Take a Hike: Trails Near the Iris Inn 15 Apr 2015, 5:00 am
One could argue that spring is the ideal season for hiking. The chill of winter has departed and the intensity and humidity of the summer heat has not yet arrived. Everything is bursting with new life, and there is an overall sense of well-being in the springtime (other than the allergies of course!)
There are numerous hiking options within a short distance from the Iris Inn, and the imminent shift to fall if the perfect time to start planning an outdoor excursion. Peruse the list of trails below, and make sure to book your room at the Iris Inn!
Crabtree Falls- Hike a four-mile loop, comprised of neatly-kept trails, breathtaking scenery, and the “highest cascading set of falls east of the Mississippi.” Dogs are also welcome, so long as they are leashed.
Appalachian Trail to Spy Rock-Spy Rock is is one of the tallest mountains in the area with a “360-degree panoramic view.” The hike begins at the Montebello Fish Hatchery, proceeds across two-miles of the Appalachian Trail, and then continues to Spy Rock.
Wintergreen Nature Foundation Trails- There are nearly 30 miles of marked trails around Wintergreen, with four of them being the main trails. They cover “an array of distances and difficulties over the five-mile loop that leads you by the breathtaking Shamokin Falls to the easy one-mile trip through Allen Creek Preserve.”
Blackrock Summit Trail- This is a simple, beautiful one-mile hike located in Shenandoah National Park. The rocks for which it is named is a unique sight that supposedly resembles “the terrain of a foreign planet.”
Humpback Rocks Trail- This trail is “short, steep, but immediately rewarding,” and the “rock outcrop on top provides one of the best views of the Shenandoah Valley.” (This hike also happens to be the person favorite of the Iris Inn blogger!)
Sharp Top- Sharp Top is a strenuous three-mile hike that can take at least two-hours to finish. The effort is definitely worth it, as it overlooks the remains of a World War II bomber aircraft, as well as a panoramic view from the Piedmont to the Alleghany Mountains.
Celebrate Floral Beauty at the Andre Viette Daylily & Wine Festival 7 Apr 2015, 6:56 am
For those of you who need some rest and relaxation, it’s almost time for another festival. The Shenandoah Valley is ripe with greenery, and this is the perfect time of year to celebrate the natural world with the Andrew Viette Daylily & Wine Festival. This event, which is be on July 18-19, 2015, includes a seminar tent with horticulture experts, wine-tasting, beer-tasting, artisans, tips for landscapers and gardeners, children’s activities, and the absolutely beautiful Viette gardens. There are so many wonderful activities at this event that it’s impossible to list everything here, so, you’ll just have to experience it for yourself. (It also happens to be included as part of a Wine Therapy Weekend at the Iris Inn!)
So…let’s talk a little bit about that beautiful little flower called the daylily. You may not know a lot about them, so here are a few brief facts, courtesy of the University of Minnesota:
- Each of these flowers only lasts one day
- Each plant blooms for 30-40 days
- Daylilies flower best with around six hours of direct sunlight
- There are more than 35,000 named daylilies
- Daylilies are of the genus Hemerocallis, and are not actually true lilies
Andre Viette is well-known for his daylily hybrids, and neither descriptions nor photographs do justice to these lovely pieces of nature. The only way for you to truly appreciate their beauty is to see them in person, and the only way for you to see them in person is to come to the festival during your stay at our bed and breakfast.
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Explore Virginia’s Historic Garden Week 1 Apr 2015, 1:00 am
Lush gardens, historic homes, and warm walking tours with good company—nothing celebrates the arrival of spring like Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, and the annual event is fast approaching! “Every April, visitors are welcomed to more than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during ‘America’s Largest Open House.'”
The first garden tour nearby the Iris Inn is on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at Morven Estate in Charlottesville: “Morven, a three-story brick manor house built in the late-Georgian/Federal Style, dates to 1820. The land on which it sits was part of the original Carter family land grant and was known to Thomas Jefferson as ‘Indian Camp.’” The estate was passed from Jefferson to his adoptive son William Short. It was then passed on to others until it was finally owned by John Kluge, who generously gifted the estate to the University of Virginia. A bit of trivia for you: “Morven” is a Scottish word that means “ridge of the hills.”
The Staunton, VA tour will also be held on Saturday, April 18, 2015, exploring why the Queen City is “one of Virginia’s most celebrated preservation success stories.” Each stop on the 2015 Staunton tour “Each of the farms and estates on this year’s tour has a deep connection with the area’s historic and cultural roots. These 200+ acre properties are anchored by landmark residences in the Federal, Tudor Revival and French Eclectic styles with construction dates ranging from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries.”
On Sunday, April 19 and Monday, April 20, you’ll have the opportunity to tour Albemarle-Charlottesville homes and gardens: There is something to please everyone, from historic estates to restored Gillette gardens to prized modern landscape architecture.” (These tours are only a short drive away from the Iris Inn!)
