With Valentine’s Day almost here, many of us are thinking about how we want to celebrate. Scroll on for five romantic ideas to share with your special someone. Be sure to also check the Charlottesville Welcome Book for local Valentine’s Day-inspired events taking place throughout the next week.
3. Set up your own wine and chocolate pairing. Check out our Wine & Chocolate story in Book Three, and learn which wines pair well with the different Gearharts Fine Chocolates. Then, set up your own delectable tasting session for you and your significant other. This is a great post-meal way to enjoy hand-crafted chocolates on Valentine’s Day. (Photo below by Jen Fariello)
4. Plan a cozy stay-cation. Valentine’s Day is the perfect night to book an evening in one of our area inns or bed & breakfasts like the Inn at Willow Grove (pictured below). Enjoy local sparkling wine while you escape the rush of everyday life together.
5. Enjoy an evening on the town. Booking a limousine service, such as A & A Limousine or Top Shelf Transportation, gives you the freedom to spend and enjoy time together as a couple while visiting vineyards or just exploring the town, even if you do not have your plans solidified.
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During the fall in Charlottesville, there are many fabulous events to tailgate at, especially the horse races. Horse races provide the perfect opportunity to gather and enjoy amazing food while watching a spectacular and traditional sport. Each year, the Montpelier Hunt Races hosts a tailgate contest showcasing how best to execute this form of entertaining. Here are Wine & Country’s tips for horse race tailgating featuring the Montpelier Hunt Races:
Presentation, Presentation, Presentation. Break out the silver and fine china to set a spectacular arrangement. Bring your vintage silver wine bottle cooler to keep the white wines chilled and plenty of serving bowls and dishes for displaying your food. While it is perfectly acceptable for guests to use plastic plates and cups from which to eat and drink, serving out of Tupperware is a faux pas.
Embrace a Theme. Whether you showcase the look of the season, such as the table with the leaves and engaging fox head below, or choose to highlight the theme of the event you are attending like the horse cookies and horse cake below, themed presentations are sure to make your table stand out. The perfect tailgate spread incorporates appropriate decor while also providing delectable food, both of which can delightfully feature your theme.
Prepare to Feast. When choosing the food for your tailgate, you want to cover all your bases: beverages, finger/snack foods, side dishes, entree options and desserts. If hosting for a large group of people, it is a good idea to provide gluten-free and vegetarian options as well. If you are planning to stay at an event long enough, it is often a good idea to provide for multiple times of the day (having breakfast and lunch spreads, for example). Tailgating tends to be an all-day or all-afternoon affair, so be prepared to set out different foods throughout the day depending on the time.
We cannot wait to see the tailgate spreads at this year’s Montpelier Hunt Races on Saturday, November 4, and are proud to be both sponsoring and providing a judge for the tailgate contest. We are looking forward to spending a delightful afternoon at the races.
To learn more about the Montpelier Hunt Races, be sure to check out our previous blog post on the event.
Looking for a new go-to summer drink? Consider the Virginia Distillery Co.’s Shenandoah Peach—a fruity cocktail that is perfect for summer entertaining! You can try it yourself while it is featured this month at the Virginia Distillery Co.’s Visitors Center, or make it at home. The Charlottesville area offers many local farms, perfect for picking your own peaches for this seasonal treat.
Shenandoah Peach(Makes One Cocktail)
What You Need:
1½ oz. Virginia Highland Malt Whisky
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 oz. peach simple syrup (recipe below)
Slice of fresh peach to garnish
Optional mint sprig to garnish
How to Prepare:
1. Combine all ingredients in a glass.
2. Add ice to the glass and stir.
3. Garnish with peach slice and sprig of mint.
Peach simple syrup: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 3 cups of sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove from heat, add 4 peach tea bags and let steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea bags. Good to store for up to two weeks.
On Saturday, May 20, we were pleased to attend Forage’s “A Garden Party at Estouteville.” Hosted at the beautiful home of Beatrix Ost and Ludwig Kuttner, the garden party began in late afternoon. As ladies and gentlemen wandered the lush grounds in hats, sundresses and summer suits, they conversed with other guests and sipped cocktails made with foraged mulberries, and rosemary and roses from the Forage garden.
