Autumn is almost upon us and it is a lovely time to visit Charlottesville. With beautiful foliage, cooler temperatures and the bustle of the University of Virginia starting a new year, our city’s hub for dining, arts, shopping and, of course, people watching is more vibrant than ever. One must-visit destination in the fall is Charlottesville’s Historic Downtown Mall—a staple in our city. With historic buildings, performance venues and theaters, local restaurants, shops and attractions, there is much to enjoy along the pedestrian mall. While this outdoor mall is one of the oldest of its kind, it is actually relatively new to Charlottesville, which was founded in 1762. Scroll on to learn a little about the history of our beautiful mall from Purple Cherry Architects and for some things we suggest you do and see when you visit!
By Cathy Purple Cherry and Ashley Marshall
When the creation of a pedestrian mall became the topic of conversation in Charlottesville between the 1950’s and the 1970’s, the goal was to revitalize the downtown district. After more than 20 years of conversation, the City finally decided to close off five blocks of Main Street and transform the section into a pedestrian mall. On February 8, 1975, the City began construction with the Market Street Parking Garage and a year later, they officially began blocking traffic and working on the mall.
Architect Lawrence Halprin was chosen to design the mall. Recipient of the University of Virginia Thomas Jefferson Medal in architecture, Halprin utilized a number of features to create the city center visitors enjoy in this now successful pedestrian mall. From planning bricks and pavers at varying scale along the ground, to lined trees and lampposts at a ceiling level height, every last detail was planned for a comfortable experience. However, it took over 25 years for the mall to become the life center of Charlottesville. Prior to its current success, the City implemented multiple modifications of the original design including vehicular road crossings and small side street expansions. In 1983, the City itself even invested in building a $20 million Radisson hotel (now the Omni Hotel) at one end in the hopes of energizing the area.
Eventually, once mall parking and access were managed, people began to frequent the “pedestrian” street. Restaurants and cafés started putting tables outside and great meals and drinks became available to enjoy under the mall’s interior tree canopy on warmer days. Mom & Pop shops “popped” up along the street with specialty and unique items. Today, you will not see a Hard Rock Café or a Barnes & Noble Bookstore on The Downtown Mall. The shops are all local—some with histories as old as the buildings they occupy, like the New Dominion Bookshop (established in 1924) or The Paramount Theater (established in 1931).
Any endeavor needs time to be successful. It may have taken time to plan, time to build, and time for people to realize that change can be a good, but today the Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall is one of the longest pedestrian malls in the country and continues to attract visitors with its charm, history and unique offerings.
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In Orange County to the northeast of Charlottesville, The Inn at Willow Grove, a luxurious boutique hotel, makes for the perfect getaway. The historic property, once a plantation, was listed in Travel + Leisure’s 2017 “10 Best Resort Hotels in the South” and was rated as a 4-star hotel by Forbes Travel Guide. The Inn at Willow Grove offers guests the opportunity to stay in the manor house or one of the stunning cottages on the property.
The Inn also houses an award-winning restaurant—the Vintage Restaurant—on the ground level of the manor. From Sunday brunch to tapas Wednesdays, the restaurant offers gourmet farm-to-table dining to ensure guests remain well fed during their getaway. In addition, guests can take a short scenic drive into Downtown Orange and visit Forked on Main, the Vintage Restaurant’s sister restaurant, and the boutique Objects on Main, which is also owned by the Inn at Willow Grove family.
The property’s lush 40 acres are full of gardens, walking paths and history. Water fountains, sculptures and sitting areas welcome guests as they stroll the grounds.
Soon, guests will be able to stay at two new additional guest houses, as well as indulge in the Mill House Spa (below). The spa will offer not only relaxing services but also a fitness and yoga facility and an outdoor salt water pool. (Below, bottom left and right photos courtesy of The Inn at Willow Grove)
With the project set to finish next month, in September, we cannot wait to break out a bottle of divine local sparkling wine and indulge in the new Inn at Willow Grove experience.
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.
Living in and visiting this stunning area of ours means having a plethora of activities at your fingertips all summer long. With fly fishing, horseback riding, wine tastings, live music and more, Charlottesville certainly is a bustling corner of the countryside. With all the wonderful features of our little slice of paradise, we also enjoy wonderful shopping, whether as a pursuit on its own or in preparation for another adventure.
One of the main shopping destinations for locals and visitors alike is the Barracks Road Shopping Center, which offers a remarkably well-curated selection of local boutiques and national retailers. In a town where nothing is untouched by history, it is now considered one of the oldest in the country at 57 years of age.
Even before it became a notable shopping center, the area was already steeped in history. It should be no surprise to any Virginia native to hear its roots date back to colonial times. The road itself actually takes its name from the military barracks west of town near Ivy Farms that used to house British and German prisoners during the Revolutionary War. If you look closely at the Barracks Road logo, you will notice a rider on a horse, which serves as an ode to the Cavalry soldiers who manned the “Barracks.”
This shopping center has become an intricate part of Charlottesville life year-round, hosting events such as the Annual Holiday Parade. Hundreds of locals partake in the festival each year, welcoming Santa Claus into town for the holiday season. This 40-year-old tradition includes colorful floats, costumed characters and horse-drawn carriages.
Not to be overlooked is the prominent fountain outside of the space now shared by Panera Bread and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Many locals have fond memories of tossing a coin and watching it ripple away. The enchanting fountain has recently been upgraded to provide a pleasant backdrop for the new, outdoor sitting area. Inviting, cozy sofas sit under a wooden trellis with twinkling lights overhead, making it the perfect place to sit and spend time with friends day or night.
The Barracks Road Shopping Center collection of stores specifically caters to the goings on around Charlottesville, whether you’re looking for sporty fishing gear, a Foxfield dress or just the right present for that UVA student.
Looking for some CHOho style? The Pink Palm is sure to fit the bill with their popular Lily Pulitzer collection or the many fashionable accessories. Kate Spade’s bold designs and crisp colors exude a sense of playful sophistication. Strappy espadrille wedges and delicate pearl earrings complement the wide selection of leather clutches, wallets and purses in this storefront. Or try the ever classic couture of White House, Black Market.
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.
Virginia’s reputation as a wine state continues to rise, so now is the time to buy in before the boom really gets going. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Virginia is currently the 6th largest producer. The region’s terroir—the French word for the combination of climate, soil quality and elevation—is more like Southern Italy’s than California’s. Specifically, Virginia’s terrior is suitable for the production of full-bodied, fruity wines higher in alcohol content, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Vermentino. In these general regional conditions of sloping uplands and a warm, robust climate, each farm and even each field offers its own unique terroir, “so it’s essential to examine every aspect when choosing your property.”
Fancy yourself as a vintner? As you can see, “it’s important to know exactly what you want your land to do before you start shopping. We can help with our extensive knowledge of farming and the Virginia farm market to find you the best piece of property. We’ll partner with you through all of the steps and considerations necessary to foster success, no matter what venture you have in mind.” For example, many of the same terroir conditions that can make or break a vineyard operation also apply to orchards. With both crops, you need a certain amount of elevation, good air circulation and excellent drainage. You would also have to think about road accessibility for incoming or outgoing deliveries and foot traffic as well.
With the growth of the industry, the natural growing conditions and beautiful views, it’s easy to choose Central Virginia for your winery or vineyard location. With our knowledge and expertise of the area, we can help make your dreams a reality. —Gayle Harvey Real Estate
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!