The Barns at Hamilton Station

VICTORY! Debbie has never been here before! It’s getting harder and harder to find new wineries to try since she’s such a Northern Virginia Wine Guru! LOL!
Chile & corn bread…we couldn’t resist!
Doesn’t this look like a scene straight out of a movie!

8 Chains North Winery

Debbie had been to ‘8 Chains North’ once before and remembered liking it, but I had never been, so we decided that this would be our first stop for the day. We donned our masks and were greeted at the door by a friendly wine associate who explained the Covid protocols that they had in place.

We picked a sun-drenched table by a window and then decided to try their self-guided flight. Instead of gulping each sample down, we made the decision to take a sip, or two of each, and then line them up in order of our favorite to our least favorite. Surprisingly (although not completely shocking), we both ended up liking the ‘Cross Country Red’ the most, so we left the remaining samples and ordered a bottle of the winner.

Debbie brought food to share, so I bought the wine–perfect!

My ranking from left to right–Cross Country Red, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Pink Link Rosé,
Cabernet Sauvignon, & Sauvignon Blanc
And the winner is…

After our first glass, we decided to sit outside. It was gorgeous, and quite a surprise for a cold January day. It was overcast and blustery earlier when we had left home, but the building buffered us from the wind, and our chairs were directly facing the sun. I can only compare it to that great feeling of sitting in the sun right after skiing. It’s that bundled up because it’s cold, but warm & toasty feeling—does that make sense–I hope so!

We really enjoyed our wine and we had a great time, and as a famed Austrian has been known to say, “I’ll be back!”

Big Cork Vineyards

A BIG TASTING…we enjoyed our tasting experience at Big Cork.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch (or I don’t remember) the name of the gal who did our tasting, but she was really friendly and fun. She did a great job by guiding us through each wine by first telling us about it, and then giving us the opportunity to ask questions. I typically learn toward reds, so several of the whites totally caught me by surprise. The first being the 2019 Chardonnay. Don’t quote me on this, but I think she said that it wasn’t oaked, or maybe it was only in oak for a short period of time. It was yummy–I caught the taste of apple on my palette, and I thought the acidity was perfect. I would drink this all summer long!

I found all of the red wines to be tasty, with the exception of the 2017 Barbera, which I would rate as a solid okay. I felt the nose to be a off-putting, and the taste was unremarkable. With that said, I’ve never tasted a Barbera wine (to my knowledge) before, so I would be open to trying it again.

My second surprise was the Russian Kiss. The name sounds intriguing, right? I couldn’t necessarily pick out the flavors written in the tasting notes, but it was fruity with only a hint of sweetness (.5 RS). It was really nice.

Trying something new…2019 O’Fim. In Portuguese, O’Fim means, ‘the end,’ and I agree, this cheeky little wine would make the perfect ending to a great meal or evening.

Our friend, Andrew, is a member at Big Cork, and he graciously purchased two bottles from the member-only black label wines. We enjoyed a bottle of 2016 Cabernet France Vinter Select, and a bottle of 2016 Petit Verdot Reserve Select. Both were amazing, and after much debate I think the PV was my favorite of the day!

This was my first visit to Big Cork, and I definitely plan go back. We were there for several hours, and we laughed, carried on, and had a great time. The staff was friendly, the wine was wonderful, and both the tasting room and the covered patio area were comfortable and inviting.

Bear Chase Brewing Company

I’m not sure how I managed to not hear about the Bear Chase Brewing Company before today…but that’s exactly what happened! Debbie had heard good things about it, and she asked if I wanted to try it out, so of course I agreed.

Looking over the valley below, the hillside “drinking lawn” just begs you to pull up a seat and stay awhile. As you can tell, the view is gorgeous, and there were plenty of different kinds of beer on tap to make everyone happy. We lucked out and went on a Tuesday, which unbeknownst to us was, “Taco Tuesday.” Great weather, beer, tacos from a food truck, and friends…it was just perfect. (So perfect that I dragged my friend Tom back the next day! We hiked on the A.T and then came over for a beer. He loved it, too!)

I absolutely love their logo–a bear paw with the Appalachian Trail running through the mountains.
Great people to hang out with….

Walking the Streets in Deadwood, SD–

Deadwood, now designated as a National Landmark, began as a gold rush town in late 1800’s. Famous for the larger-than-life characters who lived there, like Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok, Deadwood was also known for it’s brothels, gambling halls, and lawlessness. It was a dangerous town where riches could me made (if you could stay alive long enough to enjoy them). To illustrate that point most famously, in the spring of 1876 Wild Bill Hickok was killed when he was shot in the back of the head at point blank range during a poker game in the No. 10 Saloon. Legend has it that when he died he was holding a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights, which later became known as the dead man’s hand. He and Calamity Jane are buried side-by-side in the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.