The evening’s hostess was none other than Beatrix Ost, a noted artist, philosopher, author and paragon of style. Coordinated by the talented women of Forage, Megan Kiernan and Kate Lynn Nemett (pictured below, top left: Nemett, Ost and Kiernan), the evening affair was a splendid gathering. Forage Founder and Chef Megan Kiernan created a delicious seasonal menu with food foraged, as well as from local farms. Forage Designer Kate Lynn Nemett styled the garden party with charming tea cups, floral arrangements and seasonal decor.
As twilight settled over the garden, Kiernan (below, bottom right) prepared wild nettle & feta tartlets from foraged nettles, tea sandwiches and beet cured trout for appetizers. Kiernan, having worked under both James Beard Award Winning Chef Suzanne Goin and James Beard Award Winning Pastry Chef Sherry Yard in California, embodies the farm-to-table movement with her love for local and quality fresh ingredients. She showcased expertise with her menu, from her foraged appetizer to her garden-fresh dessert.
During cocktail hour, host Ludwig Kuttner (below in the striped jacket) mingled with his guests. Kuttner, a venture capitalist who continues to be a leading figure in the development of Downtown Charlottesville, was also a developer and founder of IX Art Park.
The venue, Beatrix and Ludwig’s Estouteville, showcases the couple’s love for the arts with historic charm. The home, built in 1827 by Thomas Jefferson’s master builder James Dinsmore, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The beautiful home is not only surrounded by but also filled with striking sculptures and art, including many works by Ost.
Over the course of the evening at Estouteville, guests were able to wonder the unique grounds and enjoy dinner in the beautiful foyer.
The table settings featured seed paper welcome cards that were handmade with wildflowers and overflowing bouquets of herbs and freshly picked flowers. An eclectic collection of vintage candle holders lit the tables as the sweet scents of the garden made their way to the guests through opened windows. The first course was a richly flavored beet and goat cheese amuse bouche with citrus tones.
The guests chatted about the season, the venue and the food as they made new acquaintances amongst their table companions. Across the table from us, Beatrix struck up conversation with Donna Tartt, Pulitzer Prize Winner for her coming-of-age novel The Goldfinch.
Just as in the tradition of the European salon, Ost (below, left) captivated guests by reading aloud an amusing selection of poetic prose about the changing seasons from her new book The Philosopher’s Style before the party adjourned to the porch for dessert.
For dinner, guests enjoyed delicious Thai crab cakes with avocado, Thai chili aioli and garden greens, and bacon-wrapped trout with asparagus soubise, roasted asparagus and sorrel stuffing. The greens, cilantro flowers and nasturtiums for the crab cakes were all sourced from the Forage garden, while the sorrel for the trout was foraged.
Known for their community involvement and arts-related gatherings, including regular salons and bringing together local artists and philosophers for discussion, Kuttner and Ost were the perfect pair to host this lovely garden party.
Conversations flowed at each table, as guests learned about the local origins of the ingredients in their dishes.
Following dinner, an array of desserts were served on endearing mismatched china on the front porch. Guests enjoyed financier, strawberry cream tartlet, lemon & wild mulberry tartlet, salted chocolate caramel truffle, chocolate hazelnut truffle and canele.
The evening concluded with conversations spilling into dusk and new friendships forming under the stars at Estouteville.
Charlottesville Wine & Country visited The Farmhouse at Veritas for a lovely Mother’s Day breakfast! As we admired the beautiful Chardonnay vineyard just outside the porch window, we were served Veritas’ beautiful Scintilla sparkling wine made from the grapes from that very same vineyard block we were admiring. Made in the methode champenoise, Scintilla is made using the same method as in France to produce the world famous sparkling wines of Champagne. The French use Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to make this lovely cuvee base wine, whereas winemakers Emily Pelton and Elliott Watkins use Chardonnay and either Merlot or Cabernet Franc.
