Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cottages

8400 North Lee Hwy, Steeles Tavern, Virginia 24476
Innkeeper(s): Melissa & Ray Alexander

Winter Wine Festival Fun in Historic Staunton VA 27 Jan 2016, 2:40 am

The Historic Staunton Foundation will host its 6th Annual Winter Wine Festival on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Nine Wineries are currently participating in this weekend sampling of fine wines that Virginia has become known for. The tasting will take place at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center located in downtown Staunton and just a 20 minute drive from Steeles Tavern Manor & Alpine Cottages. Advance tickets are just $20 ($25 at the door) and can be purchased online.

Each of the nine participating wineries is family owned and operated. Each family has a great story or two about how they named their winery and how the business was founded. For example, the Mattaponi Winery is a Native American name originating from the four rivers that flow through Spotsylvania County, VA: Mat, Ta, Po, and Ni. The four rivers join to form the Mattaponi River.

At Bluestone Winery, you can help to pick the grapes during harvest season. When the grapes are at just the right ripeness, it’s important to pick them immediately so they have just the correct sweetness for the wine they will become. Grapes are picked by hand so volunteer harvesters are utilized to ensure all the grapes are picked at just the right moment!

Fincastle Winery, a gravity-fed operation, can actually be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sit on the porch and view the mountains while enjoying a sip of their wines.

The land for The Homeplace Winery has been in the family for four generations. Originally a tobacco farm, the Williams family changed with the times and started planted grape vines in 2005. Logs from the tobacco barns has been re-purposed to build the log cabin tasting room. You can feel the history here as you enjoy the fruit of the vine.

Nelson and Elsie Stanley, owners of Stanburn Winery, are just down-home, unpretentious folks. To make a point about that, they named one of their wines after a stream that runs through their county: Poorhouse Creek. Their Poorhouse wine contains 100% Chambourcin grapes fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral barrels. Tis wine pairs well with cheesecake or chocolate desserts.

Westin Farm Vineyard & Winery is another family operation. When you visit the tasting room, you will be greeted by a family members or close friend – and the family members may be the four-legged kind! Don’t be surprised to find Charlie and Suzie (canine family members) greeting you. Stroll around the farm with your wine glasses to see the horses and miniature donkeys too. In addition to the Pinot Frigio or Petit Manseng, you can taste various fruit wines too.

The founders of Democracy Vineyards, Jim Turpin and Susan Prokop, have quite a collection of political memorabilia and a passion for wine. They decorated the tasting room with campaign paraphernalia and red, white and blue. All their wines have politically-styled names such as Declaration 2014, Emancipation 2012, Parliament 2011, or Constitution 2013.

Barren Ridge Winery (our personal favorite local winery) sits on the ridge overlooking the vineyards where there was once an apple orchard. The patio is the perfect spot to view the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains while enjoying some award-winning wines. There are fourteen wines to choose from so take your time and relax.

Patio, picnic spots, and play areas are all available for your visit to the newest of the participating wineries – Hunt’s Vineyard. The first vines were planted in 2009 and these new owners are learning more about growing grapes everyday. While the vines are growing, so is their population farm animals. Bring the kids and your pet to share a day on the farm and taste some Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin “Red” or Sangria.

Come for the Winter Wine Festival, purchase some wonderful wines. Come back in the spring, summer, or fall to enjoy the vistas, the farm life, or the sunsets at one or more of these family owned Virginia wineries.

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in Lexington VA 15 Jan 2016, 6:57 pm

Washington and Lee University will honor the life and work of Martin Luther king with a week-long celebration beginning on January 15th, 2016 – the actual birthday of this brave American. The college is located an easy 20 minute drive from Steeles Tavern, VA.

The University kicks off the celebration with a toast accompanied by cupcakes on Friday, January 15th 2016. On Sunday, January 17, 2016 Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will speak on “Reviving the Revolutionary King”. This Georgetown University Professor of Sociology will respond to a question-and-answer session following the keynote address.

