Garden enthusiasts looking forward to this year’s Historic Garden Week will enjoy New York Times bestselling author Meryl Gordon‘s new biography, Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend. Mellon, who has designed many notable gardens, designed the White House Rose Garden for her friend John F. Kennedy in 1962. Charlottesville Wine & Country will have Gordon’s new book available for purchase this Sunday at our booth at Castle Hill Cider, the headquarters for the Historic Garden Week tour in Albemarle County’s Keswick Hunt Country. Scroll on to learn a little more about Gordon’s new book and her recent visit to Charlottesville!
(Photo of Gordon below by Nina Subin)
Earlier this spring, fans of Mellon and her horticulture legacy packed the ballroom at the Farmington Country Club to hear Gordon speak about her new book at the Albemarle Garden Club’s Design Forum. Gordon was accompanied by the Oak Spring Garden Foundation’s president and distinguished botanical researcher, Sir Peter Crane, as well as the head volunteer of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Lady Elinor Crane.
Gordon crafted her new book by pouring through pages of letters, diary entries and calendars, and interviewing over 175 people in order to better understand the woman behind the reputation. During her talk, Gordon delighted the audience with anecdotes about Mellon’s relationships as well as Mellon’s reputation for being notoriously press shy in her lifetime.
Mellon was an avid horticulturist, American aristocrat, style icon, philanthropist and art collector. In addition to her work in the gardens of the many homes she and her family owned in France, Antigua and throughout the United States, including in New York City, Virginia and Massachusetts, the acclaimed garden designer’s portfolio also includes the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden and Louis XIV’s Versailles kitchen garden.
During his talk at the Design Forum, Sir Crane shared that although all of Mellon’s homes were in constant cultivation by professional teams, Mellon was never without a pair of secateurs (pruning scissors) and was meticulously detailed. He noted that in the autumn, Mellon’s lawns were raked free of leaves only to then be decorated with the most beautiful fall foliage to create an idyllic scene. (Photo below from Mellon’s beloved Oak Spring Farm Estate, courtesy of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation)
Sir Peter and Lady Elinor Crane also shared insider information about The Oak Spring Garden Foundation’s preservation of Mellon’s home and gardens at the Oak Spring Farm Estate. The foundation cares for the private estate and hosts scholars through garden internships and programs.
In addition, the foundation has made Mellon’s extensive private library of over 16,000 volumes of horticulture literature—dating as far back as the middle ages—available to pre-approved visiting authors and scholars and is in the process of making the collection available online to increase public access. Below is a photo from the stunning gardens at the estate. (Photo below from Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library, courtesy of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation)
We were so pleased to be able to attend this annual event and learn more about the distinguished Bunny Mellon and her influential contributions to horticulture and botany while supporting a wonderful cause. The proceeds from the event benefited the Garden Club’s civic projects, including the Bog Garden at Booker T. Washington Park, the City Schoolyard Garden, the Nature Camp Scholarship, the ARC Natural History Camp and the McIntire Botanical Garden.
To enjoy more of Virginia’s gardens, be sure to save the date for the Garden Club of Virginia’s upcoming 85th Annual Historic Garden Week on April 21–28, 2018. Our local home tours in Orange and Albemarle Counties, and at the University of Virginia, are open April 21–23.
If you would like to find more book events/signings with Meryl Gordon, you can see her full schedule here. She has an upcoming appearance in Washington, D.C. on April 16, and you can also find her new book at our local Barnes & Noble in the Barracks Road Shopping Center.
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The Virginia Gold Cup will host its 92nd steeplechase racing event this Saturday, May 6, at Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia (about an hour west of Washington, D.C.). This Virginia tradition, drawing over 65,000 people, showcases some of the country’s best horses and jockeys as they race over hurdles and timber on the Great Meadow’s 380 acres. This steeplechase course also hosts the prestigious International Gold Cup Races each fall.
The event’s eight exciting steeplechase races will begin at 12:30pm, with the Virginia Gold Cup Race being the fifth race at 3:30pm. The day’s festivities will also include a Tailgating Contest, a Hat Contest and a Terrier Race Exhibition. In addition, at 6:34pm, the Kentucky Derby will be broadcast live.
Tickets can be purchased online until 4pm on Wednesday, May 3. Click here to learn more about the Virginia Gold Cup.
First group of photos: Left photo by Camden Littleton | Top right photo by Chris Weber | Bottom right photo by Richard Clay
Second group of photos: Top left photo by Chris Weber | Bottom left photo by Camden Littleton | Top right photo by Richard Clay | Bottom right & lead photo by Isabel Kurek
All photos courtesy of Bendure Communications, Inc.
On April 29, locals will flock to Foxfield—one of the finest steeplechase courses on the East Coast—for a beloved Charlottesville tradition—the 40th annual running of the Foxfield Spring Races.
