If you’ve been keeping up with our blogs for a while, you may remember the fire that we had here a few months back, and as a result, the heroic actions of two young cadets from Fishburne Military School. One of these cadets, Collin, was recently joined by his twin brother Ryan for their senior year at Fishburne, and their family was featured in a news piece about the military school.
We are delighted to be able to claim the Green family, including Colin, Ryan, and their parents Liz and Bob, as guests of the Iris Inn for the past four years. The young men always anticipate a nice, hot shower after the grueling nature of their schooling, and we are always ready to prepare their favorite breakfast for them—corned beef hash.
The news piece quotes Liz as affirming the rigorous schedule that Fishburne cadets follow, as well as the resulting discipline. We, too, are thankful for such discipline, as it prompted quick and logical reactions among the cadets who saw the first signs of the fire at our inn. Thank you again, Collin, for your level-headed aid in stopping the fire, and thank you, Green family, for your loyalty to the Iris Inn!
Liz and Bob packing up the car at the end of the year (2011)
Bob (left) and son Ryan
Colin and a fellow Fishburne cadet
The Iris Inn was pleased to welcome a group of cyclists as our guests, and we were even more pleased to learn of the travel journal they kept while biking Skyline Drive. The following excerpts were written by Kevin Martin, and we are delighted to share them with you in hopes of enlightening you with one person’s Skyline cycling experience:
“Skyline Drive (Front Royal to Rockfish Gap) – 108.5 miles/Road
For full disclosure reasons I decided it was only fair to let everyone know what we could be getting ourselves into, but I buried it in a cheery email with a fun-filled itinerary that I hoped would distract likely participants from clicking on the link.
The Skyline Drive is a scenic highway that runs the full length of Shenandoah National Park, from Front Royal to Waynesboro, VA for a total of 105.5 miles. The elevation gain is over 11,200 feet. In fact, the first 4.5 miles is a steady 8% grade climb of over 1,500 feet.
Day 1- The Agony: Front Royal to Big Meadows Lodge (52.5 miles)
We were all aware that the first 4.5 miles would be the longest and steepest climb of the entire route, but that didn’t make it any easier. But the day was cool and the air crisp so we took our time and steadily conquered the climb making it to our first check point at Dickey’s Visitor’s Center. Rested from what we thought would be the greatest challenge of the day we confidently set off again to tackle the remaining 48 miles.
It’s difficult to describe what transpired over the next 15 or so miles as we made it to the second highest peak on the route, Hogback Overlook (3,385 ft), but the realities of the challenges ahead were becoming imminently clearer.
We had approximately seven miles of gentle rolling hills before we hit Thornton Gap. Thornton Gap was the overlook at the foot of what was supposed to be the second hardest climb, but that’s only true if you haven’t ridden 30 miles before and had a big lunch. This was over a 1,000 foot climb with weary legs and full stomachs and it was pure torture!
The next 10 miles would be dramatic ups and downs with a final 1.5 mile ascent to our final resting place – Big Meadows Lodge.
Day 2 – The Joy: Big Meadows Lodge to Rockfish Gap (56 miles)
There are no words to adequately describe the next 25 miles because it all seemed so surreal. We stopped at check points not because we needed to out of desperation, but because were compelled to. It was a Zen-like experience that was perplexing and mysterious like some sort of Middle-Earth Eden. We practically floated over the next 12 miles toward Rockfish Gap with a joy in our heart as opposed to the tightness we felt the day before.
Epilogue: The Celebration!
Just four miles from Rockfish Gap was a wonderful Bed and Breakfast waiting for us, the Iris Inn. The Iris Inn is someplace that I find myself keep coming back to…This will make my fourth visit and I was thrilled to share it with my friends.
The place was tailor made for four weary cyclists and their support team to celebrate and chill. Dave and Heidi are incredibly gracious hosts who I knew would make everyone feel right at home. Turns out they’re used to cycling folks like us being so close to both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.”
