I care more about the music than the food, but the vibe is why that’s so important to me. The music we play here makes people happy. When they come up to me and say, ‘Oh my God, I love the music. I’ve heard songs there that I haven’t heard in forever!’ That is almost better to me than ‘I love the food.’ I think it’s a really important key to our success,” says Michael. Photographs in the cookbook picture Michael tableside, actively engaged in jovial conversation, likely telling the stories that he loves to share. “Storytelling is a big part of the Tavola experience,” Michael explains. “Stories connect the customer to the restaurant and dish.” The stories in Michael’s cookbook range from personal to professional, and often dangle somewhere in between. From challenges and triumphs (sometimes happily accidental) in the kitchen, to influences from family, the tales detailed in Tavola are insightful accounts, and a bird’s eye view into the life of a constantly evolving chef. However, as easily as those tales may be told tableside, the process of collecting those stories for the book transpired under more spirited circumstances. “To put the stories together, I’d come earlier to the restaurant. There was a little bourbon, and then I’d tell the stories while they were recorded, and then edit later,” laughs Michael. The stories he tells encompass all of the aspects of chef life and learning as well as his early influences. Michael details, with heart, his challenges of procuring burrata for his Burrata Antipasto from Italy during the country’s final World Cup matches, and the equal obstacle of sourcing tomatoes and creating pesto for the same dish in the off-season for both tomatoes and basil. That resulted in an incredible arugula and sundried tomato version of the dish. Anyone who has had any reticence about sharing something they care about, and its authenticity, can relate to Michael’s story that details his history with carbonara and his hesitancy to share it on his own menu given the “popular” presentation of what the dish was at the time. One of his most decadent dishes in the book, Cappellini Gamberi Raucci, with angel hair pasta and large sautéed shrimp in a rich sauce combining white wine, lemon juice, butter, and a gorgonzola fonduta that’s dotted with capers and julienned roma tomatoes, is named for Michael’s grandmother, and in his story leading up to the recipe he shares the heartwarming (and somewhat necessary and quick) way he created the dish. The music pairings are equally intriguing: a mussel dish, sizzling with hot garlic butter, is paired with the funky, upbeat Take Your Mama by Scissor Sisters; a wholesome, hearty pappardelle alla ragu is paired with the soulful I Wanna Get Next To You by Rose Royce. And if the songs, stories, and recipes aren’t enough to whet your appetite, the photos will seal the deal. Michael agrees with Tami that, “We created Tavola, but it belongs to so many people.” Tavola 434-972-9463 tavolavino.com 826 Hinton Avenue, Charlottesville
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high tea at the tea cart British Tradition in Berryville STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAITLIN HILL
istoric Berryville, just west of Leesburg, has all the characteristics of the classic Virginia small town. From a history dating back to the 18th century, quirky shops lining Main Street, and the feeling of warm welcome that seems to come as standard with all the state’s mini-municipalities, Berryville makes an idyllic country getaway with that quintessential Virginia vibe. However, in the 16 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
heart of town, The Tea Cart is starkly British against its Old Dominion backdrop, and all who enter are quickly transported across the pond for steaming hot pots of tea, tasty savories, and scrumptious scones. Established in 2014, The Tea Cart is owned and operated by mother-and-daughter team, Sue Whitbeck and Allison Ritter. Whitbeck loved the tradition and tranquility of British teahouses and wanted | SPRING 2020
to bring that experience to Virginia. Ritter says of her mother, “When she retired, she always wanted to open up a tea room. I grew up going to them. Any town we visited, we would find a tea room.” She adds, “I love drinking tea. I’ve visited tea farms. It is just my thing.” More than the love of tea, Whitbeck and Ritter both have backgrounds in the food industry, as a restaurateur and culinary PR professional, respectively.
Ritter explains, “Everything you see here, she did. She had this space, and she transformed it. She did the boots-on-theground effort.” Whitbeck’s work resulted in a space that is undeniably charming and very British. From the cutout of Queen Elizabeth II that greets guests as they enter, to the Country Rose china and supply of fancy hats and fascinators for patrons to wear, Whitbeck spared no detail.
High Tea at the Tea Cart in Berryville is as elegant as it is filling. Lace-covered tables are laden with delicious finger sandwiches, scones, sweets, and, of course, plenty of tea.
While Whitbeck created The Tea Cart’s vision, Ritter helps spread it. Ritter remarks, “I handle the PR, marketing, and social media part of the business. And I started doing the events.” She adds, “Every day in March we are booked with a baby shower or bridal shower. That’s the majority of my job, events and private parties.” In addition to bridal showers, baby showers, and birthdays, The Tea Cart offers a variety of themed teas like The Nutcracker and Harry Potter. Ritter notes, “We started doing one themed tea a month, and that has grown our business tremendously.” She continues, “Every October we do Harry Potter, in November it’s Mary Poppins, and every Saturday
and Sunday in December it’s The Nutcracker.” In April, they will host a Beatrix Potter Tea, and in May, the focus is on Mother’s Day when they will offer a three-course menu. When Whitbeck and Ritter aren’t putting on themed teas, they keep close to British tradition with just a little of their own flare. Ritter says, “We put our own spin on it but also pay homage to the tradition and legacy of this British custom.” The Royal Ascot, their most generous menu, comes with tea classics like finger sandwiches, warm scones with Devonshire cream and fruit preserves, and a variety of sweets. But guests also enjoy a bowl of soup and a scrumptious savory, like their exceptional tomato soup and a
delightfully flaky sausage roll. Ritter notes, “We make everything in-house. Everything is from scratch…We can even do gluten-free, a completely gluten-free Royal Ascot, and vegetarian, too.” As for the tea, it’s bottomless and Ritter wants customers to try as many flavors as they desire. “A lot of tea rooms you find won’t allow you to change over a pot as many times as you want…but that is something that has always bothered me. If I am in a tea room, I want to try different flavors, things I’ve never had before.” The Tea Cart’s menu has twenty-five flavors ranging from customary to uncommon and caffeine-free. The selection includes English Breakfast and
Earl Grey, as well as, Chocolate Almond and Cape Cod Cranberry, to name a few. All teas are loose leaf and tables are set with tea timers and strainers to help make the perfect cup. Ritter and Whitbeck assist, too, by recommending flavors and ideal steeping times. Tasty tea, memorable munchies, and time spent with friends are all part of what makes The Tea Cart experience so lovely. But perhaps more, it’s Ritter and Whitbeck’s undeniable enthusiasm and passion for what they do that truly makes this tea room stand apart. Ritter says, “We love, love what we do. We are happy to create an experience that is unique but also keeps the tradition alive.”
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GROWING BE Farmers and friends are essential elements STORY AND PHOTOS BY ED FELKER
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AUTIFUL BEER O
continue through the warmer months is that n a warm Thursday afternoon Wheatland Spring’s farming neighbors are exnot long after John and Bonnie cited about what this authentic farm brewery Branding’s Wheatland Spring is doing. That speaks volumes. Farm + Brewery opened for John Branding’s reverence for farming and business, a group of local farmers gathered farmers took shape on his grandparents’ farm there, sitting outside at a table made from a in Illinois, where he grew up. He saw firsthand white pine slab that still smelled like freshly how hard farming is, how it challenges every cut lumber. It felt right, enjoying conversapart of you. “It’s something that we’ve grown tion, company, and cold beer in the heart of detached from, because we have supermarkets, a working farm. That impromptu gathering because we have convenience, because we have turned into a casual, somewhat regularly reso many things available at the touch of a butcurring Farmer Happy Hour. ton — literally,” he said. “It allows us to have “We don’t get to see all our farm friends as Bonnie and John Branding this disconnect with something so elemental often as we’d like during the busy seasons,” Molly Kroiz, farmer and cheesemaker at nearby Georges Mill Ar- and basic in the human condition.” For both the Brandings, though, it was in Munich where that tisan Cheese said. “So I threw out the idea of gathering at Wheatland.” Thursdays made sense as it was an opportunity to relax before reverence for farming met the love for breweries as an integral part hectic weekend days selling at farmers markets. And the proximity of the fabric of a place, and where their vision began to take shape. of Wheatland to many local farms made the location ideal. But “Munich is a second home for us, it’s not just that we lived there for the real reason these gatherings organically sprung up here and five years,” Bonnie said. “There’s a real comfort and community there that is definitely a part of what we always wanted to bring back to our community, back when we were thinking about the idea of a farm brewery ten years ago.” They chose 30 acres of rolling Virginia farmland in western Loudoun County between Lovettsville and Purcellville. The farm was originally established around 1832 as a working farm, as it is still and again. It is called Wheatland Spring, named for the natural water source that pumps life into its growing fields. Wild yeast is captured in the field. Grain and other ingredients not grown right here are sourced from trusted farmers and partners. As a result, Wheatland Spring beer reflects the farm, its surroundings, and the growing region’s agricultural character. Wheatland Spring can make beers with ingredients that have been sourced within 15 square miles, most of it within 150 feet of the brewhouse. They call this Land Beer, created to celebrate the regional agriculture and strengthen small farms. It’s clear that Wheatland Spring is committed to the farming aspects of brewing, it’s an absolutely essential part of their vision. “We are so fortunate to be in a community where we have some of the most amazing farmers I’ve ever met right across the road from us. And you have third generation farmers who do an exceptional job taking care of the land, because at the end of the day, farmers PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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BEER A true working farm, wheat grows on 20 acres of the Wheatland Spring property.
