Thursday, March 28, 2013

General's Ridge Vineyard and Winery

Because Dan and I cannot visit just one vineyard in a day, after we left Ingleside Vineyards, we headed a little further south to General’s Ridge Vineyard and Winery. This cozy winery is hidden down a picturesque back road.

General’s Ridge got its start about ten years ago when the owners, Major General Richard Philips and his wife Linda, purchased almost 100 acres in Westmoreland County. Through lots of hard work, they planted grape vines and renovated the old farm buildings, turning the property into a breathtaking escape.

One unique feature of General’s Ridge is that in addition to trying their wine, guests are invited to extend their visit by staying in a guest room at the 1800s Manor House or the spacious two-bedroom cottage. With the addition of two event rooms, the Vines Room and the Carriage House, General’s ridge is a great location for a combination wedding and honeymoon!

I loved the decor of the tasting room lounge

While 75% of General’s Ridge grapes are sold to other wineries, the vineyard still produces eight of its own wines, including whites, reds, a rose, and a dessert wine. Among Dan and I’s favorites were the GRV red, GRV white, and the Petit Verdot.

We had a wonderful visit to General’s Ridge, and on our next visit, I hope to plan a two-day trip so we can stay in one of the inviting guest rooms. :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ingleside Plantation Vineyards

This month Dan and I were able to visit our first vineyards on Virginia’s Northern Neck Wine Trial! The first stop on our list was Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, where we were meeting a group of wine bloggers from the Virginia Wine Mafia.

Enjoying one of the first warm, sunny days of spring, we made our way into the tasting room to meet our host, Chris Flemer. He started our winery tour by telling us about Inglesides’s history.

Starting out as a dairy plantation and changing into to a sprawling plant nursery, Ingleside planted its first vines in the 60s and 70s (some of which are still there today). By the 1980s, the Flemer family was releasing its first wines to the public. Today, Ingleside has 50 acres of vines and 20 different wines, making it one of the largest and oldest wine producers in Virginia.

The entire wine production process is done on property at Ingleside. Grapes are harvested by hand, so they can be picked when they are at their best quality. Most fermentation is done in the large stainless steel tanks that have dimpled metal exteriors to keep the temperature regulated.

After fermentation, red wines are placed into different sized wooden barrels. The size of the barrel is decided on by how strong of a wood flavor is desired for the wine. The smaller the barrel, the stronger the wood flavor. One new detail I learned during our wine room tour was that the lettering you see on the sides of barrels signifies the level at which the barrel was toasted.

Finally, all the wines are bottled on site using a bottling machine that can bottle up to 1200 bottles a day!

At the end of our tour, the Ingleside team brought us into the barrel room for a tasting of ten of their wines. The barrel room was spacious and subtly lit to give it a warm, friendly atmosphere.

Our wine tasting included the following wines: Pinot Grigio 2012 (just released), Albarino 2012 (being released in late spring 2013), Sangiovese 2009 (pairs great with homemade spaghetti!), Merlot 2007 (one of the few merlots I can get Dan to drink. LOL), Cab Sauv Reserve 2007, Virginia Gold 2007, Petit Verdot 2009, Petit Verdot 2007, Petit Verdot 2005, and Virginia Brut N.V (a sparkling Chardonnay that is made by hand in the traditional Methode Champenois style).

When I asked about a good wine for a new red wine drinker, Chris had me try their Blue Crab red, which he recommended for summer time cookouts. It was quite good, and I got a bottle for my dad to try. I also got to try sip of Colonial White, a white wine that is made from red grapes. Mmm…

Dan and I really enjoyed our visit to Ingleside. The staff was friendly and eager to tell us all about the vineyard and winery history. We also had a blast mixing and mingling with our fellow wine bloggers and other wine enthusiasts. Before heading out, we picked up bottles the following bottles to take home: Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Merlot, Robert E. Lee Reserve, Colonial White, and Blue Crab red. Needless to say, there was a lot we liked here. LOL

When planning a visit to Ingleside, check out their list of events, because they like to plan lots of fun things throughout the year. Also be sure to check out their museum of native American and early colonial artifacts. Most importantly, have a great time and let them know that you read about them on At the Lamppost!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day!

Hi all,

I only have a few moments because I have been in product training all week, but I wanted to wish everyone a wonderful Pi Day!

If you have no idea what Pi Day is, you can find some fun information here.

I will post up some new vineyard reviews soon!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Killing the Working Mother

Since it is International Women’s Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to post up something I have been researching lately. With the prospect of being a mother no longer years away from me, I have been doing some in-depth research into the difficulties that a female professional faces when she decides to become a parent. (For my family and friends, I am not pregnant. I am simply preparing for when I am.) The two things that concern me the most are:

  1. Why do women who are parents tend to hit a glass ceiling in upward movement?
  2. What factors affect a women’s decision to leave the workforce when they start having children?
Before I go further, let me point out that in the paragraph above, I did not say “working mother”. I am not a fan of this term because I feel that it limits women. Seriously, just think about the fact that you never hear a man referred to as a “working father”. Why is that?

To prevent confusion, let me point out that I am not against women being stay at home parents. However, let me also say that I have seen successful women leave their jobs after having children and that I have seen successful women (who continue to work) struggle with their careers after having children – and I would like to know what causes this to happen!