Out of all of the Monticello Wine Trails, the Southern Trail best reflects the work and accomplishments of well-known individuals, be they historical figures like Thomas Jefferson or modern day moguls like Donald Trump.
The first stop on this wine-tasting road trip is Monticello, the “the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, who inherited it….Located just outside Charlottesville, the plantation was originally 5,000 acres. At Jefferson’s direction, he was buried on the grounds, an area now designated as the Monticello Cemetery, which is owned by the Monticello Association, a lineage society of his descendants” (Monticello).
The next stop is Jefferson Vineyards, which still grows fruits that were selected by Thomas Jefferson in 1774. One thing that makes this winery and vineyard so unique is that it is entirely self-contained in Virginia. The grapes are grown onsite, and no fruit is purchased outside Virginia. As the winery states, “These choices are consistent with our values, and we believe they are true to Jefferson’s original vision of winemaking in Virginia” (Jefferson Vineyards). If you do make a stop at this vineyard, we recommend the Chardonnay!
Bleinheim Vineyards is next on the trip, and this property just happens to be owned by renowned musician Dave Matthews. Like the previously mentioned establishments, however, this one is also linked to Thomas Jefferson: “It was Blenheim where Thomas Jefferson and his bride, Martha, are said to have “rested and warmed themselves” after their coach stalled nearby during a snowstorm. Later, the Jeffersons continued on to Monticello on horses borrowed from Edward Carter. The property was sold in 1840 and the house burned a few years later” (Blenheim).
Lastly, there is Trump Winery, owned by Donald Trump, legendary real estate tycoon and star of NBC’s The Apprentice. This winery is known to have the best Brut in Central Virginia, and they also serve some fantastic cheese if you’re hungry for a midday snack.
Enjoy your Southern Trail road trip, and don’t forget to book your room at the Iris Inn!
Andrea Palladio was a 16th century Italian architect who was “highly original and much imitated.” He “developed a style based on the classicism of ancient Rome, breaking with the ornate conventions of the Italian Renaissance,” meaning that he initiated a return to simplicity.
Why on earth are we telling you this, and what does it have to do with the Iris Inn and/or wine tasting road trips? The key is the word “Palladio.” The Barboursville Vineyard in Barboursville, VA boasts a wonderful restaurant known as the Palladio: “The restaurant’s name is no accident, given Andrea Palladio’s influence on the Jeffersonian mansion here, and the presence of his masterpieces throughout the Veneto, home to Gianni and Silvana Zonin, founders of this vineyard estate.
Northern Italian in inspiration, yet creatively indebted to the most seasonal and local resources of the earth and sea, Palladio offers the handsomest gastronomic redemption there can be, of the promise only the finest food and wine can extend — recalling one, recurringly, to the beauty of this world” (Barboursville Wine).
The most popular wines at Barboursville Vineyard are big, bold reds that, while good, do not reveal their full potential at the tasting bar. These reds are entirely fulfilled when tasted with food, and that’s where the Palladio Restaurant comes into play. Make your reservation now at the Palladio, and enjoy some of the finest wine and cuisine that Virginia has to offer.
One more quick thing: Are you fond of history? While you’re in Orange County on your Barboursville wine excursion, consider dropping by Montpelier, the home of James Madison. Then, enjoy the back roads filled with horse farms and rolling hills to Keswick Vineyard and their beautiful wood-focused tasting room. Then pick up I64 in Keswick, and head back to the Iris Inn to relax after your day.
View Wine Tasting Road Trips: Barboursville and the Palladio in a larger map
Virginia has become renowned for its wine. From its Cabernet Franc, the state’s most harvested red grape, to viognier, its signature grape, the Commonwealth has recently seen a significant rise in recognition for its vineyards and wineries.
