The Piedmont Driving Club has enjoyed meeting at Temple Hall Experimental Farm, Leesburg, Virginia in the past. The venue provides an excellent opportunity for Club members to bring green horses, or horses that are just getting the feel of harness again after a long winter, out for a nice drive on gentle paths. Yes, there are areas where one can challenge one’s horse (and one’s skill as a whip) if one wishes to drive near odd looking cattle, goats, sheep, and even peacocks. There are also trails that wind through woods and across streams and there is no end to unusual-looking “stuff” — farm equipment, swing sets and even a two-story “lawn chair”(?!).
This time, however, a quick consensus was reached. Before challenging ourselves with any of the foregoing, why not head out of the grounds, down the road, and stop for a glass or two at one of the many wineries that populate this part of the county? Off we went, past Fabioli Cellars (scene of another wonderful PDC drive), and on to the very welcoming Winery32, a relatively new venture by a wonderful Maryland couple, Michael and Roxanne Moosher. The “32” refers to the number of Gloria peach trees that line the drive up to the tasting room. Peach wine???? Many in this driving Club have become purists…..after so many stops at so many wineries over the past few years we really didn’t believe that things other than GRAPES belong in wine. Roxanne PROMISED that indeed peaches can be a delicious component of a summery, dry white wine……and she was so right! We all loved the “Gloria’s Sunshine” so much that we downed 2 bottles on the spot! Then we tried the oaked Chardonnay, and then the “Being Koi”, a blend of Vidal Blanc and Triminatta. Indeed, Winery32 was a wonderful find. We lined our carriages up just beyond the tasting room and savored not only the wines but a spectacular, 360-degree, view of gorgeous farmland. The trip from Temple Hall and back was a bit over 6 miles and it is a trip we hope to take again and again! The fortunate PDC participants included Kitty Newman, Wayne Porter, Judy Hahn, Anne Watkins and Carl and Caroline Cox – 5 turnouts in all.
Back at Temple Hall, Judy Hahn took a spin around the farm while the rest of us unhitched and made ready for our picnic. We formed a circle on a sunny spot near our trailers and enjoyed host Caroline’s pork tenderloin, a profusion of salads and other sides, and “pie-by-Wayne.”
Piedmont Driving Club President Anne Watkins hosted the 25th Bluebell Drive from her Berryville farm. Once again, the weather was perfect and the bluebells were full-out, a mass of color along both sides of the road by the Shenandoah.
As an interesting twist, the rest stop was held on the grounds of the magnificent Springsbury estate. There neighbors served Champagne and dainty crackers to whips and passengers in 14 carriages. We had everything from a four in hand, to pairs,
to singe horses, single ponies, and even a pair of mini’s! (oops, “VSE’s” as I believe they like to be called!) The drive was “go as you please”, so folks were free to traverse the roads that meandered through local farms or stay by the river where they could view bluebells all the way to an impressive waterfall.
The Cox carriage was pleased to have Dr. and Mrs. Ian Harrison on board. As you will remember, Dr. Harrison spoke at the 2015 Annual Meeting. Not only do they operate Harrison Equine Clinic but both volunteer a great deal of their time to educate adults and children concerning the care and enjoyment of horses. We were particularly happy that they managed to take time from their busy schedules to come along with us on what turned out to be a beautiful drive.
After the drive Anne hosted the Club, and many of her friends and neighbors, to a delicious luncheon served under the eaves of her stable. I cannot imagine what time she must have woken up that morning to decorate the stable, cook both a beef and a pork tenderloin and turn out herself plus horse and carriage in impeccable style! Club members – as they always do – supplemented the feast with an array of salads, casseroles, nibbles and deserts. Oh, and, yes…..lot of wine appeared on the tables as well!
For the third official carriage outing this year, the Club met at the picturesque Cobbler Mountain Cellars, a Delaplane, Va winery known also for award-winning cider in addition to their delicious wine. Check them out at: www.cobblercellars.com
Nine turn-outs made the 6 mile round trip to Cry Havoc Farm, where we were hosted by friends and former members of the PDC, Babs Timmerman and husband Michael Denny. What a delight it was, after negotiating the hilly road from the winery, to turn into a meadow where our hosts greeted each carriage with Champagne, deviled eggs (from Cry Havoc chickens!) and freshly prepared olive crostini. The weather was perfect and the views magnificent. Don’t know how or why this happened, but a flock of guinea hens (who reportedly split their time between Cry Havoc and a neighboring farm) entertained us by strutting their stuff through a nearby pasture… all this while we took in the views, enjoyed the refreshments and admired each other’s (well mannered!) horses.
Club President Anne Watkins took the lines of a handsome chestnut gelding she purchased last year. He was a near match to Wayne Porter’s gelding. Alcinda Hatfield took the groom’s seat with Wayne. The Hafflingers were out in force, with Al Baturay, Caroline Collomb, and Bertrand Collomb each driving a pair. New Club members Tom and Mary Kay Albert rode with the Collombs (their newly purchased driving horse is out for a “tune up” with a trainer – we hope to see them “on the box seat” soon). Judy Hahn and daughter came out for the first time this year with her pretty bay gelding. Mary Munster brought the Friesian girls. Carl Cox drove his “Music Boys” to a surrey. Barbara and Tom Wolf sat behind the incomparable Sheba.
Meanwhile back at the winery, Marci Bade and hubby Keith helped make ready the tables for the picnic. Including guests, the PDC fed and “watered” about 30 happy people. We enjoyed several bottles of Cobbler Mountain’s finest after a brief carriage parade in front of the other very appreciative visitors to the winery.
And, since the Wolf’s hosted the picnic, you can be certain that we enjoyed plenty of luscious food! There was a perfectly presented gourmet ham, accompanied by a selection of spreads and chutneys. Other offerings included a Greek shrimp salad, several pasta dishes, a fabulous potato casserole, green salads, and a selection of homemade pies and deserts. Looks like it will be another banner year for the Piedmont Driving Club!
Since it was early in the season and many Club members hadn’t “put to” in a while, it was decided we should meet at Blandy, a favorite venue for the very relaxed “go as you please” type of drive that so many enjoy. Here we gather, harness and explore the carriage-friendly grounds at our own pace, with no requirement to stay together. There are about 7 miles of carriage trails on the farm and it is surrounded by the very quiet paved roads that embrace Long Branch (another favorite venue.)
It was a pretty day, cool and sunny. Caroline Collomb, accompanied by Bertrand and their grooms, drove a pair of her Hafflingers, as did the Baturays (with their beautiful daughter and her friend on board). Carl and Caroline Cox drove their “Music Boys” (leaders in their team) to a surrey. Lead groom Molly was of course there to ensure everything was in order, while Club President Anne Watkins occupied a seat. Kitty Newman brought Farnley Redwing out for a spin. Mary Munster drove her Friesian girls. We were happy to welcome the turn-out from Dr. Seager’s Chetwood Farm, scene of many a wonderful PDC exhibition drive!
Marci Bade and Keith Johnson assisted Lisa Andersen with the picnic. Blandy boasts the perfect setting, complete with a covered patio and picnic tables. As it was Easter Sunday, there was ham, dozens of deviled eggs, quiche, scalloped potatoes, salads, asparagus, and lots of other goodies. We had a great time and everyone left in high spirits, looking forward to the next PDC gathering!