Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sipping Sweetshine and Walking Waterford

On Saturday Emily and Richard joined me on a visit to Bloomery Plantation Distillery in Charles Town, WV. I'd been wanting to come here for a while but it took some time before we were all free on the same day. I've only been aware of Bloomery since March when they popped up on Facebook wanting folks to sign a petition for taxes to be reduced. Being misclassified as a retail liquor store had resulted in them being forced to close their doors until they could actually make a profit instead of paying ridiculous fees to the state. Happily, the public outcry worked and Bloomery opened their doors again, resulting in many joyful customers flocking once again to group before the bar, expectant faces turned towards their server like baby birds waiting for food.
We got there before the rush, timing it perfectly for the next tasting. We sat on our bar stools and stared at the bottles before us, decorated with medals and awards. Let the tasting commence! I shan't describe each flavor, but I ended up struggling to decide what to purchase at the end, knowing I'd have to return for more, or buy from a nearby ABC store. The Limoncello and the Ginger were outstanding. Every lemon is zested by hand, no mean feat. The Black Walnut, knocking out 1500 other nut liquors to be voted best in the world, with an alcoholic content of 50-70%, was also up there for me. Particularly so because it wasn't too sweet. The Chocolate Raspberry was pretty damn good too, made with Ghirardelli chocolate. Actually they were all totally awesome, I simply couldn't afford to buy them all!
After our tasting we sat outside to enjoy our picnic and sip on a couple of their drinks made with these wonderful creations. There are also plenty of recipes freely given to make mouthwatering concoctions with your purchases. There was a lazy and wonderfully welcoming aura about the place. Plenty of sitting spots had been created and it was apparent that this place is enjoyed year round when I spotted a fire pit area too.
After we'd finished lunch and bought our bottles, we walked around to explore the greenhouse where the lemons and chiles were growing.  Pristine bee hives were out the back and we spotted their regular watering spot in a trough. There was also a large area with staff tending raspberry groves. A pumpkin patch was proudly pushing out orange globes as though eager to take part in the next alcoholic concoction, which as described on their website, will be "the delight of pumpkin and spice in a delectable, chop-licking liqueur". I'm drooling with anticipation!
We reluctantly left Bloomery and its delightful hospitality, and headed to Waterford to walk off our lunch. The whole village is a National Historic Landmark, and was happily devoid of visitors when we arrived, likely because most of the stores were closed. We parked up and wandered the streets, taking photos of the immaculate house fronts. and gardens busting with summer flowers.
Established around 1733 by Quakers around a grist mill and a saw mill, the village was named after an Irish town, from where some of the residents had emmigrated from. It stagnated after the Civil War and was falling into disrepair by the 1930's, but was saved in the 40's when the Waterford Foundation started restorations. The village started an annual house tour and craft fair in the 40's during the first week of October which still runs today.
The Post office and a snap of inside from my iPhone pressed up against the glass. I loved the old PO boxes.
This is Rumbles, one of the village's newest residents. We were a little concerned about him roaming the sidewalk but his owner was nearby, so after a chat we left him to enjoy the shade.
We found one store open where we could buy a drink. The owner was sitting, surrounded by sacks of wool, next to an old wood stove, and spinning on her wheel. As she chatted with us, the wheel never stopped. We saw yet more wool draped over a gate by the side of the store; she was going to be busy for some time yet.
More about the village can be found here, and The Waterford Fair details for this year can be found here.

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