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.
On July 16, 24 guests gathered around warm candlelight in the Early Mountain Vineyards‘ Gallery, evading the summer storms brewing outside, to break bread in celebration of summer’s fare. The Gallery, nestled between the tasting room and event hall, served as the perfect location for an intimate dinner. Executive Chef Ryan Collins prepared a medley of juicy fruits, as well as southern, Italian and Mexican dishes to compliment the Old and New World wines served over four courses.
The evening began with a 2015 Early Mountain Rosé—Early Mountain Vineyards’ “Toast to Summer.” Along with Winemaker Ben Jordan’s selection, Sommelier Erin Scala incorporated Virginian, French, Italian and Australian wine into the event’s wine program to create a seasonal experience flattering the diverse dishes of Chef Collins.
For the first course, guests were served crudo and citrus fruits with warm Virginia ham fat. Scala and Jordan paired three delicious vino with this dish—a French Domaine Matassa Cote Catalanes Blanc, a 2015 Chateau Auney L’Hermitage Graves Blanc and a 2015 Early Mountain Five Forks.
The second dish—Chesapeake Crab with watermelon, heirloom tomatoes and elderflower vinegar—was paired with an Australian 2014 McPherson Pinot Gris, an Italian 2015 Cantina Convento Muri-Gries Pinot Grigio Alto Adige and a 2015 Early Mountain ‘Block 9’ Pinot Gris.
Guests admired the third course—juicy fried chicken with Remoulade, fennel, rhubarb and celery—while they sipped a French 2011 Domaine Labet Cotes du Jura Cuvee du Hasard ‘Chardonnay de Voile,’ a Virginian Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay and a 2015 Early Mountain Chardonnay.
For the fourth and final course, guests enjoyed goat birria with hand-pressed tortillas, pickled cactus and aged goat ricotta paired with two delicious vino—a French 2014 Domaine de la Bergerie, La erisale, Anjou Rouge and a 2014 Early Mountain “Novum.”
As the guests finished their final course in the Gallery, the sun broke through the clouds, lightening the Blue Ridge mountain sky with pinks and yellows, and guests trickled onto the back patio. Keeping with European custom, Chef Collins prepared a cheese finish for his grand supper. This plate was served on pit-grilled toast, with Caromont Farm Red Row and Jam According to Daniel, and a Virginian Thibaut-Janisson Brut Rosé.
To end the delicious summer feast, Early Mountain surprised guests with a dessert of fennel-dusted coconut cake with peaches and blackberries. Early Mountain Vineyards’ winemaker supper was later complimented by Washington Post’s wine columnist Dave McIntyre and his wife, proving the dinner to be a successful showcase of the talent at Early Mountain Vineyards.
With the opening day of Roseland Polo at King Family Vineyards this Memorial Day weekend, we celebrated with a Pop-Up wine and cheese mixer on Wednesday for our amazing clients. After weeks of rain, the weather was gorgeous, only adding to an already amazing evening!
Enjoy the first day of Roseland Polo this Sunday, May 29, at 1pm! See you there!
With the Dave Matthews Band celebrating their 25th anniversary over the next few weeks in the town where it all began right here in Charlottesville, we kicked off the festivities by enjoyingBlenheim Vineyards first ever Library Series Dinner. Blenheim is the dream project of owner and renowned musician Dave Matthews himself, who is famously committed to healthy food communities, from implementing sustainable vineyard practices to actively serving on the board of Farm Aid. Teaming up in the kitchen for the evening were popular chefs, Matt Greene of JM Stock Provisions and Tristan Wraight of Oakhart Social. The inaugural affair was all coordinated splendidly by local favorite, Hill and Holler, a roving farm dinner event company that brings together the farm-to-table community around Charlottesville, and we were delighted to join them.
Upon arriving to the vineyard, we were greeted in the library by the cheerful Tracey Love, a member of Blenheim’s team and co-founder of Hill and Holler. Heading back outside, we ventured to a vintage wine trailer, a mobile serving station of The Cozy Caravan Club, where Blenheim’s amazing winemaker, Kirsty Harmon (above), was pouring. We especially enjoyed the perfectly balanced chardonnay, Kirsty’s first wine with the vineyard. She mingled with guests throughout the evening, sharing that while her primary goal is to make wines to enjoy in the “here and now,” it is also satisfying to make wines that age splendidly and can be enjoyed for years to come. We overheard her describing the exceptional wines available throughout the evening to guest Kath Younger (as seen below), local Charlottesville food blogger. Born in the Netherlands, Kirsty’s winemaking career began after studying with famed winemaker Gabriele Rausse, owner of Gabriele Rausse Winery and director of gardens and grounds at Jefferson’s Monticello and earning an M.S. in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, all before apprenticing at wineries in France and New Zealand.
