Monday, July 30, 2012

Try A Trip Down the Colonial Virginia Wine Trail

Virginia is home to hundreds of successful wineries and vineyards, and some are just down the road from Maury Place at Monument. One great possible day trip from Maury Place is a drive down the "Colonial Virginia Wine Trial," The drive would encompass four Virginia wineries that are in the Interstate 64 corridor: James River Cellars, New Kent Winery, Saude Creek Vineyards, and The Williamsburg Winery. All are just a short drive from Richmond. Visit all four or just one or two for a fun day of winery visits.

The James River Cellars is a family owned and operated winery offering award winning wines from Virginia grown grapes. James River Cellars has a beautiful tasting room in historic Hanover County in Glen Allen, Virginia, about ten minutes North of Richmond. Enjoy a tasting followed by a picnic on the patio. The New Kent Winery is a beautiful, unique winery steeped in the region's history. New Kent opened in 2008 after planting their first vines in 2001. They now produce Chadonnay, Merlot, Vidal Blanc, and many others.

Saude Creek Vineyards, is a privately owned and operated vineyard and winery located on the Pamunkey River in historic New Kent County, Virginia. They produce several complex, food friendly wines. The site once was the location of Frank's Tavern, a Colonial Inn and Pulick House for travelers riding between points north and west and the colonial capitol in Williamsburg. They feature a beautiful new tasting room. Tastings are $7 and include a souvenir glass.

Finally, The Williamsburg Winery, is Virginia's largest winery, producing over 60,000 cases annually and new wine releases throughout the year. The many wines offered by the Williamsburg Winery have won many awards and worldwide recognition as some of the best. More than 30 acres of vineyard surround the winery, offering a beautiful backdrop to the Old World-style village where the winery and the Gabriel Archer Tavern are located. Daily tours are offered, including the barrel cellar, followed by wine tastings of seven different wines. Reserve wine tastings are also available.

Of course, upon your return to Maury Place, you might enjoy a glass of wine on our front porch overlooking Richmond's historic Monument Avenue. We proudly feature Virginia wines for our guests!

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Civil War Art & Poetry

"Bold, Cautious, True: Walt Whitman and the American Art of the Civil War Era" is an exhibit currently on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts through August 26. The exhibition explores the meanings and moods of 1860's American art against the backdrop of the poetry of Walt Whitman, one of the chief "scribes" of the American Civil War. When Walt Whitman wrote "As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Wood," the lyrical refrain "Bold, cautious, true" resonated not only because of the losses of war but also in the context of the American artists, writers, soldiers, and others left behind to heal the war's wounds.

This exhibit juxtaposes the writings of Whitman with various landscapes and genre scenes by Conrad Wise Chapman, Frederic Church, Robert Duncanson, David Johnson, Winslow Homer, among others. The exhibit encourages a fresh understanding of America's visual and verbal responses to the national crisis. Showcasing one of the VMFA's seminal works, Eastman Johnson's "A Ride for Liberty--The Fugitive Slaves, March 2, 1862," the exhibition also includes a variety of paintings, sculpture, and rare books from noted public and private collections across the country. The exhibit is free.  The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is just a short walk from Maury Place at Monument.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Additions to the VMFA's American Art Collection

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts recently acquired the Marsden Hartley painting "Franconia Notch," which arguably represents the crowning jewel of the VMFA's American art collection. The painting highlights work by one of the most important American artists from the first half of the twentieth century.

"Franconia Notch" was part of a $2.85 million purchase in May that also included "The Judgment of Paris" by Walter McEwen and "Autumn Fruit and Flowers" by Lilian Westcott Hale. All three paintings were purchased through the J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art. All three paintings are now installed for public viewing.

The Hartley painting is oil on canvas and depicts the White Mountains and rivers of New Hampshire. Hartley is the quintessential 20th century American artist whose contemporaries included Georgia O'Keeffe and Arthur Dove. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is just a short walk from Maury Place at Monument.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Bit of Presidential History

Exactly one hundred years ago, Staunton, Virginia native Woodrow Wilson fought off three challengers to become the 28th President of the United States in 1912. He defeated two men who had already served as President: William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. There was also a challenge from the Socialist Party candidate, Eugene Debs. Much of the excitement and drama of Wilson's foray into national politics is captured in a new exhibit at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Virginia. Mac and I have visited this site and highly recommend it! The museum offers interesting insights into the Wilson presidency, who to date was the last President who was born in Virginia.  The 1912 election exhibit will be on display until late October. On display are the Wilson family Bible used when Wilson was sworn in as President in March 1913; newspaper cartoons--one of which predicted that Wilson's election would "be a calamity" for the United States; and other artifacts from the election. Smart phone users can walk to the center of the exhibit and hear speeches from all four presidential candidates. Upon exiting the exhibit, visitors can cast their own ballot for the 1912 election.

