Monday, August 21, 2017

Forbidden Wine Tour 2017

We didn’t know what to expect.  We had no idea we were thought of in the same company as the fine folks from the Inn at Little Washington or the Commonwealth Club, just to name a couple.  Roanoke Valley Wine Company invited and we knew we’d be crazy not to accept.  Forbidden Wine Tour 2017 here we come!
Forbidden Wine Tour 2017 with MS Larry Stone of Lingua Franca Winery

Day 1-
It started on Sunday, August 13 at 4am.  We awoke in Charlottesville, VA, and headed for the airport to catch a plane to the Willamette Valley, Newberg, OR, to be exact.  First stop Schilling Cider House in Portland.  From there we met up with our travel companions for the next few days and had a liquid ice breaker of some really top-notch ciders.  The Schilling Cider House not only serves their own amazing ciders, but they are committed to supporting the craft of hard cider industry by pouring the nation's largest selection of craft hard ciders.  We were presented with a flight of ciders solely from Schilling’s line.  Their ciders are handcrafted in the PNW and only made from 100% fresh pressed apples, locally sourced using non-GMO ingredients.  Not only are they delicious, but they are Vegan, Gluten and GMO free, and free from artificial colors, flavors, and corn-syrup.  A cider we can feel good about drinking.

The Line-Up (click here for a link to their ciders and tasting notes):
1.      London Dry
2.      Grapefruit
3.      Mischief
4.      Lumberjack
5.      Ginger
6.      Chai

Blown away by these delicious ciders, we ordered the grapefruit and ginger on the spot and are excited to already feature them on our beverage menu at the Waterwheel.  We ordered the Grapefruit (John’s favorite) and Ginger (Kate’s favorite), and hope to see the Chai on the list this fall. 

“Okay, load up and let’s get going to wine country!!”  So, to the van we headed and Rob and Beth whisked us away to Newberg which they chose due to its central location to the wineries we had on our agenda for the week.  At the hotel we dropped our bags, freshened up, and then departed for the first winery on our tour…the amazing Ken Wright Cellars.

Our visit with Ken started in one of his vineyards.  Located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Ken grows grapes throughout that region with his vineyards scattered around the area so that his wines can reflect the different soil types found in that region.  Wow does it make a difference in the wines.  If we took one thing away from our trip it is most definitely that it’s all about the soil.  We traipsed up a gravel road and began our journey into Oregon wines smack dab in the middle of Ken’s vineyard.  Ken, who resembles a young Anthony Hopkins, is a rock star and a legend.  Since they say it best, here is a snippet from the KWC webpage:  "With his appreciation of sense of place, it was a given that Ken would contribute to the locations and industry near and dear to his heart. Instrumental in organizing the six new American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) in the Northern Willamette Valley that define in detail the distinct growing areas within the region, he wrote the proposition for the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and served as the association’s first President."

Easel, check, flip chart, check, we are ready to learn from one of the greats!  Ken did a beautiful job explaining the Willamette, the soil types, the farming practices he, and most others, believe in.  Dry-farming, bio-dynamics, volcanic soil versus marine sediment, Oregon millions of years ago, the Columbia River basin, Burgundy, the 45th parallel, etc., all important factors when thinking about the wines and the grapes.  It was quite an education and a great foundation for our Oregon wine tour.  It really helped put things in perspective.  We went to the other wineries a head above the rest because of the knowledge Ken imparted.  But…we still needed to taste some wine, so we drove into the town of Carlton, and to Ken’s winery and tasting room.  An old train station that Ken purchased in downtown Carlton.  Not only did Ken stray from the list of wines we were expecting to taste, but he poured from his library collection.  What a special treat to taste 2008 vintages of his single vineyard wines from mag.  In addition to sharing such special wine, Ken and his wife Karen treated us to a delicious home-cooked dinner of prawns, steak, and fresh vegetables.  Little did we know that home-cooked meals of the finest and freshest Oregon ingredients would be the norm for the next few days.  To say we ate like kings and queens is an understatement.

Thank you Ken, Karen, and team for an incredible tasting and dinner.  The wines we purchased from the tasting room, with hand-written labels, courtesy of a good sharpie, made for delicious late night enjoying.  While you’ll probably never see them anywhere but his tasting room, if you can try a bottle of Ken’s Rose or Grenache (pet projects I assume) you’ll be wonderfully surprised.  Is there anything this man can’t do??

Day 1 complete, bellies full, jet lag starting to set in, we traveled back to the hotel with excitement for the days to come and what good wines loomed in our furture.  Good night from the Willamette.  Stay tuned for our other adventures in wine tasting.