The sport of steeplechasing originated way back when men would race their horses for competitive fun after a day of foxhunting. They determined the finish line to be at some sort of landmark, such as a church steeple. Thus, the term ‘steeplechase’ originated. Steeplechasing developed its roots in Virginia during colonial times. It is even said that Thomas Jefferson met George Washington in a steeplechase competition. You can learn more about the steeplechase tradition in Virginia in the newest Charlottesville Wine & Country Living.
Today, many people gather from all around Charlottesville, including many students from the University of Virginia and neighboring colleges, for a favorite spring social event. Attendees enjoy a day of tailgating and high fashion at the races.
The Foxfield Spring Races is a day filled with men and women donning sun hats, spring dresses and bow ties. With over 25,000 guests attending the spring races each year, the tailgating is a substantial and popular aspect of the affair. Foxfield offers a plethora of reserved spaces, allowing attendees to set up tents with music, games, food and drinks along the race track while they mingle with friends and enjoy the spring weather.
What better way to celebrate the gorgeous season and participate in an old Virginia tradition than attending the Foxfield Races? Additionally, this year’s races benefit International Neighbors. You can purchase tickets through the Foxfield race office until Friday, April 28, but can also purchase tickets at other select outlets up to and on race day. Click here for more information.
A beloved springtime event, Virginia’s Historic Garden Week allows participants to step foot on some of the area’s finest properties. Each year, a different collection of stunning private homes and gardens are selected for the tours throughout the state. Guests also have the opportunity to tour several historic sites, such as the University of Virginia’s Pavilion Gardens in Charlottesville and the exclusive Morven Estate. For 84 years, this unique event has been held each April and is eagerly anticipated by those who love horticulture, architecture, interior design, art and antique collection, and history.
This year’s Historic Garden Week will take place from April 22–29 with Albemarle County properties being featured Saturday, April 22–Monday, April 24. Here, we give a sneak peek at some of the stunning Albemarle-Charlottesville country estates that are included in this year’s Historic Garden Week tours. See Charlottesville Wine & Country’s exclusive luxury Garden Week Getaway for a chance to do Garden Week Tours statewide, enjoy a beautiful stay at Keswick Hall & Golf Club, fine dining at The Downtown Grille, wine tasting at Veritas Vineyard & Winery and more!
Fox Ridge, an equestrian farm and property, features a 20-stall barn, a cottage that dates back to the 1800s and the main house, a Neo-Georgian red brick home built in 1945. The property also includes a charming Williamsburg-inspired garden and an apple orchard. See Book Four of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living for “Horse and Home,” an exclusive look at the Fox Ridge home and property.
Other properties on this year’s tour include homes such as Southfield, a property of 20 acres that offers a unique collection of plants, a parterre garden and striking water features. Midway (featured below), a historical Albemarle property, offers Blue Ridge Mountains views, a lovely formal garden, and ties to history with its early 19th-century farmhouse that once served as a hemp, flax and tobacco plantation.
Choill Mhor, an English Country Manor home, features perennial gardens, a shade garden and gorgeous views of the property’s many untouched acres of hardwood forest, as well as the pond and lovely Blue Ridge mountains in the distance.
The Laing House (featured below) will be a debut property for Garden Week. Featuring a quaint, gray brick home, the property overlooks Moorman’s River. The home contains interesting and eye-catching antiques and furnishings that the owners acquired during years living in Asia and England.
The Albemarle-Charlottesville garden tours will also include Morven Estate, Carr’s Hill and the Morea Garden and Arboretum. Foxfield off of Garth Road will serve as the designated parking area for the tours. Charlottesville Wine & Country Living will join other vendors at Foxfield on Sunday, April 23, to debut the new Wine & Country Collection. Come see us and the beautiful new issue!
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.
For over 80 years, Montpelier, the former home of James Madison, has housed premier steeplechase racing that has showcased some of the most prized national and international horses. Today, the races continue as an extremely popular event for the National Steeplechase Association with a full day of exciting races, opulent vendors and lavish tailgating. The 2017 Montpelier Hunt Races are being held on November 4 and you don’t want to miss such a great day.
The Montpelier Hunt Races not only showcase superior horse breeding but also highlight the grand race culture. From tailgating to the Jack Russell Terrier Races and the hat contest, there is plenty to experience throughout the day. Enjoy viewing the day’s extravagant tailgate spreads, or perhaps design your own. Charlottesville Wine and Country Living is excited to be judging this year’s tailgate contest! The popular hat contest will be sponsored by Dubarry of Ireland with prizes awarded for elegance and best race theme and best group entry.
