Sunday, August 10, 2008

Raphine, VA

Just west of I-81 exit 205 lies the hamlet of Raphine, VA. About an hour from C-ville, we hit the agritourism trio of Wade’s Mill, Orchardside Farm, and Rockbridge Winery. Each place was more bucolic than the last.

Wheat Berries!

Wade’s Mill was founded in 1750. The flour is stone ground and largely unadulterated. There is a water wheel that can run one set of stones, but there are two run by electricity. We were assured by the woman running the shop that the process still hews closely to how it was done a hundred years ago: no heating, no bleaching, no chemicals. The winter wheat and yellow corn comes from the Shenandoah Valley, the white corn from Nebraska, and the buckwheat from Canada. According to the shopkeeper, business is picking up. This has been helped in part by a recent decision by W&L to buy more local food.

We bought three 5-lb. bags or wheat flour. This is in addition to the 1-lb. bag of buckwheat I bought from Foods of all Nations. I’ve been using it to make buckwheat oatmeal bread. If you call Wade’s ahead of your arrival, they’ll fill a 25-lb. bag for you. In the freezer the flour will last 6 months. The shelf life is otherwise shorter than other store bought wheat because there are less preservatives.

Orchardside Farm is just a little further down the road. There is a thornless blackberry orchard and a butterfly garden. On the same property is a small house which serves as a yarn store. Women were sitting around a large wooden table knitting and talking about their children. Dogs ran in and out. There is a wide selection of reasonably priced yarn and the women were quick to help and offer their advice.

Closer to the highway is the Rockbridge Vineyard. This winery includes 18 acres of grapes and looks more like a farm than other wineries in the area. Overall it was an impressive selection of wines. We ended up taking home a couple bottles of Tuscarora Red ($10) and a bottle of Norton. The latter is a candidate for our 100 mile Thanksgiving.

Before heading back to Charlottesville, we ate lunch at the Fairfield Diner at the recommendation of our wine pourer. After lunch we enjoyed a short hike at the St. Mary’s Wilderness Area.

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