Let’s see where did we leave off? Oh yeah, we’d visited Edgegrove Farm in Purcellville and had an encounter with a goat that was very suspicious of our motives and a poor sheep dog who just couldn’t get no respect. If you haven’t read the first installment of this thrilling adventure you can find the link over there to the right ⇒. After spending all that time in the great outdoors it was time for more wine. We knew just the place and headed straight for one of our favorite spots, North Gate Vineyard!
We arrived a little after 2pm and were happy to see that our dear friend Chris was working. We chatted up Chris for a bit then got a bottle of chilled 2015 Chambourcin and found a nice spot outside on the covered patio to enjoy some live music. Ken Wenzel, one of North Gate’s regulars, was playing this afternoon. If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that I’m a HUGE fan of Chambourcin. That said, I’m particularly fond of North Gate Chambourcin. It’s always consistently smooth and goes down real easy. It’s nice at room temp and even nicer chilled. The 2013 and 2014 vintages were both excellent, but 2015…oh boy, let me tell you, this is one delicious wine. Chris, who knows me and my love for Chambourcin so well, had told me that the 2015 was going to knock my socks off, and as usual she was right. I may have accidentally on purpose bought a case of it to take home with me after the May Trellis Club pickup event. But since I don’t want to run out, here I was drinking it at North Gate on a Saturday afternoon. It’s good stuff, trust me. Every Farm Tour weekend North Gate hosts Blue Ridge Greyhound Adoption, so we visited with the beautiful greyhounds for a bit and had a good time talking to the volunteers from that amazing organization.
When the wine ran out we decided it was a good time to head down the road to our next stop; CEA Farms. We’ve driven past this place many times on our way to visiting wineries along route 9, but have never stopped. I’m so glad we decided today was the day, this place is really cool! They’ve got a farm market in a large building on route 9 where they sell fresh produce and serve lunch. They also had a couple of vendors set up including one selling Kombucha. Have you tried this stuff? I know it’s supposed to be good for you and I happen to know a lot of people who swear by it, so I gave it a try. Thanks, but I think I’ll pass in the future. It’s really not my cup of tea. I’m not even sure it’s tea or what exactly it is, but you can have mine. So now I’ve tried Kombucha, so I get points for trying new things! Yay me! I look over at the counter and what do I see?!?! Tarts from the soon to be world famous Gina’s Pies gluten-free bakery right here in Loudoun County! I know Gina, and I love her pies. This will surely get this interesting taste out of my mouth! So I offer to treat everyone in our group to a tart. We had the bourbon pecan, blueberry, and apple tarts. These tarts are amazing. I have no idea how Gina manages to make a gluten free crust that is not only flaky but incredibly tasty. And her fillings are just right. Way to go Gina! Those tarts really hit the spot. We’d wandered around the farm store enough now and were ready to get on to the greenhouse…
This greenhouse is like Disney World! No, really, it reminded me of one of my favorite rides at Epcot, ‘Living with the Land’ where you go on this neat boat ride through different greenhouses where they test lots of space age growing techniques. Why does this place remind me of that ride? Because CEA, which stands for Controlled Environment Agriculture, is using hydroponic farming to revolutionize the way our food is produced and save the earth. Quite a noble goal. They are able to produce four times the crop yield with 30% less water, and virtually no pesticides. The hydroponic greenhouse produces lettuce, tomatoes, squash, basil, beets, onions, cucumbers and kale. They produce 360 heads of lettuce every week and have almost 2,700 strawberry plants producing fruit. The use of hydroponics means they can grow vertically instead of horizontally, allowing them to maximize the use of space. And using this method in a greenhouse enables them to produce fruit and vegetables year-round, not just during the traditional growing seasons. During our visit, the owner, Donald Virts, was on hand to talk about the greenhouse and growing techniques in use, as well as their plans to expand the idea to other areas of the county in order to provide year-round accessible produce to a wider audience. Definitely an interesting place to visit and it was exciting to see what I’d learned at Epcot out in the real world for the first time. All they are missing is a boat to take you around the greenhouse and they’d be giving Disney a run for their money. Maybe someday…
Time to head over to our next, and last stop for the day, Grange and Grub Farm. This farm has been a mainstay on our farm tour meanderings for quite a while. We always enjoy wandering around and looking at the animals and seeing what they have going on and today was no exception. The farm, formerly known as Chicama Run, was purchased by Mike and Justine Cowen in 2016. They specialize in GMO and antibiotic free meat products including beef, pork, lamb, goat and poultry. Grange and Grub also has a brand spanking new commercial food trailer in which Justine, who is a classically trained chef, creates mouth-watering cuisine using meat and produce from the farm.
It was probably around 3:30 when we arrived and there were still lots of people out and about. We parked, then headed over to see the Holstein cow they had brought out for people to visit with. A kid asked why the cow was so skinny and the lady responded ‘milk cows are supposed to be skinny.’ The kid next asked why that other cow over in the field was so fat and the lady responded ‘that one is too fat she needs to lose some weight.’ I feel ya fat cow, I feel ya. Next up was our visit to the free range chicken area. Well, the whole farm is a free range chicken area, but they do have a nice little homestead in the back of the farm, so we walked over there to have a look-see. There were chickens everywhere! And right in the middle of the chickens was the most beautiful male peacock. It was stunning. Strutting around with plumage on full display, I assumed it was trying to attract a mate? Unfortunately there weren’t any other peacocks around so this poor guy had to bide his time by attacking the chickens. We decided to get a little closer so we could get a better picture. BIG MISTAKE! All of a sudden the peacock came running towards us screaming! Naturally being the big brave people we are, we turned and ran for the hills! After our narrow escape and stopping to laugh for a good bit, we decided it was time to move on from the chickens. I sure hope that poor peacock finds a lady (or man) friend soon so he can relieve some of that crankiness. Our last stop on the farm was to visit with the most adorable puppy. I don’t know what kind of puppy it was, but it was ridiculously cute and is going to be enormous. Good luck with that.
Well, that’s about it for the 2017 Spring Farm Tour. We had an amazing time as usual. The six of us laughed, drank wonderful wine, ate some delicious food, visited with fun and funky animals, learned about hydroponic farming, and laughed some more. If you haven’t done the farm tour yet put it on your calendar for the second weekend in October. There’s always lots to see and do and you won’t regret getting out and enjoying the day with your loved ones. That’s really what it’s all about.
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