It’s Back To the Blue Ridge…
By Bob Tagert
With sunny skies and temperatures forecast into the mid 70’s, we decided it was a good time to return to the Blue Ridge Mountains and what lies between. For those of you who read this column every month, you already know that we return to this area often and it is always an adventure. This time we decided to take a few days, so we made our reservations at 29 Main in Sperryville and followed the sun.
Unlike our previous trips, I will not begin this article by complaining about Route 66. They have finally completed the widening and addition of express lanes and this trip is a breeze. Granted, this wasn’t rush hour, but the traffic flowed at or above the speed limit with no problems whatsoever. I remember when there was no Route 66 and the only road out this way was Route 55, which exists today and is a nice road to drive if you are not in a hurry.
Our first stop was Barrel Oak Winery which is right off of Route 66 in Delaplane. A longtime favorite and great advertiser of ours, the winery was sold about eight months ago and the new owners have put some resources into the main building as well as the rest of the property. The tasting room has new lighting and a fresh look. Their brewery is still producing enhancing the experience for everyone. On cold days, Barrel Oak has the absolute best stone fire place in the state. We ordered a bottle of their Vidal Blanc, a hearty grape that did not go through malolactic fermentation which made for a bright, clean wine. It helped us segway into the laid back, country mood after our slot-car run on Route 66.
Leaving Barrel Oak we picked up Route 55 (it parallels Route 66) and headed to the small town of Linden. In the past we would take a right turn in Linden on Freezeland Road and head up the mountain to Fox Meadow Winery. However, this time we took the left turn on to Fiery Run Road and made our way to Linden Vineyards in a small valley. It had been years since we had visited Linden and its “one-of-a-kind” owner…Jim Law. Although Jim is associated with the wine from Linden Vineyards, he is first and foremost a farmer! He told me many years ago that “he is most happy when in the vineyard with his vines”. After all…that is where it all begins.
Once in the tasting room we ordered a bottle of 2019 Village Chardonnay. As I remembered…crisp, clear and clean, an excellent wine and worth sipping. Then we had one of those “Bay to the Blue Ridge” experiences. Seated at the table next to us were Greg and Michelle Cottrell, from the Rosemont area in Alexandria and very familiar with the Old Town Crier. This made our day as well as making some new friends. We had a grand time sipping our wine and talking about Old Town and wineries. Our next stop was Dark Horse Irish Pub in Flint Hill.
If you are familiar with the area and don’t recognize the name Dark Horse Pub, it is because it is new and was formerly known as Griffin Tavern. The new owner is Mark Kirwin, owner of Samuel Becketts in Shirlington and Kirwin’s on the Wharf in the D.C. Harbor. The transition should be a success based on Mark’s ability and the success of his other two restaurants. I ordered a Shepard’s Pie for lunch. It was great and a lot of it. I also ordered my favorite…Copper Fox Single Malt Whiskey. The afternoon got better as our new friends Greg and Michelle dropped in to see the new place and an old friend Scott Truax and his wife showed up. I think the new look is going to work out well.
By the time we got out of the Dark Horse we went straight away to the Sperryville Corner Store to buy some food stuff for the cottage stay and headed to 29 Main where we dined in. The upscale Three Blacksmiths Restaurant is reported to be on a par with the Inn at Little Washington and is only open Thurs, Friday and Saturday nights. Reservations are a must. Other dining options in town are RPK aka Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen – excellent pizza – and the Pit Stop Country Cafe where you will find one of the best burgers and fries in the county. The former Headmasters Pub was undergoing a renovation and an owner change so we will check it out next time. And…if you are in the mood for a little pasture pool, the Schoolhouse Nine par 3 golf course is the place to check out. There are some very unique galleries throughout the town that are worth visiting as well. Downstream from the golf course is Copper Fox Distillery which we will visit tomorrow morning. Off to 29 Main.
29 Main is a great place to stay. A longtime friend of mine moved out to a farm just outside of Sperryville many years ago. Shortly after her move, she bought a one room building in town that she converted into a small cottage located at, you guessed it…29 Main. The cottage has one large room with a fantastic bed, round dining table and a very large television on the wall. It also has a kitchenette area with a microwave (no stove) and a bathroom with a shower. There is also an outdoor shower and the back yard ends at the beautiful Thornton River which runs through the property. There is a sizable deck with two comfortable Adirondack chairs that sits just above the river – great place for a glass of wine in the evening or a cup of coffee in the morning.
The next morning we made our first stop at Copper Fox Distillery to drop off some back copies of the OTC. We first wrote about Copper Fox fifteen years ago when they first opened. Since then Rick Wasmund and his partner Sean McCaskey have opened a second distillery in Williamsburg, Virginia. After visiting with Sean and his crew, we headed for home with two more stops ahead of us.
Our first stop was Patty O’s in Little Washington. This restaurant is the little sister of the Inn. Another brilliant idea from Patrick O’Connell. The build out for Patty O’s is beautiful. The place just wants to make you dress up but blue jeans and a sweater are good too. The prices might seem high, but for what you get and considering the tip is included, it is not bad at all. The Bloody Mary’s, the shrimp and grits and the avocado toast were fantastic. Now I understand how some versions of each are better than others. Don’t forget to check out the bakery in the back of the restaurant as well – the brioche they make here is top notch.
Our last stop on this road trip was Pearmund Cellars, somewhere near Warrenton (fire up the GPS). Located at Virginia’s oldest vineyard, Chris Pearmund has been producing award winning wines and educating folks for years. He is also another good advertiser of ours and an easy guy to talk with. He currently has a case of Chardonnay known as the “Pearls of Wisdom”. Each label is a different drawing of a pearl within an oyster and a different quote of wisdom. The Chardonnay is very good and the price is also. Check it out!
Although the trip back 66 was at rush hour, the traffic again ran smoothly…until I hit 495. They haven’t fixed that mess yet. Take a Road Trip…follow in my wake!!