Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Staunton, Virginia in the Snow

Staunton, Virginia

A small town in Western Virginia about an hour from Charlottesville is bursting with downtown activities.  Over 100 antique shops, boutiques, restaurants and art galleries grace the sidewalks of this charming city!
Staunton is also home to The American Shakespeare Center, an authentic recreation of a Jacobean Theatre based on information from The Black friars in London, England.  Be sure to see a show in this incredible 300 seat theatre built using design plans for other 17th century theatres and Shakespeare's own stage directions! 
Outside the city walls you'll be immersed in the living history of our country at The Frontier Culture Museum.  This magical place tells the story of those who migrated from the Old World to begin a new life in American in the Shenandoah Valley.  The Museum is made up of original and reproduction buildings from the period.  There are many exhibits to see and surely not to be missed if you are a history buff.  Exhibits include an Igbo West African, English, Irish and German Farm.
On my trip I explored the city and all it's offerings, but I will definitely be back to check out the surrounding area on a warmer day! 

The first steps from my car took me to Sun Spots, this gallery features works from a few different glass blowers.  They create everything from vases to hanging ornaments to interesting sculptures out of some of the most beautiful, swirling pieces of glass work I've ever seen!  I even got the opportunity to sneak a peak at a few folks blowing glass in the moment and was absolutely fascinated!

After my visit to the glass gallery I went for a tasting at the Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room, which, happily, is right across the street in downtown!  What a brilliant idea, a tasting room in the midst of a downtown historic district.  Owners John and Susan Kiers actual farm is located about 9 miles outside of the downtown area and it is not regularly open to the public, there is also no tasting facility.
But the tasting room downtown is full of history and fabulous wines!
After selling grapes to other wineries for over a decade, the Kiers family decided to open their own winery in 2010 and have been creating their own wines and label since then!
Their tasting room lives inside an old Scale House that was used for weighing coal wagons coming off the trains.  One of the original scales is still on sight, now used as part of the decor.   

When you walk into the tasting room your eye gravitates to the art on the walls.  Depictions of the local farmland.  Artist Michael Papit tells a story of rural life in Rockbridge County in his pieces here at Ox-Eye.  His muse became the area around his home and he began painting rolling landscapes and animals in soft pastels.  Not only does he capture the scene through imagery, but also in feeling, through the soft color palette.

The wine selection is wonderful!  Several diverse whites and reds to choose from, my favorites being the Traminette and the Riesling, which usually aren't my "go-to's".  They also have a wonderful Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Franc! 

One of the old scales as mentioned above.

The gorgeous tasting bar that greets you when you walk in was made by hand by local woodworker Paul Borzelleca.  The wonderfully knotted wood that makes up the bar, comes from a local farm that had a particularly beautiful cherry tree ready for the next stage of its life.
The wines here are extraordinary!  Do try as many as you can!  I took home a few that day and have been opening them to enjoy with friends!  

If you choose to get a glass of wine or a bottle with friends, be sure to order a cheese plate and relax in the sitting area in one of their cozy leather chairs!  Pick up a copy of The Virginia Table here as well to dive into the culinary world that is our beautiful home state!

Upstairs is a real treat!  A beautiful gathering table sits against the wall on one half of the room, its backdrop are second level double doors, to wheel coal wagons inside from the tracks across the embankment.  Every wall is adorned with art by the owners daughter Oliva.  Her pieces display landscapes of beauty!  Swirling, vibrant colors of local and faraway places grace the canvas', you'll want to strip them from the walls and take those home too!  

After the tasting I ventured out for more to explore!  Notice in the picture below the trains and tracks on the right and the brick buildings on the left?  Staunton was a coal moving town and the coal came in on the trains and long, strong wooden beams were laid from the height of the tracks across the embankment over the street into the upper doors of the building where coal would be kept for distribution.  You saw the same thing on the second level of the tasting room, cool huh? ;)

I continued my walk and continued to explore!  The Red Beard Brewing Company appeared on my left, which, for my beer lovers out there is probably good, I just can't stomach beer.  I walked up a hill and stood in the shadow of the Trinity Episcopal Church.  Tiffany glass and a locally made, antique organ are just pieces of what makes up this beautiful place of worship!  Definitely worth a visit!  I then ventured down Beverley Street and was greeted with many shops and restaurants!