As Pelton, the Virginia Wine Person of the Year according to the Virginia Wineries Association, notes, “Scintilla is pale lemon in color with a persistent mousse. The wine is kept on the lees for two years before disgorging. Chardonnay usually dominates the blend, giving the nose a citrus character; and because of the long time on the lees, the wine has a brioche note with hints of almonds. Characteristically, the wine is made in a Brut style (less than 12g/L). Fresh bubbles of Meyer lemon fill the palate with a delicate mousse that fades into a lasting finish.”
As we enjoyed our fresh orange juice and sparkling wine, we were offered delicious fresh croissants and fruit to start.
Our breakfast was prepared in the open family-style kitchen of The Farmhouse using beautiful fresh ingredients. We had one savory and one sweet option. The sweet dish was wonderful buttermilk pancakes with vanilla bean whipped cream and fresh strawberries. The savory dish was a frittata made of local sausage, egg and asparagus with radish top pesto, and topped beautifully with fresh pea shoots.
Afterwards, we explored the lovely kitchen garden just outside our window where the Chefs at The Farmhouse tend to and harvest some of the ingredients we enjoyed.
The Farmhouse at Veritas is a six room bed and breakfast on the Veritas Vineyards and Winery property in Afton. The Farmhouse, built in July of 1839, was a private family home for the Hodsons until being transformed into an elegant B&B in 2012. From tea cups to the trellis’, the lovely decor and charm of The Farmhouse exudes the English flare of the Hodson family. The family built Veritas Vineyard and Winery from the roots up in the spirit of their own British heritage, and this is no better showcased than through the beautiful Farmhouse. See the newest Charlottesville Wine & Country Living to learn more about Veritas Vineyard and Winery and the Hodson family.
Charlottesville offers a plethora of stunning locations for the perfect Mother’s Day celebration. On Sunday, May 14th, Veritas Vineyard & Winery is hosting a Mother’s Day Winemaker’s Brunch at Saddleback Hall at 12:30pm. Click here to see more Mother’s Day events that will be taking place around Charlottesville next weekend!
Guests sipped wine and enjoyed delicious food from Feast! while they browsed the colorful displays. Each table was decorated with a gorgeous custom centerpiece, and a full complement of Caspari table pieces, from linens and flatware to name cards and plates.
Below is Southern Bloom’s delightful arrangement. After being assigned the “Secret Garden Ivory” napkin as their inspiration piece, Southern Blooms created a stunning centerpiece incorporating the napkin’s colors and patterns with Scotch broom, hydrangea and heuchera, among other beautiful florals and greenery.
For Tourterelle Floral Design’s table, “The Devonshire Ball” napkin from the Chatsworth napkin collection was assigned. This table also featured House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth, a book released earlier this year that explores the history of fashion at Chatsworth. Tourterelle creatively played off the napkin’s title, “The Devonshire Ball,” by creating a grand display with elegant round floral arrangements.
Below are the centerpiece cakes created by Paradox Pastry (left) and The Hungry Fox (right). Paradox Pastry was assigned the “Sail Away” napkin. The bakery used not only the napkin’s red, white and blue colors, but also the napkin’s shapes by cutting out individual pieces shaped like sails from rice paper and using them to decorate the middle layer as well as for the pinwheel atop the cake.
The Hungry Fox’s cake was created to look like it’s assigned napkin, “Brushstroke.” The Hungry Fox highlighted the colors and pattern of the napkin, adding a delightful paint pallet and tube of paint to complete the theme.
Below is the floral arrangement from Pharsalia Events. A colorful napkin featuring birds, “Papageno” was chosen for Pharsalia Events’ muse. They not only included the colors and shapes from the napkin with flowers and greenery they grew—including lilac, peonies, scotch broom, hydrangea and solomon’s seal—but also set their centerpiece in a vintage birdcage, from which the lavish florals protruded.
We continue to be amazed by the immense talent in our community and were so pleased to celebrate both the start of Historic Garden Week in Virginia and the start of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Garden Week tours on April 22.
As a new year begins, there are countless ways to take advantage of all the Charlottesville area has to offer. We have 17 Must-Dos that are sure to make the new year an unforgettable one.
