Be the Player at the Polo Match

With the summer season here, what better way to embrace the D.C. social scene than by attending a polo event? Never been? Well here is a quick how-to guide on breaking into the polo scene and becoming a polo-ite with ease and class. Origins and Rules of Polo Polo originated in Northern Persia around 600 BCE, but became the game we know today in Northern India in the 19th century. The word polo comes from the Indian word “pulu” which is the name of the wood from which the ball was made. Polo can be played either on a large grass field or in an enclosed area. A full game consists of six chukkas, or seven and a half minute long periods of play. Players score goals, located at opposite ends of the field, and after each goal, teams switch sides. The four players per team are designated by their jersey numbers. Player number one is offense and player two covers both offense and defense. Jersey number three is saved for the best player: the quarterback and the playmaker. Player four defends by keeping the ball up field with long, accurate hits. There are three-minute breaks between each chukka, and a five-minute halftime for divot stomping. Stomping Divots The best part about being a spectator at a polo match is that you get to participate and socialize with the players. During halftime, spectators get to stomp the chipped away pieces of turf back into the field. Players frequently join their spectators for divot stomping, taking time to entertain and mingle. Polo Fashion Summer fashion will follow you to the polo field. Base your outfit on a whimsical romantic flirting with a preppy style, and lots and lots of white. White linen shorts, white structured blazers, white crop dresses, white ruffle blouses… White is in! Show off your summer legs with some gold wedges; heels will only sink into the turf and wedges will keep you walking above the ground. To compliment the white, accessorize with leather and gold. Knee high riding style boots are always a classic, and gold statement jewelry will sparkle in the sun. To keep the sun out of your eyes and on the polo ponies, hats are a must; fedoras and dramatic floppy hats will get the job done. If you need some color in your fashion life, mix in a preppy color piece like a navy polo or a pastel pleated skirt. A great pair of sunglasses that compliment your face will complete your outfit. Happy Polo Hour Many polo-ites never leave their seat without their champagne flute, but there are more than just bubbles to tickle your nose on the sidelines. Mimosas and Bellini’s are a classic cocktail and a tasty alternative. Watermelon mojitos are breaking out in the summer happy hour scene as the new ‘it drink’: something fresh to keep you cool. However, nothing tops the Polo Cocktail: one ounce gin, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and one teaspoon of orange juice. This drink sends the message that you are a serious divot-stomping polo-it. Players and Ponies For the time in between the chukkas, chat about the important part of polo: the ponies and the players. Nicholas ‘Nic’ Roldan, grew up in the life of polo. His father played for the Sultan of Brunei in Southeast Asia. Nic is currently the captain of Prince Harry’s charity polo team Sentebale, and a model for Wihelmina Modeling Agency. According to the World Polo Tour Player Rankings, the current leading polo player is Juan Martin Nero from Argentina. His 2011 highlights include a U.S. Open Championship and Finalist at the USPA Gold Cup. Of course there is the beautiful Nacho Figueras, model and top ranked polo player. He plays on the Black Watch Polo Team and frequently models for Ralph Lauren’s Black Label. 2010’s American Polo Horse Associations top ranking pony was Dolfina Noruega, with winning performances in the U.S. Open, Pacific Coast Open and many other shows. D.C. Polo Great Meadows Polo Club is only an hour away and offers the perfect atmosphere for the up-and-coming polo-ite. Every Saturday night, weather pending, Great Meadows presents Twilight Polo, open to spectators to wine, dine, and enjoy an evening of polo. They also host weekly summer events such as Girls Night Out and Latin Dance Night. From lists of events to social memberships and even polo lessons, Capitol Polo Club is a great place to start on the polo scene. Located about an hour away from Georgetown, Capitol Polo sports games that members and public can attend. Great Meadows Polo Club: The Plains, VA, GreatMeadowPoloClub.com Capitol Polo Club: Poolsville, MD, CapitolPolo.com Polo Events These are some upcoming events in the D.C. area to start your polo summer off. Contact the Polo Club for more information about each event. Great Meadows Polo Club - Twilight Polo: Every Saturday Night - Capital Hospice Cup/College Night: June 18 - Disco Fever: June 25 - Military Appreciation Night: July 2 - Girls Night Out: July 9 - Hawaiian Beach Night: July 16 Capitol Polo Club - Commus Sky Polo Tournament: June 18-19 - 4 Goal Club Tournament: June 25-26 - BBQ & Fireworks: July 4 - Eastern Circuit Constitutional Cup: July 9-10 - USPA 2 Goal Master Cup: July 16-17 SRH [gallery ids="99999,106148" nav="thumbs"]