Guests meandered around the property enjoying the beautiful vineyard and mountain views, and munched away on the creamy goat’s cheese and cucumber canapés, served by the terrific catering team in their charming pinafores. The perfect Virginia spring evening was complete with a local bluegrass quartet playing softly in the background. Dating back to the 1700s, the Blenheim property was used as farmland before being acquired by the Matthews, who turned it into the vineyard and winery it is today. Now inextricably linked to the musician, the business is a family affair, with members of the Matthews family managing the day-to-day responsibilities. Matthews himself enjoys and contributes regularly to the operations on the property, from co-designing the architecture of the eco-friendly tasting room to hand-drawing the Painted label series.
The five-course family-style dinner began with a delicate seafood amuse-bouche, followed by a richly flavored grilled bluefish salad with tarragon dressing. The course was paired with Blenheim’s 2014 Painted White, named so because it is part of the exclusive reserve series sporting one of Dave Matthews hand “painted” labels that he creates art for each year. The refreshing elements of the wine perfectly complemented the curried almonds and citrus notes on the salad, each flavor becoming cleaner when juxtaposed. Our next course was individually grilled escarole salads, offset with salty capers and olives and paired with a crisp 2015 Rose—winemaker Kirsty’s newest addition to Blenheim’s line of wines and our senior editor Sarah’s top choice of vino for the evening!
The main course—lamb served two ways over a bed of savory barley—was a crowd-pleaser, especially to our editor-in-chief and barley enthusiast Jen. Sides of char-grilled naan bread were accompanied by colorful, pickled vegetables that packed a surprising spicy punch, and a trio of dipping sauces. Paired with a rich 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon—a newfound favorite for our red wine-loving online editor Mandy—the course had something for everyone.
As the sun descended, the strands of bulbs adorning the inside of the tent and candles scattered amongst the tables added a wonderful warm glow to the magical evening. We helped ourselves to coffee in the library, perfect in the cool spring air, as they served the final and sweetest course of the evening—the season’s first fresh strawberries drizzled in finger-licking, flavorful honey atop a bed of whipped ricotta. Our staff loved this dish a little too much some might say that we were caught on camera licking our plates by our delightful dinner companion and local blogger Kath of Kath Eats Real Food.
As the evening wound down, we snuck into the kitchen to personally thank chefs Matt and Tristan (above). Matt is the co-owner of JM Stock Provisions, Charlottesville’s only whole-animal butcher shop and provider of the night’s delicious sustainable Virginian meats. Tristan is the founding chef of Oakhart Social and self-admittedly thrives on big, unique flavors and stunning presentations. We could not have asked for a more perfect culinary pairing or more remarkable evening.
Blenheim Vineyards is gearing up this week for the 25th Anniversary festivities of our local band-gone-huge, the Dave Matthews Band (of course!). Many locals can still remember Dave bar-tending downtown or the band playing at Trax. Some locals even have connections to the band member’s kids at school or have personally run into Dave around town. The band is kicking off their celebratory tour here in their hometown, with a benefit concert at the John Paul Jones Arena on May 7th. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Charlottesville community through the band’s generous Bama Works Fund.
Join us over the next couple of weeks as we show some love to DMB, still local in our hearts and minds, and head to Blenheim Vineyards over the concert weekend to celebrate. You can find details to plan your experience on Blenheim’s website. A HUGE thank you to Tracey Love of Hill and Holler for creating such a beautiful evening for us all and her always gracious hospitality. We can’t wait to see what Hill and Holler will do next, but one thing is for sure, we’ll be right there supporting it!
This March, we were swept to lands far, far away as Forage took us to an Arabian Night. The brainchild of Feast’s Megan Kiernan and local foodie Justin Stone, Forage is an immersive dinner series that incorporates a chosen theme into an entire dining experience. Themes are chosen based on whatever inspires the dynamic duo; and for this dinner, it was the infamous tale of love, suspense, fantasy and redemption.
