Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, VA 16 Feb 2015, 3:47 pm
“He was a wise man who invented beer.” –Attributed to Plato, but more than likely not said by him (nevertheless, we agree)
We write this on a frigid day in the Shenandoah Valley. Snow is falling (even though we’re only a few weeks away from spring), and the winter weather is making us especially thankful for a toasty bed & breakfast with a crackling fireplace in the Great Room. It may be cold outside, but you can warm up your insides with a taste of local brew. One particular brewery of note is Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, VA.
Starr Hill has provided its patrons with the “Gift of Great Beer” at the hands of Master Brewer Mark Thompson. For Mark, the brewing process has always been a form of art, and each brew is as unique and interesting as its name. For example, you’ve got the Psycho Killer, a Wee Heavy Ale with a roasted malty flavor and undertones of caramel and chocolate. Then there is the Northern Light, an IPA with a citric bitterness and an intense hop and a smooth finish. As with the other nearby breweries, Starr Hill is also an award-winning establishment, having earned gold for its Jomo Vienna Lager, its Dark Starr Stout, and its Festive Amber Lager along with a host of other awards and achievements. Will you find the Gift of Great Beer at Starr Hill? We answer with an enthusiastic “yes!”
(Note: On February 16, 2015, Mark Thompson announced his retirement from Starr Hill after 16 years with them. He will certainly be missed, but we have no doubt that the brewery will carry on the Gift of Great Beer as per Mark’s vision.)
A Winter Wonderland Winery Passport 9 Feb 2015, 8:55 am
Get ready, all of you libation lovers out there, because it’s time for a fun, local winery tour, featuring the Winter Wonderland Winery Passport. This $25 Passport includes wine tasting at five different locations in and around picturesque Charlottesville, VA, where you can sip, swirl, and delight in the notes and flavors of top quality Virginia vino:
- Keswick Vineyards: This family-owned winery specializes in a minimalistic approach to winemaking, resulting in smaller batches of higher quality wines. They’re approach is definitely working, as they’ve won numerous awards like Platinum Award at the San Diego International Wine Competition and the Best White Wine in America (2002 Viognier Reserve) at the Atlanta International Wine Summit. Pretty impressive, right?
- Glass House Winery: What is it that makes Glass House Winery so unique? Besides their fantastic wines, Glass House also offers homemade gourmet chocolates, as well as a stunning tropical conservatory for your enjoyment. Want to taste a fusion of Glass House’s products? Don’t miss their one-of-a-kind chocolate wine. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering.
- Jefferson Vineyards: These wines embody Thomas Jefferson’s “original vision of winemaking in Virginia.” Each wine is crafted with Virginia grapes and made without the use of concentrates or additives, so you know you’re getting pure quality. Check out more of Jefferson’s history with winemaking here.
- Trump Winery: This scenic winery is owned by Donald Trump (yes, that Donald Trump) and is Virginia’s largest vineyard with around 200 acres of French vinifera. “Just minutes from downtown Charlottesville and historic sites Monticello and Ash Lawn-Highland, Trump Winery is producing sparkling, white and red wines that compete with the best wines from around the world.”
- Grace Estates Winery: “An old world family heritage blends a new world wine tradition with Virginia terroir.” Grace Estates’ winegrower, Jake Busching, uses his extensive knowledge and experience plus a holistic approach to farming and winemaking. The results? Chardonnay with hints of vanilla and caramel, Cabernet Franc with notes of cracked pepper, tobacco, and cherry, Le Gras Cuve with tones of orange and honey, and more.
Want to order your Winter Wonderland Winery Passport? Give Keswick Vineyard a call at (434)244-3341. Click here to check availability at The Iris Inn Bed & Breakfast.
Veritas Valentine’s Day Winemaker’s Dinner 2 Feb 2015, 9:03 am
Must, bid the Morn awake!
Sad Winter now declines,
Each bird doth choose a mate;
This day’s Saint Valentine’s.
For that good bishop’s sake
Get up and let us see
What beauty it shall be
That Fortune us assigns.