The drive from Mount Rushmore was uneventful, but slow because of the snow. I arrived after sunset, and the town was lit up with Christmas lights and decorations. After checking-in to my hotel, I bundle up and headed into town. The town square had an ice skating rink, a music tent, and crafting tents set up. Nearby a huge Christmas tree was decorated for the holidays, and Christmas music could be heard echoing down the streets. There weren’t a lot of people walking around, but enough to make it feel festive and alive. I loved the old buildings, but it’s a bit sad that most of them are filled with tourist tchotchkes!

Prior to leaving on my trip, I asked one of the women at work to write down a few ideas of things to do and see while I was in Deadwood. I wasn’t sure what time I was going to arrive, so I wanted to have plenty of ideas.

She wrote this list on a sticky note–

Go to–

Pam’s Purple Door

The Pink Door

Madame Peacock’s

*Then walk the streets

After reading it over, I looked up and asked with smile, “What kind of girl do you think I am?” We both had a good laugh at her suggestions! I later found out that Madame Peacock’s is really called, Madame Peacock’s Beer & Bling! It’s a gift store, but it was closed when I was out ‘walking the streets,’ so I didn’t have the opportunity to check it out.

Ice skating rink and a music stage…
The site of Wild Bill’s demise…
Walking the streets…
Everyone must have ducked inside when I took this picture!
I stayed in Deadwood Mountain Grand…

For dinner, I ordered a bison & elk burger with spicy buffalo tater tots on the side, and when I couldn’t decide which local beer to order, the waitress brought out three for me to try. In the picture below, the dark one on the far right was called, Buffalo Snot! It was good and it’s made by the Mount Rushmore Brewing Company.

“Roughing It” in France

Since the house is in such rough shape, we feel like we’re camping in it, rather than really living in it. We cleaned out two of the rooms and are using them as our bedrooms. We bought air mattresses, which are surprisingly comfortable, and Pierre also bought German blankets & pillows which are super soft and cozy.

The good news is that we have hot & cold running water and a functioning shower, toilet, and kitchen sink. These fixtures certainly won’t be featured in a Home & Garden Magazine highlighting their style and good taste, but at least we have them. We have two burners on the stove that work, so we can heat up a can of soup and the French version of ravioli. We also bought a little grill for the back yard, and Pierre has turned out to be quite the ‘Weenie Man.’ All-in-all, we’ve made it work!

The Grillmeister!
Does it get any better than this?

We’ve started to meet people in the area and they’ve graciously invited us over to their homes for dinner. The first couple, named Wolfgang and Iris, are German and they’ve lived in the area for 18 years. They moved here to open a bed and breakfast, and they bought an old farm house. They can host up to 17 guests at one time! Pierre met them when he stayed with them in the spring when came over to meet with the lawyer (called a notary, in France), and to see our house and property for the first time. Wolfgang and Iris are fantastic hosts, and we’re looking forward to getting to know them better in the future.

Wolfgang and Iris had invited several other people to the dinner, and one of the guys asked us what brought us to France, and he also wanted to know about our house. We told him that France had essentially ‘found us’ and then we told him about how we were camping in the house.

He laughed and said, “First it’s camping…then in will turn into glamping, and before you know it, you’ll be living in France full time and hosting your own dinner parties!”

That sounds good to me!

A before dinner drink–
We’re having fun!
We couldn’t resist…we brought this bottle of Pierre over.
Dinner was served in this lovely outdoor room in the backyard. Iris is an amazing cook and Wolfgang does equally as well on the grill.
Will the ‘REAL’ Grillmeister please stand up!
The cheese course…

Later in the week, we were invited to Ian and Sue’s house for dinner. They are British and have lived in France for slightly over a year, after living and working in the Middle East for fifteen years. They also run a Bed & Breakfast, and Pierre stayed with them in the spring as well. They invited another couple (a Brit & an American) over that night. We talked about the joys and pitfalls of living in France as newbies. They also told us about a group they belong to (I don’t remember the name of it), that’s like The Welcome Wagon. The group is great for meeting new people, learning French, learning about French customs, etc.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures, but we had a great evening. Lots of laughing, talking, and drinking! We also brought Ian & Sue a bottle of Pierre—we just couldn’t resist the humor of it!

If any of you want to visit us in France and we’re still in the ‘camping phase,’ we know two great places where you can stay!

Quinta da Aveleda – Vinho Verde (AKA Green Wine!)

Portugal/2019–Part 15

The National Tile Museum had a really nice outdoor seating area where we had lunch. They offered green wine, which I’ve never heard of before, so we split a bottle–it was nice!

Green Wine? It sounds like something out of the world of Dr. Seuss for adults!

I found an interesting blog explaining the colors of wine, the one I tried is about 1/2 way down the page.