Autumn Hill Vineyards owners Ed and Avra Schwab have made a lot of wine in the past 30 years, from their gold medal blend of petit verdot and merlot to their vintner’s reserve chardonnay that takes on the flavors of the French oak barrel it ferments in. The one thing you won’t find in their cellars, however, is a sweet wine. That’s because the pair strives to craft Virginia wines with a European influence, resulting in dry, full-bodied vintages brimming with character. This specialization has led them to cultivate seven types of wine grapes, including some of the oldest cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay vines in Virginia.
Though the duo spends most of the year tending to their vines in private, they invite guests in four times a year to see in the inner workings of their operation. Visitors to the vineyard are privy to tours through the barrel-aging cellar, helpful advice on how to pair wines with food, and vertical tastings of the same vintage to highlight the flavor differences among the grape crop every year. For guests who can’t make it out, the vineyard offers a wine club that delivers select vintages to clients' doorsteps or sommeliers' giant beanstalks in the spring, fall, and holiday season.
Led by Tom and Donna Otis, Fast Frame Charlottesville's friendly staffers outfit pictures and beautifies abodes with ensembles that turn two-dimensional keepsakes into multidimensional treasures. With a vast selection of borders, Fast Frame tastefully accents pictures of cherished memories, safely preserves and displays sports memorabilia, and even frames flat-screen TVs so they can't leave the living room to go chill with the microwave. Under Fast Frame’s Preservation Plus program, frame craftsmen sequester artwork in an acid-free environment and use framing designed to save artifacts from UV light, ensuring that they retain their luster throughout their display and that they are safe for future removal.
Fifth Season Gardening specializes in hydroponics, homebrewing, and organic gardening. Complete hydroponic systems can help hobbyists grow plants in any type of environment, and organic gardening supplies such as fertilizer and composters can maximize produce yields. Customers may also browse a wide selection of urban D.I.Y. products. Aside from serving as a go-to spot for garden items, Fifth Season Gardening boasts must-have supplies for homebrewers of all skill levels, from fresh hops and yeast, to cleaning accoutrements and educational books.
Locally sourced and sustainable staples grace doorsteps and kitchens throughout the region thanks to Arganica Farm Club's innovative grocery service. Each exceptional edible includes information on its origin, with grocery gurus striving to source every bit of cheese, meat, dairy, produce, and more from local producers who employ sustainable, spray-free, and free-range methods. Unlike the wasteful baby bundles of the mainstream stork industry, every delivery of exceedingly fresh fare comes in a sustainable handmade wooden crate.
Ragged Mountain Running has helped foot-soldiers chase their dreams for nearly 30 years, offering running shoes, windbreakers, and other get-fit goods, as well as info on local races and running clubs. Owned by Michigan State University track star Cynthia Lorenzoni and her running-coach husband Mark, the outlet outfits runners and other athletes with a wide variety of running shoes, including Asics 1160 ($80.99) and Nike Pegasus ($85.99).
The kernel gurus at Great Scott's prepare more than 30 flavors of original, savory, seasonal, and sweet-and-candied popcorn concoctions. Customers can fill a 1-gallon bag ($5) with buttered or plain bites, or pile three flavors—such as barbecue, butterscotch, and tomato basil—into a sports-themed box ($15) replete with a referee who flags family members trying to eat from it before dinner. Patrons may also nestle trios of tasty flavors within a variety of elegantly designed 2-gallon tins, including a shimmering platinum tin ($24) and a winter-inspired tin adorned with an illustration of kissing reindeers ($24).