WHEATLAND SPRING AT-A-GLANCE… 38506 John Wolford Road, Waterford 540-746-6080 | wheatlandspring.com
Hours: Open Thursday through Sunday (check wheatlandspring.com for seasonal variations) Family Friendly: Kids welcome, house made apple soda, juice, and snacks for kids available Dog Friendly: Leashed, well-behaved dogs welcome in outdoor spaces as well as in large bank barn in colder and poor weather. Food: Hearty hot sandwiches, soup, and snacks available for purchase every day we are open. Beers: 10 beers on tap, across two bars. One bar is the brewery taproom; the other is a bar in the bank barn. Three bottles and three cans available to go. Growler fills available. Outdoor Seating: Tables under cover, fire pit with seating, plenty of open area Indoor Seating: Tables upstairs above the corn crib barn brewhouse, unique cozy spots for smaller groups in the corn crib barn, large seating areas in the bank barn under heaters and next to a wood burning stove Live music: Check wheatlandspring.com and Facebook for updates Main events: Stark Paddy’s Day in March (Bavarian StarkbierFest and St. Patrick’s Day party), Land Beer Fest anniversary party in June, Oktoberfest in September Merchandise: Apparel, glassware and more available for purchase.
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are land stewards,” John said. “It’s in their interest and everyone in the community’s interest to take as good a care of the land as they possibly can, because the land comes back and rewards you for that.” A truly agriculturally driven brewery would require a special sort of brewer. “For us it was so important to have the right person because it’s such an atypical role for a brewer,” John said. “Because it’s a working farm, because of our approach here, it requires a very specific kind of person.” “Brewing beer is challenging in its own right,” John said. “But it’s also working with the land, and as any farmer will tell you, things seldom go as planned, so you have to improvise and change.” They began posting in job boards across the brewing industry, sharing what they call their ethos, what they were trying to accomplish. While they knew the field of candidates was going to be smaller than it would be for a production brewer, they felt like if they could find the right person, the right fit, it would be a very exciting opportunity for them. Northern California brewer Austen Conn saw the posts and was intrigued by the unique opportunity. “I’ve always had a particular interest in how the farm can help feed the brewery, and brewing somewhere where you live, and how that can tie together into something that reflects terroir and a sense of place,” he said. “So I reached out to John and Bonnie and we started having good conversations.” He flew out for a visit. “The first time I came out here we walked the field and John’s basically showing me the seedlings of wheat. And it’s the whole field,” Austen said. “It’s no small operation and I was looking around like, this is a lot of grain that’s gonna come up!” Having grain in the ground before there was even any brewing equipment in place was a strong signal that Wheatland Spring was going to be agriculturally driven, and shaped by what comes out of the ground. “Being on a farm and brewing beer forces you to think differently,” John said. “It actually changes your mentality and how you approach the processes.” With farming, you have to get by with what you have and figure out a path forward. That’s a different approach than a lot of other breweries take. So finding the right fit for the role of brewer in that environment is not easy. “But once you find that person, once that person finds you, you’re off to the races, because there’s so much passion and we’re all being driven by the same mission,” he said. “And that’s to get us closer to agriculture, and to express the farm, our surroundings, and our agricultural growing region in the beer.” John and Bonnie had found their brewer. To the Brandings, this part of the story is important not just to Wheatland Spring, and not just for brewing, but for the shrinking numbers of small farms across the United States. “That’s part of the soul of America,” John said. “And this is something that we’re trying to bring attention to, and even more than that we’re trying to support small farmers.”
BEER It’s not just a husband, a wife and a brewer doing all this, of course. They play an important role, but also rely on the support of the broader community of players around them. Neighbors, farming neighbors, farming friends, brewing friends, collaborators, and partners, everyone in the two ecosystems in which they exist: the farming ecosystem and the brewing ecosystem. The Wheatland Spring motto is Grow Beautiful Beer. “It’s the most succinct way possible we can express what we’re trying to do here,” John said. They are constantly striving to make beautiful beer, something that has balance, has nuance, is fun to drink, is enjoyable. “And it has something behind it,” he added. “It comes from something. It has grounding to it.” John and Bonnie wanted to save a 200-year-old barn, and to demonstrate that old barns can be valuable and can be revitalized for the modern rural economy. They wanted to demonstrate that agriculture can be valuable in its own right. “Our experience so
This shallow vessel, called a coolship, is used to lower the temperature of wort (unfermented beer). It enables the capture of unique microflora directly from the environment, and incorporating native yeasts and bacteria into the wort so that fermentation can begin spontaneously.
far has been that it resonates with people,” John said. “People are attracted to the authenticity you can only get with historic barns and a working farm and everything that comes with that.” This is why hard working farmers, carving a couple of hours out of an impossibly busy life caring for fields and families and livestock, choose a place like this to meet. “We’re grateful for this amazing community of people who get what this is about and who love coming here and spending time,” John said. “It’s all about the beer, and it’s not about the beer at all. That sense of community is what it’s about.”
