Yesterday, while compiling listing data for a real estate client I quite unexpectedly found myself on the flip side of the realtor/client relationship. I stumbled upon a unique listing in our Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors multiple listing service. It suddenly became a high priority to see it and Bob (my indulgent husband) reluctantly got the car keys. Seriously, he was emptying out the dishwasher rather than have to visit a random house that tempted my curiosity. The more often I spend time at wineries and vineyards, the more captivated I become about possibly tending vines myself. Obviously, the easy route would be to volunteer at a local vineyard. But no, that would be way too simple!
The House-Wakefield circa 1760
The original log cabin was built around 1760 on a hill overlooking a spring fed pond with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. The house lies in the southwestern part of Greene County just north of the Albemarle County line, and not too far from Stone Mountain Vineyards. Charming, rustic features include four fireplaces, brick floors in the kitchen, an interior stone wall and an outdoor kitchen with fireplace and huge hearth. It was later, in the early 1800’s, that an addition extended the square footage to its present day size of 1900 plus square feet. Now you understand why Bob was dragging his feet, it wasn’t the size of the house, it was the age! For me, the piece de resistance was a quaint fenced garden with grapevines, yes, Grapevines! growing over an arched gate to the side of the house! Inside the garden was a large asparagus patch . That may not mean much to others, but my great-grandfather was an asparagus farmer. Does this property have my name written all over it or what?
The second story has a large deck with serene vistas that take you back to a quieter period of time. The outdoor kitchen is flanked by an enormous blue spruce and a Savannah Holly just begging to be restored. Below the house, a hay-field slopes towards the mountains and drops down to a pond. It was a sunny warm day with clouds rolling across the horizon and I giddily walked the property like a child in my flip-flops. At this point I had already visualized my boutique vineyard and was mentally naming it! Unfortunately, I was prompted out of my dream state by my practical husband (darn it) who wasn’t quite as captivated by the tiny narrow staircase in the house and the lack of central air conditioning. Where did my pioneer man go? Back to the conveniences of 2011, I imagine!
The Virginia Cooperative Extension has a very useful website for selecting property suitable for cultivating grapes in Virginia. It is a wonderful in-depth source of data but I highly recommend having an expert assess the site. Dr. Tony K. Wolf, Viticulture Extension Specialist and Dr. John Boyer, Professor of Viticulture at Virginia Tech are experts in this subject. In the publication Vineyard Site Selection, they explain that topography, including the absolute and relative elevations of a particular site, will greatly affect the suitability of a proposed site, particularly in the western Piedmont and mountain regions of the state. Further, a slight to moderate slope is desirable because it accelerates the drainage of cold air from the vineyard. After reading this, I felt the hay-field could prove a possible site for growing grapes. Clearly an expert needs to be involved if this were a land use someone would be contemplating. I look forward to taking classes on site selection later this year to understand all the factors involved in qualifying a property for use as a vineyard.
Oh, well…sigh…if anyone is intrigued by this post enough to want to see this property, please contact me for a showing. I’d love to take a stroll back in time with you and consider the potential of this delightful listing in Greene County, Virginia.