Friday, July 15, 2016

House of Payne

As a teen in the '90s, the American hip-hop group House of Pain was very popular with my generation. Now, with our new acquisition of the Payne House, I can't help but affectionately think of it as The House of Payne :)

The Payne House sits to the left of the Gristmill parking lot along the Warm Springs Run.  It appears to date back as far as the early 1800s when Warm Springs was a bustling village with a large hotel, spa scene, and stagecoach traffic on their way to the western territory.  I think a visit to our local historical society is much needed to gather more facts and information!

In any event, we are excited to unveil this new addition to our property.  The Payne House will offer another guest suite, a redesigned office/guest registration space, and more event space for special dinners, cooking classes, and wine tastings.  It is a great complement to our property will enhance the guest experience.

We hope to relocate the office to that space within the next month, and have the guest room open for booking by the end of July.  Please stay tuned for details on the Payne House as they unfold.  

Now Jump Around!

Sunday, February 21, 2016


As you will note from the date/time stamp, it's been a while since my last blog posted.  I often find myself wanting to share, but private person that I am, I tend to keep things in, worrying that what I post won't be relevant, and thinking that no one wants to read what this innkeeper has to say anyway.

I recently sat down with a fellow innkeeper and had am amazing one on one conversation where I could really ask anything I wanted and share my experience.  It was so nice to speak to someone who has been in the business and can empathize and relate to our inn-keeping hits and misses.  During that conversation we got on the topic of blogging, and I relayed to her how impressed I was with her consistent blog posts and the sheer ability of being able to come up with things to discuss.  It was at that time she encouraged me to continue blogging and, ultimately, sharing.  

So, with that bit of sage advice, I am inspired, and ready to give it another go.  

It is been a full 5 years of inn-keeping this month.  In 2011 we jumped in with both feet and no plans to look back.  I'd say that in those 5 years we've kept our eyes forward with only a few "what have we done" conversations.  As I reflect on the past 5 years, I'd say we have mostly had the good fortune of incredible experiences as innkeepers.  We have made some great guest friends along the way, worked with amazingly talented individuals, and have found a peacefulness among the stresses of running a business.

I'll leave you with a fun quote and a silly photo of us this winter  enjoying a moment together on an afternoon off.  It seems appropriate at this moment.  

"The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades" -Timbuck3

Thank you for reading :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Vino Veritas

We can all agree that John loves wine (ok, me too!).  He has drastically enhanced the restaurant's wine cellar by increasing the offerings to well over 200 different wines, and stocking it with wines from around the world (Lebanon for example).  John is constantly seeking out wines to carry in the cellar and rarely does he price wine that much over retail, so you are sure to get a great deal if you choose a bottle from the cellar.  Ask John why he does this and he will reply that he wants people to try new wines and be exposed to different wineries and varietals they may not have had before.  Wine is supposed to be fun, and not intimidating.  John feels passionately about that and is happy to navigate any and all guests through the cellar.

That said, we took a trip in March to visit California wine country.  We had some great tastings lined up with wonderful and somewhat exclusive wineries, and also a meeting with Spencer Graham of Elizabeth Spencer to go over wines for the wine dinner we had on April 10th.  It was a such a great visit to Napa and Sonoma counties.  We met some fantastic people, tried amazing wines, and of course ate delicious food.  Below are some photos from the trip.  Many of the wines we tried we either carried or now carry in the cellar.  Be sure to stop by and try some of these wonderful representations of California wine.

Vines in Calistoga 

Tasting Room at Elizabeth Spencer.  The line-up was fantastic!

Amazing wines from Colgin that we were lucky to taste.  They are considered "Cult Cabs".
Peter Michael wines are so delicious.  Loads of ripe fruit.  Very palette pleasing.

Martinelli Zin from Sonomoa.  We hope to get these in our cellar one day.
Mmmm...Lynmar!  Amazing Pinots and Chards.  Another winery we hope to have in our cellar.
John and the wind blowing machine.

The mustard was in full bloom and made for some stunning vineyard scenes.

Darioush Winery.  The winery  is like no other in the valley.  Great reds and whites.  Grab a bottle if you can find one.

Fun winery that has a long history in the valley. 

The cat at Salvestrin.

Wow, this is some old Rose.

We even found an old Mill and were lucky enough to get a private tour!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

And the Winner Is...

We are so excited to once again receive certificates of excellence from TripAdvisor.  Both the Inn at the Restaurant were acknowledged for their excellence.  Our friends, fans, and guests are so great to share their experiences.  We were skeptical at first, thinking that only negative experiences would be posted and shared.  We were so wrong.  Our guests are outspoken about their great visits/stays with us.  We are so thankful and honored!

