The Road to Williamsburg and Copper Fox Distillery Part Deaux
This month we decided to head south and visit the beautiful area of Williamsburg, Virginia and to visit our friend Rick Wasmund who has just opened his second Copper Fox Distillery. The drive is about 200 miles and works better if you spend at least one night.
After paying the $6 toll and crossing over the Potomac River, we were in Virginia and settled back for the drive to I-295 around Richmond to I-64 and on to Williamsburg.
Williamsburg is located in the northern part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. It is bordered by James City County and York County. Williamsburg was founded in 1632 as Middle Plantation as a fortified settlement on high ground between the James and York rivers. The city served as the capital of the Colony of Virginia from 1699 to 1780 and was the center of political events in Virginia leading to the American Revolution. The College of William & Mary, established in 1693, is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and the only one of the nine colonial colleges located in the south.
The city’s tourism-based economy is driven by Colonial Williamsburg, the restored Historic Area of the city. Along with nearby Jamestown and Yorktown, Williamsburg forms part of the Historic Triangle, which attracts more than four million tourists each year.
At the outset of the American Civil War, enlistments in the Confederate army depleted the student body of the College of William & Mary and on May 10, 1861 the faculty voted to close the College for the duration of the conflict.
In 1924 the Reverend W.A.R. Goodwin launched a building and fundraising drive to save houses in the historic section of Williamsburg for use as student and faculty housing. In the process Goodwin obtained the initial, and later complete financial support of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the wealthy son of the founder of the Standard Oil monopoly. Rockefeller began buying up property and houses and had agreed to pay for college restoration plans and drawings. He later considered limiting his restoration involvement to the college and an exhibition enclave. He did not commit to the town’s larger restoration until November 22, 1927 – now known as the uppercase Restoration birthday. Concerned that prices might rise if word got out that Rockefeller was buying up property he and Goodwin took Williamsburg attorney, Vernon M. Geddy, Sr. into their confidence and Getty began to do much of the title research and legal work related to the properties in what was to become the restored area.
Going back to Revolutionary times, Colonial Williamsburg is a beautifully restored city with sights, sounds and plenty of shopping and dining. There are at least six places for overnight accommodations within the restored city. Tour the city by horse-drawn carriage, fire an 18th century firearm at the Colonial Musket Range, visit museums and enjoy a tavern dinner.
Jamestown is part of the historic triangle and s minutes from Williamsburg. Here is the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. William Kelso writes Jamestown “is where the British Empire began…this was the first colony in the British Empire.” Within days of landing, Powhatan Indians attacked the colonists. In a few weeks the English had erected a fort and the first colony in North America took hold and the seeds for the United States of America began to grow. Today you can learn from the experts who are adding vibrant details to the Jamestown story with their archaeological research. Here you will also hear the stories of disease, famine and Indian attacks. Also stories of Captain John Smith, the “starving time” and Pocahontas.
One of those moments struck Rick at the end of the last decade when he went to a scotch tasting. Hummm, maybe I can do that! After some research he decided to head to Scotland and learn from the experts. Wasmund began an internship that lasted 6 weeks at the Bowmore Distillery on the Isle of Islay on the shores of Loch Indaal.
As the business began to grow, the building didn’t, and although the aging process for their whiskeys is only about 13 months, the need for additional storage came to the forefront. By this time the distillery had contracted with a farmer in southern Virginia to buy their barley crop, the grain with which to make malt. As the craft beer craze began to sweep through Virginia, Wasmund saw an opportunity to provide the brew masters with the best malt available for their beer recipes. Now they market their own malt, which is done by hand, but this again becomes a space issue. Along comes Williamsburg.
I am lucky…I have known these people for the past 10 years and their success has been remarkable. And I know that it has only been achieved by ALL of those involved and their belief in Rick’s vision. Stop by Sperryville or take a road trip to Williamsburg…see the sights, soak up the history, and settle down with a nice Wasmunds, ice, splash of water or Copper Fox Rye…and enjoy. Drive safe!