Month: February 2016

Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Virginia is for Wine Lovers!

Virginia is for Wine Lovers! The landscape and climate of Virginia offers countless choice sites for vineyards. Each of the state’s main regions boast vineyards and wineries. Given Virginia’s varied grape-growing sites with ideal soil conditions, fine wines now come from all over the state.   Spectacular landscapes, picturesque vineyards and fascinating people make up Virginia’s wine industry. Whichever direction you travel, you’ll experience world-class wines, and the realization of a dream shared by many.”   When you uncork a bottle of Virginia wine, you’re tasting not only the uncommon flavors of Viognier, Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot, but also how those grapes grew in one of Virginia’s distinct soils and climates across the state.   Seven American Viticultural Areas are in Virginia. These grape-growing regions are defined by geographic features that influence the wines they produce.”   Jamestown settlers had such hopes that Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire that in 1619 they signed into law a requirement for each male settler to plant and tend at least ten grape vines. Little came of it. Every effort to grow vinifera, or vines of European origin, met with failure from an unknown pest, Phylloxera as well as diseases in a new environment. The booming tobacco trade diluted British interest in the possibilities of American wine. Americans themselves lost interest. While fine wine could be had only from Europe, cider, whiskey, beer and brandy were plentiful.   In hopes of one day realizing the promise of fine Virginia wines, Thomas Jefferson cultivated European grapes for more than 30 years. His experiments at Monticello vineyards never produced a single bottle of wine. He wasn’t alone in trying. After 11 years of efforts at Mount Vernon, George Washington, too, had nothing to show for it.   In…

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Business Profile

Windsor of Old Town – Celebrating 35 Years!

By Bob Tagert   Windsor of Old Town – Celebrating 35 Years! In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Old Town Alexandria was a completely different place. Although it had a quaint feeling about it, the town was nowhere near the destination spot it is now. Franco Landini ran a restaurant called Pelicano that was located at 100 King Street; Tony Gee’s Snack Bar was located where Pop’s Ice cream is now. Bugsy’s was a restaurant called Maison de Crepes, Patty Chappalear had the Haggen Dazs store where part of Landini’s restaurant is and Bullfeathers had just taken over where the Lobster Shed was which today is Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant and Bar. It would be a few more years before Murphy’s Irish Pub would open west of Washington Street. In the 100 block of South Union Street was a business called Gibson Girl which was run by Bill and Shelia (can’t recall last name). They liked the town and encouraged their friend, Donna Windsor, to come to Old Town. Donna had a salon near Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland, but decided to check it out. In 1981 Donna relocated to Old Town Alexandria and has been a fixture here for 35 years. Windsor of Old Town opened with 8 chairs on the first floor. Luckily for Donna, her new store is about 3 steps above the sidewalk which has allowed her to dodge any damage from the occasional “flood” we see here. It isn’t really a flood but rather a combination of high tide, rain up river and wind that makes the Potomac River back up through the water mains and fill the streets. Donna wanted to “create an atmosphere that would nurture our stylists in their work and success here. I think it required being present and open to innovative…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Mini Love!

By Jimmy Deaton Ahhh……It’s February and time for old Cupid to make his presence known once again. Of course a majority of guys will fall on the old standard of a dozen cut roses to surprise their better half, but I found something that outshines a dozen red tips any day of the week. And what may this be you ask….? Miniature roses. I came across these about 3 years ago when I was panicking on where I was going to score a beautiful dozen roses for Angie. Sitting in the garden center were about 15 miniature roses that I stumbled upon and the little light bulb went off in my head. Hey! Why give a bunch of roses that will be headed to the trash can in a week or two when a rose bush – even a mini one – can show your love 24/7 year round.   Miniature Rose Care Basics   PLACEMENT: Miniature roses should get five to six hours of direct sun from a southern or western facing window daily. Turning the plant from time to time will encourage even growth. As the miniature rose plant needs consistent watering, a kitchen or sunny bathroom location near a water faucet is helpful. LIGHT: At least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. A west- or south-facing window provides sufficient light for the miniature rose. That said, because miniature roses do well so outside, many folks like to put their roses on their patios many months of the year. TEMPERATURE: Potted roses can live outside year round up to Zone 5 where it reaches -20° in winter. In zones 1-4, where winter temperatures reach -40°, miniature roses must move inside in fall. Indoor potted roses do well in temperatures that range between 60° at night and 70° during…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Dental Care for Your Pets

By Sarah Liu and Carolyn Cockroft   Dental Care for Your Pets   Proper dental care prevents major disease. While most conscientious owners provide their pets with healthy diets and grooming, as well annual visits to the veterinarian to keep vaccines up-to-date, many are not aware of the importance of dental care. Studies by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) reveal that nearly two-thirds of pet owners overlook the dental care recommended by veterinarians. Yet diseases of the oral cavity, if left untreated, are often painful and can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), research shows that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats will show some kind of gum disease by the age of three. In fact, one of the most common maladies seen by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Hospital (AAH) staff is dental disease. “Many pets have multiple diseased teeth,” says Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of AAH. “Pets with dental disease are often in severe pain—imagine having not just one toothache, but many.” Periodontal (gum) disease starts with early-stage gingivitis, or plaque buildup that gradually causes inflammation below the gum line and can be very painful for your pet. If left untreated, an advanced stage of periodontitis can cause damage to the jawbone and soft tissue around the teeth and eventually lead to loss of teeth. Even worse, the bacteria generated by this disease can spread throughout the bloodstream into the internal organs. To prevent the onset of these diseases in your pet, include three essential steps in your pet’s dental hygiene: Practice regular at-home dental care. The AAHA advises to check your pet’s teeth and gums for signs of discolored teeth; swollen, red, or…

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Events, Pets, Places, & Things

February King Street Cats Calendar

King Street Cats Adoption Calendar for February 2016     For details please see our Website:   Or contact us via email at:   King Street Cats 25 Dove Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 Every Saturday and Sunday from 1.30pm-4.30pm   Pro Feed Bradlee Shopping Center, 3690 King St, Alexandria, VA 22302 Every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-4pm   Petco Unleashed 1101 S Joyce St, Arlington, VA 22202 Saturday, February 6 from 1pm-4pm Sunday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21 from 1pm-4pm   The Dog Park 705 King Street, Alexandria, VA22314 Saturday, February 13 1pm-4pm   Indy & Ally 321 S Washington St Alexandria, VA 22314 Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February28   King Street Cats is looking for foster homes! You provide the spare room and TLC and we can provide food, litter and all vetting. Please email for our Kitten Fostering FAQ at:

Arts & Entertainment, Events, Events

February Alexandria Events

Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday with Events Throughout February   Thousands will join in the revelry for the 284th anniversary of George Washington’s birth in his hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. The city celebrates the General’s birthday throughout the month of February with more than a dozen festive events, including the George Washington Birthday Parade, a Cherry Challenge among Alexandria’s finest restaurants, free admission to historic sites, popular walking tours, 18th-century dance classes, and a 10K and 2K Fun Run. Alexandria is a “best of” when it comes to the spectrum of sites and special events associated with General Washington. With George Washington’s Mount Vernon just eight miles south of historic Old Town, more than 140 locations in present-day Alexandria are associated with the nation’s first president, who conducted business, gathered with friends, worshiped, and even owned a townhouse in the city. PARADE George Washington Birthday Parade– February 15, 2016, 1-3 p.m. The nation’s largest George Washington Birthday parade marches a one-mile route through the streets of Old Town Alexandria. With nearly 3,500 participants, this community parade honors one of the city’s favorite sons. FREE.   MORE EVENTS Cherry Challenge– January 28- February 11, 2016 In honor of George Washington’s birthday, participating restaurants will create unique, cherry-centric dishes in celebration of one of the most cherished legends surrounding our first president. This year features dishes from over 50 eateries such as prior participants Chadwick’s, Mount Vernon Inn, and Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub. Patrons rate their favorite dishes and winners are given special recognition at the George Washington Birthday Parade. A “Frequent Cherry Diner Award” will go to the customer who buys and rates the greatest number of Cherry Challenge entries. 18th Century Dance Classes –January 28, February 4 and 11, 2016, 7:30-9:30 p.m. In preparation for the Birthnight Ball on February 13,…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes

By Bob Tagert I am writing this on January 29th. One week ago the Blizzard of 2016 fell upon us. I was stuck here for two and a half days with only one bottle of wine. Snow, cold and 30 knot winds were the norm. Next week the temps are predicted to be in the low to middle 60’s…what is going on? Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to see the temperatures of the last two years return, but I am not quite ready to de-winterize my sailboat. A bit of spring in the middle of winter is nice, but tends to spoil me. Congratulations to our friends Caroline and Bill Ross on receiving the award for best new mid-size business from the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce. It was only two years ago that the couple opened River Bend Bistro in the Hollin Hall Shopping Center. Good job Guys! It is Valentine’s Day this month so remember to take your honey to one of the great restaurants that you see in this publication and don’t forget about the nation’s largest George Washington Birthday parade. It will take place in Old Town Alexandria on February 15th…bring the kids. Sarah Becker takes a look at Charles Darwin who was born this month in 1809 in the History column, while Doug Coleman brings the Civil War to the banks of the Potomac in Civil Discourse. Jeff McCord once again connects our area with the Caribbean through the sails of the Schooner Vigilant in the Caribbean Connection. This months’ restaurant review features the Blackwall Hitch. This is a beautiful and welcome addition to the Old Town waterfront. Congratulations go out to our friend Donna Windsor and her son Stephen on 35 years of business at Windsor of Old Town. When I…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