Book your calendar, and reserve your room at the Iris Inn. You won’t want to miss out on this indulgence in history, gardens, and springtime in Virginia.
The 40th Annual Lexington Road & River Relay 18 Mar 2015, 10:24 am
If you caught last week’s blog, then you’ll know that the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour is coming up soon, but that’s not the only outdoor competition to get your blood flowing. Another upcoming event is the 40th Annual Lexington Road & River Relay, “a challenging 16.1-mile course in and around Lexington, Virginia.” This event also just so happens to be sponsored by one of our local breweries, Devils Backbone, which will be offering its brews during post-race festivities. Sound interesting? Then keep on reading.
This relay will commence on May 2, 2015 at 10 a.m. at the Rockbridge Regional Library in Lexington (only a 45-minute drive away from the Iris Inn). From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., participants will challenge themselves physically and mentally as they fight through the four legs of the relay:
- 3.5-mile run over a “moderately hilly course” on paved roads.
- 9.1-mile bike ride over paved, hilly roads.
- 2.2-mile canoe or kayak course that travels down the Maury River
- 1.3-mile loop run on a “slightly hilly” trail course.
While you have the option of entering as an individual competitor, you can also enter with up to four other team members. Make it a girls’ adventure with a stay at our B&B or a family event with the addition of an inn getaway. There are so many fantastic ways to make this a fun vacation with some fun competition thrown in. (Plus all participants get pizza and beer after the relay!)
Register for the Lexington Road & River Relay by calling 540-463-5375 or going here. (Website info should be updated soon for the 2015 race). Click here to reserve your cabin, cottage, or suite at the Iris Inn.
Cheer on the Cyclists at the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour 10 Mar 2015, 3:55 pm
“Set your cycling goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.” –Felicity Luckey
Cycling is a fantastic cardio exercise. There’s a reason spinning classes are so popular, right? However, nothing beats a ride out on the road, especially when you have great company, gorgeous scenery, and a friendly air of competition.
If you follow cycling competitions, then chances are, you’ve heard of George Hincapie: “He competed in a record 17 Ronde van Vlaanderen races and finished second at the grueling Paris-Roubaix, the best ever for any American. Beyond the classics he rode in the Tour de France 17 times and won three US National Road Race championships.” So why are we telling you about George Hincapie? Because he’ll be joining the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour from June 26-July 1, 2015! These six days (or three, depending on which registration option you choose) will take you on a moderate-to-difficult journey, 20 to 108 miles, and up to 26,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart!
So, what all will be included on the 2015 Bike Virginia Tour?
– Rest stops with food, fruit, and drinks packed with electrolytes to keep your bodies fueled.
– A daily “premium rest stop” that includes some sort of culinary treat.
– Beer and wine sales
– Shower trucks
– On site retailers just in case you need bike clothing or accessories
– On site entertainment every single evening
– And much more.
Now, you’re going to need a whole lot of rest before you start
on your long bike tour, so why not swing around to Waynesboro, VA
take a quick getaway at the Iris Inn before heading north to
Abingdon, VA. We fill up fast in June and July, and the bike tours
registration fills up quickly as well, so book your room and register now!
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Come to the 15th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival, Waynesboro, Virginia 1 Mar 2015, 5:05 pm
It may be difficult to think about venturing outdoors and enjoying some fishing while it’s still so chilly outside, but there’s a promise of warmer weather in the air. And you know what spring in Waynesboro, VA means…it’s time for the Annual Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival! (Trivia: Did you know that this festival is the largest outdoor event of its kind in the country?)
Now in its 15th year, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival will take place on Saturday, April 11, 2015 and Sunday, April 12, 2015 on the banks of Waynesboro, VA’s beautiful South River: “Over 50 onsite exhibitors will have the latest in fly fishing equipment, fly tying and guide services. Beginner to expert anglers will enjoy nonstop lectures on where, when and how to fly fish in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.” Enjoy classes on beginning fly fishing, fly tying deer hair bass bugs, spey casting, and advanced casting. Visit the vendors with offerings that include everything from food to jewelry to fishing supplies. And of course, taste some of the wine and cider provided by local vineyards and cideries—Barren Ridge, Bold Rock, DuCard Vineyards, Hunt’s Vineyards, Sans Soucy Vineyards, Sweetwater Vineyards. (Most of the festival tastings will be free to those 21 and older…that’s right FREE!)
Whether you’re a beginning angler, an experienced fly fisher, or you just want to show up for the wine tasting, it’s never too soon to start planning your Fly Fishing and Wine Festival vacation.
Where: South River, Waynesboro, VA
When: April 11-12, 2015
Admission: $20 daily, $35 weekend pass, children 16 and under FREE
Lodging: The Iris Inn!
Photo Credit: Žiga
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Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, Virginia 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.
Enjoy a Romantic Weekend at the Iris Inn and 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!
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Burton’s Grill, Charlottesville, Virginia 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.