By Sally Haynes
Special to the Rappahannock News
“Forget the weather and find the fun.”
That’s what the Rappahannock County Artisan Trail is advising for March, and to help you along they have created Wine and Dine Month. Twenty-one members of the Artisan Trail — an organization of artists, artisans, agri-artisans, lodging establishments, shops, art galleries and others — are hosting more than 80 events and you are invited.
The county’s eight wineries are main drivers of commercial activity in Rappahannock and their prominent position in our economy means these agri-artisans are essential stops on the Trail. Like other Trail members, wineries rely on tourism and direct sales for most of their revenue, so it’s natural for them to take the lead in this month-long celebration, hosting special events with music, food, art, classes and other activities.
Narmada Winery brings an eastern flair to Rappahannock and March 3 the winery will recognize Holi, the Hindu celebration of the coming of spring, also known as the festival of colors. They will offer special pricing on select wines and pair them with an Indian sampler platter. On the 17th you can attend Narmada’s barrel tasting of four vintages. As you taste, owner and winemaker Sudha Patil will explain how the wines were blended and are expected to develop. March 25 will herald Winemaker for a Day, a blending seminar and competition. Teams will sample wines from barrels and make their own special blends. There will be a vote to identify the team creating the most spectacular wine of the day.
Gray Ghost Vineyard
This year marks the 24th anniversary of Gray Ghost Vineyard, the senior member among operating wineries in Rappahannock. Their annual barrel tasting will be held at the Amissville winery March 3 and 4. Patrons will be able to taste wine and see how it is developing with about a month left to go in the aging process. Attendees will sample hors d’oeuvres and receive a wine glass. On March 10, Gray Ghost is co-hosting a winemaker’s dinner with The Marriott Ranch in Hume. Executive Chef J.C. Conklin will prepare a five-course dinner and winery owners Al and Cheryl Kellert will present the wine selected for each course and explain to diners the fine nuances of the selection.
Magnolia Vineyards and Winery
Also in Amissville is Magnolia Vineyards and Winery, the newest to Rappahannock. Magnolia Vineyards is open every weekend and offers a tasting of seven wines, six paired with cheeses and one with chocolate for a modest $10. On March 10, Full Moon Farm of Sperryville will be on site offering organic culinary herbs and herb products, and for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Aaron Lowry will be entertaining with a mix of tunes, including Irish ballads.
Every winery in the county is a family-owned and operated enterprise, and Gadino Cellars’ family roots and winemaking skills go right back to Italy! March 15, Gadino Cellars and Tula’s in Washington invite connoisseurs of fine food and drink to a four-course gourmet dinner at Tula’s, each course paired with a Gadino Cellars wine. Chef Abdon Garcia will explain how each dish is prepared and Bill Gadino, host for the evening, will provide commentary on the wines, plus pertinent (and not so pertinent) stories and accordion tunes.
Little Washington Winery
Little Washington Winery is the place to go for your wine education. Its Foodie-U Wine School offers twelve different wine classes! For March, the winery has scheduled 19 classes, each an opportunity for you to taste your way to a better understanding of wine.Wine Bootcamp, Triple Threat: Chocolate, Cheese & Wine and Guess the $100 Bordeaux are just three of the appetizing class choices you will find on the Artisan Trail calendar. The winery’s Dirt Road Wine Tour features at least three wines discovered and adopted from other small farm wineries and emerging wine regions around the world.
Quievremont Winery between Washington and Sperryville is on the younger side as Rappahannock wineries go, and part of a larger operation, the 200-acre Reality Farm. March 10, Quievremont has planned a day of luscious artisan appetizers and heavy hors d’oeuvres paired with Quièvremont wines. An eight-wine tasting will be $12 per person, a cost that will be waived with the purchase of a bottle.
Rappahannock Cellars in Flint Hill hosted their winemaker’s dinner in February with fellow Trail member Glen Gordon Manor. For March, they have partnered with Waterford Run Farm and Forge for an Artisan Trail Second Saturday event March 10. The Farm’s Caroline Mello will pair her complex artisanal jams with a variety of cheeses, crackers and crostini to make delicious appetizers for guests to sample, and her jams will be available for purchase.
Wineries are far from alone in making up the Artisan Trail. Lodging enterprises, restaurants, farms, B&B’s, shops, galleries, and artists and artisans of all kinds are enthusiastic members.
Two delightful Washington inns are opening their doors to Wine and Dine visitors. At Gay Street Inn, where you are just steps away from everything in Washington, hosts Drew Beard and Deb Harris will be providing guests glasses of complimentary wine, including favorites from local vineyards.
Al and Audrey Regnery of Greenfield Inn Bed and Breakfast will see to it that you can wine and dine all you wish because your stay includes complimentary transportation to and from any restaurant in Washington! They have made March even more attractive to travelers on the Artisan Trail. If you mention the Trail when making your reservation, you will receive a 20 percent discount on a two-night stay.
On March 10 in Sperryville, three artisans will welcome you. Sara Adams of River District Potters will teach you how to make a pinch pot in a free workshop at the pottery studio. In her mountain-top aerie, stained glass artist Patti Brennan of De’Danaan will be hosting a fused glass workshop where students will learn to cut glass and design their own earrings and pendants. At Blue Ridge Artisans, Jennifer Tepper Heverly will be teaching dye techniques for silk; her class members will each create two stunning silk scarves. Sunday, Heverly returns with a class in yarn dyeing. Students will dye three skeins of yarn, learning to use a different technique with each.
In Woodville on the 10th, Meaghan Fuller of Strike Daekins Designs will be hosting an open studio sale where unique Medieval style clothing, satchels and Celtic wedding accessories will be available for purchase.
On both March 4 and 18, you may visit Carolyn Roth’s Contemporary Color studio in Flint Hill and view her new media works — hand painted fabrics stitched together in intriguing patterns. She will also be showing recent additions to her collection of monotypes. Carolyn will invite you to a glass of wine as she shares her creative process.
Two Trail members in Washington will have exhibitions in progress for most of the month. Middle Street Gallery has a show of contemporary fine art by 40 artists. The exhibition includes paintings, photographs and sculptures and runs from March 2 to April 8. At Gay Street Gallery through March 20, Kevin Adams will continue the solo exhibition of his Shenandoah National Park residency.
Finally, on the dining front, Griffin Tavern will open and close Wine and Dine Month, beginning March 1st with their popular Trivia Night and ending with the bluegrass sounds of Ransom Harmony on the 31st.
Each week, the Tavern will be offering a local Wine of the Week. On the 17th there’s a daylong St. Patrick’s Day Party with Guinness, corned beef and cabbage, and other Irish specials! Singer-songwriter Bryan Elijah Smith and fiddler Jay Austin will be performing. The Tavern will see to your wine and dine pleasure any and every day of March!
For more details and to make reservations: http://www.opendoortour.org/category/trails/rappahannock-county-artisan-trail/