On Monday, a panel of distinguished attorneys and professors will discuss the relevance of one of Dr. King’s speeches in “In His Own Words: Lessons from Dr. King for Today”.

In the continuing series of “The Ethics of Citizenship”, Dr. Claudia Rankine will expound on “The Creative Imagination and Race: The Making od Citizen”. Dr. Rankine holds the Aerol Arnold Chair of English at the University of Southern California.

Thursday, January 21st 2016 offers a viewing of the movie, “Selma” with a discussion following the movie. Panelists include three professors from Washington & Lee’s departments of history, English, and law.

The Martin Luther King Remembrance Concert on Saturday, January 23, 2016 completes the celebration of Martin Luther King’s life in the Shenandoah Valley. This concert has become a tradition with the W&L University Singers, Cantatrici, the Men’s Glee Club, and the MLK Combo. The concert includes a reading of the famous “I have a dream” speech and includes audience sing-a-long musical pieces as well. The free concert is held at the First Baptist Church in downtown Lexington, VA – just a short drive from Steeles Tavern Manor.

The long weekend celebration starts with a Virginia state holiday, Lee Jackson Day. This day honors the two most well known Lexington residents: Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee rescued a small college from financial ruin. That college is now known as Washington & Lee. “Stonewall” Jackson was a leader in the community and a professor at the Virginia Military Institute.

Take a long weekend, relax from your workload and learn about thess American gentlemen who had such a great impact on our country.

Christmas cookie recipe and Christmas decorations 29 Dec 2015, 5:54 pm

Here at Steeles Tavern Manor, Christmas cookies and Christmas decorations will be featured up until the New Year is firmly in place. All the decorations give me a very warm feeling and I hope the guests have the same reaction. In fact, the trees outside are wrapped in lights all year long to welcome and light the way for our guests. When guests enter the Inn, they see garland, lights, and red bows adorning the banister leading up the stairs to their room. At the top of the stairs, just outside the guest rooms, we have a Christmas sign that reads “and to all a good night”. We put it there as the last thing our guests see before they go into their rooms.

We have two Christmas Trees – one in the formal living room and one in the social room where guests often congregate together. Christmas cheer continues with lots and lots of Santas that I have collected through the years.

Cookies are a special part of the whole holiday celebration for me. My favorite Christmas cookie is Chocolate Mint Squares. I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA and my mom got this recipe from the wife of the 3rd base coach for the Pirates who served the team in the 80’s. This is the most requested Christmas cookie recipe from my kitchen for almost 30 years. Try this recipe any time of the year for a yummy treat!

Chocolate Mint Squares

Brownie Layer

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter

4 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

½ tsp salt

1 16-oz can Hershey Syrup

Mix first 4 ingredients together (one at a time) using an electric mixer. Add flour & salt. Then add syrup & mix until smooth.

Place in greased/floured 11×17-inch pan.

Bake 350 for 20 minutes.

Mint Layer

½ cup butter

3 tbsp Crème de Menthe liquor

2 cups powdered sugar

Using electric mixer, cream butter. Add crème de menthe slowly to mix together. Then slowly add the sugar. Mix to the consistency of an icing. Spread on top of the cooled brownie layer. Then place the pan in the refrigerator to allow the icing to harden.


1 6oz package semi sweet chocolate chips

6 tbsp butter

Place ingredients together in a microwavable small baking dish. Microwave using Defrost setting for 4-5 minutes until melted. Stir glaze to completely smooth. Spread over top of mint layer. Refrigerate to cool. Cut into small squares.

Makes 4 dozen.


Happy New Year from our house to yours!

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Birthday Bash 14 Dec 2015, 11:19 am

Our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson, was born on December 28th, 1856 in Staunton, VA. On that same date in 2015, his Presidential Library and Museum will hold special events to celebrate his birthday.

On Monday December 28th, you can tour the home where he was born, stroll through the gardens, and see the his special 1919 Pierce-Arrow limousine.

