Thursday, October 20, 2011

Charlottesville Trip Report, part 2

Read about Part 1 of our trip here.

When I left off before, we had just fallen asleep in our huge, fluffy, incredibly comfortable bed on Friday night.
So cozy...another feature of the B&B I wish I could've brought home with me!

To be honest, I was a tad bit worried that the noises of breakfast being made would be bothersome in the morning, since our room opened pretty much directly onto the kitchen/common area.

The door to our room was just to the right of the blue steps
Then, when I woke up around 8 on Saturday morning I started to worry that breakfast wouldn't be ready because I hadn't heard anyone banging around in the kitchen yet.  It turned out that they had closed the door at the top of the stairs that I hadn't even noticed before which totally muffled the noise.  By the time we came down into the common area there were 3 cute little tables set up with a nice bowl of fruit salad at each place, and the proprietress Carolyn was there, chatting and making belgian waffles.  We had alerted her ahead of time that we prefer not to eat white flour or much sugar, so for us she served thick slices of Dakota bread from Great Harvest Charlottesville (more on that later) and scrambled eggs that came from her own chickens!  In addition there was locally roasted coffee, orange juice and honey-sweetened granola.  Heaven.

We shared the breakfast area with a Jet Blue pilot and his wife from North Carolina, and a travel journalist and her friend from Manhattan.  I love that fellow guests at a B&B are so much more sociable than people at a hotel.  There are times when I just want to eat in peace, but in general I enjoy meeting new people when I travel.

Excellently fortified by breakfast, we ventured out to the Charlottesville farmer's market.  On the way we noticed someone had added to the statue at the bottom of the hill.

Poor guy

Wow!  I thought we had a nice farmer's market in Frederick, but here, in addition to all the basic stuff you usually find at a farmer's market you could buy locally farmed fish, homemade kombucha, homemade pickles, homemade veggie burgers and even neat little extras like beans and grains.  You really could do almost 100% of your grocery shopping for the week here!  We tasted our way around the whole market, then bought some pickles, black beans, kombucha and an apple.  Oh, and some earrings!
I actually had these exact earrings on my Amazon wishlist (actually I had accidentally put them on Will's wish list but it's ok because he looks good in blue), but I felt like getting them straight from an artisan was a better way to buy them.

After dropping our goodies off at the B&B (loved how it was right in the middle of everything!) we took off for Great Harvest to pick up some bread and sandwiches to take with us on our wine and beer tasting excursion.  It was a beautiful 1-ish mile walk on a little path next to the woods and when we arrived, Kath herself was there!  We got to chat for a minute and give her the beers we had brought for her to try, and she gave us a free bag of Cville Cluster granola, yummy!  It was so cool to get a chance to meet someone whose life I've been reading about every day.

Then it was off to the foothills for some wine tasting! First stop was Flying Fox Vineyard.

They say grapes don't grow in ugly places.  I'm inclined to agree!

Flying Fox was decent but nothing fantastic...I was a bit grumpy because they were out of the 2 wines I would've been most excited to try, and they didn't discount the tasting fee either.

On our way to the next stop, we got gas and saw this:
I guess they were out of stock
Veritas Vineyards was next.  This was definitely the biggest winery we visited, and it was GORGEOUS!  We could tell it would be different when we pulled up and they had valet parking.

So pretty

The massive tasting room (with a massive line to get in!)
 Luckily the line moved very quickly, and soon we were hard at work tasting all of their offerings. 
 Veritas was my favorite out of all the wineries we visited, and not just because it was big and pretty.  Their wines were the most well-balanced, and the winemakers were good at getting what they wanted out of the grapes.  The Saddleback Chardonnay was thick without being heavily oaky.  The Petit Manseng was sweet without the syrupy-ness you'd expect with a sweet wine.  Despite the "Oh My God Girls" next to us at the tasting counter ("The salesgirl told me the sale purses were over towards the I LOOK like I need to buy my purses on sale???") we thoroughly enjoyed our tasting here, then retired to the porch to take in the beautiful view.

I would love to see a wedding here!
Our overall experience on the wine trail?  We had a fabulous time wine-tasting, but we weren't blown away by the wines.  You hear so much about Virginia's wineries (and of course we only hit 3) but with one or two exceptions everything I tasted was comparable to what we can produce in Maryland.  I know Maryland is getting better, but I was expecting Virginia to be MUCH better and we didn't find it to be.  We'll definitely be back some time to taste more places though! 

To make the day more Will-friendly, we hit a brewery before heading back to Charlottesville.

 We got on the list to sit outside, but since we didn't really need any food we decided in the end to just belly up to the bar.  We ordered a sampler and were informed that they were out of small glasses and we'd have to wait half an hour until more were washed.  A mere 2 minutes later though, we had our sampler because "You guys were nice to me", according to the bartender.  We hadn't been mean of course, but we didn't feel that we had done anything especially nice either so the poor guy must get abused a lot.
Will's sampler.  I helped.
 The beers were quite nice, my favorites of course were the Hefeweizen and the Pumpkin!  I'm predictable like that.

When we returned to the B&B we kept right on drinking, as Carolyn had set out some wine and snacks

The platter also informed us that we were no longer the only ones there celebrating an anniversary!  In fact, we were the LEAST married couple there :-)

 Once we had finished drinking at the B&B we walked down to Mono Loco and finally got my Spice-a-rita!

It was delicious!  I can't stand drinks made with mixes, and this one actually used real lime juice (and LOTS of real jalapeƱos!)  We decided to stay for dinner, and got some awesome burritos-turned-salads.

Because we hadn't done enough yet that day, we decided to walk up to UVA to sneak into a frat party see the campus and observe the "we just beat Georgia Tech" revelry.  We found it by walking against the steady flow of orange and blue, and soon we were watching the college kids party and marveling at their ability to drink coffee at 9PM at night.  I guess you don't really worry about getting enough sleep in college.  Walking around the mall was strange.  I think I heard back in college that the mall at University of Maryland was the longest academic mall in the US, beating out UVA's by a couple inches.  What was strange is that while MD's mall is lined by classroom buildings, UVA's is lined by dorms, and we heard from someone walking by that some professors live along the mall too?  I'll take our nice tree-lined mall over UVA's, although the dorm rooms that were open spilling partiers out onto the walkway did look nice!
The only picture I took at UVA that came out at all
On the way back we pondered whether or not by ANY stretch of the imagination we could even pass for grad students anymore.  Will said people probably thought we were recent alums or perhaps older siblings of current students.  I was more inclined to think we appeared to be parents of college students, or perhaps tenured professors.  Maybe I was feeling especially old because the 2 mile roundtrip walk that we THOUGHT we were setting out on that evening turned out to have been over 4 miles by the time we got back.  We were good and exhausted by then, so we once again made use of that heavenly bed.

To be continued again...

Part 3

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