Amissville column for Sept. 27

The Farm Tour in Amissville

“Agrituristas” participating in this weekend’s Rappahannock County Farm Tour will be able to visit five participating Amissville venues where they can sip award-winning wine, hobnob with honey bees, meet Coco the cow and see sheep shorn and yarn dyed while lunching on gourmet lamb sausage.

Gray Ghost Vineyards needs no introduction, as the family-run winery continues to win regional and national awards for their wines. As a matter of fact, their dessert wine, Adieu, is the most decorated wine in the U.S. produced outside of California. Visitors can enjoy wine produced from grapes grown on the property; weather permitting, they might even get to watch a grape harvest. Gray Ghost’s stylish tasting facility, with outdoor tables and a tony upstairs den, will tempt some tour participants to bag the rest of the tour and just stay there sipping till dark. The winery is at 14706 Lee Hwy., about 15 miles east of Sperryville.

Another tour temptation is Narmada Vineyard and Winery, a newish kid on the block that is the labor of love of Pandit and Sudha Patil. Sipping their wines while enjoying Indian culinary delicacies makes for a unique experience in Virginia wine country. Namaste! Narmada is also one of three locations in the county where visitors can purchase tickets for the tour. The winery is at 80 Narmada Lane, on U.S. 211, six miles east of Massies Corner.

The family homestead at Crowfoot Farm will be a tour favorite, particularly among farm-deprived suburban families with young children. Kevin and Rachel Summers raise much of their own food, with animal protein coming from pastured poultry and critically endangered breeds of hogs, turkeys, chickens and sheep. By raising the endangered breeds, they help ensure the survival of diverse animal genetics. The latest addition to their barnyard is a Swiss Brown cow named Coco.

“Before we got Coco, our operation seemed to be missing something. Now that she’s here, it seems like a lot of things fit into place,” Rachel said. Along that line, their focus during the tour will be showing how each animal “fits into the ecosystem of the farm.” In addition to meeting the animals, children will able to plant seeds to take home and gather eggs in the henhouse. The farm is at 3085 Indian Run Rd.

Next to the Summers’ homestead is Silk Ear Farm, owned by Bob and Joan Duxbury. For more than 15 years, they have been raising bees in an all-natural process that Bob says is “an integral part of our food system.” An expert beekeeper, Bob looks forward to meeting with tour participants as he demonstrates how he helps the bees produce their all-natural honey.

A gourmet lamb sausage lunch will be served from 11 to 1:30 both days by Dave Shiff and I at our Wits End Farm thanks to the beautiful sheep flocks that graze the property. A gluten-free version with fresh greens will be available, plus goodies from Sperryville’s Triple Oak Bakery. Visitors can also sample a locally produced kombucha beverage that is putting national brands to shame. Throughout the day, visitors can see natural wool dyeing and hand spinning demonstrations. There are sheep-shearing demonstrations at 10 and 3, and a 2 p.m. demonstration of in-hand horse training techniques used in classical dressage. Fiber products from the farm, including hand-painted yarn and spinning fibers, will be for sale. The farm is at 369 Hinsons Ford Rd.

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