Trinity Episcopal Church.

The first antique shop I stepped into was Inside Newtown.  This antique shop was filled to the brim with interesting antiques, beautiful china, furniture and many other curiosities, but it was a bit dark and overcrowded for my taste.  Great selection though and worth a peek, they truly have some really good pieces!

Next was the Queen City Market Place!  Great Shop!  Lots of light, lots of room to move around and calmly browse through lots and lots of goodies!

Staunton Antiques Center is another great shop!  Many different booths of goodies!

Black Swan Books and Music.  Very hip place, need I say more;)

Cranberry's Grocery and Eatery is a wonderful organic grocery featuring a healthy living cafe towards the back.  This is where I stopped for lunch and it was delicious!

Had I extended my trip to an overnight I would have loved to have tried Zynodoa for dinner!  The menu and atmosphere looked sleek and amazing!  Zynodoa is known for partnering with local farms and only serves up the freshest, local, seasonal ingredients for their dishes.  They serve up southern cuisine in a metropolitan setting, a must try when visiting Staunton after dark! 

After lunch chocolates are the best at the Cocoa Mill Chocolatier!  This place makes the yummiest chocolates, try and take home the S'mores Bars!!!!  My absolute new favorite sweet treat!!!

17 East Beverley Antiques is a fabulous shop with fabulous finds!  Any visit to Staunton needs a stop here!  Mesh Purses, glittering compacts, parasols, furniture, china and clothing grace the shop walls, you won't want to miss an inch of this place!

Made; By the People, For the People is a shop filled with the works of local creatives!  It is an artists dream come true!  Clothing, leather handbags, accessories, jewelry, candles, quirky books and gift ideas, home decor and many other treasures abound within Made's walls!  See for yourself!

Many other small businesses, coffee shops and offices build the make up of this charming little city!  The architecture of the city is lovely and we owe most of it to Thomas Jasper Collins, commonly known as T.J. Collins, an American Architect.  After serving in the Union Army during the American Civil War, T.J. became an architect in Washington, D.C.  He moved to Staunton, VA in 1890 and with his sons began building here under the firm name, T.J. and Sons.  Not only is he credited with the design of many courthouses throughout Virginia but also over 200 buildings throughout Staunton between 1891 to 1911. 

A few more views of the train station!

I can never leave a new town without scoping out the housing situation!

After seeing the wonders of Downtown, I ventured outside the city a few miles away to experience another winery nearby in Fishersville, VA called Barren Ridge.  The scenic ride was lovely in the snow and the blue ridge mountains stretched around me in the setting sun. 

Barren Ridge has been making award winning wines since the year Steven and I got married, lucky 2007!  Family owned and operated, owners John and Shelby Higgs began their journey a few years earlier and have truly developed a memorable experience for their guests!

The converted and renovated 19th century apple barn you'll see in the next picture has become their state of the art winery!  With it's tile floors, stone fireplace and preserved, original wooden beams, this space exudes comfort and hospitality!  Relax and enjoy wine inside during the colder months or outside on the patio or on the lawn during the warmer months.

The view from the tasting room in February is drastically different from the view in July!  The vines on this day were in hibernation, but during the warmth of the summer, in the bright green, rolling fields, the vines come alive!

Barren Ridge offers a wonderful tasting of Whites and Reds and all their wines are delicious!  You may purchase accompaniments such as cheese and crackers to nibble on whilst you sip and enjoy!  I had to take home a bottle of Tinkling Spring and Touriga!

You may be greeted by this little fellow who has been guarding the tasting room for many years!  He's very sweet, but even sweeter if you give him a treat!

What a lovely day!
But now it was time for the long haul home in the setting sun on a cold evening!  I turned up the heat, turned on some music and reveled in the days events!  Till next time Staunton:)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving your comments!