2020: It’s our 10th Anniversary! Multiple Gold Winner
April (all month): Sipping and Saplings – Tree Giveaway Program 4/18: Oyster Festival | 4/19: Earth Week Eco-Fair and teach-ins 5/22-5/25: 10th Anniversary party and new $20.10 Decade One wine release Other special events all year long
DuCardVineyards.com/calendar | Madison, VA PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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IN THE PIEDMONT
Henry the Eighth oversees operations at the century-old Chiles Family Orchards STORY AND PHOTOS BY GLENDA C. BOOTH
ungry bears come around and shake the peaches off the trees. Deer munching on the bark can kill the trees. Moles eat the trees’ roots. Root rot can set in. Untimely frosts can zap peach blossoms. An early freeze can kill the fruit. One year it’s too wet; the next year, too dry. “It’s a huge gamble,” says Cynthia Chiles, Retail Operations Manager of Chiles Family Orchards in Crozet, two miles off Route 250. “We love what we do. That does not mean that every day is a picnic,” she comments. Five generations of the Chiles family have managed three orchards: the Carter Mountain Orchard near Charlottesville, the Spring Valley Orchard in Afton, and the Peach Orchard in Crozet. In 1912, Henry Chiles planted the first peach trees on the Crozet land, today 150 sprawling, green acres of peach trees. The family has a total of 1,500 acres in Albemarle County in peaches, apples, nectarines, wine grapes, strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins, cherries, and flowers. After the first Henry in 1912, his son, Henry, ran the orchard; then his son, Henry, did it; today, Cynthia’s dad, age 83, Peach trees blooming in Chiles Orchard By Ida Simmons 22 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
| SPRING 2020
dubbed “Henry the Eighth,” is the general manager. Cynthia and her brother, Henry the Ninth, fourth generation, and her nephew, Henry the Tenth, fifth generation, have a role in the orchards. In all, nine family members are involved today. “We’re not big on titles,” she notes. At the Crozet peach orchard, rows and rows of 25 to 30 different varieties of peach trees spread out at the base of the Blue Ridge foothills, as far as the eye can see. Central Virginia is on the northern edge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s peach planting zone. Most U.S. peaches are grown in South Carolina, Georgia, and California, but “peaches do well here,” Cynthia maintains. The mountain slopes “break the weather,” making it more temperate and hospitable for peaches. The nearly 80 full-time employees work year-round and do “a lot of caretaking,” she explains, because peach trees need constant tending — pruning, thinning, spraying, fertilizing, weeding, and mowing under them. They buy one-year-old peach trees from a nursery and in two or three years, a tree will bear fruit. It takes five or six years for a full crop. A good tree will produce
peaches for up to 25 years, and they plant trees in stages so that there will always be healthy, productive trees. Peach harvest starts in mid-June and lasts into mid-September. In the three orchards, “We are always harvesting something,” Cynthia says. For the summer and fall harvests, employee ranks swell to 500 to help serve the people who pour in from the local area and towns like Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Stuart’s Draft, and Richmond. The family welcomes visitors. “Ninety-five percent of our customers appreciate what we do,” Cynthia believes. Peach Destinations Most of the peaches go from the orchards’ packing facility to grocery chains like Kroger, Wegmans, Food Lion, Whole
Foods, and Harris Teeter. Pricing can be quite volatile and competitive, depending on supply. Cynthia’s mother, Ruth, started selling peaches and other products from a cigar box and roadside card table in 1974 when a freeze reduced the fruit harvest to the point that they could not hire seasonal pickers or packing house staffers. Intended as a onetime event, pick-your-own, a new idea at the time, was born, and it proved to be popular. The next year, as June approached, phones began ringing with people asking for pick-your-own dates. Today, it’s a popular outing, especially for families. There’s no entrance fee and customers are charged by the pound picked. The Crozet orchard also has a market, café, pavilion, and tasting room open to the public from April through Christmas. Youngsters flock to the ice cream window and kids of all ages slurp peach slushies
The McElroy children, Jameson, Keagan and Callum picking peaches.
and fruity milkshakes. “Those peach milkshakes, they are my guilty pleasure,” quips Lindsay Dorrier of Bold Rock Cider who helps at the cider and wine bar. Customers can nab delicious cider donuts, muffins, scones, and cupcakes made in the farm’s kitchen. Jams, jellies, sauces, vinaigrettes, and other jarred goods come from Shawnee Canning Company in Cross Junction. The tasting room features Bold Rock Cider and Prince Michel Winery wine. (Chiles provides the apples for Bold Rock’s Nelson County cidery.) The pavilion is the setting for picnics, school groups, family reunions, and other events. From April through September, Friday nights bring music, “Orchard Jams,” that ring out from a stage from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The free, 30-seat, Crozet Trolley chugs in with customers. From April to December, there’s a Sunday morning, all-youcan-eat pancake breakfast with fresh, fruity seasonal toppings, served with biscuits and gravy. Family members have been part of the larger agri-tourism picture too in what Chiles calls a “micro-industry.” Her father
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was president of the North American Farm Direct Marketing Association and served on the Board of Directors. He was once President of the National Peach Council. Family members participate in organizations like the Farm Bureau and convention and visitors’ bureaus. Farming comes close to being a religion for the Chiles clan. “We love the land and making it productive,” Cynthia offers. “My dad started working in the orchards when he was 17. It’s in his blood. We love to grow things. It’s our heritage, what we’ve always done.” But it’s more than a family tradition or deeply-held calling that drives them. Cynthia also sees the orchards as a way to give youngsters an outdoor farm experience. “Most of our visitors are families with kids,” she says. “Most of them don’t have Grandma’s farm to go to so they come here.” Given the squeals coming from the orchard last June, it’s clear children delight in snapping peaches off the trees, filling their bags, dying to take a chomp.
Pick-your-own: April to June: strawberries June to July: blueberries June to early September: peaches July to October: flowers August to November: apples September to November: pumpkins Fall into Fun Festival: Late September, pick your own pumpkins, apple butter making, hayrides ChilesPeachOrchard.com CrozetTrolley.com
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O F F B A L A N C E A Global Biodiversity Crisis Hits Home in the Piedmont BY JOE LOWE
BY MICHAEL ELLIS, WIKIPEDIA
hen it comes to abundance, the stars we see at night (approximately 5,000) shine dimly compared to the number of plant and animal species in Virginia’s Piedmont, which may exceed 20,000, although the real number — if ever known — is almost certainly larger. If that’s surprising, it’s because the “big” species we usually see, like oak trees and deer, take up a lot more space in our minds than they do on a species roster. In reality, “small” organisms — fungi and insects, among others — represent life’s greatest diversity, numerically dwarfing their larger counterparts. These organisms, big and small, are never far. On a short walk, we might come across dozens or hundreds. Pill bugs, sumac bushes, and crows, for example, may not seem terribly interesting or consequential, but the Piedmont’s flora and fauna — known collectively as its biodiversity — are an absolute necessity for the area’s human residents. Working together, plants and animals keep soils fertile, pollinate fruits and vegetables, produce fresh air, keep water clean, and help regulate climate. In short, they maintain a local life-support system without which the Piedmont would be a wasteland. Although most of the region may look like a model of rural health, we know that its plants and animals are under intense pressure. How? Because species like the Rusty-patched Bumblebee and Purple
Japanese Stilgrass, an invasive plant, is spreading through the forest.
Fringeless Orchid are telling us in the clearest way possible: by disappearing. And they are not alone. Once common birds like the Common Nighthawk, Northern Bobwhite, and Eastern Whip-poor-will are now scarce in the region. Other species are gone. Since European colonization, Virginia has likely lost 72 species. In the Piedmont, another 59 are in serious decline — more than at any other time in modern history. Some of these species range outside of the Piedmont and their downturns can’t be blamed entirely on local changes. Their dwindling numbers are symptomatic of a much larger problem. Human alterations to the planet have forced extinction rates into overdrive, reaching levels not seen for the last 65 million years. And if trends continue, half the world’s total plant and animal species could
be facing extinction by the end of the century. This wouldn’t be a loss just for wildlife enthusiasts, it would be a loss for everyone who depends on traditional economic and agricultural practices. Like biodiversity itself, threats to flora and fauna vary by continent and region. In the Piedmont, there are many challenges, but experts agree that several rise above the others. HABITAT LOSS, FRAGMENTATION, AND DEGRADATION
During winter, local Wood Ducks spend months living in frigid water, impervious to conditions that would send us scrambling for shelter. Even so, we dismiss the feat with four words, “They’re used to it.” But what happens when “it” — the circumstances that animals and plants are accustomed to — change? Like us, their survival depends on a few basic rePIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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CONSERVATION Species endangered in the Piedmont: The Common Nighthawk, the Eastern Meadowlark, the Upland Sandpiper, the Wood Duck, and the Purple Fringeless Orchid
If you think you know your neighbors well after a few years, imagine the relationships local plants and animals have after living together for millennia. These connections helped form a community that has flourished, in part, thanks to a natural system of checks and balances, maintaining native populations at sustainable levels. The Piedmont’s natural equilibrium, however, is in growing trouble thanks to the human-introduction
PHOTOS BY ANDY REAGO, WIKIPEDIA; JONNATH, WIKIPEDIA; THOMAS BARNES, USFWS; USFWS, CREATIVE COMMONS; ERIC HUNT, WIKIPEDIA
quirements: food, water, shelter, and space. And when these conditions — known as habitat — deteriorate or disappear, they follow suit. In the Piedmont, this happens in several ways. The first, and most obvious, way is when habitat is destroyed for new construction. While some counties do a better job of restricting urban expansion than others, this has not stopped forests and fields from being converted into roadside malls, roads, and residential areas. New homes, of course, aren’t without greenspace; they have yards. But for wildlife, a well-manicured lawn, at best, offers little food, water, or shelter; at worst, it poses mortal risks when sprayed with pesticides, which kill pollinators like butterflies and bees. Multiplied across the landscape, habitat loss has a fragmenting effect, breaking large forests and grasslands into a patchwork of small, distinct spaces. In the Piedmont, these usually take the form of isolated woodlots among surrounding farms. Although they may look fine, these forests lack the critical mass necessary to maintain long-term health. They’re susceptible to invasive species and other threats, and slowly break down as their natural communities deteriorate. Habitat health isn’t just a forest issue. Given that farms cover much of the Piedmont, agricultural practices have a big impact on local biodiversity. Eastern Meadowlarks and many other grassland birds, for example, rely on local pasture for nesting sites. This can have deadly results, though, when fields are hayed before chicks fledge. Similarly, removing streamside forests and allowing cattle to graze and defecate in waterways is detrimental for aquatic species. The Dwarf wedgemussel, a freshwater mollusk, is already gone from Fauquier County, and eleven other mussel species are threatened in the region.