The Upperville Horse Show

When Colonel Richard Henry Dulany organized the first Upperville Show in 1853, the program listed two classes: one for colts, the other for fillies. 158 years later, the Upperville Colt and Horse Show spans seven days and includes over two thousand horse and rider combinations, 28 awards and eight competitive events. This year’s event kicks off on Monday, June 6, “Under The Oaks,” 40 miles west of Washington D.C. Since 1853, Grafton Farms has been the site of the oldest horse show in the United States. How it all Began Colonel Dulany had the idea to begin the first Upperville Horse Show after coming across an abandoned and struggling colt during the winter of 1853. Determined to encourage surrounding breeders to take better care of young fouls and breed better stock, Dulany hosted the first Upperville Horse Show in June of that year. The show garnered so many entries and interest that a sponsorship club was started with Colonel Dulany as the president. The Upperville Union Club published their first account of the Upperville Horse show in 1857 in The Southern Planter. By 1902, the organization was renamed the Upperville Colt and Horse Club and sponsored a two-day show in June of that year, expanding to include more classes, entries and events. In the years that followed, the Upperville Horse Show expanded over five days and included entries and riders from all over the country. Since then, the Virginia Horse Shows Association has voted Upperville the Horse Show of the Year, and its been designated as a World Championship Hunter Rider Show and selected as the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame’s Horse Show of the Year. Into The Present Whether you are an equestrian, breeder, exhibitor or spectator, this event showcases the best of the best, as they compete for highly-coveted titles and awards. The competition is fierce, with over two thousand riders and horses ranging from children on ponies to Olympic and World Cup riders and horses. Riders and horses are either scored or judged depending on the event. In a jumper competition, the main objective is to get the horse to jump over the jump without knocking it down, without concern for form or style while jumping. Grand prix show jumping, the highest level of show jumping, has become a popular and important spectator sport in the United States. Show jumping is also one of the few sports where men and women compete on equal levels, and range in age from 16 to 60. Horses in the hunter class are judged not only on their ability to get to the other side of the jump, but also on their ease and grace while completing the various obstacles, such as a farmer’s fence, gates, stone walls and posts. The main objective is for both the horse and rider to navigate all the obstacles willingly and effortlessly. Don’t Miss These Highlights! Here, we share our favorite events, which we anxiously await each year. Publisher Sonya Bernhardt anticipates the Ladies Sidesaddle Hunter Under Saddle event, which displays women donning old-fashioned Victorian garb as they elegantly perch sidesaddle on their beautifully-bred horses. One of the most formal classes in the event, these women are the epitome of class and grace that represents the Victorian Era. It takes place on Saturday, June 11. Evelyn Keyes, head of the In Country section, loves watching the Family Classes and the popular Piedmont Foxhounds invitational hack for the “silver foxes” of showing. The event is held “under the oaks” on Saturday, June 11, in the main ring in front of the grand stand. Daily admission to the show is $10.00 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Gates open at 8 a.m. daily. For special arrangements, entertainment, reserved parking, or box seat information, please call 540 687-5740 or, during the show, 540-592-3858 For a complete schedule of the seven-day show visit Upperville.com.

The National Sporting Library

Escape from the midday heat of the Upperville Horse Show and stop into the neighboring National Sporting Library. Founded by sporting enthusiasts George Ohrstrom and Alexander Mackay-Smith in 1954, the collection that started with 7,000 assorted volumes has grown to 17,000 meticulously categorized titles. The library is dedicated to preserving and sharing the literature, art and culture of horse and field sports. It houses extensive collections of 16th-21st century books and manuscripts on equitation, along with hunt diaries, scrapbooks and photo albums. Besides a healthy collection of first editions throughout, the rare book section houses the library’s oldest volume (on dueling, dating to the 1520s), along with an original manuscript penned by a young Theodore Roosevelt. The Library offers educational lectures, book-signings and film-screenings. Art exhibits include paintings and bronzes from rarely seen private collections and museums. Art from the Library's permanent collection is found throughout the Library, including eye-catching weathervanes from the estate of the late philanthropist Paul Mellon. Paul Mellon also donated the bronze Civil War Horse, a memorial on the NSL campus to the 1 1/2 million horses and mules that died in the Civil War. The Library’s current exhibition is Horses at Work and Play, which displays the Library’s collection of artifacts and antique toys. This exhibit is on display until June 30th. The Sporting Library is a historical treasure that is free and open to the public. For more information visit NSL.org The National Sporting Library has also received an extremely generous donation of $250,000 from Ronald M Bradley and fiancé Danielle Kazmier, both pictured in our Social Scene Section attending this year’s fundraiser in Washington D.C. The Library is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. [gallery ids="99831,99832" nav="thumbs"]

Middleburg’s National Sporting Library Shows Off in the Federal City

Horse and hunt country lovers traveled from as far as Middleburg, Va., as well as nearby Georgetown to the Kalorama townhouse of the Johnsons for a cocktail reception to benefit the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, May 19. The library's board chairman Manuel (Manley) Johnson and vice chairman Jacqueline Badger Mars served as event hosts. With its historic buildings and grounds, the Middleburg non-profit boasts the finest collection of books on horse and field sports in the world. "It is the largest collection of rare books in equine and fishing sports books," Johnson told the crowd, which included Tom McMillen, former U.S. representative from Maryland and retired NBA basketball player, Scott Wilson, Hector Alcade and Robin Phillips. The library holds a 1683 first edition of 'The Compleat Angler" along with essays on hunting from Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland and extensive photos of President John Kennedy in Middleburg. The National Sporting Library Gala is scheduled for October. [gallery ids="99924,99925,99926,99927" nav="thumbs"]

Wintry Weekends

Every year around late February, the air begins to swell with a certain potential. As the mornings go by, the accumulating whistles of tree sparrows echo like a symphony reaching a familiar crescendo. The slog of post-Christmas drudgery lies vaster in our wake than in our precession. Legs begin to twitch inadvertently beneath office desks. We have done our time cooped up in our beds, fighting the cold, not knowing when we will escape again. Winter is on its last leg. It’s time to get out. This year, unfortunately, there is still two feet of snow on the ground. With this surplus of residual snow, however, comes a unique opportunity for those itching for a relaxing weekend getaway. Pastoral bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels surround the D.C. area. The landscapes of these mountain and riverside resorts are still in a rare, delicate state of wintry serenity, while the weather has become warm enough to enjoy nearby attractions. With the leftover snow keeping most people at home, it is an ideal time to take advantage of countryside luxuries with extraordinary intimacy. The Shenandoah and Charlottesville Just a stone’s throw from Monticello proper, The Inn at Monticello is a five-acre bed and breakfast, and a convenient base of operations while exploring all that nearby Charlottesville has to offer. Just far enough outside the city to enjoy the rolling landscapes from your private porch or cottage, and down the street from a handful of vineyards, the inn is still only a 10-minute drive from the center of town. Once in Charlottesville, across the street from the UVA campus, visit the Corner. A stretch of coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores and nightspots frequented by the academic and local community, the Corner is a local watering hole, and a perfect place to enjoy a simple cup of coffee with a good book, grab dinner, or have a few drinks. Among the scenery, UVA’s historic chapel and the “Academical Village” are noteworthy sites that have been temporarily beautified by the snow. For a more inclusive package, the Boar’s Head Inn offers enough amenities and activities to help you recharge your batteries for a weekend without having to leave the premise. With four restaurants and an in-room dining option, guests can dine as casually as they please. A sports club and spa, complete with a dozen indoor tennis courts, allows guests to strap on sneakers and shorts despite the snow. Restaurants to check out around Charlottesville include The Ivy Inn Restaurant and Hamilton’s at First and Main. Producing cuisine inspired by seasonal and locally grown ingredients, The Ivy Inn offers classic American fare with modern twists, such as pumpkin ravioli or veal osso buco with sautéed local bok choy. At Hamilton’s at First and Main, inventive pairings such as roasted halibut stuffed with chèvre or crab cakes with lemon-basil aioli are the highlights of the menu. The Middle Piedmont Region When discussing luxury dining and accommodations in Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington garners the same reactions that one gets if mentioning Disney World to a four-year-old. The love child of renowned restaurateur Patrick O’Connell, a self-taught chef often accused of having “perfect taste” and a pioneer of the local, organic movement, The Inn at Little Washington is one of the most highly decorated restaurants and hotels in the country — and just about the only nationally lauded two-for-one. This time of year, O’Connell’s celebrated kitchen is honoring the tail end of black truffle season, one of O’Connell’s favorite occasions to have a bit of elegant fun. Expect such menu items as Maine Diver Scallops with leek purée, caramelized onions, and black truffle. As an additional, limited-time treat that comes out with the meal if you behave: black truffle popcorn with truffle oil, Parmesan, parsley, and a sprinkling of black truffle. “It sounds ridiculous,” says Rachel Hayden, marketing director for the inn, “but it’s insanely addictive.” The Middleton Inn, an award winning bed and breakfast just down the street from The Inn At Little Washington, sits on a knoll of a country estate with unparalleled views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy a four-course breakfast or a wine and cheese hour surrounded by bucolic landscapes and the crisp mountain air. Art galleries and quaint boutiques such as the Middle Street Gallery and R.H. Ballard make for great day shopping. While rusticating the winter weekends away, vineyards are ideal day trips. Linden Vineyards is a seamless compliment to low-key winter months, maintaining a philosophy of “quiet and calm.” A vineyard of considerable acclaim and prestige, the small-scale producer has earned a reputation as one of Virginia’s finest wineries — and likewise has had a large hand in opening the world’s eyes to the viticultural possibilities of Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Their chardonnays are regularly compared with California’s, while the variety of reds all have considerable aroma and full, rich flavors. Perfect to drink on the vineyard’s premise or in front of the fireplace later in the evening. The Narmada Winery is quite new to the area, and already creating quite a stir. Among a full offering of different varieties, their dessert wine was voted the best in Virginia in 2009. This time of year, while visitors are sparse, visitors have a chance for intimate tours with an up and coming vineyard. With the mountains still blanketed by a layer of soft, white snow, and streets clear enough for walking around town, now is a unique time to experience rare beauty in the Shenandoahs. Hot Springs Let’s be honest with each other. There might not be all that much in Hot Springs, Virginia (although George Washington National Forest is rather pretty). And, yes, it might be a little out of the way. But what Hot Springs does have is The Homestead. This is what matters, and it is worth the trip. Resting on 3,000 acres of Allegheny Mountain terrain, The Homestead is a luxury mountain resort that has been spoiling their guests since before the American Revolution. This National Historic Landmark of a retreat is ranked among the world’s finest spa destinations, and has enough activities to keep someone busy through the entirety of winter. There are a variety of suite accommodations from which to choose, including pet friendly rooms. Their world-class spa alone would nearly be worth the trip — even more so in these dragging winter months when skin begins to crave an escape from the dry, cold atmosphere. Revitalize the mind, body and spirit with a hydrotherapy treatment, and then, if the mood is right, go see a movie at the in-house theater or swim in the naturally heated indoor pool, play tennis on the indoor courts, go skiing, ice skating, bowling, snow tubing. To say the least, The Homestead understands how to make the most out of winter. With nine restaurants to choose from, guests can dine in almost any manner they please. Put on a your evening’s best to enjoy French American cuisine at 1766 Grille, or enjoy a poolside lunch wrapped in a beach towel with a view of the snowcapped mountains just outside the window. Spring is coming, and, as we stagger around slush puddles at intersections and flip up our collars to deflect renegade snow clumps falling from waning rooftops, most of us agree that it couldn’t get here sooner. Even still, life should be enjoyed in the here and now. With so many unique opportunities just hours away, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the intimacy and the solitude of the last weeks of winter. [gallery ids="99058,99059" nav="thumbs"]

Spring is for Equestrians

Driving southwest beyond the bustle of DC, the edges of the city begin to melt away into its suburbs where high-rise buildings are fewer and farther between and new condos and housing complexes spring up along the highway, accommodating residents of the nation’s expanding capital. Continue still further south and even those images of city living begin to fade. Low-lying fences of dry, stacked stone run along the twisting roadsides, separating the asphalt from the rolling country beyond. What could be taken as a picturesque scene from an English painting is actually Virginia’s Loudoun County, the heart of America’s Horse Country. The many stories that make up Loudoun’s long, rich history of equestrian life are housed in the National Sporting Library and Museum, where over 17,000 books dating back to the 16th century, as well as cycles of exhibitions, chart the county’s sporting traditions back to their roots. The current exhibit, on display through June 30, is “Horses at Work and Play,” which showcases literature and toys from the National Sporting Library’s collections and the renowned Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus collection. This fall a new wing adjoining the library’s old brick building will open. The renovated hall will be the home of American and European fine sporting art, celebrating horse culture and field sports with through artistic representations. Horse culture is also the life and blood of many shops in Loudoun, such as Middleburg’s Journeymen, a tack store and workshop creating custom-made leather goods such as chaps and saddles. It’s also the only place in town to get repairs and adjustments for your gear. The front of the store is home to a boutique where a tailor can outfit you with fitted suits in addition to riding attire. Punkin Lee, the owner of the store whose strong hands and piercing eyes are at odds with her unique name, has been working with leather as the head of Journeymen for the past 34 years. A Middleburg native, Lee, grew up around horses, hunting and showing throughout her youth. At one time her grandmother’s barn was even the stomping ground for General George S. Patton’s horses, she said. “It’s the industry here,” Lee said. “Annapolis has boats, we have horses.” Having made every repair from a camel saddle to handmade leather boots for a dog, Lee stresses that the quality of her work is what keeps her customers from Middleburg and around the world coming back to her store. Pieces of Lee’s world-class gear have even made their way to the Olympics. For the past 157 years, Loudoun residents and horse enthusiasts from across the world gather in Upperville for the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, the oldest horse show in the U.S. featuring events from children’s competitions to Olympic-level riders and horses. June 6 through 12, the show will enter its 158th season at The Oaks, the event’s beautiful, grass-covered showgrounds nestled in Loudoun’s rolling foothills. For just $10 per person, visitors can watch a packed schedule of daily events with competitions for hunters, jumpers and breeders. Visit Upperville.com for more information. On May 7, about 50,000 people will travel to Great Meadow in The Plains region of Loudoun for the 86th annual Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase. The day’s six hurdle and timber horse races as well as its Jack Russell Terrier races are famous nationwide, and draw countless vendors, tents and tailgaters. The spectators will also have a chance to compete in the hat contest. Ladies sporting the biggest and best derby hats will be judged in the afternoon on Members Hill. To learn more about the steeplechase, go to VaGoldCup.com. Another tradition in Loudoun County is the Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour hosted by Trinity Episcopal Church. This self-driven auto tour will enter its 52nd year the weekend of May 28, when drivers will tour a circuit of Upperville, Middleburg and The Plains, visiting the areas thoroughbred breeding farms, show hunger barns, fox hunting barns and country estates. Call 540.592.3408 or visit HuntCountryStableTour.org for more information and tickets. But riding in Loudoun County isn’t just for equestrian addicts and professionals. It’s a part of life for everyone, including visitors and first-timers. The area abounds with stables and fields where just about anyone can learn to ride. At the southern tip of Loudon, Aldie Dam Stable occupies more than 450 acres of land and offers lessons and trail rides for riders with all levels of experience. Call 540.931.8779 to find out more. Although Loudoun’s title of Horse Country is rich in history and tradition, the area also holds another prestigious title: Wine Country. More than 54 wineries are scattered throughout the area, their presence marked by the sprawling vineyards interspersed among the farms and grazing fields. The wineries are grouped into five clusters: the Loudoun Heights Cluster, the Waterford Cluster, the Potomac Cluster, the Mosby Cluster and the Harmony Cluster. This arrangement, in addition to the long, beautiful country roads, makes touring the vineyards an incredibly relaxing experience. These picture-perfect venues are wonderful settings to enjoy the slow pace of the countryside while sampling some of Virginia’s best wines. [gallery ids="99655,105340,105336,105334" nav="thumbs"]

Donald Trump Invests in Wine Country

Vineyards conjure images of grandeur: rolling hills of grape vines, lavish dinner parties at million dollar homes, a sort of bohemian wealth and influence. Sometimes though, it can come to a roaring halt when those same vineyards that supply the grandeur fail in a way Mother Nature could have predicted. Patricia Kluge, famed socialite who married rich, divorced nine years later and settled for the Charlottesville Mansion and nearly $1 million a year and then remarried, is again under fire after her $3 million house foreclosed this month. In February, Albermarle, a 200-acre and 45-room estate built by her late husband, John W. Kluge, was repossessed by creditor Bank of America for $15.3 million. It all started when Kluge established Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard on 960 acres in Charlottesville. She took out $65 million in loans to expand wine production and to build luxury homes on half the land. Then the bottom dropped out and she found that she could only sell half of what they anticipated. She defaulted on $35 million in loans. Over the past three years, Kluge lost Albermarle (originally valued at $100 million, now on the market for $16 million), $15.1 million worth of jewelry, and plenty of art and furniture to pay her debt and then the winery. On April 7 billionaire Donald Trump bought half of the land, including the winery, for $6.21 million, the other half going to Loudoun developer Sal Cangiano for $1.2 million. Trump told the Washington Post he sees the purchase as a great real estate deal, but not as an opportunity to continue the great wine making of Kluge. “I’m really interested in good real estate, not so much in wine,” he said. Trump is also interested in Albermarle, for which they hold the First Right of Refusal, though general counsel for the Trump Organization Jason D. Greenblatt told Forbes, "Ultimately we'd like to buy the home, but the bank has an unrealistic expectation for the purchase price.” Whatever the outcome of the land, Trump's made it clear that he wants Kluge to stay on in some capacity at the vineyards, though there's been speculation about a possible golf course. Kluge will no longer own her 960 acres of land, two homes or a reputation as a wine maker.

The Romance and Wonder of Keswick Hall

Coming up the winding driveway, just across the railroad track and beyond a horse pasture, I was greeted by a small vineyard and a grand, three-story resort house. The sun was setting just over the Spanish tile roof and the Southwest Mountains lay stoically in the distance along an endless, green golf course. I walked into the front doors of Keswick Hall and was greeted by the hum of intimate conversations, the crackling of a wood fire and the clinking of glasses in a wide, open parlor. The parlor was warmly lit, elegant and modest, with a tin of warm cider sitting on heated bricks by the entrance. In front of the fire, couples were reading, talking, playing chess, enjoying drinks. It was just before dinnertime. This was the definition of a romantic retreat. Sitting on 600 acres, this sprawling country estate in the lush foothills of Keswick, Virginia is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. With the very best of comfort and accommodations, couples spa treatments, exceptional wines both local and international, and world-class cuisine, Keswick Hall brings together all the luxuries of the world’s finest resorts with the distinct character of the Virginia region. Thomas Jefferson called this area of country the “Eden of the United States,” and Keswick Hall holds true to this claim, offering the most sinfully delicious experiences you and your better half will have this side of the Atlantic. The accommodations are worth the trip itself. The rooms are bright and thoughtfully furnished, the wide, soft beds entice even the well rested, and a pouch of aromatic bath salts sit by the tub. The windows open to pastoral vistas on all sides. A plate of gourmet cheeses and a bottle of house wine await new visitors with a personal note from the staff. These are perhaps small details, but the intricate cares taken by the resort add up. It is this very attention to detail, this individualizing of each guest that makes Keswick stand out. You are not just another guest at Keswick, but a valued member of the family for the duration of your stay. “There’s a very comfortable beauty about Keswick,” says Patricia Castelli, Keswick Hall’s resident historian. “There’s an incredible sense of elegance, and it’s also so comfortable. It strikes the right balance, which is what makes people so astounded by it.” And Keswick has surely astounded plenty of guests— Condé Nast deemed them the number one small resort in the country in 2010. Keswick feels so intimate because it’s a very real part of its surrounding community. “The estate has been here for 100 years,” says Castelli, “and its history ads weight to its authenticity. You’re discovering an area rather than just coming to a hotel—and it’s such an outstanding place to discover. A lot of people don’t know we exist, and after they visit they wonder why they didn’t know about us before.” The grounds offer a wide range of activities, from exploring the vineyards to fishing, to even archery. But the highlight is the Arnold Palmer Signature 18-hole golf course, which compliments the landscape as if it is a natural part of the mountain range. The course is an Autobon certified sanctuary, maintaining strict standards of resources and limiting pesticides. Keswick wants the course and the estate to be as agreeable to wildlife as possible, and they go well out of their way to make the range as environmentally friendly as it is beautiful. Meanwhile, in the kitchen of Keswick’s Fossett’s Restaurant, Executive Chef Dean Maupin brings together the bounty of the local farmland with effusive vision and international inspiration to create frighteningly delicious cuisine. The food is delicate and elegant without being fussy. During the harvest months, most of the produce comes from the estate’s garden, run by the Chef himself. The menu is seasonal and changes frequently, but during the winter months you can expect such offerings as smoked trout with avocado and apple, beet salad with citrus vinaigrette and olives, pear and pecorino ravioli, pappardelle with braised lamb shoulder and tapenade, duck breast with truffle risotto and Madeira jus, or parsnip quiche with sage, fontina and thick, fresh bacon. The food is, quite simply, as good as food gets. Each ingredient is played to its absolute perfection, each dish is perfectly balanced, and the kitchen keeps in touch with its environment, seasonally and locally. While Keswick certainly offers the best of all general amenities—a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, billiards, a library, golf, tennis, horseback riding, personal and couples massage sessions, a world class wine cellar—this is all only the surface of Keswick’s allure. Keswick Hall shines not because it allows you to escape from the surrounding area, but because it engrosses you in it, reminding you of the beauty and richness of the Virginia homeland. It invites guests to fall in love with its character, through the landscape, the food, the activities, and the memories you will surely create. There is a gentle, serene beauty about the Virginia countryside, one that is perfectly tailored for a couple looking for a quiet and intimate experience. Keswick Hall is a quiet pinnacle of romance and relaxation, and now is the perfect time of year to fall into its warm, generous arms. For more information, visit Keswick.com [gallery ids="99595,105014,105021,105018" nav="thumbs"]

