Emilio Fontan, proprietor of Sperryville’s Spanish tapas restaurant El Quijote, envisioned Rappahannock as another Napa when he decided to open up his establishment in May. The restaurant oozes the sights and smells of places such as Valencia, Cordoba and Andalusia, a restaurant where murals of flamenco dancers and bullfighters adorn the walls and enhance the exquisite cuisine.
It’s a place that helps seal Sperryville’s ever-growing reputation as a destination. The tiny hamlet enjoys a robust nightlife, from the summer evening dancing on the deck of the Thornton River Grille, to Headmaster Pub’s popular weekend live-music nights, to Central Coffee Roasters intimate folk and Americana music gigs — to El Quijote’s recent foray into salsa dancing nights (with more planned) and a possible authentic flamenco performance in the works.
Everything from B&Bs with whitewashed railed porches to tony restaurants and delightful bakeries can be found in the village — plus speciality boutiques, yoga classes in a high-ceilinged former church, organic farm-to-table enterprises, fruit and vegetable stands and nearby wineries, orchards and antique stores. Not to mention that Sperryville is the site of a world-renowned distillery, and shops that showcase local wood-carving artists, quiltmakers, homemade jams and jellies and more.
A golf course is in the works, and River District Arts, with Middle Street Gallery next door, has become the site of artistic genius — and so appealing that neighboring counties, according to RDA artistic director Rebecca Quinn, are asking how they, too, can offer similar venues.
New businesses are opening at a brisk pace.
Indeed, Sperryville is now home to yet another new business — having welcomed Valley Green Naturals to the River District fold a few weeks ago. Owners Cindy DeVore and her husband, Arthur, migrated to the Virginia countryside after 9/11, seeking solace and healing in the aftermath of a national tragedy. They first moved to Fauquier County but eventually purchased a seven-acre property in Amissville last year.
They both decided to “indulge their desire to be more self-sustaining” and began not only growing their own vegetables and raising chickens but also indulged in making soaps, sans chemicals, in their farmhouse kitchen. Cindy is an accomplished communications professional and former polo student, and her discipline and focus are evident in the effort she’s placed in her business.
Cindy tells me she had originally given soaps as gifts to neighbors and work colleagues and was told they were so good she should consider selling them. With a charming chuckle, she relates that she came home one day, excitedly telling her husband, “Honey, I just sold $100 worth of soaps!”
Fast-forward five years, when Cindy’s inquisitive nature led her to research the many alarming effects of the chemicals in bath and body products, and to the creation of Valley Green Naturals, a business that now makes and sells more than 30 skincare products that are free of sulfates, phthalates, parabens and petrochemicals. Cindy’s products are now found, among other venues, on shelves of Whole Foods nationwide; recently, Sol Solomon of Burt’s Bees fame, a startup visionary, has taken an active interest in moving Valley Green Naturals even further.
Valley Green Naturals’ new location (it has moved from its original Amissville headquarters) is open 9 to 5 weekdays, 10 to 4 Saturdays and 1 to 5 Sundays at 4 River Lane, across from Copper Fox Distillery and River District Arts. Call 540-937-3170 or visit valleygreennaturals.com for more information.
Congratulations, Cindy, all the best to you and your terrific enterprise.
Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and at Triple Oak Bakery, Brooke Parkhurst is offering a special holiday menu of cream puffs, specialty compotes, pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate roulade and more of the shop’s gluten-free treats. According to Brooke, “holiday mornings can be a zoo,” so she offers to “ease your way with breakfast quiches, a vegetarian selection as well as a meat choice of bacon and apple with caramelized onions.”
Order before Nov. 17 to have holiday items by Thanksgiving and to avoid rush-order fees. Visit tripleoakbakery.com or call 540-987-9122 for more details.