CONSERVATION of invasive species that don’t play by local rules. These species outcompete natives and multiply to nightmarish levels, upending the ecological fabric of our natural communities. They come in many forms. A fungus from China, the Chestnut blight, decimated the Piedmont’s Chestnut trees in the first half of the twentieth century. More recently, insects like the Emerald Ash-borer and Wooly Adelgid have begun killing off our Ash and Eastern Hemlock trees. Meanwhile, more than 80 species of invasive plants have besieged the Piedmont, sending destructive ripples throughout the food chain. For example, while caterpillars feast on native plants, they can starve on invasives. This means lower reproduction rates for Eastern Bluebirds and other songbirds that depend on caterpillars to feed their chicks in invasive-dominated areas. Making things worse, invasive plants have found unlikely allies among our native White-tailed Deer. Thanks to human influence, deer populations have surged across the Piedmont in recent decades — and their
impact has been dramatic. Not only do deer inadvertently spread the sticky seeds of some invasive plants, their voracious grazing threatens the health of native forests and plants. PROTECTING THE PIEDMONT’S BIODIVERSITY
Despite the challenges, local citizens and organizations are actively working to protect the Piedmont’s biodiversity. Piedmont landowners have put nearly 500,000 acres under conservation easement, protecting it from development. But there is still more to do and plenty of ways to make an impact. CREATE AND IMPROVE HABITAT
Most of the Piedmont is privately owned, which means that landowners have a large role to play in protecting biodiversity. Doing so is probably easier than you think. For starters, next time you feel compelled to tidy your lawn, relax. By leaving leaves, saving snags, and mowing a little less, you can improve habitat for local wildlife. If you want to do more, remove invasive species and plant natives. Remember,
when it comes to protecting biodiversity, everything counts: a single oak tree can feed and provide shelter for hundreds of species. If you’re interested in a conservation easement or would like to improve wildlife habitat on your property, the Piedmont Environmental Council can help. If you own a farm and would like to protect streams and improve livestock health, reach out to the local Natural Resources and Conservation Service or John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District for support. The Virginia Department of Forestry can also provide stewardship recommendations to improve the health of your woodlot. LEARNING MORE The Clifton Institute Virginia Working Landscapes Friends of the Rappahannock Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Conservancy Bull Run Mountains Conservancy Virginia Department of Forestry
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Miller Building, Washington
The Miller Building on Main Street in Little Washington is a fully-occupied commercial building with limitless opportunities for a savvy investor. Currently, the main level is home to a gift and antique shop, while the lower level has more antiques and a large, light-filled office. Could be remodeled to include more offices, a workshop and more. $595,000
Ridgetop Manor, Sperryville
Ridgetop Manor commands a strategic site on a high spine of Poortown Mountain at the northern end of the majestic F.T. Valley near Sperryville. The 4 BR/4.5 BA home has a traditional front faรงade, stately rooms and large windows framing the spectacular southeastern views. The home sports wrap-around porches and a gunite pool. $1,250,000
Grand View Road, Washington
This 4 BR, 3 BA home on 18 AC has a park-like setting, Covington River frontage, cable internet and forest in a private setting on a paved road. Custom details throughout. Walk down to the river for a perfect picnic on a summer day. $895,000
High Meadow, Syria, Virginia
With stunning views of the rolling fields, forest and the Shenandoah National Park, High Meadow is country living at its finest.The 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath home features an open floor plan, soaring south facing windows, a gourmet kitchen, bluestone terraces, an outdoor pavilion and great entertaining spaces on 13.9 AC. Horse friendly. $795,000
Bella Pointe, Culpeper
Enjoy mountain views across a large lake as well as the convenience of Culpeper which is only minutes away at Bella Pointe. The traditional 4 BR, 3.5 BA two-story colonial home features an open floor plan, generous rooms highlighted with details such as crown molding, hardwood floors and wide windows to drink in the magnificent views. $574,900
Pine Hill Road, Sperryville
Enjoy sunsets over Old Rag Mountain from your own house. This private 8 AC parcel has a splendid home site on a gentle knoll that opens to mountain views. A small tributary of the Hughes River meanders along the NW border. $165,000
Rolling Hills Farm, Sperryville Spectacular land in an excellent location are the defining characteristics of the Rolling Hills Farm. 121.5 AC of rolling pastures, streams and woodlands. It is located about 3 MI S of Sperryville. Epic views in all directions. $1,035,000
View all the country properties in the Piedmont ~ Search the entire MLS ~ cheriwoodard.com
Maison de Ville, Sperryville
This luxurious manor marries the charms of village life with the delights of country living. The 1890s 5BR/3.5BA Victorian home has been restored with luxurious bathrooms, a chef’s kitchen and an authentic antique ambience. Maison de Ville is a short walk to the center of the village of Sperryville, but the 0.6 private lot feels worlds away. $795,000
The Shop on Main Street, Washington
The Shop on Main Street has one of the best commercial locations in town- just steps from the famed Inn at Little Washington and many other town highlights. The main floor is retail space with a half BA and the original wood floors. The lower level is a gallery with ample storage. The 3rd floor has a 1 BR/1 BA recently upgraded apartment. $535,000
Writer’s Cabin, Woodville
The Writer’s Cabin is a 3-level log 3BR/2.5BA cabin that is private enough for a Walden-like experience but also convenient to Sperryville if you are more interested in a Moveable Feast. It has long, dramatic mountain views that morph from awesome to gently comforting depending on the light, the season and which way the wind is blowing. $539,000
Spruce Mountain Farm, Sperryville
Spruce Mountain Farm sits nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The private 99.9 AC has meadows, ponds, forest & hiking trails. Built in 1798, the original home has been added onto and remodeled with Hardiplank siding, new windows, & a large kitchen. There are 3BR, 3.5 BA, 3 fireplaces, and an English basement. $1,145,000
The Farm On Red Oak, Woodville Castleton View Road, Castleton 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
The 3 BR farmhouse, c.1912, has been enlarged with a gourmet kitchen, great room & more. Original portion includes a main floor master suite & a den/office. Geothermal HVAC. Pool and 3 BR pool/guest house on 24 AC. $799,000
Nethers Road, Sperryville
Close to Old Rag and a few feet from the Hughes River, the Dodson House is the perfect country retreat. The 3.2 AC parcel features a 3 BR/2BA farmhouse that has been lovingly wrapped around a historic 1 room cabin. $449,000
37 Main Street, Sperryville, VA 22740 ~ (540) 987-8500
The Trillium Trail PHOTOS AND STORY BY DOUG GRAHAM
Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area (WMA), one of the richest botanical areas of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, is a 4,000acre site located primarily in Fauquier County, with small encroachments into both Warren and Clarke counties. Mother Nature has painted a spectacular spring landscape at G. Richard Thompson WMA boasting one of the largest stands of large-flowered trilliums in the MidAtlantic. The area comprises two separate parcels, rising in a series of steep stages to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which the area's northwestern boundary closely follows. Its northern parcel is adjacent to Sky Meadows State Park. The Appalachian Trail crosses through its boundaries along the crest of the Blue Ridge, and the WMA contains several side trails that provide access to the area. Elevations on the property range from 700 to 2,200 feet (210m to 670 m) above sea level. A number of streams and unusual spring seeps are contained within, as are several outcroppings of rock. Heavy fog lays in on top of the mountain with a trail covered in may apples and large-flowered trillium. 30â€ƒ PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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The area is renowned for an extensive stand of white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) that blooms each spring. Covering an area of approximately two square miles, this stand of trilliums is reputed to be the largest plant community of its kind in Virginia and perhaps anywhere else in the U.S. Other species blooming in these rich woods in early May include showy orchis (Galearis spectabilis), bear corn (Conopholis americana), and yellow lady slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum). In the seepage swamps grow several species that are usually associated with more northern regions or higher elevations of the Appalachians, such as Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense). The WMA covers several different habitats, including second-growth deciduous forest, open grassy clearings, and cool seepage swamps at the headwaters of mountain streams. Most of the forests found on the land are hardwoods, but there is some open land at the bottom and near the top of one tract. The remains of formerly cultivated fruit trees may still be seen at the lower portion of the area. Spring is in full swing at G. Thompson Wildlife Management Area where there is one of the largest stands of Largeflowered and Painted Trillium in the Mid-Atlantic. People and wildlife alike flock to the area to enjoy the show.