Wilson ran for re-election in 1916--the year that Maury Place was built--and narrowly won. That campaign was much tougher, and Wilson went to bed on election night in 1916 not knowing if he had won or not. He was narrowly re-elected with 277 electoral votes to 254 for challenger Charles Evans Hughes. The new exhibit in Staunton begins a centennial celebration of Wilson's presidency. Staunton is approximately a 90-minute drive from Maury Place at Monument. We also proudly use reproduction White House china for our breakfast service. We do not own the Wilson White House pattern yet, but we are on the look out for it! In addition, the Virginia Historical Society, which is within walking distance of Maury Place at Monument, features a permanent exhibit about the six United States Presidents who were from Virginia, of which Wilson was the last to date.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rich Food in Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia is a proud food-oriented city, with hundreds of restaurants boasting an enormous variety of delectable dishes. At least 60 or so of which are barbecue centric so one thing is clear: Richmonders love their BBQ. And since summer is the season for barbecue pleasin' we are delighted to report the RVA-B-Que Food Festival. In attendance for your grilling pleasure will be more than a dozen local BBQ joints, local bands, and fourteen local breweries. Its practically a known fact that Richmonders are passionate and partial to their sources of barbecue and great beer and Sunday August 12 from noon to 5:00 pm at the historic 17th Street Farmer's Market they will join together in celebration of these passions.

As if fabulous restaurants weren't enough for this city, Richmond also supports a roving caravan of assorted food trucks throughout city. Most important to us here at Maury Place because of its proximity, is the Tuesday and Friday evening circuit which shows up at the Virginia Historical Society's parking lot and starts serving food at 6:00 pm. This particular circuit features nearly a dozen varying food carts such as Boka Truck, an excellent source of Asian-Mexican fusion; Dressed and Pressed, gourmet salads, gourmet paninis and chef specialties; Flynn's Food Truck, turkey burgers, veggie burgers and vegan cuisine; Rooster Cart sports vegan-specific dishes; Chupacabra features traditional Tex-Mex; Mister Softee serves soft-serve ice cream and other frozen sweets; Sustenance Truck delivers fresh, local gourmet sandwiches, soups and chef creations; Crossroads Truck provides gourmet coffee drinks, smoothies and Italian sodas; Habanero's vends authentic Mexican cuisine such as tacos and burritos; Thai Cabin is a mobile Thai restaurant; RVA Vegan is the leading contender in vegan comfort foods; lastly Pizza Tonight cooks and serves gourmet, wood fired pizzas using local ingredients. In addition to such savory meals, live music is also provided by local musicians so come on out and support your local Richmond food and entertainment scene!

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument

Friday, July 6, 2012

Richmond is a Tennis Town!

Locals have long boasted that Richmond, Virginia is a great tennis town. Professional tournaments, exhibitions, nationally ranked college programs, record-breaking high school tennis programs, award winning tennis facilities, a talented array of innovative teaching professionals, a community tennis association with a successful track record of promoting tennis throughout the community for over fifty years, and thousands of active, enthusiastic tennis players of all ages and all levels of play--all add up to compelling evidence that Richmond well earned its recognition as one of the top three "Best Tennis Towns" in America according to a USTA-sponsored national contest in 2010. Mac has been a long time tennis player and is now getting back up to form! He enjoys playing matches with our neighbors and friends. We have also recently enjoyed watching the Wimbleton matches on TV.

This certainly brings to mind Richmond's most famous tennis player, Arthur Ashe. Ashe grew up and learned to play tennis in a segregated Richmond in the 1950's and early '60's. His skin color kept him off the majority of the City's courts, but of course, he went on to become one of the top players in the world. Ashe was born in Richmond on July 10, 1943 and attended Maggie Walker High School and UCLA. He was the first black player to be named to the US Davis cup team in 1963 and was a member of the Davis Cup team for 11 years. He served as captain from 1981 to 1985. His team won back to back cups in 1981-82. Ashe won the U.S. Open in 1968 and was ranked number one in the world that year. He won the Australian Open in 1970 and upset Jimmy Connors to win Wimbleton in 1975. Ashe died on February 6, 1993 from complications of AIDS that he contracted from a blood transfusion during heart surgery in 1983. The Arthur Ashe Monument on Monument Avenue was unveiled on July 10, 1996. It is the most recent addition to Monument Avenue, and is just two blocks away from Maury Place at Monument.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument