4 Reasons to Visit the Shenandoah Valley in the Fall 17 Aug 2015, 8:55 am
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ― Albert Camus
- The Scenery. Of course the number 1 reason for visiting the Valley in the fall has to be the foliage. The rich green of summer slowly shifts into a brilliant display of red, orange, and yellow, and what better place is there to see it happen than from the top of a Virginia mountain? Whether you’re hiking a local trail, taking a scenic drive, or enjoying the view from one of our porch chairs, the emergence of autumn is a splendid sight to behold. (The Virginia Department of Forestry will continually update their Fall Foliage Report as the changes happen, so stay up-to-date with their website.)
- The Fall Foliage Festival Art Show. Fall is a work of art in and of itself, so it’s the perfect time to celebrate other artistic displays. For one whole weekend, “the streets of downtown Waynesboro are turned into an outdoor art gallery,” hosting the talents of a myriad of local artisans. You’ll find everything from traditional paintings to woodworking to jewelry, so if you’re looking for a souvenir of your Valley getaway, or you’re in need of a gift, this is a great opportunity to pick one up. This year’s festival will take place on October 10-11, 2015.
- The Apples. From apple pie to apple cider to apple butter, this fruit bursts onto the scene in autumn. Enjoy the apple-themed merriment at Chiles Peach Orchard’s “Fall Into Fun” Festival, or pick your own ripe, juicy apples at Seamans’ Orchard.
- The Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. “Taste a bounty of heirloom fruits and vegetables and learn about organic gardening and seed-saving during this fun, affordable, family-friendly festival — unlike any other — held on the breathtaking West Lawn of Jefferson’s Monticello.”
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Fantastic Food at Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, Virginia 13 Aug 2015, 2:39 am
Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA is more than just a fantastic local microbrewery. It is also a Hop Farm and a member of the Virginia Green Program, emphasizing water and energy conservation. All of these efforts go towards producing an excellent assortment of beer.
Want to sip a beer made from Blue Mountain’s Cascade variety hops? Then try the Full Nelson Pale Ale. (The Full Nelson is also available in 100% recyclable cans. Did you know that Blue Mountain was the first craft brewer in Virginia to introduce canned beer?)
Sample the complexity of the Dark Hollow Artisanal Ale, aged for 100 days in an American oak barrel, or try out any number of seasonal, draft-only selections like the Imperial Pumpkin, the Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Stout, or the Hibernator Doppelbock. Also, don’t miss out on Blue Mountain’s scheduled events like Fish Taco Tuesdays and Geeks Who Drink Trivia.
And speaking of scheduled events, did you know that August is Virginia Craft Beer Month? Sounds like the perfect excuse for a Blue Mountain Brewery excursion and a great way to end the summer season. (And don’t forget to reserve your cabin, cottage, or suite at The Iris Inn!) Want to check out some of our other local breweries? Click here.
“Nothing ever tasted better than a cold beer on a beautiful afternoon with nothing to look forward to than more of the same.” — Hugh Hood
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Our Lady of the Angels, Crozet, Virginia 3 Aug 2015, 1:00 am
We all have that one individual in our lives for whom it is impossible to buy the perfect gift. Shopping for this person involves wracking our brains for unique ideas, usually unsuccessfully, and in the end, they receive a generic gift that is well-received but still not complete perfection. However, if said individual is a fan of cheese (and isn’t a vegan, of course), then we believe we have found the perfect gift for them (which you can pick up during your stay at the Iris Inn!). After all, there is no cheese like fresh cheese.
Our Lady of the Angels is a Trappist monastery located in Crozet, Virginia and comprised of thirteen Sisters. The Sisters boast a variety of backgrounds, having come from New York, California, Haiti, India, and various other locations. These diligently faithful women make a living by making Gouda cheese, using a Dutch recipe and fresh cheese culture from Wisconsin. Everything from making the cheese to packaging and shipping the cheese is done by the Sisters of the monastery, illustrating their emphasis on self-sufficiency and manual labor. As they state on their website, “We try to be good stewards of our land, and our cheese-making endeavor helps to support our life of prayer and service.”
Relish a Ride with Rebel’s Run, Afton, Virginia 16 Jul 2015, 9:02 am
Picture yourself riding on horseback through the Virginia countryside, rolling blue mountains in the distance and lush trees on either side of you. You breathe in the scents of nature and breathe out the worries of everyday life, relishing the steady pace of the horse that carries you. Finally, your party halts and you dismount, ready to indulge in a glass of Virginia wine. It almost sounds too perfect to be real, doesn’t it? Luckily for you, this little scenario is very real, and you can experience it for yourself at Rebel’s Run in Afton, VA.
