Touring the Trails of Virginia Wine Country

An up and coming wine destination unlike any other, Virginia’s deep wine history dates back to Jamestown and the settlers who each tended 10 vines. Vintner Thomas Jefferson made it his life mission to produce a successful vineyard and their experimental harvesting now yields the region’s award-winning wines. Last October, the seventh edition of The World Atlas of Wine by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson featured Virginia wines for the first time. Time Magazine’s article on the book even named Virginia the “newest chapter in American wine history” calling Boxwood Estate’s merlot blends “wines that California would have to respect”. With more than 230 wineries spanning the Commonwealth, there is no better way to take in the vino, scenery and historic sites than through the many trails and tours. The array of routes allow for a fun, educational day experiencing multiple wineries with two or 20 people. Meet the winemakers, visit a part of the countryside you otherwise wouldn’t and most importantly grow in your knowledge of Virginia wines. Here are a number of trails and tours to check out this season, visit for a state-wide list. Cheers! The Great Skedaddle: Wine on 29 Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Craft Winery and Winery at Bull Run make up this wine trail formed along Route 29, the path of The Great Skedaddle, a term used to describe the unorganized retreat of Union troops back to Washington after their unexpected defeat at the first battle of Bull Run in 1861. The Blue Ride Wine Way The Blue Ridge Wine Way is recognized as Virginia's premier wine region featuring five counties in the Northern Virginia region. Wineries include; Gray Ghost Vineyards, LaGrange Winery, Mediterranean Winery, Molon Lave, Narmada Winery, Oasis Winery, Pearmund Cellars, Rappahannock Cellars and Unicorn Winery. This trail is just under an hour drive from D.C. Northern Neck/Chesapeake Bay Trail The Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail features nine wineries which include; Oak Crest Winery, Ingleside Vineyards, Belle Mount Vineyards, General’s Ridge Vineyard, Vault Field Vineyards, Athena Vineyard and Winery, Jacey Vineyards, Good Luck Cellars and The Dog and Oyster. April 26 is the 2nd Annual Spring Oyster Crawl on the Wine Trail. Visit for more information. Loudoun County Wine Trail The wine trail of Loudoun Country is so large it is broken into five clusters; Loudoun Heights, Waterford, Potomac, Mosby, Harmony and Snickers Gap. Find the complete list of more than 30 wineries at and look for the developing 211 Scenic Vino Trail The Vino Trail on Route 211 leads to Shenandoah National Park and runs beside the quaint village of Little Washington. Along the way sit five wineries; Unicorn, Magnolia, Gray Ghost, Narmada, Gadino, Little Washington and Quievremont. Monticello Wine Trail The wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail were inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s vision of winemaking and claim the birthplace of American wine. This Charlottesville trail holds 30 wineries. Area Services and Guided Tour Companies Divine Wine Tours of Virginia; Fairfax Va. 855-384-6382 Dominion Wine Tour; Catharpin, Va. 571-330-5406 Point to Point Limousines; Catharpin, Va. 703-771-8100 Reston Limousines; Reston Va. 703-478-0500 Chariots for Hire; Sterling, Va. 703-639-4957 Boomerang Tours; Washington D.C. 202-217-2055 Fairfax Limo Wine Tours; Sterling, Va. 703-229-5057