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& the Annual Great Rubber Duck Race Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.*
Historic “Rock Hill Farm” ca. 1797 on 69 beautiful acres- once a plantation and dairy now home to thoroughbred horses and fox hunters. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register. Located in the Piedmont Fox Hounds territory. Thoroughly renovated in 2010. Special features include a first floor master addition with 12’ ceilings & heated floors; 4 additional BRs & 3 BAs; 5 fireplaces; historic bank barn; newer 8 stall barn + several other livestock shelters and outbuildings; 3 acre pond and year-round creek.
MLS # VALO399794
Joyce Gates 540-771-7544 joyce.gates@LNF.com
he SperryFest 2020 street fair will bring local and regional artisans, food vendors, wineries, cideries, breweries, musical acts, as well as family and kids activities to Sperryville’s Historic Main Street in Rappahannock County. This year’s is Sperryville’s bicentennial, which the town will celebrate with another festival in July. Also that day: the Annual Great Rubber Duck Race and the Waterpenny Farm Annual Spring Plant Sale. * Go to Sperryfest.org for schedule changes or cancellations
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THE GAME’S AFOOT Escape rooms give players a chance to...well, escape STORY BY JENNIFER WALDERA, PHOTOS BY CAMDEN LITTLETON
ncreasingly unique opportunities for entertainment seem to be trending, from movie theatre experiences that are elevated with dining and imbibing options to various tours and themed events at local wineries and breweries. However, one of the most intriguing trends lies in the popularity of the escape room which employs the concepts of collaboration, fun, and mystery, often with a dose of history. Cville Escape Room was opened by Jessie and Keith Stowell who have harbored a long-term love for game-playing. Long before the rise of the concept’s popularity, the couple created miniature escape room style activities for their children’s birthdays. Upon realizing the potential for success as a business, the two ventured into opening the location nestled on the Downtown Mall.
“Once we were fortunate enough to find one and play it, we just knew we needed to bring this amazing entertainment to Charlottesville,” said Jessie. With six different rooms, each with their own ambience, Cville Escape Room provides players with a feeling that they have stepped into a different time or place when they enter the room. “In Archaeologist’s Adventure, you are digging up clues to find a lost civilization. The Dark Circus holds mysteries veiled by reality. In Conspiracy X, you are researching current conspiracy theories to find proof that one is true,” Jessie explains. Other rooms include Paris, in which le Chat et la Souris encourages players to chase an international thief through a Paris apartment, as well as Sherlock: Moriarty’s Revenge and Jack the Ripper’s London which the Stowells describe as very rich and classic stories.
TOP LEFT: Cville Escape Room employees with owners Jessie and Keith Stowell prepare to welcome players. TOP CENTER: The sign guides visitors to the rooms, which are suitable for all ages. TOP RIGHT: Escape Room Lock & Key Club (for all those who escape before their time is up) PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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All of the adventures at Cville Escape Room are created in tandem by Jessie and Keith and they pride themselves on the extensive research they invest into every room to provide authenticity in the experience. “We are a husband and wife team. All of our rooms are unique from rooms you will see anywhere else. We are constantly on the lookout for interesting props, decor, and artifacts that will enhance the new rooms we are creating. Sometimes we find the most interesting things in the oddest places; sometimes we go out searching for specific unique items,” Jessie shares. Keith has degrees in both history and theater. His knowledge and experience in both help the couple build experiences that feel genuine to escape room participants. “His experience and research bring together the two most important elements of recreating a truly authentic experience. One of the greatest compliments we received was from a group of real life archaeologists who played our Archaeologist’s Adventure. They were astounded and highly complimentary about the accuracy of the artifacts and time period involved,” Jessie says. Choosing those themes, like Archaeologist’s Adventure, is a collaborative process. The two brainstorm together to select themes 36 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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that they are both excited to design and the process is highly-detailed and lengthy. Often taking six to twelve months to complete the rooms, they dedicate the time with the goal of creating an experience that has a general audience appeal, from corporate groups to college students and everyone in between. “Playing a Room at Cville Escape Room is like stepping through a door into another world,” Jessie says. “Each room tells a story, and you become part of that story. Hints can be anywhere in the room, and anything in the room can be a hint. All decor and puzzle elements enhance the theme of the room. For example, in Paris: le Chat et la Souris, all artwork is French, music of a popular pop Parisian singer plays, and we consulted with a native French speaker on all translations.” To speak to the beauty of the room, and its appeal, the Stowells say they have been honored to have three proposals in that room alone, in addition to another almost half dozen proposals in the three and a half years since opening. A common concern for potential participants is the feeling of being trapped. The Stowells alleviate this fear on multiple levels. “We never lock the doors,” exclaims Jessie. “Players are allowed to leave the room at any time, and to return. We take great care
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Owner Jessie Stowell sitting in the chair in the “Paris: The Cat and the Mouse” room holding a “clue sign” which participants can flash when they need some extra help.