Rebel’s Run’s winery trail rides are around 45 minutes long and include forests, creeks, vineyard, and a 360 degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We recently went on a wine tour trail ride tour with Rebel’s Run, and it was an incredibly fun experience. At one point on the ride, we emerged from the woods and looked out at a field of hay. Just beyond the field is the red tin roof of Afton Mountain Vineyard’s tasting room, a glistening lake, and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, creating the most idyllic country scene. It’s an absolutely stunning part of the winery that you don’t get to see if you drive by car.
Besides the scenery, we also greatly enjoyed getting to know the horses. These beautiful animals, owned and loved by Mimi Paixao, are so gentle and well-trained that even beginners can enjoy a winery trail ride.
Ready for a ride of your own? Reserve your room at the Iris Inn, bring some sturdy riding shoes, and be prepared for an equine adventure.
Sip & Scribble: A Fall Writing Retreat at the Iris Inn 1 Jul 2015, 1:00 am
Do you find yourself scribbling down bits of writing projects in your spare time? Maybe you’ve always considered yourself a wordsmith with a need for some skill sharpening. If you have any interest in writing, bed & breakfast relaxation, wine tasting, and new friendships, then our upcoming fall writing retreat is perfect for you!
On the weekend of November 20-22, 2015, we will be hosting Sip & Scribble: A Writing Retreat, right here at the Iris Inn. Under the guidance and expertise of writing coach, M. Shannon Hernandez—known to many as The Writing Whisperer—you will try your hand at writing exercises with a focus on the preservation of your family memories.
Whether you have a family legend handed down through generations, war stories from grandparents, or tales of the “old country,” this retreat will help you record such memories while polishing your skills as a writer. Shannon will guide you along the entire way, helping your family members evolve from memory to memoir. Your writing will culminate in a beautiful family album, perfect for a gift or a keepsake.
So, what sort of writing exercises and activities can you expect at this retreat?
– Photo voice writing
– Shared examples
– Optional critiques
– Developing the first-person narrator
– Showing vs. telling
And of course, no retreat at the Iris Inn would be complete without wine tasting! On the Friday or Saturday evening of the retreat, you’re invited to enjoy a complimentary wine tasting in the Great Room, starting at 5:30 p.m. Along with the wine tasting, your writing weekend also includes a picnic lunch, and a hot, delicious B&B breakfast. Space is limited, so be sure to make your reservation today! (To sign up for the writing weekend, reserve your room, and then add on the “Sip & Scribble” package during the reservation process.)
Dates: November 20-22, 2015
Cost: $459/person, plus room cost
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Sip & Snap: A Photography Weekend at the Iris Inn 1 Jul 2015, 1:00 am
Calling all photography enthusiasts! Whether you find yourself constantly snapping Instagram shots with your iPhone or setting up the tripod to capture that perfect digital picture of you and your friends, then you may be interested in a special upcoming package at the Iris Inn—the Sip & Snap Photography Weekend.
Picture yourself on a Shenandoah Valley adventure, scoping out the lush scenery, mountaintop views, vibrant sunsets, radiant waterfalls and more. All of these have the potential to become the subjects of your most prized images.
As part of our Sip & Snap Photography Weekend, photographer Scott Thomas of Scott Thomas Images will offer photo instruction for photographers of all levels of experience, taking you to local venues and teaching you in a classroom setting right here at the Iris Inn.
Date: August 21 – 23, 2015
Lodging: The Iris Inn (To sign up for this event, book your room, and then add the Sip & Snap Photography Weekend Package during checkout.)
Be sure to bring the following items:
– Charged camera batteries
– Memory cards
– Waterproof camera case
– Walking shoes
Food/Drink: Lunch on Saturday will be included, and you will also have the opportunity to enjoy a complimentary wine tasting in the Great Room at 5:30 p.m. on Friday or Saturday.
We look forward to seeing all of you photographers in a truly photogenic Virginia location!
Charge Your Electric Vehicle with the Tesla Destination Charging Program 15 Jun 2015, 1:00 am
If you didn’t catch our press release this past May, you may not know about the new amenity that we’re offering free to Iris Inn guests. We have recently teamed up with Tesla Motors and Select Registry to provide an increasingly sought after amenity—a Tesla Destination Charging Station—in order to keep up with the growing movement of environment awareness, particularly in the area of electric vehicles.