The Iris Inn is conveniently located near some of Virginia’s most celebrated wineries. (Seriously, we couldn’t have been more conveniently located if we had planned it!) Monticello’s Western Wine Trail happens to be only a short drive away from the inn, so you’re interested in taking a wine-tasting road trip, then look no further:
Afton Mountain Vineyards: With their Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Tete’ de Cuvee, you can’t go wrong at Afton Mountain Vineyards. The vineyards are also absolutely stunning at any time of year. After all, “grapes don’t grow in ugly places.”
Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery: “With 24 years of experience growing vitus vinifera vines at Cardinal Point, Tim [Gorman]‘s expertise as a grower shows up in the quality of his wines.” Try out Cardinal Point’s 2010 Clay Hill Cabernet Franc, 2011 Viognier, and many more amazing wines.
Flying Fox Vineyard: In Flying Fox’s own words, “Our approach to winemaking is very pragmatic. We manage our vines for low yield and maximum fruit intensity. We work with small batches of fruit that have the most desirable characteristics of the terroir and each individual varietal. We want to make the most honest wine possible from the very best grapes.”
King Family Vineyard: Sample King Family’s Viognier, Roseland, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and more. Not only do they offer wine for sale, they also host private events, polo, an onsite shop, and a wine club: “Club members receive quarterly shipments of our wines and enjoy additional discounts available to members only.”
Pollak Vineyards: At Pollak Vineyards, their wines “are grown on the estate where [they] work throughout the year to ensure the highest quality fruit. At harvest all grapes are picked by hand into lugs and sorted, then cooled before being crushed or fermented. Many wines are made in small lots so we can coax unique characteristics from different yeasts and terroir. For wines that are blended, blind taste tests are conducted to find the best blends for each vintage.”
Veritas Vineyards & Winery: Known for their various wine events, Starry Nights in particular, Veritas boasts wines that “are all unique and of high quality, derived from vitis vinifera with the exception of one French hybrid. [Their] philosophy is to make wine with the classic, old-style principles of Viticulture and Vinification, at the same time using state of the art technology to capture varietal and regional character.”
View Wine Tasting Road Trips: The Monticello Western Wine Trail in a larger map
Can you remember the last time you were completely awestruck by something? Be it a sea of stars in the night sky, the panoramic view from a mountaintop, or the soft, green scent of the woods in summertime, awe-inspiring moments are certainly few and far between. Besides their rarity, they are also nearly impossible to describe—how do you put into words something that overwhelms yet pacifies your senses? And it turns out that these experiences are not only pleasing to the senses, they are also healthy for the mind and body.
A recent study tested the hypothesis that that “awe can alter time perception.” Participants in the study “unscrambled sentences, watched commercials (with large, striking images), and answered questions about personal beliefs in order to create a perceived time availability index…In addition to confirming the expansion of time, the study shows that awe can ease impatience and actually make you more willing to volunteer time in the name of others. People also begin to prefer an actual experience over a material good. And just in case that wasn’t good enough, an awesome moment can increase your overall satisfaction and happiness in life” (The Atlantic).
So, how do we go about experiencing these awe-inspiring moments? Sometimes they happen by chance, for which you simply have to wait with painstaking patience. Other times though, you can seek them out. For example, the Iris Inn is located in a breathtaking setting. We overlook the Shenandoah Valley, and we are close by to some of the most beautiful areas in Virginia (in our opinion, anyway). If you need one of these moments of awe, let the Iris Inn be the catalyst for your experience.
Photo by Alvesgaspar (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Alvesgaspar)
If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably been hearing all about the six new cabins that we’re adding to the Iris Inn. Perhaps, though, you’re wondering about the details of these delightful lodging additions. If so, then read on for the juicy details.
Are you in search of an extended stay in a secluded, self-contained, woodland setting? Consider a getaway in one of our brand new cabins, fully comparable to an adult tree-house with all the modern conveniences.
