I have had the fortune to have traveled to many countries all over the world and have seen a multitude of stunningly beautiful places. But, few have captured my heart quite like the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. After a week that involved surgery recovery, often a bit of a blur thanks to painkillers, a weekend in the mountains was just what the doctor ordered. It’s one of my happy places, for sure, and the closer I get to them, the calmer I am. I took this photo on my phone near Charlottesville, the first glimpse of the mountains was accompanied by the sunset….just lovely.
Before heading up the mountain to Wintergreen, Andy and I stopped in Charlottesville for dinner at Bella’s, a delightful Italian restaurant downtown. A Limoncello Martini seemed like a great way to start and then it didn’t take long to decide on Gorgonzola Grilled Salad (grilled romaine hearts topped with Gorgonzola dressing, tomatoes, pancetta and scallions with a balsamic drizzle) and Arancini (fresh mozzarella stuffed inside lemon risotto, breaded and fried). We followed this with Zuppa Di Pesce, a mound of fettuccine with fennel scented tomato sauce with all kinds of seafood. Heavenly. I clearly decided to eschew my newly adopted mostly plant-based diet, just for the weekend. Every bite was fabulous and I loved the setting, exposed brick in a likely 19th century building. It’s clearly a popular place and you can tell the staff enjoy it as much as the customers.
With a Tiramisu “to go”, we headed up the mountain to the condo that had very kindly been lent to us for the weekend. Sitting on the deck in about 65 degrees under a clear starry sky was just perfect and a much needed respite from the almost triple digit temperatures back in Petersburg.
I woke up early the next morning, it’s a bit of a struggle to sleep comfortably as I’m still sore from the surgery. I was rewarded with seeing the latter part of the sunrise over the mountains. A spectacular sight given the amazing vantage point from the deck. It was so quiet and apparently the only living things up this early were me, and a groundhog having its breakfast. I think living in an urban area intensifies my appreciation of beautiful rural spaces.
First up on the schedule was Wimbledon, of course. No way I’m missing the finals! Afterwards, a decision was made to go to Devils Grill, the Golf clubhouse restaurant that has a gorgeous porch overlooking the 18th hole where we scored a great corner table with an uninterrupted view. We watched as deer and golfers enjoyed the stunning course while we ate a delightful lunch of Salmon Sliders and a Lamb Meatball Naan with Tsatsiki. Yum. To be able to sit on a porch in July in Virginia, with a cool breeze and the absence of bugs, was a veritable treat. I could have sat there all afternoon!
Just to prepare for the unlikely chance I might win the lottery one day and be able to buy a second home here, we stopped by an Open House and then the Realty office. I represent the opposite of the average Wintergreen homeowner as I’d want to be there anytime other than the ski season. The Open House was a fully refurbished 3 bedroom condo with SPECTACULAR views but for some bizarre reason they only built a tiny deck which would barely fit two bistro chairs. Simply not good enough for this porch lover. And neither was the $360,000 listing price. But a girl can dream, right?
I hadn’t been to Afton Mountain Vineyard in almost 20 years and wow has it changed since then! I remember a small tasting room with a selection of cheeses and snacks in a refrigerator that could be enjoyed outside with a glass or bottle of their wine. The basic concept is still there but it’s all grown up now. A “terrace room” provides a weather resistant tasting space, and I presume a private event venue. A lovely porch surrounds the actual tasting room with lots of seating. We were greeted at the door and informed there was a wait for our tasting. The offerings were quite lovely and being a fairly hot day, we picked the crisp and delicious Rose to take outside. Here we were entertained by two women, a few glasses in, gossiping about the antics of their friends. Then, a bachelorette party arrived and the delightful civility of the setting was momentarily and hilariously interrupted by the bride and her very enthusiastic group of bridesmaids. It would be a fair guess to say that they were probably on about their fifth vineyard of the day. One of them was practically begging for someone to ask her to take her top off….. Despite the distractions, the setting is lovely and surely there are few better ways to spend an afternoon?
Bold Rock Cider was on our way “home” and what an impressive place it is! And clearly very popular especially with younger folks. I was a cider drinker back in the day in England so it’s great to see this delicious drink being taken a lot more seriously over here now. We took the free tasting of two of their signature ciders and then purchased their 4 cider flight. We carried our little trays outside onto the deck and sipped on some seriously good cider. A great visit to an impressive place.
We decided to have dinner up at The Copper Mine, the main restaurant at The Mountain Inn up at Wintergreen. No culinary boundaries were smashed through and the service was a little painful but we really did enjoy the food, opting for a flatbread, great honey balsalmic chicken wings, asparagus, a gorgeous watermelon and feta salad and shrimp cocktail. Tapas style, always a favorite way to eat.
I didn’t quite wake up early enough for the full sunrise again on Sunday but almost did… it was stunning regardless. I love the peace that emanates from the view, the silence except for birdsong, and the endless waves of shades of blue. Just beautiful.
Another lazy morning included watching Federer make Wimbledon history by claiming yet another title, he’s amazing! Watching him play is like poetry in motion. Unfortunately it was time to leave this lovely place so we packed up and drove to one more stop before heading back home. Veritas Winery is a favorite, not only is their wine great, but they also have a gourmet snack bar now. So, we enjoyed a Goat Cheese and Fig Panini and a Pear and Arugula Salad along with their Sauvignon Blanc whilst sitting on the large covered porch overlooking the Vineyard.
It was a perfect end to a fabulous weekend. The goal having been to relax, recuperate and enjoy this gorgeous area. The fact that I felt thoroughly peaceful and pampered, was the icing on the cake.