The primary benefit of offering charging equipment right onsite at the Iris Inn is that it’s a great convenience for you, our electric vehicle-driving guests. You can hit the road all day, stop at our B&B for a mountainous getaway, charge your vehicle, and then be on your way with great memories in mind. We provide an 80A Tesla Wall Connector, as well as a charger for other, non-Tesla electric cars.
(Also, while guests enjoy these chargers for free, they’re not the only ones who can use them; non-guests also have the opportunity to take advantage of the charging station for a $15 fee.)
You may be wondering what inspired us to install this electric vehicle charging station. It started in California, where we were meeting our second granddaughter for the first time. When found ourselves driving by the Tesla plant and then began to notice Teslas on the road as we continued our vacation.
We eventually decided to add a charging station to the B&B’s other high-end amenities (like our cabins’ screened-in decks with hot tubs, heated bathroom floors, and oversized couples’ shower!).
So if you’re an electric vehicle driver, but you’re hesitant to
go on long getaways because of charging uncertainty, then you can
rest easy on your next Shenandoah Valley getaway;
the Iris Inn has you covered!
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Celebrate the Fourth of July at Monticello 8 Jun 2015, 1:00 am
“It is the flag just as much of the man who was naturalized yesterday as of the men whose people have been here many generations.” –Henry Cabot Lodge
As you are well aware, July 4th is coming up soon. If you’re like many Americans, you probably plan to spend the day with friends and family, enjoying a barbecue, some cold brews, and colorful display of fireworks. May you’d like to do something a bit different this year, and if that’s the case, then you’ll enjoy the Fourth of the July at Monticello, where a number of individuals will take their oath of citizenship to become members of the United States. After all, what better place is there to celebrate Independence Day than at Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence?
The 53rd Annual Monticello Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony has seen over 3,000 people take the oath since 1963, and it is such a hugely inspiration event that Monticello even provides a live stream of the ceremony. (If you can’t make it to Monticello on July 4th, the live stream will start online at www.monticello.org at 9:00 a.m.) Join fellow attendees for musical performances, patriotic displays, and a word from Governor Terry McAuliffe. (After the ceremony, you’re also invited to enjoy free tours of the Jeffersonian Open House.)
The Iris Inn is only a 30 minute drive from Monticello, so book your room now, and get ready to celebrate July 4th in an area overflowing with U.S. history.
The Green Valley Book Fair 1 Jun 2015, 6:19 am
“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott
There is no better time to indulge in a good book than when you’re on vacation, and if you’re a bit of a book-buying fiend, then you know the cost can quickly add up. The Iris Inn just so happens to be near an affordable bookstore alternative—the Green Valley Book Fair. Whether you prefer science fiction and fantasy, the latest New York Times bestselling novel, autobiographies, or selections from a variety of genres, the Book Fair is at your service: “Located just south of Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Green Valley Book Fair is a discount book outlet store featuring over 500,000 new books at incredible bargain prices. Save up to 90% off retail on over 30,000 different titles in more than 60 different categories” (Green Valley).
Check out the Book Fair, then bring your newly purchased reading material back to the Iris Inn. Here you can indulge in your literary lore from the comfort of your own room, in our cozy library overlooking the Great Room, or on a porch chair with the Valley view to set the scene.
2015 Book Fair Dates:
June 27 thru July 18
Aug. 15 thru Sept. 7
Oct. 3 thru 25
Nov. 27 thru Dec. 16
Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday 12 noon – 5 p.m.
Crunch Your Way Through Route 11 Potato Chips 19 May 2015, 8:05 am
America loves potato chips. Whether it’s Lay’s Ruffled Chips, Cool Ranch Doritos, or Frito-Lay Sunchips, most people indulge every once in a while in these crispy, crunchy morsels. Here in Virginia, we are lucky enough to have our own fantastic brand of potato chips, made by the the company Route 11, which is located in Mt. Jackson, Virginia.
According to Route 11’s official website, their chip recipe is “simple,” including only “good potatoes, high quality oil and unusually delicious seasonings,” and this company certainly succeeds in the quality of their snacks! Not only are the chips delectable, but they have different flavors for different preferences (meaning that all you picky eaters out there have a wide variety from which to choose)! You’ll have check out their complete list of flavors, but here’s a hint of what they offer: Chesapeake Crab, Dill Pickle, Garlic and Herb, Mixed Vegetable, and Sweet Potato.
Did you know that you can also visit Route 21 and feast your eyes on a frying demonstration? Indeed you can, though they recommend calling beforehand to make certain of their cooking hours.