Upon entering, guests were greeted with canopés and an original cocktail, mixed by Stone. Following the mantra of Forage, one of the drink’s components was a shrub grown in Stone’s own backyard. As the names suggest, all of the dining series aim to incorporate as much home grown, locally sourced and, yes, foraged food and decorative items.
The dining room was a welcoming sight with its beautiful tablescape of colorful fabrics and glasses, themed pottery and tin trinkets—all warmly lit by candles. Each of the menu’s three courses was named as though it was a story from the Arabian Nights tale. Before the first course of lamb over lemon-infused hummus with watercress grown in Kiernan’s garden, “The Story of the Hummus Wars,” diners were regaled with a brief reading from the dinner’s inspiration.
The second course, “The Story of the Sphere Who Went for a Swim,” included a delicious pomegranate infused Khoresh on a bed of saffron rice. Kiernan, who was also the chef for this particular series, introduced this course, explaining how the broad “Arabian” theme allowed her to experiment with Middle Eastern foods from different geographic areas.
For the final, and sweetest, course, diners were presented with two options. “The Story of the Apricot who Drowned in the Rice” was a creamy coconut rice pudding with honeyed apricots, and “The Story of the Snake” was a pastry made in a coil that spiraled out from the center of the plate. As the coil bakes and cools, the coil rings take on different consistencies, and guests were invited to try pieces from both the center and the outside of the pastry to compare. As the candle light dwindled over the last course, guests were content with mingling into the evening, enjoying the shared experience of good food, good company and good fun.
With a history of dinner series including a Periodic Table Dinner exploring molecular gastronomy, a formal Black and White Masquerade, an outdoor Picnic Party and others, we are excited to see what the creative pair comes up with next!
The Underground Kitchen is bringing communities closer together through food—curating dinners that include authentic cuisine, distinct locations and a group of guests who share an appreciation for the culinary experience. We were fortunate to be guests at the first ever UGK Dine event which offers a less formal experience than the typical Underground Kitchen and is meant to give chefs a chance to experiment for guests from their home restaurant kitchens.
Last week at Tempo Restaurant & Bar on the Downtown Mall, we joined with 20 other diners for an amazing meal prepared by a favorite local chef, Brice Cunningham. Cunningham grew up in France and Tahiti and began his professional career in Paris under Alain Ducasse, currently recognized as one of the top chefs in the world. Tempo is his third restaurant, after Fleurie and Petit Pois.
Wel were welcomed to the exclusive meal with a French 75, a classic cocktail that incorporates Champagne or other sparkling wine (in this case Cava, Champagne’s Spanish cousin), lemon juice, gin and a dash of simple syrup. While enjoying the cocktail and mingling, guests were treated to some hors d’oeuvres, a delicious smoked salmon crostini.
Shortly thereafter, the first course came out—a rich lobster carpaccio on top of a sous-vide watermelon. The sous-vide technique made the watermelon a bit more condensed, both in terms of consistency and flavor. This was our editor-in-chief Jen’s favorite dish of the evening.
The evening’s theme was “Bubbles,” and the chef wanted to share the different ways in which liquid-cooking techniques can manipulate food to bring out different textures and flavors. Additionally, some of the wine pairings for the evening were sparkling to display the versatility of vintages. The leisurely paced meal gave diners a chance to get to know each other and to discuss the food at the communal table. Giving us all a truly unique dining experience, the dishes were off-menu.
Course two was a coq au vin (sous vide) with homemade sage gnocchi. Many of the guests commented that the gnocchi was the lightest they had ever tasted. Responding to guests wanting to know how he made them so light, the chef shared a technical secret that delighted the cooking enthusiasts, “you need to handle the potato mash and dumpling while it is still very hot—as it cools the batter becomes dense.”
Finally, the meal ended with a red wine poached pear and passion fruit sorbet, a dish that engaged all the senses. The treat had the feel of ice cream and the taste of a refreshing fruit sorbet with a perfect amount of acidity.
The social dining experience was a grand success, and we all enjoyed the sumptuous meal together at a long communal table with candles and fresh flowers. Introductions flowed as easily as the many wines; birthdays were toasted, and new friendships made.
Upcoming events for this nomadic Mid-Atlantic foodie adventure include dinner themes: Buds & Blossoms; Saffron; and Under Pressure. Check out theundergroundkitchen.org to find out about the next event. You’ll want to jump on tickets when they’re announced, as there is limited seating at each pop-up experience—all part of the fun.