Friday, June 28, 2013

What John Cusack’s Birthday Reminds Me Of

On my feeds this morning, a blogger posted that it was John Cusack’s birthday. (Don’t worry; I’m not going to start gushing about how hot he is or anything like that.) After reading the announcement, the first thing that came to my mind was The Journey of Natty Gann, which is one of my favorite childhood movies. Right up there with Disney’s Robin Hood, Newsies, and Anne of Green Gables.

How does the mention of John Cusack bring this movie to mind? Well, he is the supporting actor in it. However, being the person that I am, I never made the connection between him and his character until my late teens. The character who caught my attention and my real love in this film was Natty Gann.

For me, Natty Gann was more than an entertaining character. She was the visual proof of what I wanted to be. She had all the qualities that I hoped to have myself, and she was one of the first influences to show me that it was OK to be me. Some of the traits that endeared me to Natty Gann are:
  • She was a tomboy (with a cool newsboy cap).
  • She was independent and resourceful.
  • She loved animals and had a wolf for a best friend.
  • She survived in the wild.
  • She was brave enough to fight for what she wanted.

To this day, I still attribute my love of dogs (and wolves) to watching this film.

In case you have never seen this movie, here is a quick synopsis:
Natty Gann is an energetic, street-smart kid of a single father during the Great Depression. Because work is so scarce, her father leaves Natty under the care of their landlady while he goes to a job in Washington state.

A couple weeks go by, and the landlady assumes that Natty’s father has abandoned her and tries to turn her over to an orphanage. However, before they can catch her, Natty runs and starts traveling the railways to find her father in Washington.

Throughout her journey, Natty meets different people who either help or hinder her. One friend she makes is a wolf that she rescues from dog fighters. The other friend she meets is John Cusack, who helps her out of a few tight spots.

The Journey of Natty Gann was more like a life-changing experience for me. I still have my original VHS of the movie, and I will never throw it away, even though I also have it on DVD and will never own a VHS player again. LOL

If you have never seen this movie before, you should definitely check it out. You may not enjoy it as much as I did, but that is fine. It is still a great movie!

Oh… and Happy Birthday to John Cusack. :) You are a great actor, and I really do enjoy your films.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Naked Mountain Vineyards

Around a fun, tight bend of a country road lays Naked Mountain Vineyards. The vineyard and winery have been here for over 35 years, but the current owners, Randy and Meagan Morgan, decided to purchase the location in 2010 after visiting it on a wine tour.

Just looking around the property, you can tell that the owners know what features make for an inviting winery stop. The hillside is dotted with Adirondack chairs; there is a covered picnic area; and you can find additional seating in the tasting room or on the tasting room deck. The views of the surrounding mountains are also very beautiful.

Naked Mountain offers a variety of whites, roseˊs, and reds. Dan and I had a great time talking about the wines with Shanna, our server. In fact, both the servers at the tasting bar were very friendly and happy to spend time chatting about the things they love about their wines. Among our favorites here were: Chardonnay/Riesling, Old Vine Riesling, Soar, and Make Me Blush.

If you are out in the Front Royal area, Naked Mountain is a fun place to stop. We enjoyed the hospitality we found at Naked Mountain and look forward to going back for a picnic soon.

Linden Vineyards

While wine touring recently, Dan and I stopped by Linden Vineyards. The drive up to the tasting room was beautiful, with grape vines arching across the side of the mountain.

Inside the tasting room, a server gave us a tasting of five of their different wines: 2011 Seyval, 2011 Rose, 2011 Red, 2010 Claret, and 2010 Vidal Riesling. We learned some details about how each wine was made, and we also learned that there were reserve tastings available on the hour from 12-4pm.

After finishing our tasting, Dan and I wandered around the building for a little, admiring some of the local artwork displayed on the walls. The big, spacious decks are only open to case members during the weekend, but parties of four or fewer are allowed to enjoy the decks and grounds on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cardamon Family Vineyards

As much as I love some of the larger Virginia vineyards, small, family-owned vineyards will always have a special place in my heart. They are usually younger vineyards, but many still have delightful wines. They tend to have friendly, intimate settings, and there is something extra special about talking to the person who actually makes the wine.

I recently visited one such family-owned vineyard called Cardamon Family Vineyards. Located off of Harper’s Ferry Rd in Purcellville, VA, Cardamon has all the factors that make small wineries such charming places to stop. Chuck and Ana Cardamon opened their doors only a few weeks ago and are in the process of building a tasting room off of their house. Until the construction is finished, they are offering tastings in their wine barn.

Winemaker Chuck Cardamon has had a life-long love of wine. During his Navy career, he was stationed near Napa Valley, and after retiring, he got to experience wineries in Livermore Valley while attending culinary school. The Cardamons moved to Virginia in 2008 and planted vines of their own.

Cardamon is currently serving three different white wines: Vino di Mele, Cuvee Blanc, and RKATZ. The Vino di Mele is created from 100% apple juice, and unlike most apple wines, it is dry, not sweet. Their Cuvee Blanc is fermented in Minnesota Oak barrels and is a mix of Chardonnay, Semillon, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc. It has an appealing wood scent and a soft citrus flavor. Last but not least, the RKATZ is made from 100% Rkatzitelli grapes grown in Horton Vineyards. It is stainless steel fermented, giving it a nice, clean citrus flavor.

As many smaller vineyards do, Chuck Cardamon has found a way to offer something unique at his vineyard. Instead of the usual cheese or oyster crackers to accompany a wine tasting, he enjoys pairing his wines with homemade salsas that he has created himself – and boy are they good! He has even compiled his recipes into a small book that visitors can purchase during their visit. :)

After our tasting, Dan and I sat on a picnic table with some family friends and shared a delicious picnic, enjoying a bottle of Vino di Mele with our meal.

A picture Chuck took for us :)

We really enjoyed our visit to Cardamon Family Vineyards. The friendly atmosphere, the chance to talk with Chuck and Ana about their love of wine, and the delicious wines paired with creative salsas made for a wonderful visit. Dan and I left with three extra bottles to hold us over until we can visit again.

When you stop at Cardamon for a visit, be sure to tell them that Erin and Dan from At The Lamppost say “Hi!”!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hillsborough Vineyards

The 22nd cache on the VA Wine Trail of Geocaches is now live at Hillsborough Vineyards!

Dan and I had the chance to stop at the vineyard for a tasting last weekend. Our friendly server, Tara, told us about the vineyard and wines.

Hillsborough has a rich history, as well beautiful grounds and tasty wine. The stone house and tasting barns were built in the 1820s, and the property was once owned by a childhood friend of George Washington.

Today, Hillsborough Vineyards has 13 acres of vines and offers around 12 different wines. Tastings include six wines (Carnelian, Bloodstone, Ruby, Onyx, Opal, and Serefina), and Dan and I were lucky enough to get a tasting of the 2010 Petit Verdot as well.

After picking up bottles of Ruby and Serefina to take home with us, Dan and I found a nice location for our geocache. You can find the geocache coordinates here. If you stop by for a tasting, be sure to mention that you heard about it on At The Lamppost.

We hope you enjoy the hunt, the view, and the experience of the VA Wine Trail!