For an all-around experience, browse the diverse collection of vendors. Jewelers, equestrian outfitters, boutiques and more will have their products displayed for all to peruse. And, food and drink vendors will be offering everything from crab cakes and finger-foods to wine and cider.
The steeplechase races are set to begin at 12:30 p.m. with two races on the flat and five over fences. The sixth race is the premier race, featuring Montpelier’s live brush fences. Take advantage of viewing at the rail to experience the excitement and energy of the jockeys and their horses!
Below the Race Tower in the Winner’s Circle, you can watch the presentation of the winning horse, jockey and trainer following the races. For more information about each jockey, who they represent and each horse’s statistics, be sure to pick up one of Montpelier’s Race Programs at the event.
From the culture to the sport itself, a day at the races will surely make for a grand time. Charlottesville Wine & Country Living is proud to be a sponsor, and we cannot wait to tailgate, shop, mingle and cheer on our favorite horses at this year’s Montpelier Hunt Races.
Charlottesville Wine & Country Living spent a lovely day at Monticello’s Wine and Roses Open House held by the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants (CHP) at Jefferson’s Tufton Farm on Saturday, May 28. The open house was a wonderful way to discover the beautiful heritage of roses that the farm tends and to learn how to care for these precious rose varieties in your home garden (many plants and seeds are available for purchase at the garden shop). Guests were also able to taste the fresh wines of Gabriele Rausse, Monticello’s Director of Gardens and Grounds and a Virginia vintner working to restore Jefferson’s vineyard at Monticello.
A substantial crowd of gardening enthusiasts arrived and filled the garden and nursery admiring the abundance of aromatic roses, flowers and plantings. An informative tour was lead by Lily Fox-Bruguiere, the CHP’s Garden and Outreach Coordinator, who led enthusiasts through the roses to introduce the history and lore of the many fascinating varieties. The roses came from historic properties throughout Virginia, some brought over from America’s Colonists from Europe, and some are native to Virginia.
Guests also enjoyed two lectures. Kaye Moomaw of Lynchburg’s Irvington Spring Farm gave a lecture titled “Old Roses for Modern Gardeners,” where she introduced many old rose varieties, gave tips for managing pests and diseases, and made suggestions for companion plantings. Monticello’s Beekeeper, Paul Legrand, also did an informative lecture called “Maximizing Your Honey Harvest” that educated attendees on beekeeping, it’s importance and tips for home gardeners.
From 12-2pm, Gabriele Rausse hosted a wine tasting with the guests offering his lovely Dry Rose wine, his beautiful Rosso red blend and one of his favorite wines, a refreshing Vin Gris de Pinot white wine. Entertaining as always, guests enjoyed not only Gabriele’s wines but his charming stories told in his thick Italian accent. Rausse, a native of Northern Italy, has had a long and illustrious career in Virginia winemaking, where he has helped to establish over 50 wineries and vineyards in the state since arriving to the region in 1976.
Exploring the gardens further, we enjoyed the lovely design of the gardens and the amazing rose trellis.
Enthusiasts were exploring and purchasing from the hundreds of plants available for sale at the nursery. Many plants and trees of hard-to-find native varieties were available for sale, making the day even more of a treat by having the opportunity to take one home.
The Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants (CHP) collects, preserves and distributes historic plant varieties, and strives to promote greater appreciation for the origins and evolution of garden plants. Gardening enthusiasts can learn more about the CHP at Jefferson’s Tufton Farm by visiting Monticello.org.
The grounds of historic James Madison’s Montpelier in beautiful Orange County make a perfect venue for this fantastic spring event each year, providing plenty of picnic space for everyone. Not only an event for wine enthusiasts, this fun festival offers activities for the whole family ranging from live music to kite flying to horse-drawn wagon rides. Corn hole games were even added to that list this year!
We were able to sample refreshing wines from vineyards all over Virginia including CrossKeys Vineyards, Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery and the nearby Barboursville Vineyards. Celebrating 40 years as one of our regions most celebrated wineries, wine tasters had the opportunity to taste Barboursville Vineyards’ prestigious Octagon wine among the many other varietals they offered. A wine of highly distinctive character, achieved in blending estate-grown Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, Octagon’s status rests further on its being created only in fine vintages, and with the most astute selection from the harvest, and this 16th edition of Octagon is winning accolades the world over.
Next door to Barboursville Vineyards we enjoyed the refreshing, fruity wines of CrossKeys Vineyards. This vineyard, located in the Shenandoah Valley, revealed it’s first wines in 2008. Their Fruit d’Vine series of Riesling-based wine blended with fruits like apple, strawberry and peach were sellouts. Tasters also enjoyed their most popular Joy wine and the Fiore that has crisp, off-dry rose has a slight sweetness, with hints of strawberry and grapefruit.
When we weren’t sipping on fresh, crisp wines, we had the pleasure of trying delectable treats from a wide variety of specialty food vendors such as The Pie Guy, Brrrain Freeze and South Fork Food Truck. We then wandered through the picture-perfect landscape and explored booths filled with unique arts and crafts from various local artisans.
Tours of the beautiful and historic Montpelier, home to President James Madision, were open as well. This festival was voted a “best in” category by readers of the Virginia Wine Lover magazine in the 2015 Best of Readers’ Choice Awards, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great option for this beautiful Mother’s Day!
Yesterday marked the 39th spring steeplechase at the Foxfield Races, celebrating decades of time-honored traditions, Virginian hospitality and fashion. More than just a Charlottesville tradition, the Foxfield Races are the biggest party of the year! We had a terrific time as sponsors of the race again this year, which attracted more than 25,000 spectators, many of them UVA alumni and students, to cheer on the horses. The turf track consists of 17 furlongs, just over two miles, of hurdles, hills and obstacles for the jockeys to maneuver their steeds through. Despite the somewhat cool weather at this popular annual rite-of-spring, revelers were not deterred and we had a fabulous time.
In accordance with tradition, the guys were in ties and the girls in pearls. Visiting the infield paddock to take a look at the horses warming up for the next race, we caught sight of our favorite hat of the day, this fabulous Ascot-style chappeau shown above! Also seen above, vintage-camera photography isn’t the only trendy endeavor this fellow is engaged in. He revealed his plans to open a new brewery in the Woolen Mills area later this summer. Keep an eye on our blog for more on that in the future!
With plenty of time for visiting with friends between races, we caught up with Jamie Morton at the Brown Automotive tent, where she was hosting an elegant catered spread alongside gorgeous Mercedes Benz cars. Elated after her visit to the winner’s circle as a leading sponsor of the race, we sampled their melt-in your-mouth ham biscuits. Can we say delicious?! Awesome spread Jamie! Cheering on the horses nearby, we found another friend and W&C supporter, the amazing interior designer and founder of Leftover Luxuries Wendi Smith (at center), looking super chic in her favorite cowboy hat and enjoying the day with friends. Loved it!
If there’s one thing we know about spring’s Foxfield Races, it’s that it’s just as much of a social event as it is a sporting event. UVA students, alumni and the like, packed the field in a sea of natty bow-ties, adorable sundresses, hats and rain boots. With a favorite cocktail in hand, attendees rocked tailgating parties with cornhole toss games to dance floors. We loved all the Lilly Pulitzer fashion we spotted, especially from the Pink Palm tent! Love that shade of pink on the cute Cathy Shift dress from Lilly Pulitzer above! The girls unleashed their elegant inner Kate Middleton and the boys joined them in sporting their preppy best, including seersucker, bold pastels, and bright patterns, along with amazingly fun statement accessories.
While the Foxfield Races are a great time for all, they are more than simply a tailgating party and steeplechase. Every year, a portion of proceeds from the Spring and Fall races are donated to local charities. This year’s 2016 beneficiary were the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge. If you missed the revelry this weekend, never fear. You can join in the fun again this fall for Family Day on Sunday, September 25! If you made it out to the soirée yesterday, share your Foxfield fashion with us on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our feed. Follow us all this week as we show some love to our hometown musicians, the Dave Matthews Band, coming to town to kick off their 25th anniversary at the JPJ Arena next weekend!
Since the first hounds made the trek from England to the shores of Maryland in the 1650s, fox hunting has been a long standing tradition on the East Coast, particularly in colonies such as Virginia. The first organized “club” hunt took place in the 1700s, and it continues to be enjoyed by iconic colonists such as George Washington and Charlottesville’s Thomas Jefferson. The oldest continuing hunt in America is the Piedmont Fox Hunt, which began over 150 years ago in the historically steeped Virginian countryside.
While it is easy to connect the dots between fox hunting and preserving Virginia’s colonial sporting traditions, it is a little known fact that many hunt clubs and individuals are advocates in the conservation of land and wildlife. Even the Masters of Foxhounds Association & Foundation (MFHA), the collective group under which all hunt groups of America fall, strongly supports local charities in conservation efforts.
MFHA lists the benefits of conserving land for fox hunting, not the least of which “prohibit land uses such as subdivisions, shopping centers, malls, factory farms and many other undesirable practices.” The Foundation also encourages “farming, parks and many other uses which are consistent with outdoor recreation,” even giving out awards for clubs and individuals that make significant contributions to the cause.
With its historical and philanthropic ties to America, fox hunting continues to be a sport that preserves colonial traditions and our beautiful lands. To read more about fox hunting traditions and practices in Virginia, and for a look inside the Farmington Hunt Club just minutes from Charlottesville, pick up your copy of our inaugural publication at your favorite local vendor!