Valentine’s Day is only a couple weeks away, and if your significant other is tired of the run-of-the-mill card and chocolate combination, then maybe it’s time to do something a bit different this year:
Step 2: Make your reservation for Veritas Vineyard and Winery’s Valentine’s Day Winemaker’s Dinner.
Veritas’ upcoming Valentine’s Day Winemaker’s Dinner will feature a five-course meal (and each course will be paired with its own wine!) music, and dancing. Savor the marinated butternut squash, linguini with sliced black truffles, and grilled petit filet Mignon. Delight in vanilla and chocolate gelato, layered with cherries and sliced almonds and surrounded by dark chocolate. Finish off every rich bite with a sip of perfectly paired wine. The Winemaker’s Dinner takes place on Saturday, February 14, 2015, from 7 P.M. to 11 P.M. in the winery’s Saddleback Hall. Reservations are open, so be sure to make yours now!
The Iris Inn is ready to make your Valentine’s Day perfectly romantic, and you have the option of amping up your getaway with a fantastic dinner at an award-winning Virginia winery. We look forward to seeing you!
Burton’s Grill, Charlottesville, VA 15 Jan 2015, 8:28 am
“Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives
a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and
happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.”
– Elsa Schiaparelli
Part of the fun of vacation is the opportunity to explore and enjoy new restaurants, whether that be at a casual eatery, an indie café, or a fine dining establishment. Here in and around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, we have a plethora of outstanding restaurants, and one that particularly stands out is Burton’s Grill in Charlottesville.
Burton’s Grill is a Contemporary American restaurant with a low-lit, casual atmosphere and a delectable dining experience. Whether you’re in the mood for pasta, New England seafood, a burger, or salad, they can accommodate all of your needs, and that includes those with specific dietary restrictions. (Burton’s even offers a full, gluten-free menu and a vegetarian menu.) Choose a Vegetable Medley Risotto, gluten-free Blue and Bronzed Shrimp, or Spicy Calamari. Take a bite of our particular favorites, the pan-seared scallops and the classic Burtons Burger. For dessert, have a slice of key lime pie, a chocolate torte, or a pecan tart. Depending on which day of the week you choose to visit Burton’s Grill, you may be able to take advantage of a special like $5 Martinis, $5 Pizzas, and $1 Oyster Mondays.
Hopefully your mouth is watering by now at the mere thought of biting into a dish at Burton’s Grill, and if that’s the case, start planning your getaway now. And if you need lodging to return to after your eatery adventure, then make your reservation at the Iris Inn Bed & Breakfast.
Treat Your Tastebuds: Wine 101 with Marc Supsic 5 Jan 2015, 10:34 am
This coming weekend, January 9, 10, and 11, 2015, we will be hosting a Wine Weekend at the Iris Inn, featuring Marc Supsic of Wine Living. This wonderfully wine-themed weekend will include dinner, wine pairings, informational sessions with Marc, and much more, leaving you with happy taste buds and a wealth of new knowledge.
So, what will the weekend look like?
5:30: Virginia Wine and Cheese Pairing- We will be pairing Virginia Viognier with cheese from Caramount Farms, and Virginia Cabernet Franc with Gouda from Our Lady of the Angels.
8:30: Port and Chocolate Pairing- What day is complete without a rich dessert? This pairing will feature treats from a local chocolatier, truffles dusted with cocoa powder, and chocolates with orange, perfect paired with sweet, young, ruby Port.
8:00-9:30: Breakfast and Sparkling Wine- Your day will start with a Spanish Cava paired with a savory egg dish. What a way to wake up in the morning!
1:30: Sensory Exploration- For 50 minutes to an hour, Marc will introduce you to an aroma/flavor kit to train your palate, and as you learn, you will have the opportunity to win some prizes. (Your Sensory Exploration includes lunch.)
Dinner- Indulge in a mixed or Caesar salad paired with New Zealand (Marlborough) Sauvignon Blanc, stuffed chicken with tomatoes and spinach paired with a Meritage from Karamoor Estate in PA, and bread pudding paired with a Malmsey (Sweet) Madeira. If you think your mouths are watering now, just wait until it’s all sitting right in front of you!