Blackberry Farm

“It’s like discovering a pearl in the wilderness,” says a Versace-clad woman to her dinner companions while I sip a glass of Cabernet and savor a bit of eavesdropping at Blackberry Farm. It is the perfect description. Few would expect such refinement in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee. Don’t bother looking for a sign on the main road to guide you to a place where chic and sheep coincide--gawkers are discouraged. In fact, the average tourist has never heard of this rural retreat and that suits Blackberry Farm just fine. They don’t advertise. Instead, word-of-mouth, articles in high-end publications, top rankings on nearly every “best resort” list plus awards from the James Beard Foundation and Wine Spectator feed the momentum. Hollywood celebs, West Coast techies and those in the know (rumor has it Oprah and Martha Stewart have stayed here) frequent this bucolic resort/spa/gourmet getaway for exceptional and very private R&R. Even the word “resort” feels wrong; “experience” is a better description. With only 62 rooms and cottages on 4,200 acres (plus an additional 5,000 acres of private wilderness for fox hunting, horseback riding, fly fishing or hiking) this Relais & Chateaux working farm and gastronomic mecca offers perks that are far from its golf and ski alternatives (they don’t have either.) They do have a dairy, creamery, charcuterie and brewery plus a master cheesemaker, beekeeper, chocolatier and preservationist who oversees all jam making. Jams are sold on the farm as well as to fancy food emporiums throughout the U.S. (the blueberry is to die for). All vegetables served are grown on the farm and only heirloom seeds are used. Milk from the sheep is used to make their yogurt and cheeses. A butcher and baker are on staff and odds are, a candlestick maker is there, too. The sommelier and his team oversee a 221 page wine list representing 160,000 bottles, including rare vintages such as a $14,000 bottle of Montrachet. There’s more. The farm is cultivating truffles. To hunt for them, assuming they materialize (there are no guarantees for this ten-year project), they breed rare Lagotto Romagnolo dogs imported from Italy. Fall in love with a puppy? They are for sale--$6,000 each, trained with commands given exclusively in Italian, of course. Untrained, the price is halved. Privately owned and managed by the Beall family since the early 70’s, Blackberry Farm employs a staff of 375 to care for its pampered guests. Room rates include three glorious meals each day and begin at $795; cottage suites from $1495. The place has been on my bucket list since before bucket lists became trendy. When the farm’s new spa, Wellhouse, opened I talked my husband into a three night stay. On arrival, our car is whisked away. We won’t need it again until we leave--each cottage comes with its own golf cart. If we want a lift anywhere, a fleet of new Lexus cars is available, with or without a driver. From the outside, our dark brown wood-framed cottage tucked in the woods appears unremarkable. Inside, we find all the bells and whistles of a luxury hotel--soaring 17-foot ceiling in the living/bedroom, polished wood floors topped with eclectic furnishings, Frette linens and robes plus a pantry stocked with complimentary snacks. The bathroom is big enough for a family reunion. Despite the temptation to hang out in the fancy digs, we head outdoors, winding our way through pastures dotted with horses and a dozen piglets following their mom. We discover a crystal clear trout stream, a tranquil lake and we linger at the boat house before putting a canoe to use. While there are plenty of activities—yoga, fly fishing, horseback riding, and archery for starters--there is something to be said for doing nothing. The only thing on my ‘to do’ list is visiting the spa. Face down on the massage table, my dings and dents are tweaked with warm poultices filled with healing herbs and flowers that are pressed into my body. The warmth and fragrance reduce me to Jell-O. Am I detoxed as the treatment promises? Who cares. I head to the outdoor pool and fantasize about our next hedonistic adventure: dinner. “Good evening” says the tall young man who swoops down upon us, ready to fulfill our every wish. I’m having trouble focusing on menu choices. Instead, I’m fixated on the room, a splendid turn-of-the-century barn with high ceilings and massive beams. I place the snowy white antique linen napkin on my lap and scan the French china and sterling silver. Given the game plan, we anticipate a hoity-toity menu. While there is plenty of haute cuisine, the forward-thinking chef creatively combines fancier fare with southern Foothills food. And, he doesn’t take himself too seriously--Guinea Hen Croquettes with White Truffle Sauce are served on a bed of “straw” topping a piece of tree bark. My husband’s pate is served on slate at the same time my Swiss Chard Salad is presented on white gold-rimmed china. Dinner may be the star each day but breakfast and lunch aren’t far behind. Both are served in a room you would expect to find in a private country estate. In our cozy banquette, surrounded by the owner’s impressive art collection and antique furnishings, we decide that the most beautiful art (and there’s plenty of it) is the daily vista of fog hanging over the Smokies as viewed from the sprawling stone terrace. By day three, we’re accustomed to being spoiled. At checkout, a perky young man appears with two boxed lunches for our trip home. Even they aren’t ordinary--turkey sandwiches with scallion mayonnaise on rosemary flatbread, containers of radish and stewed-apple salad and the most extraordinary chocolate chip cookies on the planet. As we drive down the country road, with windows wide open, a blast of fresh warm air whips my face. All I can utter is one word, ‘a-maz-ing.’ Maybe tomorrow I’ll think of something more poetic. [gallery ids="101828,139214,139219,139225,139208,139228,139240,139236,139233" nav="thumbs"]