with guests who are concerned about feeling claustrophobic, giving them a sneak preview of the room, and demonstrating that they can open the door at any time. Once they start playing, their minds are so engaged in the many varieties of puzzles, being in a closed room is no longer a concern. We have never had a guest leave the room because of feeling claustrophobic.” Additionally, while photos or videos are not allowed in the rooms players place their phones in an unlocked briefcase that they then carry with them into the room - the Stowells are happy to make exceptions. “Parents with babysitters, doctors on call, or any other situation where a player needs to keep their phone with them - in those cases, we ask them to step out of the room if they need to use their phone,” explains Jessie. As for those who want to bring children along, Cville Escape Room is family friendly in all of its rooms and they work closely with children to ensure everyone is making progress and enjoying the experience. “Even The Dark Circus and Jack the Ripper’s London are not scary for young players. We welcome all ages. Many escape rooms don’t allow players under a certain age. We welcome everyone,” says Jessie. Unlike some escape rooms, Cville Escape Room boasts a 100% success rate on solving the game. While many escape rooms have a limitation to the number of hints given and the time allotment, the Stowell’s philosophy is that it is more fun when players have the opportunity to win. Unlimited hints are provided, and often a few extra minutes are available to help players to be successful. Bookings are public so guests who do not purchase all tickets for a particular time and room will likely be joined by other guests to help solve the room. “Players walk into the room introducing themselves, and highfiving on the way out,” Jessie says. Plenty of options for hints are available, and the Stowells are always available for help, but escape room participants who may be highly competitive or set on solving the room without assistance might fare well to be selective about their team member choices. Several of The Piedmont Virginian editorial team members who visited on various occasions extended the wise advice to choose team members with diverse backgrounds, age, and knowledge if the intention is to be independently successful at solving the mystery. While it’s a popular spot during its regular weekend hours for birthdays, and has been host to at least eight wedding proposals, Cville Escape Room is also open for special events during the week for a minimum of eight players and tailors each event to the individual group. CvilleEscapeRoom.com info@CvilleEscapeRoom.com $25 per player, about 60 minutes
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A Community Institution Thrives Anew 120-year-old Batesville Market provides a showcase for the best of everything local BY JENNIFER WALDERA, PHOTOS BY CAMDEN LITTLETON
estled just 20 minutes west the store was less successful, leaving him of Charlottesville, near the to put his consulting career on hold to Blue Ridge Mountains, is run the market himself. the 120-year-old historic “It became clear to me that the country store that houses Batesville store could only work with an owner Market. The building has been home operator. So, if I wasn't able to give to a variety of business models since up my career and operate the store, then, including 80 years of ownership then I couldn't be the owner. It's just by the Page family (from 1914-94) as that simple,” Struminger says. a country store, a convenience store With an eye on moving forward in the early 2000s, several different in the best interest of the whole lorestaurant models from 2011-15, and cale, Struminger and his family brainmore recently a successful retail operstormed ways to find a new owner who ation featuring locally made food and would operate in a way that continued artisanal products and weekend live to serve the people of the community. music. However, through all of those It was then that they developed the 120 years it may be the recent sale of idea of selling the store for $1, a conthe business for only $1 that emerges cept that drew immediate attention as one of the most surprising pieces from hundreds of interested buyers. of history to happen in this small but “The NBC TV story picked up lively community store. on that and suddenly we had publicThe property itself is owned by Daity. That's how we got 250 emails,” vid and Alexander Struminger, and exclaims Struminger. their siblings. The business was operWith such an unexpectedly tremenated since opening in April 2017 largely dous response in response to NBC TV, by Struminger, a communications techas well as articles in the Daily Progress nology consultant and entrepreneur, New owner Kristen Rabourdin on the porch of and the Crozet Gazette, Struminger and Patricia Dougherty, a nurse prac- Batesville Market with Alex Struminger, the former had to create a selection process to deowner who sold her his business for $1 after a titioner at the Virginia Department of stringent screening process. termine the best potential owner of the Health, both residents of the Batesville market. Applicants were initially sent area. Struminger’s model for the store centered on a homegrown theme, eight-page questionnaires with essay questions that the market owners including specialty foods like gluten or dairy-free alternatives, organic, scored and ranked. Then, the owners conducted half hour phone interlocally and sustainably-farmed products, locally produced goods, and views of the top seven candidates. healthful fresh deli items for eat-in or take-home. It also included live Ultimately, four candidates were chosen, and after one finalist music by local singer-songwriters, locally-produced fine artisan crafts, dropped out, the remaining three were asked to pitch to a panel that and local beer and cider on tap. consisted of Batesville business owners, community members, and “The last three businesses who operated in our 100+ year old several volunteer advisors from the Charlottesville businesses, the country store were driven by restaurant models with live music on Darden School of Business, and the Charlottesville Business Innovaweekends, but didn't scale and eventually closed. We thought that tion Council (CBIC). Fifteen minutes were given to each candidate a retail-driven model would be more likely to scale and become to address three key points, then ten minutes were allocated for quessustainable,” Struminger explains. tions from the panel. Afterwards, the panel discussed the presentaSince 2017, the community has embraced Batesville Market. In fact, tions, then made recommendations to the Batesville Market owners. much of the inventory for the new store was purchased through a comThe Batesville Market owners chose Charlottesville resident munity-based GoFundMe campaign. Batesville Market then returned Kristen Spaulding Rabourdin, who has spent nearly 30 years the favor by offering credits on purchases to members of the community. concentrating on retail strategies, community engagement, The business model flourished, but Struminger’s search for managers for marketing, and communications with a hearty focus in the food
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ABOVE: Jeff industry. Rabourdin’s background focuses on Vogelsang, Tara local, sustainable and accessible food systems Mills, and Bill Collins and social justice initiatives. Her experience entertain at the Market, and dedicated work in the food industry were a haven for local key, but her passion was a strong point, too. musicians. “Owning a country market has always been TOP RIGHT: Local craft, a dream of mine...I am so incredibly excited for herbal and artisan this next chapter for both myself and The Batesitems for sale. BOTTOM RIGHT: The ville Market. I don’t just see this as ownership, I Market’s food offerings see this as me being the steward for this historic include local and 120-year-old market. It’s an entity that existed sustainabley grown well before me and it’s my honor to help it thrive goods. beyond me,” says Rabourdin. “It’s the place where people run into neighbors to catch up, where we learn about celebrations and struggles, where we nourish our body mained a frequent visitor to Batesville and its nearby businesses and soul.” and continued to connect with friends in the community. Many of those friends are likely on the long list that she says Struminger is enthusiastic and optimistic about Rabourdin’s have been generously offering their help to her, in addition to the purchase of the business, and how her experience will contribute support she’s received from her family. to the store and community overall. “One of the best parts for me is to have my family as part of this en“As for selling my business and vision for the community, of course deavor with me! My children, my mom and my partner are all workI have to let go of my baby. But I think Kristen will do a much better job than I did. She has better experience than I. She will take it to the ing shifts or pitching in somehow. We are very excited to take this on next level, and our whole community will benefit. From that point together. I’ve also had so many friends offering to help with anything of view, I'm relieved to have a strong steward take over the vision and I need. I am so incredibly lucky to have such a strong community of make it hers. We literally live next door, so I'm looking forward to befamily, friends, and colleagues as my village,” Rabourdin shares. ing a strong supporter and regular customer,” says Struminger. As history has shown at this community market, it has taken a special commitment to delivering products and experiences that While Rabourdin currently resides in Charlottesville, she has Batesville is looking for in order to remain successful. Rabourdin been a member of the Batesville community, having lived there intends to maintain and expand the elements that have made the when she first relocated from New Jersey 15 years ago. She’s rePIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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market’s most recent iteration successful under Struminger’s tenure. “There are so many wonderful aspects to The Batesville Market that serve as a foundation to the business. I want to expand on that foundation by growing our prepared foods, grocery, and unique beer offerings and give customers more reasons to stop in at the store,” Rabourdin says. Struminger had formed a strong relationship with a number of local musicians who he says came to call Batesville Market their second home. Headliners like The Pollocks (led by former Seven Mary Three founder Jason Pollock), rising star Sarah White, prominent young guitar bluesman Willie DE, Batesville Market’s kitchen produces meals for dine-in or take out, including fresh-made deli sandwiches, salads, and soups, and the grill is open on weekends.
the Buzzard Hollow Boys, local bluegrass talent like Tara Mills, Ragged Mountain String Band, Rockfish Gap, and some jazz artists including trumpeter Will Evans, Randy Johnston, Robert Jospe and John d'Earth are all among the diverse musical talent that performs at Batesville Market. Rabourdin intends to continue to make Batesville Market a haven for talented local musicians. “I come from a musical family, so the music is a huge bonus for me and our customers love it. It’s a wonderful way for the community to gather and experience phenomenal talent in a quaint and fun country setting, she says. “I am looking forward to bringing more events, especially those that showcase the local talent and knowledge of our neighbors!” As a neighbor of the market, Struminger intends to continue to show his own support as a patron and is confident in Rabourdin’s ability to maintain the market’s commitment to the community and its reputation as a comfortable gathering place in the area. “I want to emphasize that my family and I see this as a community social venture. If Kristen succeeds in continuing and growing the Batesville Market, which we think she will, then we have been successful in our mission for the community,” Struminger says. As for Rabourdin, her excitement for her new endeavor is palpable, and her enthusiasm for the market is undeniable. “Anyone who spends time here knows that the place is magical. Come sip some wine or a beer on the front porch while listening to live bluegrass. There isn’t a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” she says.