My life on horseback

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “A polo handicap is a passport to the world.” In my opinion, it is a passport to life. I was born in Stratford upon Avon, which is in the Warwickshire countryside. I sat on my first horse at 18 months old and took my first riding lesson at the age of six. Little did my parents suspect that buying me my first pony at age eight would lead me to what I am now — a polo player. My pony and I learned to compete together in gymkhana, jumping, and cross country. I even tried a little dressage. But the day I went to watch a polo match with a friend I knew I had to play. I took one lesson, and I was hooked. Polo is like life — although it’s a team sport, it’s ultimately down to you. You get up. You compete. You miss shots. You hit great ones. You sometimes fall off, but you rise and go on. At that time, I was working for a U.K. company as a sales and marketing executive. They wanted me to open their Washington DC office. I first asked if there was a polo club before I said yes. I met my husband playing arena polo on a freezing January night. I knew he was my type of man — a polo addict. My husband and I now live on a horse farm with our polo ponies, in Virginia. Our team, Los Tigres, plays in local leagues during the summer. In the winter we travel to play polo in places like Zambia, England, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Dubai, and Jamaica. [gallery ids="99200,103424" nav="thumbs"]

Plans Underway for 13th Taste of Rappahannock

Plans are underway for Headwaters Foundation’s 13th Annual Taste of Rappahannock, widely considered one of the county’s most popular fundraising events. This year’s event, which will be held at Belle Meade Schoolhouse on Sept.11, beginning at 6 p.m., promises to be an exciting evening. “We’ve hired Red Apple Auctions of Alexandria to help us with both the silent and live auctions, and they have some great new ideas that we are implementing,” said Toni Egger, executive director for Headwaters. Nearly 50 one-of-a-kind items will be auctioned. Already on the bidding list and sure to cause competitive bidding are a week at Le Silence, a charming, five-bedroom farmhouse in the scenic countryside of Burgundy, France, a trip to Cancun and a theater weekend in Washington, D.C. Guests may bid on other experiences, such as a helicopter ride and accompanying gourmet picnic, a cooking workshop and dinner with well known chef and writer Hi Soo Hepinstall, a behind-the-scenes tour and tasting at Copper Fox Distillery, original art from a number of Rappahannock County’s most accomplished artists, and more. Rappahannock County’s students have always been the primary beneficiaries of the Taste, and this year, more than ever, they will be a part of this time-honored event. Students will be involved in every aspect of the evening, from greeting and chatting with guests to serving hors d’oeuvres to helping prepare and serve a wide selection of dishes of locally sourced foods. A musical ensemble from Rappahannock High School will provide live background music. During the formal dinner program, one student will share how his experience with Headwaters has made a difference in his life. Funds raised during the annual Taste of Rappahannock are crucial to underwriting the enrichment programs offered to students by Headwaters throughout the year. This year’s “Challenge” will, in fact, be a challenge — thanks to generous donations by Rappahannock resident Mitzi Young and the late Took Crowell — and should generate significant contributions. High level challenge donors will be honored with a champagne reception. The funds raised this year are more important than ever, as Headwaters looks to expand its outreach efforts. In addition to supporting its robust, long-lived programs, including Farm-to-Table, Starfish Mentoring,, and Next Step, and its supportive teacher mini-grants and complimentary staff development efforts, funds are needed to develop new programs. “Rappahannock County has a new school administration with new ideas and programs they will want to launch. We want to be ready and able to help,” Egger said. “We would like to create an opportunity fund so that we can respond to developing needs and ideas for programs at all levels of school.” In the planning stage is an after-school program for elementary school children. Egger said that a survey will be sent in August to elementary school-age children and their parents. “We want to learn from the parents and students what they would like to see in an after-school program before we build it and will incorporate their thoughts and suggestions,” Egger said. “We hope to start such a program in January.” She credits Headwaters volunteer Philip Strange for outlining a proposal for the effort. Demand for tickets this year will likely be greater than ever, in part because of advertising support in Flavor magazine, which reaches some 50,000 people throughout the region, including D.C., Maryland and northern and central Virginia. Details of this year’s Taste are online at Headwaters Foundation’s Web site, www.headwatersfdn.org. Event Co-Chairs Cheri Woodard, Terri Lehman, and Ashleigh Cannon Sharp said that invitations to the 13th Annual Taste of Rappahannock were sent out in early August. Tickets are $150 for individuals. Patron tables of 10 are $2000. Sponsored tables are $1200 and include two tickets to the event. No doubt, the event will sell out as soon as invitations reach the mailbox. To participate, e-mail your name and address to Toni Egger at director@headwatersfdn.org or call Toni at 540-987-3322. Tickets are $150 for individuals and tables may be sponsored. Event sponsorships are also available. The Grand Prize: One week at Le Silence, a charming five bedroom farm house in central Burgundy’s Parc Naturel Régional du Morvan. The property, originally part of the famous Manoir de Ruères, is situated in the quiet hamlet of that name midway among the historic cities of Avallon, Saulieu and Vézelay. Within easy driving distance, one may find the renowned wine regions of the Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, Côte d’Or and Chablis, and somewhat further afield, Beaujolais and Sancerre. Several of the world’s greatest restaurants are within a half an hour, including Marc Meneau’s L’Espérance and the late Bernard Loiseau’s Côte d’Or; and smaller but superb establishments abound nearby. Though 220km from Paris, Le Silence is connected by a near-by major auto route (circa 3 hours driving time), and for those wishing a long day or two in Paris, by a high speed train from nearby Montbard deposits you at the Gare de Lyon in one hour and one minute. The immediate environs of the house boast many of the poignant monuments to the World War II French Resistance, and the region is dotted with memorials to brave Americans and Britons who perished supporting them. The Musée de la Résistance in nearby Saint-Brisson is especially moving. The house itself, which has been in the Wimbush family for nearly 30 years, sits on four hectares of wooded farmland. It has been substantially modernized and is fully equipped. For local color, fine food and wine, history and culture, and the upmost tranquility, Le Silence is hard to match. This is a unique opportunity for one or several couples, or a larger extended family. Bidding starts at $5,000 (for use of the house only; does not include travel). [gallery ids="99190,103304,103307" nav="thumbs"]