Gracious Weddings in the Virginia Countryside

` Tucked away between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the nation’s capital, along dirt roads and country curving streets, lies a secret garden of green pastures growing local produce, freshly painted farms with white picket fences and acres of vineyards with large succulent grapes and tasting rooms filling visitors’ glasses with the latest and greatest new wines. Hidden in these foothills are also lists of wedding venues, vendors and anxious brides hoping to secure their spot in peak season at the pavilions located here. Say goodbye to the destination weddings on sugar white sandy beaches in the Caribbean and hello to the horses and historical lands in the country side of Virginia. There is something to be said when a small town stubborn girl from the rocky coast of southern Maine who doesn’t think anything is more pristine and precious than her local beach town in New England begins to have second thoughts when driving along Loudoun County. This area may lack the sound of crashing waves, but it is smothered with kindness, tranquility and nature that could de-stress any city slicker. This area is truly the spot where fairy tale weddings come alive and bride’s dreams come true. Allow yourself to explore the opportunities each season will bring to your special day in a handful of options ranging from bed and breakfasts and farms to vineyards and mansions. The Goodstone Inn & Estate ------ Location: Middleburg, Va. Cost: $23,935- $30,174 Contact: Emily Tabachka 540 687 3092 This bed and breakfast is more than a place to rest your head, but an inn where you will be swept away. With 265 acres of open fields and cottages with rooms filled with original antique furniture and four post beds, a bride can live like a princess for a weekend with up to 150 friends and family members. Elegant weddings over the meadows on this estate are hosted poolside by the façade of an old mansion with overgrown ivy and gardens. Rehearsal dinners and receptions can be held outdoors or inside at the Carriage House, where guests can enjoy local food and wine designed by executive chef William Walden. Wherever you choose to say your vows, a picturesque view of the country side is sure to be in sight. Why we love it here: The Goodstone Inn & Estate offers in-house catering and planners to help make your event exclusive and as easy to plan as possible. The Fox Den at Briar Patch ------ Location: Middleburg, Va. Cost: $10,000 + tax Contact: Charlotte John 703 327 5911 This historical bed and breakfast has unlimited possibilities for today’s bride. On 47 acres of property dating back to 1805, the guests stay the weekend to enjoy family, friends, Virginia wines and mountain views. Rehearsal dinners, receptions and ceremonies can all be accommodated for groups up to 200 people (and your pets are welcome, too). Whether you choose to say “I do” outside or in, Briar Patch has several options to choose from. Dance the night away in the Fox Den, a spacious hall filled with white linen tables, floor to ceiling windows and plenty of room to mingle. Have your first kiss by the shaded trees along the property or choose to have your event poolside in the warmer season. Why we love it here: When you book your wedding here, you’re given access to it all and have the option of getting married at just about any spot on the property. The Pavilion at The Farm at Broad Run ------ Location: Broad Run, Va. Cost: $1,750 Contact: Michelle DeWitt 703 753 3548 Greenhouses, vegetable patches, fresh fruits and animals graze this 72-acre family-owned farm located just a short trip down a classic gravel driveway. At first glance, this may look like an unexpected place for a grandiose affair, but look again. The family recently opened “The Pavilion” to host events including weddings, which owner Michelle DeWitt said have often been over the top. The contrast between the relaxed and comfortable atmosphere of the farm mixed with an elegant white gown has been simply majestic here and word is spreading. Events are booking frequently and we’re not surprised. The Farm at Broad Run offers a solely outdoor wedding with a covered pavilion protecting a large, outdoor, artisan stonework kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a grill to allow your chosen caterers to complete a fantastic meal for your guests (and the option of eating produce right from the farm). Why we love it here: A newly built two-bed, two-bath farmhouse with a wrap-around porch and exquisite decor has been placed on the property for the convenience of the wedding party to relax and prepare before the main event. Whitehall Manor ------ Location: Bluemont, Va. Cost: $4,500 - $8,000 Contact: Douglas Armstrong (703) 948- 2999 Stepping in to Whitehall Manor is like stepping back in time. This mansion, built in 1790, was once occupied by our first president’s brother, John Augustine Washington, and survived the Civil War’s Battle of Snickersville. A catering company later purchased the property from dairy farmers in the 1990s and has since turned the home in to the ultimate wedding venue (and offering, of course, a gourmet meal for your guests). Brides are given access to the entire first floor of the mansion to prepare prior to the ceremony and to unwind during and after the reception, which takes place in the newly added pavilion built in 2005. This space holds 225 guests comfortably and boasts a large dance floor for those who choose to kick off their shoes and let their hair down after a bit of bubbly. Why we love it here: Your wedding photos will never fail with the mix of historical and modern architecture, green grassy pastures, large trees and views of nearby farms and mountains. The Stable at Bluemont Vineyard ------ Location: Bluemont, Va. Cost: $3,000 - $6,000 Contact: Debbie Zurschmeide Schoeb 540 554 2073 Off the beaten path and beyond the hustle and bustle you’ll find a vineyard hidden on top a hill with breathtaking panoramic views spanning as far as the Washington Monument. Event planners and coordinators specialize in making your day special and allow you to work with other vendors to perfect your dream wedding. The Stable is one of the largest event facilities in the county holding more than 200 people in a climate-controlled space with stamped cement floors, natural light and original wooden beams from when it was first built decades ago. Step outside the country doors to say your vows and step back in for cocktails on the patio and back in to The Stable for dinner and dancing wherever you choose. Why we love it here: Since I can’t mention the view again (or can I?), I must say the next best thing is that having a wedding on a vineyard means having a wedding with fresh and locally produced wines as well as farm fresh ingredients in all menu items. [gallery ids="100485,117295,117285,117277,117267,117258,117250,117241,117309,117233,117315,117225,117321,117217,117326,117303" nav="thumbs"]