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April 25, 2020 | Noon - 5pm
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TOP: Blue Skies Ahead, 22 x 28; BOTTOM LEFT: Thoughtful, 8 x 10 oil; BOTTOM RIGHT: Pounce, 8 x 10, oil; FACING PAGE: Timber Challenge, 16 x 20 42â€ƒ PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Expressing her Vision in a Unique Voice Artist Linda Volrath is a Virginia Treasure BY ED FELKER
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Moving On, 12 x 12; Pensive Morning, 12 x 13; All in Stride, 11 x 14; Pint Size, 6 x 8; Hound Show, 10 x 8
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usicians compose songs about what is meaningful to them, authors use the written word,” artist Linda Volrath says. “My language is visual.” During her college years and early career, Linda focused on illustration and commercial art. While professionally trained using all media – acrylic, pen and ink, watercolor, photography – her love for oils and fine art is what stuck with her. “I’ve invested years to build the skill set to express ideas in my own unique voice,” she says. “But it is a continuing pursuit and lifelong process.” Volrath is enamored with oils because of their jewel-like qualities, longevity, and virtually infinite versatility. Everything from expressive, visible brushwork to thin glowing transparency can be employed. “Oils have the potential for fresh alla prima work (meaning ‘at first attempt,’ a method of painting using wet paint over wet paint), small paint sketches and studies from life, or more time-intensive large-scale studio work,” she says. “It allows for changes and can evolve like a sculpture, adding and removing elements as a piece emerges.” Painting is how Linda captures and communicates scenes and subjects that have had a lasting impression on her. And Volrath, a Virginia native who has been around horses most of her life, is
drawn to Virginia’s Hunt country. “I’m not only inspired artistically by the landscape, horses and hounds that are part of foxhunting and point-to-point races, I’m also inspired by the athleticism, passion, and commitment apparent in this community,” she says. Painting the world of foxhunting gives Volrath, who is a member of the Blue Ridge Hunt, a sense of connection to that world. “Involvement with any riding club has the potential to offer education, work, leisure, entertainment, land conservation, charitable work and more, all at once,” she says. “To me, Virginia’s treasure is in the beauty of its landscape that endures in open spaces, its rich traditions, history and natural resources.” Always an animal lover, when she trains her eye on the horses and hounds of the foxhunting world her work truly shines. “As a young child I found myself compelled to draw animals as a way to feel closer to them,” she recalls. Every day she spends out following a hunt, visiting a kennel, or attending a point-to-point race is full of energy and discovery. “My biggest challenge is narrowing down which of the many ideas to paint that I’ve gathered,” she says. “As a subject, foxhunting is timeless, yet concurrently speaks to my time,” she says. “I like knowing that my paintings might play some small role in documenting my time.” Visit lindavolrath.com.
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Stepping Back in Time Warrenton’s “Mecca” has been faithfully restored to its mid-nineteenth-century splendor
BY GARY CARROLL, PHOTOS BY KARA THORPE
pproaching Mecca, the elegant nineteenth-century Italianate mansion on Culpeper Street, I could easily imagine I would be met at the top of the stairs leading to the broad, arcade-fronted porch by a hostess in charming antebellum attire or by a Civil War army officer using the house as his headquarters. Over 150 years ago, either imagined host could have received me. But today, Ken Alm who, with his wife Sandy, currently owns Mecca, welcomed me into his home and quickly pointed out that they see themselves as “stewards” of this impressive 7500-squarefoot mansion, remarking they “just don’t build homes like this anymore.” Indeed, this is true. I was struck immediately by the 15-foot high ceilings bordered by crown molding above an open, expansive living area with beautiful pinewood flooring throughout. Ken confessed that the high ceiling was the most important feature that attracted him to the house; it seems he always wanted to have a very tall Christmas tree in his home, and now he can. Sandy very much wanted a house with fireplaces, and Mecca has a more than adequate number — nine of them, all made of marble. Off to the right side of the large inviting foyer is the library, where one wall contains well-stocked bookshelves from the floor to the edge of the molding bordering the high ceiling. There, Alm shared with me his passion for renovating the house while preserving its original charm and allure. Although it had strong foundations, including 16-inch thick brick walls, it had not been well maintained before he purchased it in 2001. He eagerly took on the task of stabilizing the house while carrying out his self-imposed responsibility to
LEFT, TOP: Mecca is a stunning sight to see for those passing by on Culpeper Street. LEFT, BOTTOM: Eye catching period furnishings in the living room. CENTER: A quiet enclave off the living room which takes advantage of the light for a writing desk. ABOVE: General Edwin V. Sumner and staff at Mecca, 1862. (Photo by Alexander Gardner, Library of Congress).
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preserve the interior of his home’s appearance as close to its original design and décor as possible. After 14 years, he says, he has almost achieved his goal. Across from the library, I was ushered into the living room, containing period furniture and two large eye-catching mirrors, a French one over the marble fireplace and another stretching nearly from the floor to the ceiling. There was plenty of open area, and a small sunlit enclave surrounded by windows caught my attention; it contained a desk and chair suitable for doing paperwork or, perhaps, just daydreaming. Ken’s dedication to this task comes through clearly as one walks across those pinewood floors through the large rooms and hallways and up the winding staircase to the numerous bedrooms. Along the way, Ken pointed out the four bathrooms and a powder room that he has brought up to modern standards. I learn that the house originally had a large water tank in the attic and pipes that carried the water to marble basins and water closets — a rare feature for the antebellum period when the house was built, and affordable only to the wealthiest. 48 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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Back on the ground floor, I followed Ken down interior stone stairs to the cellar, where I felt like I was entering the catacombs and almost expected to find tombs on either side of the narrow passageway cut out of solid rock. This space was added long after the house was first built when the occupants needed space for a modern furnace. The Alms have transformed part of this space into a well-stocked and ideally located wine cellar. John Spilman, who also built the house on Falmouth Street once owned by Colonel John Mosby, built this one in 1859 for Rice Payne, a prominent local attorney and one of the wealthiest citizens in Warrenton. Payne called the house “Mecca,” apparently a nickname for his wife America Semmes, of the prominent Semmes family of Maryland. Spilman seems to have had an almost unlimited budget and paid great attention to detail in constructing the impressive three-story, stucco mansion. He included thick brick exterior walls, semi-circular window hoods, polygonal bays, a gable roof, bracketed eaves, and that inviting arcaded porch and dentil cornice. Behind the house, he built a brick kitchen/ser-
PIEDMONT HOMES CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: One of the second floor guest rooms; The kitchen has been beautifully restored with modern amenities and a shiplap ceiling; The home’s interior doorknobs and hinges are original and have been restored to their natural beauty; Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in the library.
