By Bob Tagert
Spring Time In The Mountains!
With the beautiful warm weather we have had this past month, now is a good time to take a drive to the mountains. Hit the road, roll the windows down and enjoy the fresh air. There is much to do as you draw closer to the Blue Ridge. Come along with me and I will take you to some of my favorite places.
The best part of driving to the mountains is getting on to the beautiful back-country roads. Unfortunately, to get to these roads we have to get past the interstate…so let’s get started. My first stop will be Culpeper, Virginia. The best way to get there is to take I-95 south to Fredericksburg and then Route 3 to Culpeper. Check the traffic on 95, as it is always bad. After you leave Fredericksburg behind, you will begin to encounter open fields where the grass is getting a little bit greener very day. Before you get to Culpeper you will come to Old House Vineyard and a great place to stop after your 90- minute drive. Owner Pat Kearney has put a lot of effort in this old farm that he purchased in 1988. Have a sip of wine and then continue to Culpeper.
The Historic District of Culpeper makes it seem like a small town, only a few blocks long, but the rest of the town is spread out. The Historic District has some fabulous shops and a collection of restaurants to rival anywhere. Stop in to Foti’s restaurant for a memorable meal. Say hi to owners Frank and his wife Sue. One block off of Davis Street you will find the beautiful Piedmont Steakhouse, a great place to spend an hour. There are a number of shops along Davis Street and they are all different. What sets these shops apart is that they all have their own identity. Check out the full- page ad for Culpeper in this issue and be sure to attend their “Gnarly Hops & Barley Fest” the end of April.
Take Route 522 west toward the mountains. After leaving Culpeper you will begin to enter the foothills. The traffic will all but disappear and you will feel your heart rate slow. After a thirty minute drive you will enter the one stop sign town of Sperryville (there are no traffic lights in Rappahannock County). Sperryville is a very small town with a lot of enterprising people. The Thornton River Grill is a great restaurant and caddy-corner to the restaurant is Hopkins Ordinary, an extraordinary B&B. Owners Kevin and Sherry took Kevin’s beer making hobby one step higher to brewing commercially. Here you will find the Ale Works and about 5 specially crafted beers.
If you feel like stretching your legs, there is a nine-hole golf course in town. The course will celebrate its second year open to the public. The Thornton River flows through the middle of town and if you follow it downstream you will come to the Copper Fox complex which is dominated b the Copper Fox Distillery. Here they make Copper Fox Rye and Wasmunds Single Malt American Whiskey. This is just about the only distillery in America that hand malts their barley. Tours and tastings are available. In this part of town you will also find Copper Fox Antiques, Pen Druid brewery as well as a few other specialty shops.
About a mile out of Sperryville you will find Cooters Place straight out of the Dukes of Hazzard and the iconic car…the Robert E. Lee. This is a great place to shop and grab a bite to eat.
About five miles own Route 211 is the town of Little Washington. This is the home of the internationally known Inn at Little Washington. The Inn has long been a destination of the rich and famous from around the world. A little bit more to my taste is the restaurant Tula’s Off Main. Owned and operated by Alexandrian’s John McCaslin and Mark Allen, Tula’s is serving up great food and drink for locals and tourists alike. If you make it to Little Washington make an appointment for a spa treatment at the Little Washington Spa which is owned by another Alexandrian, Jackie Bogle Muse
If you take Main Street out of Little Washing you sill find a lovely drive through the countryside and eventually to Route 522. Turing left of 522 you can continue your drive to Front Royal and then pickup Route 66 east to The Plains, another neat little town in the country. There are a couple of nice restaurants and shops in this charming town. A little outside of town is two of Virginia’s best wineries…Three Fox and Barrel Oak Winery. Three Fox is “a Little Bit of Tuscany” in the Blue Ridge. The vineyard is beautiful and in addition to heir inviting tasting room the now offer the cigar club. Grab a bottle of wine, a fine cigar and settle in for a pleasant afternoon. Barrel Oak is a very popular destination for northern Virginians. In addition to a wide selection of wines, owner Brian Roeder will be opening a brewery in May for the craft beer lovers.
A few miles outside of The Plains is Great Meadow, the home of the popular Virginia Gold Cup, which is held the first Saturday in May. The Virginia Gold Cup is the premier steeplechase race in Virginia. In addition to the Gold Cup, there are also other steeplechase races and point-to-point races throughout Virginia in April.
This is just a sampling of the great places discover this spring. The trees are in full bloom and soon the green leaves will cover the trees. These are also towns where you will find the Old Town Crier each month. Join us.