Additionally, we are so excited to share that we were named the 2012/2013 Bath County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year!  We will be honored at tonight's Business Appreciation dinner.  It is so exciting for us to be recognized for our hard work and determination.  It is humbling to know that our peers not only nominated, but voted for us to receive this award!

Thank you for your support.  Our victories are your victories.  Without your continued support this wouldn't be possible.

All the best from Warm Springs!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where did the year go?

Wow, we are finding it hard to believe that another great year has come and (almost) gone.  It was a busy one for us!  We managed to accomplish so much at the inn this year.  While keeping our noses to the grindstone (pun intended :) we finally looked up and it was almost winter.  For those of you who didn't have a chance to visit the inn this year we thought we should provide you with a little recap, although you may have (hopefully) followed our journey via facebook.

So, we started really working on the inn in January.  With the help of some extra hands we completed bathroom renovations in the Spring Suite, Singapore, and Croft rooms.  We also painted the entire Mill (restaurant) both inside and out.  Stained the deck and bridges, had the pool completely resurfaced, paved our parking lot, hired a new Executive Chef, added a nice little woodstove to the office, added updated vanities to the Barley and Wheat rooms, and made 5 short videos about the inn, all while seeing a small increase in business for both the restaurant and inn.  To say the least it was a remarkable year!  A few pictures follow of the completed projects, but we hope you will come and see them for yourselves.

This winter we hope to have more time to blog and share inn news with you.  While we will slow down a bit in the colder months it won't stop us from continuing to work on the rooms.  We have plans to decorate a few and will share their progress along the way.

Singapore room with a new bathroom where there was once just a shower in a closet!

The new Singapore shower is HUGE and has a 3 different shower heads for maximum enjoyment.  One is a rain shower from the ceiling.

The new Spring Suite bathroom offers a dual vanity.

And a relaxing jacuzzi tub awaits you.

The Mill is stunning!  The repaint was a huge undertaking, but a wonderful and worthwhile outcome!

The Croft room gets upgraded with a large soaking tub, new flooring, and some fresh paint.

Ahh the pool...a complete resurfacing leaves it sparkling and new.  We look forward to reopening it Memorial Weekend.
Thank you for your time!  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Yay!!  Spring is here.  I can't say "finally" because we had such a mild winter and spring started showing up in January.  Yet, it is March and officially spring.  This is one of our favorite times of the year.  The gardens around the inn start to develop, the daffodils pop up.  Birds are singing loud and proud and working hard to build their nests, or spruce up the ones they left from last year.

Ramp with dew
Best of all, spring is the time for ramps and morels.  Two of my favorite foods.  Ramps are an early spring vegetable with a strong garlic like odor and a pronounced onion flavor.  They are nothing short of superb and are the ideal addition to eggs, potatoes, trout, pasta, pizza (that's right!), butter, etc.  We like them from raw to cooked, from root to leaf, and all the in-between.  Right now they can be found on our menu broiled with fresh trout and a little beer.  John is famous for pickling them and preserving them for later, or adding them to butter and then topping a delicious Rib-eye with said ramp butter.  I love to put them in a blender with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little Parmesan cheese to make a pesto which can be used on pasta or as a pizza base.  Quite possibly even more fun than eating them is the time spent in the woods digging them.  John and I look forward to the afternoons we can spend hiking through the forest (in WV) with our digging tool of choice, our dog Turley, and the promise of a full grocery sack of ramps.  We recently took a lovely drive on the scenic highway in WV to go to one of our favorite ramp digging spots: Tea Creek.  This is a stunning part of the state located in nearby Pocahontas Co., WV.  It is about a 45 minute drive from the inn west on highway 39 through Marlinton, WV and then north off of Rte. 219. 

John, Turley, and ramps

Did I mention we also love morels?  These little mushrooms are not as easy to spot as the ramp and grow in abundance right here in Bath Co.  Friends and locals tell tales of scooping up pounds of these delicious mushrooms, but don't think they will share their morel spot; that secret is taken to the grave.  I often wonder, because I've yet to find one, if folks who point me in the "right" direction, are really just sending me further away from their morel spot.  Nah, now why would they do that :)?  Luckily we just have to wait patiently for someone to pop by the back door with bags full of morels for sale to finally enjoy them.  If you can find them, and I hope you have more luck than I, enjoy them, because they are here for a such short time in spring, and although you can buy them dehydrated nothing compares to a freshly picked morel.

Whatever it is you love about spring, and I could go on and on, we hope that you will someday make a trip to experience spring in Bath Co.