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Paul Strand in Philadelphia

Two of the 20th century’s greatest photographers were born in 1890 and died in 1976: Man Ray and Paul Strand. Man Ray was a man of the avant-garde. His stone in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris reads (in English): “unconcerned but not indifferent.” Paul Strand could never be called unconcerned. He learned photography in his teens from social reformer Lewis Hine, made leftist films during the Depression and—distressed by the country’s feverish anti-Communism—moved permanently to France in 1950. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s new retrospective, curated by Peter Barberie, seeks to place Strand as much in the modernist camp as that mad scientist Man Ray. “Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography,” on view through Jan. 4, deepens our understanding of modernism as it traces Strand’s six-decade career. Two of Strand’s most famous images—“Wall Street, New York” of 1915, in which shadows stretch from tiny figures passing under the House of Morgan’s pharaonic facade; and “Blind Woman, New York” of 1916, a portrait of a peddler, her right eye half-shut, her left open and aimed farther left, the word BLIND on a sign on her chest—achieve a perfect balance of compositional power and social message. The image of the blind woman is one of eight striking portraits hung near some of Strand’s photographic experiments with cubism, also from 1916. “Abstraction, Bowls, Twin Lakes, Connecticut,” a composition of four ceramic bowls shot close up in soft focus, is as abstract as Strand’s work ever got. Photographer Alfred Stieglitz showed Strand’s work at 291, his Fifth Avenue gallery, and published it in his journal, “Camera Work.” Several paintings by other members of the Stieglitz circle—Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and Georgia O’Keeffe—are included in the show. (O’Keeffe, who married Stieglitz in 1924, was also a romantic interest of Strand’s. Stieglitz was more than 20 years her senior and Strand was three years her junior.) In 1922, Strand married Rebecca Salsbury and purchased a hand-cranked Akeley motion picture camera. Perhaps representing the two sides of the photographer’s aesthetic, five tight close-ups of each—woman and camera—are displayed on one wall. In the early 1930s, having separated from both his wife and his mentor Stieglitz, Strand moved to Mexico for two years, drawn by the socialist government and related artistic activity. He photographed people in town squares, among other subjects then dropped still photography to make films. One of the exhibition’s two screening rooms presents a nine-minute segment from “Redes,” his 1936 film about a fictional Mexican fishing village, alternating with a segment from “Native Land,” his documentary about union busting, released in 1942. Several galleries are devoted to Strand’s travels, which resulted in a number of collaborative “portraits of place.” Three that became books receive special attention: “Time in New England”; “Un Paese: Portrait of an Italian Village,” about Luzzara, the hometown of Cesare Zavattini, screenwriter of the Vittorio De Sica film “The Bicycle Thief”; and “Ghana: An African Portrait.” The three books, none still in print, have been digitized for browsing on computer kiosks. The last decades of Strand’s life were spent in France. He and his third wife, photographer Hazel Kingsbury, bought a house in Orgeval outside of Paris. The closing section of the exhibition shows photographs of the Strands in their garden and several of the still lifes of plants he grew there. “Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography” is one of several good reasons for a trip to Philadelphia, also the home of the Barnes Foundation, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art. Upcoming auctions at Freeman’s, the oldest American auction house, include Modern & Contemporary Works of Art (Nov. 2), Jewelry & Watches (Nov. 3), American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts (Nov. 13) and American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists (Dec. 7). Among the leading Philadelphia art galleries are Schwarz Gallery, next to Freeman’s on Chestnut Street, specializing in 19th- and early 20th-century paintings; Newman Galleries on Walnut Street, showing paintings by Eakins student Fred Wagner (Nov. 1-Dec. 31, reception Nov. 14); and contemporary gallery Locks Gallery on Washington Square, presenting “Thomas Chimes: The Body in Spirals” (Nov. 7-Dec. 13). [gallery ids="101892,136723" nav="thumbs"]