I have found some articles and even a few books about this topic. Unfortunately for young professionals like myself, there is very little all-encompassing information about it, and even less information about how to prevent it.

Opting Out?
One of the books that came across my path is Opting Out by Pamela Stone. In her book, Pamela speaks with over 50 women (most with a great college education) who had very successful professional careers before parenthood. However, at some point, each of these women left their amazing careers to be full-time mothers.

When the author began asking the women why they decided to stay home, the overall answer was “family reasons”. Not satisfied with this quick answer, Pamela began asking them more pointed questions and learned that there were many more factors involved. Some of the more specific reasons were:
  • The desire to be a full-time mom from the beginning
  • A strong pull to be with children after they were born
  • The cultural/media norm implying that a good mother is a very involved mother (one who carefully plans each detail of their child’s development and education)
  • Medical complications in children
  • Becoming worn out from working two full-time jobs (professional and parent)
  • Husbands who were ‘supportive’ of women’s choices yet did not step up to split the parenting/house work load.
  • The wife’s/husbands’ careers started to grow and take more time away from home
  • Lack of flexibility in work schedule
  • Being overlooked for new positions when management learned they were pregnant
  • Receiving the boring, bottom of the barrel work after they had children

Apart from the women who always wanted to be full-time mothers, Pamela found that more than one of the reasons listed above contributed to the women’s’ decisions to leave their jobs. Most women found themselves in a double-bind situation where their work was pushing them away and their home life was pulling them away.

Reading through the book, it seemed that, eventually, the trouble for these women started in the home. Despite living in the 21st century and men saying women have choices, the unspoken responsibility rules seemed to be as follows: that women were responsible for the care of the children, that men were responsible for their career, and that if the women wanted, they could also maintain a career. Another interesting, unspoken rule in our culture (one that really irked me) was that the women’s salary pays for childcare, and if the woman’s salary could not cover the cost, why then should she work?

In the final chapters of the book, the author looks into how these women coped with losing their careers. Some took to it naturally, and others were still struggling with giving up their careers. Volunteer work enabled some women to start using their career-level skills after time, and a few others were eventually able to pick up a little bit of part time work. Unfortunately, none of them were able to return to the careers where they had been so successful.

Review of the Book
As with all books, I found things that I liked and did not like. Overall, I found the book to be informative, but at the same time, even though it had lots of great insights, I still found that it was limited and did not fully reflect on all women’s situations. Here is a quick breakdown of my thoughts about the book itself:

  • The book covered many difficulties that women who are parents face. Each different challenge was fully described and laid out for the reader.
  • The book showed both the good and bad influences with equal emphasis. The author really wanted to get to the heart of the issue, no matter what the results were.
  • The writer really delved into the details of why women left the workforce. She kept her sources anonymous, but it did not take away from each woman's story.

Did not like
  • The book focused only on upper-middle class (or higher) women. (ie: white women from mostly privileged backgrounds) I understand that the writer wanted to focus the study on women who met the media/cultural stereotype, but I believe she would have had greater success in breaking the stereotype by showing that the world of professional women covers more than just white, upper-middle class women.
  • The book could have been structured better, and information was repeated multiple times in different chapters.
  • The book held a lot of detailed text explanations. However, because this book is geared toward professional women, I feel that adding some strong visualizations would have added a lot of value, provided a new way to view the information, and broken up the long paragraphs more.

Final Thoughts
After reading Opting Out and other books/articles, I feel that a lot more research needs to be done on the struggles of professional women. I have more knowledge about the difficulties I might face as a professional after I become a parent, but I have found very little information about how to address and overcome these hurdles when I reach them.

For all the other females out there, educate yourself early on what you might face when you become a parent. Knowing the challenges is half the battle! Talk to other women who are successful professionals and learn their tricks. MOST IMPORTANTLY – if you want to be in a relationship, be sure to find a partner who will truly split the parenting/household responsibilities.

Don’t let your culture dictate who you should become. You have something to offer, and if you want to, you can be a part of something bigger, just like any man can.

Happy International Women’s Day!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards

Newly opened this past summer, The Barns (located in Hamilton, Virginia) is an easy drive from either Route 7 or Route 9. Because they have just planted their grapes, The Barns obtains their wine grapes from the Northern Virginia and Charlottesville area vineyards. Their wines include two whites and four reds.
Dan and I knew this was our next stop on the Virginia wine trail because we had recommendations come in from multiple people. There was an event the day we stopped in, but we were able to find a parking spot very easily.

The tasting room is an old, refinished barn that the owners restored themselves. It is a beautiful three-story building with open rafters and lots of windows facing the back lawn. I think my favorite feature of the building was the random license plates nailed to the floor. During our tasting, the server told us that they used them to cover up any small holes or ugly knots in the wood. Very creative!

We had a great time chatting with our server during our tasting. She was very friendly and eager to tell us all about the winery and the different wines. Among our favorites were the Viognier, the Meritage, and the Merlot.

Before heading off on our next adventure, Dan and I were able to speak with the owners and get permission to hide a VA Wine Trail geocache. You can find the geocache page here, and we hope you enjoy your visit to this beautiful winery!