West Virginia and the New River Gorge

By Bob Tagert   West Virginia and the New River Gorge     In December of last year we decided to get out of town for the Christmas holiday. We had an invitation from River Expeditions to stay at one of their luxury cabins for December 24 through the 26th near the New and Gauley Rivers and the town of Fayetteville, WV. Originally thinking this would be an opportunity to experience snow and the beauty of winter in the mountains, we dug out the winter gear, but as late December approached we realized the weather forecast was calling more for shorts and a sweater. Leaving around 11 am on December 24, I headed down Interstate 95 toward Fredericksburg. I had convinced myself that all traffic had left days earlier…I was wrong. It took us two hours to cover the 47 miles from Alexandria to Fredericksburg. From Fredericksburg I took Route 3 west to Route 29 south to Interstate 64 near Charlottesville. I took I-64 west until it joined I-81 south and then I-64 west in Lexington, VA. As we exited I-81 we left the bulk of the traffic behind and entered the fog, which would be our companion until we reached our destination. Upon our arrival at the River Expeditions compound we were still hampered by the fog. The compound was deserted and it took us at least half an hour to figure out where the cabin was located. We finally found it and indeed they had left the light on. We quickly unloaded and I cracked open a bottle of Wasmund’s Single Malt Whiskey and retired to the porch with a cigar. The temps were in the mid 60’s on this overcast night and the rocking chair made for a wonderful way to unwind from the drive. The cabin…

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Dining Out, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

February Dining at the Gaylord

February Dining at the Gaylord Back by popular demand, Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center’s executive chefs offer delicious February dining experiences ranging from a romantic dinner for two to an exciting big game day buffet. Experience the ultimate Big Game Football Party at National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill on February 7 at 5 p.m. The party will feature an all-you-can-eat buffet including burgers, wings, nachos, shrimp and more. Draft beer and beer bucket specials will also be available at the event. Attendees can view the kick off on the big screen, with the restaurants 36 foot high definition video wall. Cost is $49* per person and tickets must be pre-purchased. Visit or call 301-965-4000. Couples in search of a romantic evening meal can visit the hotel’s signature restaurant, Old Hickory Steakhouse, on February 12, 13 and 14. The award-winning steakhouse will offer a pre-fixe dinner menu featuring house favorites including its premium 8 ounce, 1855 Black Angus filet, Chesapeake Bay oysters, and chocolate covered strawberries in honor of Valentine’s Day. Named one of the most romantic restaurants in the capital region, guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the Potomac River as they dine. The dinner costs $139* per couple and reservations are encouraged. *tax and gratuity not included  

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Snowzilla at the Harbor!

By Lani Gering Snowzilla at the Harbor! As I write this at the last minute – literally a few hours before we go to press – the snow from “snowzilla” is finally starting to melt away and we are looking at three days or more of 60 degree weather. It has been a very strange winter so far with Christmas day temps in the 70’s and the below freezing temps we experienced last week. I am a Wyoming native and we have some pretty whacky weather there as well but I thought I had moved somewhere where it would be more predictable. This snow storm was my first at the Harbor. The last really big snow storm -“snowmaggedon” in 2010 – found me living in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria where I had a driveway and a decent amount of sidewalk that had to be shoveled. To be honest, I actually emailed my old neighbor and snow shoveling expert Pam to tell her I was going to miss shoveling snow with her. Well……after looking at several Facebook posts from the old neighborhood, I decided I really was much happier sitting in my cracker box condo and letting the maintenance people worry about the drifts that were piling up all around the building. Also knowing that my vehicle was all snow and frost free in the heated parking in the building was a huge plus. While condo living is a little more civilized than living in a single family home (amenities like the roof top pool, etc.) it also comes with a bunch of “rules” – except one! From the photos accompanying this column you can tell that I did get quite an accumulation of snow on my north facing balcony. I so wanted to go out and shovel that…

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