Click here to make your reservation, and be sure to put “WINE101″ in the “notes” section. We only have 4 rooms left, so you won’t want to miss out on our very first Wine 101 Weekend.
Winter Fun at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello 1 Jan 2015, 12:30 am
If you caught one of our last blogs, you know that winter in and around the Shenandoah Valley is full of activity from skiing to cold-weather hiking. We now have a few more itinerary suggestions for you of a more historic variety. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA will be offering three different activities coming up towards the end of January 2015, so if you’re planning to stay at the Iris Inn around that time, consider adding a trip to Monticello to your calendar.
- Monticello’s Winter Woodlands- This outdoor excursion is a must for any nature lover: “Join Jerry Therrien on a two-hour hike through Monticello’s rich forests, and help identify trees and shrubs by observing their habitat, structure, form, texture, and buds.” Grab your sturdy walking or hiking shoes, a few layers of warm clothing, and get ready for a fun (and possibly muddy) winter woodland walk.
- Owl Prowl- Is there anyone who doesn’t like these adorably wide-eyed avians? Go on your own educational owl prowl for “for an evening of listening to the hoots, wails, and shrieks of owls and learning about their habits.” Monticello recommends hiking boots, binoculars, water, and a flashlight (as the hike will begin at 5:30 when it’s already dark). Click here to register for the Owl Prowl.
- Sequential Vegetable Planting Part I- “Join Amy Jeffries at the Center for Historic Plants’ propagation facility for this two-hour, hands-on workshop full of gardening tips and practical advice for spring gardening.” The best part is that after you’ve experienced the workshop and learned a number of tips from Amy Jeffries, you’ll be able to take home your very own start seeds from Monticello’s gardens.
Happy 2015, everyone! Enjoy the new year, and don’t forget to give yourself a break with an Iris Inn getaway.
Ring in 2015 with First Night Virginia 19 Dec 2014, 8:06 am
Imagine yourself in the midst of a Christmas crowd, holiday lights glistening above you, lively music echoing down the streets, the energy of your fellow festival attendees, and a hot cup of cocoa in your gloved hands. What a perfect way to ring in the new year, right?
You’ve probably already got your Christmas plans under control, but how about New Year’s Eve? Sure, you could sit at home with the family, watching the live TV broadcast and sipping champagne, OR you could do something special this year—First Night Virginia.
First Night is a seasonal celebration of both the arts and of Christmastime, and it includes everything from live music to town tours to dancers and jugglers. The Iris Inn just so happens to be situated between two different First Night events, so you’ll have your pick of either one on New Year’s Eve 2014:
First Night Virginia 2015, Charlottesville: “First Night Virginia is an annual ‘community celebration of the arts’ that began in Charlottesville in 1982 and is the second oldest First Night in the country.” Enjoy the festivities along the Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall, where you can also dine at one of the many styles of restaurants and shop at the unique, local stores. And you certainly won’t want to miss out on all of the live performances! Click here for wristband information.
First Night Harrisonburg: “Ring in the New Year with thousands of your friends and neighbors at First Night Harrisonburg 2015 on December 31st…To celebrate, we will highlight the arts and bring the community together by transforming retail stores, churches, and downtown businesses into performance venues that showcase local and regional talents.” Take in all of the sights and sounds of the live performers, holiday decorations, and the arrival of 2015.
Of course, once you’ve welcomed 2015, you’re going to be a bit tired. Make sure you’ve reserved your room at the Iris Inn so that you have a place to rest your head and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the new year.
5 Winter Activities Near the Iris Inn 9 Dec 2014, 7:17 am
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” ― Edith Sitwell
During the cold, winter months, it’s tempting to hole up indoors and wait out the frigid weather. But really, winter doesn’t mean you have to hide away and hibernate; it just means that you have to slip on a few more warm layers of clothing before heading out on your excursions. Furthermore, activities in and around the Shenandoah Valley don’t stop because of a little snow, so if you’re wanting a winter adventure, check out these fun options:
- Go ice-skating. Both Wintergreen Resort and the Charlottesville’s Main Street Arena offer this enjoyable winter activity, so lace up a pair of skates (which they provide if you don’t have your own), and slide out into the arena.