1. Attend a Winemaker’s Dinner. This year, treat you and your partner to a winemaker’s dinner, where you will enjoy the best of local cuisine paired with the area’s wines. Consider a dinner at Early Mountain Vineyards, like the Winemaker’s Field Supper featured in the most recent book of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living. Or perhaps an upcoming event like the Valentine’s Day Winemaker Dinner at Veritas Vineyard & Winery. (Left photo by Paula Bartosiewicz)
2. Experience Barboursville Vineyards’ Octagon Wine. This age-worthy, award-winning wine, highly distinct in character, is a can’t miss for wine lovers. Join the list of those who have been served Octagon, including Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama.
5. Throw an Outdoor Party. Take advantage of the beautiful mountain views Charlottesville has to offer and throw an outdoor party fitting to the season. Match your décor, refreshments and activities to a theme just as this hostess did with her hunting party in the latest book of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living. (Photos by Rachel May Photography)
6. Indulge in Executive Chef Gary Glaser’s Crab Cakes. You’ll leave raving about these scrumptious crab cakes at The Downtown Grille. Try them at the restaurant or make them yourself! Customers who dine at The Downtown Grille will receive a complementary copy of the latest Charlottesville Wine & Country Living featuring Chef Glaser’s crab cake recipe.
7. Try Gearhart’s Beer or Wine Infused Chocolates. Try a unique delicious twist on your palate with some of Gearhart’s infused chocolates. (Photos on the right by Jen Fariello Photography)
8. Travel Locally with the Inn at Willow Grove. This boutique hotel combines history, charm and luxury for the perfect intimate getaway.
9. Attend the Virginia Wine Expo. This March event is perfect for the wine lover. You’ll spend a weekend exploring an event filled with food, wine and great company. (Photos courtesy of the Virginia Wine Expo)
12. Attend the Montpelier Hunt Races. Gather a group of great friends for a beautiful fall day of tailgating and horse races. Dress in style and participate in the hat contest, or put your focus on your tablescape for the tailgate competition. (Photos by Susan M. Carter Photography)
14. Visit the Blue Ridge Trails. Complete with 500 miles of hiking trails, 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail and 80,000 acres of designated, back-country wilderness, the Shenandoah National Park is a natural treasure. (Photo by Kelly J. Mihalcoe, LLC, courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Corporation)
15. Visit the Design House. This spring, see the amazing work of the area’s top interior designers and professionals while experiencing the year’s décor trends in the Design House 2017. You’ll also be supporting a great cause—the Shelter for Help in Emergency. Below is the 2016 Design House‘s stunning library designed by Foxchase Design. (Photos by Robert Radifera Photography)
16. Travel Abroad. Take your adventures to France this year and explore Burgundy’s wine region. Indulge in the rich history of the area and learn about the connections that Jefferson had in the town of Beaune, France, also featured in the latest issue of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living.
You’ve done it! The presents are wrapped, the cards are in the mail and your cookies are made. Now, relax and pour yourself some hot chocolate; turn down the lights and enjoy the lit tree with your reward…
Christmas Eve is almost here, and it is time to prepare for dinner with your loved ones. A relaxing stroll through the woods collecting greenery, berries and pine cones is all you need to create a farm-to-table affair instantly. For that extra flare and for an easy way to add your personal touch, hand-make a beautiful menu to set beside each plate. Placesettings can be creative, too, when using pinecones you have found—natural or painted white.
After dinner, get out the hot chocolate, share gifts and play games by the fire. It’s about enjoying the time with loved ones and basking in the real meaning of Christmas.
Happy Holidays from Charlottesville Wine & Country!
Centered in the heart of Virginia agriculture, Charlottesville’s unique farm-to-table foodie culture thrives from independent family farms. Many of these local farms benefit from Farm Aid and the work of The Local Food Hub. Six days before the Farm Aid annual benefit concert returned to Virginia and in an effort to raise awareness and funds for such important platforms, Farm Aid board member Dave Matthews and his Blenheim Vineyards hosted a locally sourced Farm to Feast Dinner. Dave Matthews along with Willie Nelson and Neil Young, fellow Farm Aid board members, would go on to perform in the benefit concert at Jiffy Lube Live on September 17.