vants’ quarters, a smoke house, and a carriage house. The old kitchen building is now rented out as an apartment, and the carriage house has become a workshop. During the Civil War, which closely followed completion of the house, it was used as a hospital by both armies and was occupied by several Union generals, including Gen. Edwin Sumner who used it as his headquarters, turning the parlor into a military map room and installing a telegraph system directly connected to Union military headquarters in Washington, D.C. Family members were confined to the upper floors of the building, as Federal troops used the first floor. Mrs. Payne and her sister nursed wounded troops from both armies. Unhappily, America Payne died in 1862, a week after the birth of her eighth child, possibly from illness contracted while nursing the soldiers. Mecca stayed in the Payne family for many years before changing hands and today looks — and feels, I’m certain — very much like it did over 150 years. It is generally regarded as one of the most architecturally significant houses in Warrenton and is cited in The National Register of Historic Places. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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WINSLOW’S BACK Walking a beloved dog down the long road to recovery BY ED FELKER
sat, restless, in the private waiting room and stared at the door, willing it to open. When it did, Stephanie, a vet tech for the neuro team at VCA Southpaws Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Merrifield, walked in holding my three-yearold Wirehaired Dachshund, Winslow. He seemed thin, fragile, and a little foggy. She passed him from her arms to mine and I held him nervously. There was an iPhone-sized rectangle shaved into the middle of his back with a crisp, tidy scar running down the center. I pressed my nose into the wiry coat of his neck and breathed in deeply. He had a distinct, hospital smell I didn’t give much thought to initially, but in the hours and days that followed, picking him up countless times, I got used to it. Fond of it, even. It was not a particularly pleasant aroma, but I associated it with the joy I felt at being reunited with him after three agonizing days of wondering if he would ever walk or run again. By the time I realized I had grown to genuinely love it, the scent had faded. It was Monday morning. The previous week my wife and I noticed Winslow wasn’t right. He wasn’t interested in food and was in obvious pain. We brought him to the emergency vet, as nothing ever goes wrong with any of our dogs during regular business hours. They thought it was his back, gave us some pain meds and told us he should take it easy and follow up with our vet. But when he was having trouble walking the next day, we were referred to Southpaws. The next morning he would have an MRI and, if needed, surgery. We arrived early and checked in. I stared at Winslow, my mind and heart racing. Before long we were approached by a smiling, confident woman who knew who we were without asking. She introduced herself as Dr. Talarico, the neurosurgeon, and took us to a private room where she examined Winslow. She was smitten with him, and kept commenting on what a gorgeous, sweet dog he was, which put me at ease. She was confident she knew what the MRI would show, and just as confident she could fix it with surgery. Her manner was so reassuring, I began letting myself share in her confidence that whatever needed to be done, we could do it. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a condition unfortunately common, and occurring at a younger age, with Dachshunds and other short-legged breeds than in other dogs. It’s been de50 PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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scribed to me in this way: picture a disc like a jelly donut. A disc affected with IVDD loses moisture and becomes calcified, so the spongey, ‘donut’ part of the disc hardens. Then, either through sudden compression as with jumping off a piece of furniture, or just through everyday use, the disc herniates and the ‘jelly’ part of the donut breaks through the disc material, putting pressure on and even bruising the spinal cord. This is what was happening with Winslow. Disc material was putting pressure on his spinal cord, interrupting the signal to the point he was losing control of his back legs. Dr. Talarico took him back for the MRI and prepared us for the almost certain inevitability that he would need surgery immediately thereafter. When she returned, the first thing she said was, “Wow!” The herniation was so massive, she said, she couldn’t believe he wasn’t screaming and biting her as she was examining him. She told us he would almost certainly be paralyzed by the next day. He was already being prepped for surgery. We took care of some paperwork, and left him in the capable hands of the neuro team. “He’s a tough little guy,” Dr. Talarico said. He would need to be. That afternoon she called me to let me know he had gotten through surgery very well, and that the spinal cord showed just a small amount of bruising. She was confident he could fully recover, but there was a long road ahead. He was on pain medication and anti-inflammatories, and she wanted to keep him there through the weekend. This gave me some time to set up a few things like extra crates in rooms I’d be in so I could move him to be near me whenever possible. Through the kindness of some friends I was loaned or given crates and pens for what would be at least eight weeks of strict crate rest. He was only to be carried outside to a small pen periodically for bathroom breaks. We have five other dogs in our house, including a brand new rescue that arrived, due to circumstances beyond our control, on
Left: For eight weeks following surgery, the only time Winslow left his crate was when he was carried outside for brief potty breaks to a small, enclosed pen. Right: Physical therapy included cavalettis, walking over a series of spaced out poles. This increases awareness in proprioception, which is the sense of knowing where your limbs are and what they’re doing. That sense becomes interrupted with the injury and surgery. Above: Winslow, exactly four months after surgery, looks happy and healthy. While not yet four years old, he has picked up a few grey hairs around the whiskers since his surgery. The stress of the episode can do this both in the dog and his owner.
the same day Winslow returned from the hospital. But dogs adapt to their situations remarkably well, and the others seemed to understand that Winslow was not to be bothered in his crate. It can take eight weeks or more for the hole the disc material passed through to heal and close. During that time, it wouldn’t have taken much to re-injure his back. Over the next few weeks, he started feeling better, and couldn’t have understood why he was being restricted so. But dogs are remarkably adept at adjusting to a “new normal.” It feels like they know there must be a reason for the changes made to their routines. Truthfully, I think I had a harder time than he did. As he grew stronger and healthier I was still terribly worried about him, and my anxiety both about
how his current injury is healing and how to prevent future problems weighs on me still. When we were finally cleared for short, leashed outings, I stared at his back legs as I walked behind him. It took me a while to realize I wasn’t even enjoying the time out on a walk with him I had longed for because I was obsessing over every missed step or funny hop or odd way of standing. I was flooded with doubt. Is he lethargic or just fatigued? Is he shaking from pain or excitement? Is he unstable or did he just slip? I began to doubt every way I thought I knew my dog. PIEDMONTVIRGINIAN.COM |
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DOGS I took him back for a follow up visit with Dr. Talarico to make sure everything was on track, and she was thrilled to see him again. “From the moment I laid eyes on this little guy, I knew he was perfection from the inside out,” she said. “He has eyes that touch your soul and a personality to match.” Also, and more importantly, she declared he was “neurologically perfect.” I was still to take it easy with him, but it was time to transition from protecting him to rebuilding him. And to rebuild my confidence at the same time. We went to a physical therapist who gave us some exercises to practice. On our first visit, the doctor there kept running her hand down the length of Winslow’s scar. Dr. Talarico, not wanting to mar such a handsome dog with an ugly scar, took great care with his incision. She used internal sutures and glue instead of staples to bind the tissue tightly and neatly, and her skilled work was admired by the physical therapist. “That’s the most beautiful scar I’ve ever seen,” she said. Per doctor’s orders, we gradually extended our walks to build muscles unused for months. These walks together, the constant observing of every move, and carrying him up and down stairs so many times a day
“I FELT LIKE I WAS GETTING MY DOG BACK”
Dr. Shannon Moore | Dr. Lisa Butterfield Lifestyle THE 14TH ANNUAL
We Have Been Voted “Best of Warrenton” 6 Times! Serving Fauquier County Since 1979
540.347.0555 528 Waterloo Road, Warrenton | warrentoneyes.com
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brought us closer together than ever. As he grew stronger we made more changes in our home. I blocked off an area of my basement office where he can hang out safely with no furniture in reach to jump on and off. My good friend Jason, a fellow Dachshund owner who also had a dog suffer from IVDD, built us a beautiful ramp so Winslow could safely go back to sleeping on the bed with us. And we have a plan for some changes to our front porch and yard that will eliminate stairs. Our new normal is finally starting to feel normal. And I felt like I was getting my dog back. Winslow will return to being an active dog, minus stairs which will remain off limits. He will get back to hiking, hunting, kayaking, and blood tracking. And for fans who enjoyed watching Winslow make it to the finals in last year’s Oktoberfest Wienerdog Races, you’ll be happy to know he is not retired from racing. In fact, his new fans at Southpaws are even planning on coming to cheer him on this fall. There is nothing good about IVDD. Nothing. But if I’ve learned anything, if the crushing weight of the fear and stress and heartbreak and anxiety has formed a tiny diamond at my core, it is this: when I walk with Winslow now, every single step he takes brings me joy, and I will never again take his health for granted.
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A DAY AT THE RACES Rappahannock Hunt Point to Point, March 9, 2020 PHOTOS BY CAMDEN LITTLETON It was a windy but beautiful Saturday afternoon for the Rappahannock Hunt Point to Point Races, held this year at Larry Levy’s “The Hill Farm” in Boston, Virginia. There were plenty of food trucks, easy access in and out, plenty of parking, and great visuals of the race course with a spectacular view shed of the Blue Ridge Mountains framing the background.
Racegoers and tailgaters. Derek Henry, Kristin Killie, Joan Brown (race hostess), Brooke Miller (course physician), Henry Miller, Ann Miller, Hodge Miller, & Kay Miller
Alfred Griffen and Gus Forbush
Norman Frayley (Presiding Steward) and Will O’Keefe (Announcer)
Stewards, Patrol & Placing Judges Bill Hair (Steward), Charles Ross (Patrol Judge), Richard Clay (Photographer), Billy Howland (Chief Patrol Judge) and Tad Zimmerman MFH (Steward)
Artist Robin Hill
Skylar Neilson McKenna and Emme Fullilove
The Hospitality Crew Melanie Mervis, Wendy Sullivan, Leah Sisk, and Cathy Marco
Nancy Shaver, Jennifer Mintz, and Daniel Mintz carry forsythia to their tailgate
Katie DeJarnette & David Massie