Sunday, December 2, 2012

Open Houses Nestled in Nature

Yesterday Cindy and I checked out several unique Holiday Open Houses south of Charlottesville discovering wonderful crafts and a new Winery.

Beautiful quilting by Majorie Shepherd.
On our way south, we took a quick detour west to the small rustic Free Union Country School where artisans assembled to sell lovely carved and turned wooden vessels, Honeysuckle Vine Wreaths, hand quilted items, Pottery, and Jewelry.  The exotic wood bowls by Madera were some of the most beautiful I have seen.  The abstract quilting by Free Union resident, Marjorie Shepherd was bold, colorful and unique.  The Honeysuckle Vine creations by Anne Scarpa McCauly were wonderfully simple in form but technically detailed.  An extra bonus was the nice assortment of snacks and what was to be the best Apple Cider of our trip.

Little white primitive tree at Bittersweet.
Next we headed down 29 S to Bittersweet Branch Primitives in Faber, VA. This quaint little shop never ceases to amaze me.  If I could pick up a store and install it in my house, this would be it. Beth has discovered wonderful shabby chic vintage items and rustic primitives to share with you in her shop.  An artist and designer, she always knows how to tastefully display her found treasures.  Delightfully stacking architectural pieces displaying fabrics and crafts to keep your curious eyes entertained.  The shop building is equally as interesting appearing to have been plucked from an English Village and artfully nestled into nature off 29 S.  Warm and cozy, complete with a wood stove simmering miniature potpourri herb rabbits, and delicious Crab Dip and Pumpkin Cake yummies.

Darling primitive Farmer and Wife - pattern for sale.
The Holiday mood meter was about a 7 out of 10 at this point but once we ventured to Not Forgotten Farm the meter hit a 9 and we certainly will not forget this darling shop.  This cozy mind-blowing creative little farm shop was quite a surprise.  Off the beaten track in Amherst County but not too difficult to of a journey and certainly worth whatever it took to get there was this charmingly delightful shop filled with one of a kind little works of art and creatures.

Nocchi the Donkey loves Persimmons.
Lori certainly has a wonderful imagination and has shared it in her needlework and patterns.  Her shop mainly offers patterns for you to recreate her darling creatures but is also a source for unique primitive style fabrics, notions, and other items.  The needle shop was built by her husband but made to compliment the adjoining white clapboard farm house and rustic animal barns. We spent a long time with the menagerie of farm animals.  A pair of Donkeys greeted us on arrival and we later discovered chickens, Guinea Hens, a Peacock, and majestic Roosters in the barn... and two sweet doggies along the way.

Our visit ended eating Ginger Cookies dipped in Pumpkin Sauce chatting with the Clauses.  Glimpsing up to the parting sign "U'all Come Back", we tore ourselves away planning a trip next year to their Halloween Festival.

Sheep on the mountain top with a view.
Our last stop was up 1800 feet to the top of a mountain ridge in Amherst County to Ankida Ridge Vineyards.  I'm really glad that we took the effort to find this remote and breathtaking spot.  Reservations were required and they were full but told us to come anyway (they did not know I was a blogger).  Overflowing with what I would call "southern hospitality" from the second we parked our car.  Being taxied up higher on the mountain to the tasting room by a kind employee and greeted happily by the owner at the door really made an impression that we were in for a welcoming visit.

Sheep in the Grape Vines.
By the end of an hours time we we were singing Christmas Carols with Jessie (the niece of the owners), had tasted five wines, enjoyed a hay ride, and visited with all sorts of farm animals. Wine tasting was free if you donated an ornament to help fill their first Holiday tree.  That was a nice touch - I've not heard of other wineries making such offers and I'll have to say that not all wineries give you a welcoming feeling when you hit the door.  We chatted with one of the owners, Christine, who shared with us how the vineyard came about.  Their original intention was to find a remote piece of land in order to relax from demanding jobs (her husband is still a veterinarian in Virginia Beach and commutes).  It seems the fresh mountain air cleared their minds welcoming dreams of building something to keep them entertained for years to come.  The name Ankida is an ancient Sumerian term meaning where the Earth and Sky join and is a most appropriate name for this vineyard that sits on the cusp of heaven.

Hay Ride up the Mountain.
Groups were shuttled by hay wagon up to the tip top of the mountain where the 2 acres of vines are located protected by fencing allowing grapes to grow and pets to roam.  With Guinea hens on full alert, the sheep keep the grass and weeds short, chickens peck grubs and larva, and cats chase moles.

The ambiance and their full rich bodied port wine really hit the spot topping off a really nice day in the country.



  1. Thank YOU so much for visiting us! It was a wonderful day, made even more special with friends like you!
    Merry Christmas ~ from Notforgotten Farm

  2. We were delighted you could share this special day with us... And a double treat to discover your wonderful blog and read how much you enjoyed the day. Fabulous! Come back again! Happy Holidays!


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