Awake to a Shenandoah Valley morning streaming in through the windows that surround you. With nature as your wallpaper, you’ll feel as though you’re camping in luxury. Practice your culinary expertise in the cabin’s full-sized kitchen. Need to recover after a day of sight-seeing? Toss your laundry into your personal washer and dryer, then relax in the two-person, rain-head shower. Immerse yourself in the sunset and the night sky through the cabin windows that encircle you or from the bubbling waters of your hot tub. Curl up to sleep in your king-sized bed, or, if it’s a warm night, rest in the comfort of an Aerobed on the screened-in porch (with advanced reservation). If you are a lover of nature and luxury, then our cabins are certainly the best pick for your getaway.
We are excited about our new cabins, and we hope that you are as well! Click here to make your Iris Inn reservations.
One could argue that fall is the ideal season for hiking. The intensity of summer heat cools, the humidity lessens, and the leaves began changing with a burst of colorful splendor.
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.
(Thank you to Albemarle Magazine for this compilation of hiking trails, which can be found in their “Take a Hike” August/September Issue.)
Copyright Virginiatrailsadam (http://virginiatrailguide.com/author/virginiatrailsadam/)
If you have ever enjoyed a dinner at the Iris Inn, perhaps you have tried the salmon with its “secret sauce.” The sauce is about to become not-so-secret, as you find the recipe below. (Of course, food oftentimes tastes better when cooked by someone else, so even if you try out the recipe, we’re sure you’ll still wanna stop by for a meal and lodging at our inn.)
½ lb. Butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ cup ketchup
4 Tbsp low-salt soy sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
In a pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until smooth. Brush on salmon when grilling or broiling.
Tip: For grilling, cook a ½-inch fillet 8 minutes, turning once. For an inch-thick steak, cook 10 minutes, turning once. Do not overcook.
Eat and enjoy! This is one of the many recipes in the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia’s cookbook. For more of our recipes along with others, click here to order.
The Iris Inn serves as a meeting place for business groups, scrapbookers, wedding parties, and various other get-togethers. This also includes family reunions, and we are happy to have a reunion experience story directly from one of our former guests:
“My mother Helen, and her sister Pat make it a point to take a sister trip once a year and always spend a few days and nights at the Iris Inn. So when they decided there needed to be a mini-family reunion, what better place than the Iris Inn? Those of us who could make it spent three days and nights at the Iris Inn this past May. My cousin and his wife booked Hawk’s Nest with the hot tub, and the rest of us booked the four rooms on the second floor. This meant we had the second floor deck all to ourselves.
We all arrived at different times on a Friday afternoon from Nebraska, Missouri, Georgia, and Northern Virginia. Dave and Heidi gave us a big welcome and guided each of us to our rooms. We caught up on the latest news with them especially the excitement of the cabins soon to be built. My mother and aunt have already planned to spend a few nights in one of the cabins after they are finished.
Each morning we gathered for one of Heidi’s superior breakfasts consisting of juice, fruit, muffins, eggs prepared differently each morning along with breakfast meats, coffee and tea. While Dave served us, he answered any questions we might have regarding our outings each morning. He is a wealth of knowledge for the best restaurants in the area, how to get to the various vineyards and breweries, plus local sights of interest.
The best parts, however, were the evenings! We rocked away on the upper deck’s rockers watching the sunset behind the mountains of Virginia. We shared family stories and laughed while enjoying a local glass of wine and snacks. Before we knew it, it was midnight. My aunt said she had never seen her son laugh so much as he did those evenings with his wife, sister, me and my new husband, his parents, and my mom.
Dave and Heidi are very friendly and go out of their way to make their guests feel at home. They feel like a part of our family and we’re always excited to see them. The cookie jar is always full for those late night snacks before heading to bed.
We were all very sad to leave that following Monday morning. Not only were we leaving each other, but we were also leaving the comfort of the Iris Inn. My cousin wanted to know who would cook her breakfast every morning. Before leaving, Heidi had us gather on the upper deck for one last family photo before departing.
My mother and her sister are planning their sister trip for August, and of course, for three nights in one of their favorite rooms at the Iris Inn.”