The home is decorated for the holidays in typical Victorian style of the times. During the 1850’s, decorations would have been minimal and any decorations on the typical small tree would have been hand-made. Docents will be on hand to answer questions and give insights to the lifestyle of Woodrow Wilson’s family when he was born in this home.

Special activities for children will be happening throughout the day. Members of the Pierce-Arrow Committee will be there to provide detailed information about the limousine the President owned after his second term in office. The award-winning car is now in perfect running condition and has become quite a point of interest at the museum.

Refreshments and souvenir items can be purchased at the Museum Shop. You can even buy a commemorative ornament showing the 1919 Pierce-Arrow limo or a refrigerator magnet that displays one of Wilson’s quotes – “Do not follow people who stand still”.

This special Woodrow Wilson Birthday Celebration runs from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and is free and open to the public.

Devils Backbone craft Brewing Company near Lexington VA 30 Nov 2015, 3:50 pm

Making great beer is just what they do at Devils Backbone Brewing Company. The company has two location in Virginia. The “Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows” is located near Wintergreen Resort in Roseland, VA. Just over the mountain and outside of Lexington is the “Outpost Brewery & Taproom”. The Outpost is located just down the road from our B&B and is a great spot for a break from touring around the Shenandoah Valley or from holiday shopping.

The mission statement for this brewery says a lot about why this is one of our favorite stops: “To enrich our community by enhancing back porches,…and anywhere else you find yourself enjoying life.” Their Values speak to family, integrity, passion, and stewardship. We see those values and are touched by their mission every time we stop in for a brew or drop by for a take-home “growler”.

December events at Devils Backbone Outpost will fun and tasty! Each Wednesday at the Outpost is DB Growler Grab! Special 64 oz. growler fills are the item of the day. If you don’t have DB growler (aka: small jug), they are happy to fix you up with one and you can be one your way home with great beer.

Another fun event for December will be the Growler Girls Gift Exchange. Bring a wrapped gift and appetizers to share for a fun night out with your girl friends. On Fridays, Devils Backbone will offer live music with your favorite holiday tunes. The Friday Holiday jams will peak with the Holiday party on December 18th when they will offer a one-time special beer. Please wear your ugly Christmas sweater for this special party!

The beers at Devils Backbone are ever changing with the season and using the new ideas from the brew team. You can see what’s on draught at any time by visiting the Outpost page. They provide wonderful descriptions of all the different brews so you can find the right beer for the mood you’re in or to go with the food you’re planning to eat.

Every Saturday & Sunday, you can learn about the whole brewing process during a tour of the working brewery. The tours are scheduled Saturday and Sunday at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm.

Next time you stay at our B&B, be sure to make a stop at Devils Backbone Brewing Company for some great craft beer.

Gypsy Hill Park Celebration of Holiday Lights-Staunton VA 16 Nov 2015, 1:16 pm

It’s time to start planning for some Holiday fun! On Monday, November 23, 2015, Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton, VA will glow with holiday lights. This is the eleventh year of this spectacular attraction in the 214 acre park. The displays will light up the night each evening from 5:00 – 11:00. The drive-through display is FREE and open to everyone.

There will be more than 50 unique, brightly colored Holiday scenes designed and built by local individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and church groups. The displays will be enjoyed by 30,000 people during the month-long tradition


There is a very special area of the Celebration of Holiday Lights. The “Field of Deer” is located inside the fence at the Gypsy Hill Park Pool. Each lighted deer is placed and lit in honor of someone living or in memory of a loved one. The field of deer has become a large “herd” of the lighted memorials and tributes and according to one TripAdvisor review is “especially touching”.

On Friday, December 18 at 6:00 pm, watch the Live Nativity produced by a local church. On Saturday, December 19, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM, come to the Bandstand to share in Christmas Caroling and to support the Valley Mission. There will be performances by the Harrisonburg Harmonizers and other local choirs. The bonfire will warm you from the outside while your heart warms with the sounds of the season and the free hot chocolate warms you on the inside. Kids can also have their picture taken with Santa! Bring some paper products or canned goods to support the mission too.

