Virginia is for Lovers (Of Wine!)

Why I have not written this post before now is unclear to me; however, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that I am part of the wine lover’s club. To be fair, I get it honestly from my father and his brothers. Some assembly of our family goes to the Dry Creek Valley Passport weekend every year. One uncle has a cellar that is so full, he actually tracks his wine with a spreadsheet. Every cabinet in my dad’s house opens a new assortment of bottles, some with a very scientific color coding system. (At one point my dad tried to use those round color-coding stickers to categorize his wines – ok for us to drink, a bit nicer so we should ask and those to be saved for special occasion. He didn’t bother trying to explain the system to us and now can’t even remember it himself, so clearly it works.)

Needless to say, it’s no surprise that I have a wine problem. And by problem I mean, I don’t know which bottle to drink next because there are too many to choose from. I’ll admit we’ve gone a little overboard – we have another case coming in November! – and I’ve been wondering how we are going to drink all this wine just the two of us, but then I remembered that my dad is coming for Thanksgiving …

To get to the point , one of the best parts about living in DC is being close to Virginia wine country. I know what you’re thinking, “Virginia has wine country?” Ok, if you’ve read this far, you have probably at least heard of Virginia wines, but may not realize that many are actually very good. Virginia has several different wine regions across the state and hundreds of wineries. Continue reading

Getting Lost

Recently Dave and I had the pleasure of spending time in Lost River, West Virginia with some friends who own a getaway in the mountains. We turned the three day Columbus weekend into four for a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of DC! After a couple conference calls on Friday morning (for Dave) we packed up the pups and our bags and headed west. Our plan was to beat the afternoon traffic, but we got on the road later than we hoped and it seemed everyone else had the same idea.

Jackie was unhappy about the traffic

Jackie was unhappy about the traffic

Finally we made it out of the Route 66 “parking lot” and made our first stop at Valerie Hill Vineyard. We love going wine tasting in Virginia and try to incorporate a new winery (or old favorite like Aspen Dale!) whenever we can. A Valerie Hill, tastings take place in the old brick manor house, with many different rooms to sit and enjoy. We bellied up to one of the tasting bars and finally relaxed while taking our first sips. While we did not purchase anything, I actually enjoyed their 2013 Chardonnay and normally I am a red girl!

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Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful

I semi-decided today that I’m not entirely a fan of Labor Day, simply because the pools close and someone set a rule that we can no longer wear white clothing and accessories. (Thankfully someone created “winter white” which is obviously appropriate.)  Otherwise, I can’t really complain about the holiday. Who doesn’t love a good three day weekend? And it leads directly into my favorite season – FALL!

Like last year, Dave and I went to his mom and sister’s house near New Hope, Pennsylvania for a nice relaxing weekend away from this town. We stopped on the way out to see a house in Northeast DC, and made pretty good time, arriving around 10:30 p.m. I was beat, so basically went straight to bed. It’s so quiet there that you can hear the crickets chirping through the window. Or maybe, it was the crazy cicadas humming. Regardless, it’s very soothing.

Saturday morning we went for a stroll and a jog along the Delaware River, one of Dave’s favorite things to do on trips home. Personally I love to see the different creatures along the way and look at the beautiful houses that line the banks.

A stroll and a jog along the Delaware River #nature #outdoors #fromwhereistand

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My Aggies started the season that day at 1p.m. ET, so we sidled up at a local tavern and cheered them on. During half-time we made our way home with a stop at the grocery store to pick up various goodies to grill for dinner. After the hot wings, steamers, meatloaf sandwich, fries and beer … I requested all veggies! (Confession: we made it back to the house and turned on the second half of the game, but I may or may not have passed out for the rest of it. What?! You would too if you had eaten that much!)

Sunday we took a long walk through the neighborhood with Daisy, then we lounged a bit to prepare for the shopping. Everywhere you go in that area, you are bound to find a good country store, antiques boutique, Christmas-all-year-round market or even a witch craft shop! We made our way to the center called Peddler’s Village, which has my favorite little French store, a great cookware shop and a wine tasting room, among many other great vendors. At Christmastime it is packed and fully lighted like a winter wonderland! This was my first time in the “off-season” and it did not disappoint. If you know anything about my Francophilia and really the reason I started this blog, you’d understand why I wanted everything at the French shop, but decided it best to wait until we get settled somewhere. We bought some strawberry-rhubarb preserves at Grandpa Hick’s and a bottle of wine from the Chaddsford Winery tasting room before stopping for a pint and a bowl of soup from Hart’s Tavern.

Then a great surprise happened! Dave informed me of the outlet mall across the street. Naturally I wanted to just “see what shops they had” before insisting that we stop for the Nine West outlet. I am truly in need of a shoe makeover because I’ve been terrible about replacing the worn out pairs. Luckily they were still open and I left with a new pair of black work pumps and a fun pair of red patent leather peep toe heels.

Sunday night we had a delicious gourmet meal at the historic Stockton Inn, circa 1710. I cleaned my plate of pecan-crusted scallops and red pepper Israeli couscous. Please note that was after a house salad and warm bread with butter, but before the fruit cobbler with ice cream. The walls inside our dining room had beautiful rural murals painted, and we could all just imagine how the antique fireplace would roar in the cold winter months. After a bit of research, I discovered that the Mural Dining Rooms (an official and fitting name!) are the original living quarters for the families that managed the ferry to cross the Delaware throughout the 1700’s. #TheMoreYouKnow

Not wanting the weekend to end, we decided that we’d take Monday morning and early afternoon for a nice long drive to be followed by a lunch at one of Dave’s high school haunts, Dilly’s. Mother Nature had alternate plans for us. Her plans were more along the lines of torrential downpour, closed roads and detours that led us to an unpaved path. Luckily Dave got us all home safely – shortly after the tire pressure warning lit up his dashboard. We spent some time checking each tire and eventually filling them all with more air, which thankfully worked! At that point we weren’t going back out, so we had some homemade sandwiches, fruit and chips with an intermission of flooding in the basement. (Yay, home life!) It was enough excitement for one day, so we decided to get on the road.

#laborday #drive #clouds #sunshine

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Instead of sitting in the monster traffic of I-95, we decided to make our way through Pennsylvania Dutch country, hitting up towns like Blue Ball, Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand. (No, I did not make those names up. See proof below.) Both routes would take about the same amount of time – five hours – but going this way enabled us to stop at the roadside stands for fresh produce and a fun shopping center called Kitchen Kettle Village.

It was everything I was hoping for and more! My dreams came true with fresh cheese, baked goods and creamy ice cream! We bought three different cheeses – habanero, horseradish and a hickory smoked cheddar – along with a loaf of white bread. And since no visit to Pennsylvania Dutch Country would be complete without a shoo-fly pie, I snagged one of those too. (Note: I had never tried it before, and can’t say that I will ever have it again.) Dave got a cinnamon-sugar pretzel and I was happy with a cookies and cream single scoop waffle cone.

What did you do for Labor Day? Hope you were able to enjoy the long weekend!