- Go snow tubing. Slide your way down the slopes of Wintergreen and Massanutten, ending in a pile of laughter and snow.
- Go skiing. If you’d like an activity that’s a bit more challenging than snow tubing, then how about some skiing? Both Wintergreen and Massanutten offer these activities as well.
- Create a glass ornament. Sunspots Studio in Staunton, VA allows you to blow your very own glass ornament, creating a beautifully unique gift or keepsake.
- Enjoy a Winter Lantern Tour at the Frontier Culture Museum. “Visitors will enjoy vignettes at England, Ireland, Germany, 1820s America, and 1850s America including a Mummer’s play near the Irish Forge and a horse-drawn wagon ride from the Old World to the New World.”
Book your suite, cottage, or cabin at the Iris Inn, and enjoy the upcoming winter season!
4 Reasons You Need an Iris Inn Gift Card 5 Dec 2014, 2:35 pm
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
The holiday season has arrived with a flurry, and that means that shopping season is also here with full force. But if you’re less than impressed with stores’ garish displays of uniformed “gifts for him” and “gifts for her,” then we have an alternative you might like—an Iris Inn gift certificate.
- It’s a unique gift that will appeal to a variety of people. Not sure what to get that semi-acquaintance coworker? Drawing a blank as to what to give your mother-in-law? How about your picky brother, who already owns everything you can think of? Give them something different than the norm—a break from the “real world.”
- You don’t have to fight off the holiday crowds who jostle you around and run over your toes with their gift-laden carts. Our gift certificates are available to purchase online, so you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to pick one up.
- You’ll be done with your shopping a few weeks early. Knowing what you’d like to buy for someone for Christmas is probably the hardest part of the process, but we can help ease the trouble.
- An Iris Inn gift card offers much more than a simple, physical gift. Many gifts will wear out or be forgotten over time. Those fuzzy socks from Grandma? They’ll fray and tear after a year’s use. The iPod from your significant other? It’ll break after too many uses or become obsolete as technology upgrades. A B&B gift certificate, however, offers the chance to make fond memories that you’ll recall in years to come.
Interested? Click here to purchase your gift certificate.
Sunspots Studios & Glassblowing: An Artsy Adventure 20 Nov 2014, 10:41 am
“As difficult as it is to master, glass blowing, in even the simplest piece done by a novice, is simply magical, which, perhaps, has helped this archaic form of art has live on.” –Memorials.com
Have you ever watch the process of glassblowing? It is an absolutely fascinating display of art that I s almost like blowing a bubble and then shaping said bubble with careful movements, additional heat, and an artistic eye. This is the magic that happens in Staunton, Virginia’s Sunspots Studios.
You may have heard us mention Sunspots before, and that’s because we’re huge fans of their work, displays, and hands-on activities. Not only do they feature daily glassblowing demonstrations, but they also offer a gallery and gift shop where you can peruse and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces—jewelry, vases, paperweights, hummingbird feeders, oil candles, ornaments and more. And speaking of ornaments, one of our favorite aspect of Sunspots Studios is their “Blow Your Own Ornament” activities.
Through the rest of November, you have the opportunity to join a professional glassblower in crafting your own ornament. There is nothing quite as satisfying as holding a creation of your very own, especially one that makes a beautifully unique souvenir or a special gift for friends or family. Create a traditional ornament to hang on your inevitable Christmas tree. Choose a glow-in-the-dark ornament to add a holiday radiance to your decorations. Craft a pumpkin ornament that will perfectly accompany your fall décor. Every piece is unique, and the best part about blowing your own ornament is that it is uniquely YOU!
Sunspots is joining in the Black Friday brouhaha and offering their own special opportunity that will run through the next few Fridays: Blowing your own ornament usually only lasts until 4pm, but starting on Black Friday, additional appointments will be offers from 5pm to 7pm.
Sunspots is only 20 minutes from the Iris Inn, so if you’re on a B&B getaway here, take a bit of time for a one-of-a-kind glassblowing adventure.
The post Sunspots Studios & Glassblowing: An Artsy Adventure appeared first on The Iris Inn.