Charlottesville band Small Town Rodeo provided live music for the evening with their bluegrass and country tunes. This foursome, outfitted with a guitar, bass, mandolin and fiddle, captured the sound of the Blue Ridge countryside while guests sipped Blenheim Vineyard wines and mingled near the teepee cocktail lounge.
Clay Trainum of Autumn Olive Farms smoked pork during the cocktail hour while highly acclaimed chefs Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt and Southbound, and Joe Sparatta of Heritage and Southbound in Richmond prepared the dinner. All courses were paired to perfection with Blenheim Vineyards’ 2014 Painted White, 2015 Rosé and 2014 Cabernet Franc.
The delicious communal feast was sourced from within a 30-mile radius of Charlottesville, including food from farms that benefit from The Local Food Hub and Farm Aid. Showcasing the fresh and exquisite produce in the area, the Farm to Feast Dinner truly demonstrated the quality and benefits of the local food scene. If you would like to help the family-based farms, you can support Farm Aid anytime on their website, or you can also donate to or volunteer with the The Local Food Hub.
Tucked away in Nelson County lies the breathtaking flower farm Pharsalia, a stunning estate with lush gardens, rolling hills, impressive mountain views, and beautifully restored buildings.This summer, Charlottesville Wine & Country attended Pharsalia’s 5th Farm-to-Table Dinner, a sold out event showcasing Pharsalia and other talented local artisans and benefiting the restoration of the estate.
Pharsalia is the private residence of Foxie and Dick Morgan. Foxie grew up on the estate, which is on the National Historic Register and has been in her family for five generations. In 2006, Foxie began flower farming and sharing her home as a wedding venue to support the restoration of Pharsalia. The property now serves as a venue for authentic weddings and private events. Wandering the gardens, one feels as a friend or relative. Pharsalia blends all the elegance and grandeur of a vast farm that produces everything from flowers to grapes with the intimacy and warmth of a family home.
The evening began with cocktail hour on the front lawn, where guests enjoyed a drink while taking in the surrounding views. Foxie took time to meet and greet all in attendance while Nelson County’s Bennie Dodd Band played Johnny Cash in the background. Local wines from Ox-Eye Vineyards, Veritas Vineyard & Winery, Pollak Vineyards and King Family Vineyards were available for guests to enjoy.
An Acre of Parsley enticed guests on the front lawn as they roasted peppers by flame. And as the sun began to set over the mountains, a light breeze swept across the estate, making the weather perfect for the evening at Pharsalia.
Following cocktail hour, the event moved under the grand white tent where rows of handmade harvest tables were beautifully set for the feast. Each table, made by local furniture maker Tim Smith, who was also the evening’s pepper roaster, featured lush floral displays made by Foxie herself from the very flowers she tends and grows at Pharsalia. With dinner ready to be savored and the candlelight setting the mood for the evening, guests could be heard admiring the beautiful setting.
Just the sight and smell of the locally sourced southern cuisine of fresh vibrant vegetables and baked chicken ignited conversation among the guests, as they filled their plates and trickled back to their seats to savor a meal by Chef Mark Gresge of L’etoile Catering. The gentle clinking of silverware and wine glasses were complemented with laughter, stories and the beginning of new friendships.
Following dinner, Ken Farmer with the Antique Road Show auctioned off a variety of locally crafted items, including local art work, two tables made by Tim Smith, a couples’ weekend at Pharsalia and other highly desirable items and packages. Guests were eager to support the local artisans and the gorgeous estate of Pharsalia. The evening, a true celebration of local artisans and community, concluded with desserts by The Hungry Fox, and dancing under the stars to the Bennie Todd Band. Departure from the lovely, intimate venue was met with a hope to return and an intent to continue the friendships that were formed at this wonderful event. We are so grateful Pharsalia invited us to participate in such a wonderful evening.