We celebrated our seven year anniversary in October of last year, and this month marks our 7 1/2 year anniversary. You can still write about year seven at any point within that year…right?
The traditional gift for a seven year wedding anniversary is copper and wool, but I got my husband a trip with wine and good food. I say I chose wisely. My husband is the usually planner when it comes to our trips, but for this one, I wanted to take charge. I surprised my husband a couple of days before with a short getaway to the Charlottesville, Virginia area. We left for our trip on a Sunday afternoon and took advantage of having Columbus Day off the next day.
We began the drive south, and on the way to our B&B, stopped for lunch at Old House Vineyards in Culpeper. They have a gorgeous back patio and lawn where they cook wood-fired pizzas and other light Italian fare. We did a tasting and then settled into a picnic table on the lawn with their Rosie’s Rosé.
Old House Vineyards sits on 75 acres and was restored by the current owners in 1998 after they bought the land and the abandoned 1800s farmhouse. Today, it’s a gorgeous vineyard that has a large pond out front with a bridge leading to where they host picturesque weddings and have ample seating inside the tastefully refurbished farmhouse.
Sitting on the front porch with the sun beating down on the wedding island reminded me of our own wedding. We got married on a cloudy, beautiful October day. I used to not like the phrase, but I understand it now when people say that they love someone more than they did before. Our relationship has become sweeter and richer than I thought I would ever have, or deserve.
We have dealt with the burden of infertility for more than half of our marriage. I don’t know why we’ve been dealt this card, and I’m not at a point where I’d say I wouldn’t change our circumstances. But the things we have learned, our ability over the years to comfort and uplift each other — that — that I would not change for anything.
He was with me the night I received the call from my dad to officially tell me that he and my mom were starting the divorce proceedings. He was with me through the next grueling two years as the divorce dragged on, involving every family member, driving me back home from college for pointless, heartbreaking depositions.
He was with me when we got the call that my pregnancy was not going to make it, holding me and crying beside me in our bed.
He was with me while we rushed to my sister’s side after we heard that my brother in law had been in a bad car accident and was being air lifted to the hospital.
He’s given me shots, held my hand during infertility treatments, and listened to me talk TMI when it comes to my cycle.
He has prayed with me at night, been a spiritual leader, provided for us, and helped me pursue my interests.
How can we be so fortunate, so blessed?
When you find someone like this, you don’t let go.
“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
We made the rest of the drive to our Cedar Spring Inn & Spa in Ruckersville, VA. I had to make the reservations last-minute since the first place I booked had to close for the week. When we pulled up, I couldn’t believe our luck. Everything about the property was stunning. We were given a tour of the house and property by Judy, one of the two innkeepers, and then shown to our room.
The inn was originally a personal residence before Judy and Charles McBee expanded it to make it into the unique property it is today. There are large windows all over the house that allow you to have spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We were given a tour of the house and property by Judy, one of the two innkeepers, and then shown to our room. Our room was on the top floor with a four-posted bed, fireplace, and a gorgeous bathroom. Cedar Spring has managed to keep all of the charms of a B&B while also having the comforts of a hotel.
After relaxing and enjoying the inn’s property, we got ready for dinner. We took advantage of the happy hour that the innkeepers have every evening before heading out. You wouldn’t see us turn down a glass of wine on their beautiful deck while the sun was setting. We were already regretting only being able to stay one night!
For our anniversary dinner, we headed about 30 minutes away towards Charlottesville to The Ivy Inn. I had researched the area and was told this was “the” place for foodies and special occasions.
The Ivy Inn lived up to its reputation. The hostess led us to a nicely-appointed table in one of their small, romantic rooms in the upstairs of the house. The building for the restaurant has been a part of the Charlottesville history since the 1700s. It was rebuilt in 1816 after a fire destroyed the original building. Afterwards it passed through several hands, including the University of Virginia in the late 1800s. In 1973 the building was converted into a restaurant and the Ivy Inn was born.
The Ivy Inn pays attention to detail. It was a nice touch having a congratulations ribbon over our menus. We loved every dish and our server helped us choose our bottle of Syrah. I chose the lamb, which has become of favorite of mine to order when we’re out because I can’t afford to make it regularly at home.
We have been married long enough that we have learned the benefit of getting away for a little while, having a nice meal, reminiscing, and not talking about anything vital. This evening fulfilled that for us.
The next morning, on our actual anniversary day, we had one of the most amazing breakfast of our lives. I had read from previous guests that the breakfast at Cedar Spring was to die for, but I didn’t fully believe it till we had it ourselves.
When we arrived at breakfast, we helped ourselves to the tantalizing smell of the coffee bar and fresh-squeezed juices and then chose a spot in the dining room. After sitting down we were given a whole loaf of their signature seasonal bread, which was pumpkin walnut. It had just the right amount of sweetness and the flavors were perfect for October. We couldn’t finish it at breakfast so they wrapped it up for us so we could finish it later on our picnic!
While we were enjoying our bread, a menu was brought over so we could choose our third course (yes, this was a 3 course breakfast!) I chose the baked eggs with goat cheese and spinach and smoked salmon, and Caleb chose the waffle with glazed peaches and bacon. Shortly after our order we were brought our second course, which I still can’t think about without getting hungry. Now, when you hear that fruit is going to be the second course, you think it’s going to be some apples and melon. But no – what they brought was a poached pear sitting on a bed of mascarpone cheese and walnuts, bathed in a raspberry sauce.
The day had started warming up by the time we were done with breakfast, so we refilled our coffee cups and headed outside to the porch. We could have sat there all day, soaking in the view and the delicious coffee – but it was time to check out and head towards some wineries for the afternoon.
To the west of Charlottesville and east of Skyline Drive and the Blueridge Parkway lies an abundance of vineyards that make up the wine of Central Virginia. We regularly frequent the vineyards close to home, but have not had much experience tasting the wine from this region to the south of us.
You can’t get too complacent with what you already know when you become ol’ married folks like we are.
On the way out from Cedar Spring we stopped in the town of Crozet at the Greenwood Gourmet Grocery to gather some picnic supplies. We visited at the right time to see the whole place decked out with pumpkins an gourds of all shapes and sizes.
Our first vineyard stop was at Afton Mountain Vineyards. Their tagline is “Grapes don’t grow in ugly places.” It’s true – and if you have ever seen SOMM: Into the Bottle on Netflix, you will agree too.
The vineyard began in the 1970s, but didn’t really take off until the Charlottesville natives Elizabeth and Tony Smith took over Afton Mountain in 2009 when they doubled the acreage of their vine production.
The tasting room at Afton is welcoming and unpretentious. The tasting itself was informative and gave you a good overall impression of their wines. While not on their tasting menu, for our anniversary they gave us a glass of their Sparkling Bollicine. We chose the expansive grass area overlooking the mountains and the rows of vines and settled in with a couple of glasses of the Cabernet Franc.
After soaking in as much of the sun and view that Afton Mountain could offer, we left our perch and made our way to the next vineyard.
Next stop was Veritas Vineyard & Winery. Veritas was launched by the Hodson family when they planted 5 acres of vines in 1999. Veritas is a big name winery in the area, but overall, we were disappointed with Veritas. It could be that we got there on a bad day, but the whole place seemed to shout that this was where people go in the area if they want a fancy tasting room but don’t care much for how the wine tastes. They tasted an array of wines, including two Chardonnays. One had gone wrong in the barrel, but they were still tasting it to see if people would like it – not a good sign. Thankfully their outdoor space made up for it, and we whiled away the rest of the afternoon eating our picnic goodies, the rest of the pumpkin bread, and a bottle of their Merlot which was surprisingly good compared to the rest of their offerings.
I loved the way the hills sloped up and down throughout the property to eventually reveal the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance – gorgeous!
We won’t be in a hurry to visit Veritas again, but can’t wait to venture back to Afton Mountain, and of course to try several of the other highly-acclaimed wineries in the region.
Real life was waiting for us back at home, so we sadly had to say goodbye to the rolling hills and head back north, with the assumption that we would be headed back this way for our eighth anniversary unless God had made our family slightly bigger before then.
This trip gave us a chance to talk about our hopes and dreams, reminisce on our time as a married couple, and remember how faithful God has been in our lives.
Delicious food and wine didn’t hurt either.
Here’s to knowing that the next 7 1/2 years will be just as blessed, challenging, romantic, and completely worth it as the first.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21