Lewisburg: Nestled in the Greenbrier Valley

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A History of Luxury The Greenbrier Resort

In the small community of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, nestled safely within the Allegheny Mountains, lies one of this country’s most longstanding and luxurious resorts. Since 1778, The Greenbrier has hosted distinguished guests from around the world, setting the standard for luxury accommodations nationwide, while continually reinventing itself. Once known by the Southern elite as the “Queen of the Watering Places,” this sprawling estate in the lush foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. With the very best of comfort and accommodations, spa treatments, leisure pursuits and world-class cuisine, The Greenbrier brings together all the luxuries of the world’s finest resorts with the distinct history and character of the region. Accommodations The wide variety of accommodations can facilitate any combination of guests, whether a couple on an intimate retreat or dozens of corporate employees on a not-so-business trip. With an endless variety cottages and suites, guests will find intimate single guest houses and seven-room suite, equipped with wood-burning fireplaces and private porches and patios overlooking the surrounding area. The staff’s attention to detail is impeccable, with no detail overlooked, ensuring an elegance that strikes the right balance between class and comfort. Leisure Once settled in, The Greenbrier offers enough activities to keep guests returning with every season. Once winter blankets the grounds in snow, you can explore the crisp outdoors in a horse-drawn sleigh ride or go ice-skating at the resort’s private skating rink. In the summertime, guests go kayaking, rafting, fishing or swimming. From bowling and croquet, to culinary demonstrations and the ancient sport of falconry, there is truly something for everyone. The highlight, however, is the resort’s collection of four 18-hole signature golf courses, all of which compliment the surrounding mountainous landscape. The Greenbrier mixes spectacular scenery and PGA Tour-tested challenges to golfers why they fell in love with the game. The championship courses—The Old White TPC, The Greenbrier, The Meadows and The Snead, a private resident's-only course—are skillfully designed to challenge and captivate golfers of every skill level. The resort also features a full-service clubhouse, award-winning golf shop and expert instruction by The Greenbrier Golf Academy. The resort’s 40,000 square-foot luxury spa is another signature offering, providing an elegant setting to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. Relax in a whirlpool bath or soak up the healing properties of the native sulphur waters. With their wealth of exclusive spa treatments, there are endless reasons to visit this award-winning spa. The Bunker at The Greenbrier While The Greenbrier itself is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast, the resort has long housed its own amazing secret of national significance. But after 30 years the secret is out. Carved deep into the mountainside beneath the resort’s West Virginia Wing is an emergency Cold War fallout shelter, once a top secret U.S. government relocation facility for Congress. The declassified Bunker at The Greenbrier is a must-see experience that takes you behind the scenes of a fascinating period in the history of the resort, as well as the country. Now open to anyone interested in reliving a legendary piece of history, Bunker tours provide a unique and in-depth look behind the hidden doors of an American epoch. In order to enhance the experience of the Bunker, The Greenbrier worked with the Virginia Historical Society on an on-site exhibition gallery, featuring artifacts and reproductions representing the security and communications area, dormitories, VIP lounges and medical clinic on top of old photos of the facility and a video on the history of the Cold War. Guests will learn about the groups who met there and enjoyed theme parties and dinners without ever realizing they were in a top-secret government facility designed to be the workplace for Congressional staff in the event of an emergency. And the event space is still open. If you’re looking for a nontraditional meeting space or event location, The Bunker at Greenbrier might just be the place. The Greenbrier Clinic Formed in 1948 by progressive business leaders, The Greenbrier Clinic is based on the philosophy that a healthy executive is the cornerstone of a healthy business. The Clinic’s founders reasoned that taking good care of company executives is a solid investment in the company’s future. Today, thousands of visitors come each year to combine a relaxing, luxurious holiday with the Clinic’s unparalleled diagnostic evaluation, care and unparalleled personal attention. Over the years, this sensible concept has proven itself with executive patients. And visitors to the Clinic still have ample time to enjoy all of the resort's luxurious amenities. But above all, The Greenbrier Clinic delivers the highest quality diagnostic health care. The Clinic's state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment assures maximum comfort and safety to patients. And a friendly relationship between doctors and patients is encouraged by the medical staff, fostering trust and enhancing personalized care. The Clinic's emphasis on preventive health counseling encourages healthy individuals to safeguard their most valuable asset: their wellbeing. [gallery ids="100270,107045,107041,107034,107038" nav="thumbs"]