What a great way to enjoy the Holiday season – with events to help others and to warm your heart!

Craft Beer and Breweries in the Shenandoah Valley, VA 30 Oct 2015, 1:09 pm

A visit to Steeles Tavern, VA is not complete without sampling several of the craft beers produced by the local breweries in the Shenandoah Valley.

Lexington is home to Blue Lab Brewing Company – the city’s first and only microbrewery. Blue Lab opened in 2010 when two friends turned a hobby into a small business. Their homepage tells which five standard brews are currently being served and the special seasonal flavors. They also give a great description of all their creations on the “About out Beers” page. The “Hefeweizen” is described as “a summer wheat style that is a perfect thirst quencher” on a warm summer night. Add a slice of lemon for an added refreshing flavor.

Also in Lexington, you can find The Outpost for Devils Backbone Brewing Company. It’s located on the beautiful hillside outside of town and actually houses a custom- built brewery featuring a 30bbl Rolec Brewing system, SBC bottling and canning lines and Tap Room. Brewery Tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays on the hour from 2 to 5 PM. Try the seasonal special, Pumpkin Hunter that was designed to have the flavors layer “like a liquid pumpkin pie”. You can almost taste the graham cracker crust in this rich, “comfort beer”.

Traveling north through the Shenandoah Valley, you will find Saunton – home to several local brew companies.

Queen City Brewing Ltd. has 22 beers on tap, homemade soda, and sweet Fruit Wines. At this brewery you can “Become the Brewer” by choosing one of three package plans: Brewer’s Apprentice, Private Batch, or Blue Ridge Brewers (a class through the Blue Ridge Community College). Try the Hard-Pressed Apple Ale – a sweet and delicious ale that has a “cidery” flavor.

Staunton is also home to the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company – a craft brewery with a tasting room and a home-brew supply store. Try one of their brews in their taproom (this is a BYOF place – bring your own food); Talk about your home brewing challenges and get the answers, the equipment, AND the recipes you need for some brew fun at home! Recipes can be found on their website with a detailed description of the resulting beer or ale. Their stock for homebrew is quite extensive with Dry and Wet Extracts, grains, hops, kegging equipment, and Bayou Classics Brewing Systems and part for sale. This is the place to get all your homebrew supplies!

On your adventure through the Shenandoah Valley, be sure to sip a few beers, buy your homebrew supplies, become the brewer, or tour a brewery. You will find that Virginia is for (beer) lovers!

Fall Pumpkins – more than just orange pumpkins? 23 Oct 2015, 2:52 pm

I took a ride to Swisher’s Farm last week to purchase my pumpkins. I was worried that they didn’t have any left since I’m late buying them this year. To my surprise they still had a nice selection.
If you thought there were only “orange” pumpkins then you need to visit Swisher’s. Mr. & Mrs. Swisher were there to greet me. Mrs. Swisher helped me understand all the varietals that are grown on their farm and which ones were the best for eating. I only wanted to purchase them for decoration but I didn’t want to break the news to them so I listened while she educated me in the pumpkin types and their names. I knew there were different heirloom types but never knew they had names! (I guess just like sea shells. Only my friends Meredith, Cathy & Luann would understand this comment.) So I purchased some of Mrs Swisher’s pumpkins as you see in my photos.

The deep orange red one is named Cinderella. Its name is derived from resembling Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.Fairytale is the light orange with green pumpkin. Mrs. Swisher told me twice that I could eat Fairytale but not Cinderella. Don’t worry, they are only my decorations I told her! The one that looks like it has warts growing on it is named Peanut. I liked the unique look of it. The small white one is Snowball. And of course I purchased the good ole “orange” pumpkins. I’m sure they have a name too.
It just shows you that you can learn something new every day!

Blackfriars Playhouse: Shakespeare’s Home, Staunton VA 17 Oct 2015, 12:33 pm

Who would think that the Shakespearean center of the universe – in the USA – would be in the Shenandoah Valley? It is and it is fantastic!

The American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA attracts actors, theatre-goers, and scholars of “all things Shakespeare” every year – all through the year.

The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriar’s Playhouse

10 S Market St.

Staunton VA 24401

When you visit the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, you must be a part of a performance at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Yes – be a part of a performance! This special theatre is designed and constructed just as theatres were built back in Elizabethan times. The sets on the stage are sparse. The lighting includes the audience. The audience is expected to react to the action on the stage. You (the audience) become part of the play and can influence how long the show may play on.

The theatre is the one and only re-creation of the first indoor theatre in England that was built on part of the Blackfriars Monastery in London – hence the name for the theatre here in VA. William Shakespeare and his colleagues built the original theatre. The local theatre was completed and opened in 2001 after considerable research was done for the design and construction. Tours of the theatre are available so you can actually go on stage and backstage to learn more about Shakespeare’s Theatre. Cost for the tour is just $7.00 per person and are done two times per day, five or six days per week.

Performances in the 300-seat theatre in Virginia have delighted audiences from around the world ever since opening night.

While the theatre is stunning, the performances themselves ring true to the style of Shakespeare’s time. The staging is simple. There may be only one or two pieces of furniture on stage with no set designs and no backdrops. There may be some music played by a small group seated above the stage. The audience uses the same light as the actors. So the actors see and react to the audience – just as it happened in Elizabethan England.

Their schedule through November 2015 includes four different plays from Shakespeare’s repertoire; check their website for the full performance schedule.

In December 2015 the resident troupe turns to some Holiday favorites including The Santaland Diaries and A Christmas Carol. But even these favorites are staged in a unique way so that the audience is again, right in the middle of all the fun.

Tickets can be purchased online for performances and for theatre tours. More about the educational component and the actors on stage can be found on the ASC Education page.



Photos used by permission from The American Shakespeare Center.

Wade’s Mill 20th Annual 2015 Apple Butter Festival 30 Sep 2015, 2:14 pm

Located midway between Staunton and Lexington, VA, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, is the “breadbasket of the south” – Raphine, VA. That’s where you will find Wade’s Mill – a working flour mill that has been in operation since 1750!

One day per year, Wade’s Mill celebrates another Shenandoah Valley favorite product – apple butter! This year is the 20th Annual Apple Butter Festival happening on October 17th, 2015. In the tradition of “real” apple butter, there will be a huge copper pot heated over an open fire. The aroma is yummy! And you too can help stir this wonderful favorite fall food. The final product will be available for you to try and buy to take home with you.

The festival is not only about the apple butter. There will be some great food and bread baked in the outdoor oven. Watch and learn about the old ways of baking and cooking. There will be fresh chestnuts from Pettijohn’s Chestnut Orchard. Talk to the orchard owners about how to use this specialty in your baking and cooking or roast them over an open fire and hear them pop! Karen Pettihohn grinds flour from dried chestnuts – so you can purchase delicious Gluten FREE desserts from Karen’s kitchen!

Most people think of Vermont when talking about maple syrup. But pure maple syrup is also made in the mountainous regions of VA! Mike Puffenbarger of Southernmost Maple Sugar Products will be at the festival telling the story of real maple syrup produced in Virginia. He will share how the sweet stuff is harvested and produced and will share some great recipes using maple syrup.

Mountain View Farm will be on hand with craft cheeses produced locally. A sip of wine from Rockbridge Vineyards will pare very well with these cheeses!

Great bluegrass music will be provided to add to the fun. “The New Corner Grocery Blur Grass Band” will play in the first part of the day and Kathryn Young and Friends will provide some great musical entertainment during the afternoon.

Watch some craftsmen at work forming iron into great gifts and useful products. James McGavock will have a forge hot and will demonstrate the old craft of working the iron into horseshoes and other necessary hardware. Learn about the art of basket weaving from Cindy Miller, owner of House Mountain Baskets. She will make baskets in a Shaker style using old style, authentic materials.

The Apple Butter Festival will be a day filled with history, food, music, crafts, and APPLE BUTTER! Make your plans to visit this special spot in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

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