loch aerie takes another step into her bright future

As we all know Loch Aerie was rescued from literal ruin by the lovely Poirier family. And I do mean that compliment most sincerely as they are truly awesome and nice!

East Whiteland Township worked through the plans and whatnot with the owners and the new ballroom construction is underway!

To the historical purists this is probably not what they want to see but we have to be realistic: for a lot of these fabulous historic structures adaptive reuse is what keeps them from the wrecking ball.

I love this house and I have been fortunate to have been invited inside since they began the renovations to the existing structure.

December, 2018

December, 2018

Loch Aerie is becoming an event venue. Weddings and other types of parties, with a catering kitchen. They will have an on-site caterer for people to work with for their events last time I checked, and I am super excited to see this project moving forward!

Last fall Loch Aerie was even on the Chester County Day tour!

I had to stop at Home Depot this afternoon, so I thought I would take a peek and I think what’s happening is so wonderful and I just sort of stood there and grinned. The first time I saw the restored interior I cried.

With all the awful development we see ruining Chester County and every time we shed tears over historic structures being torn down, this is something I keep coming back to because it just makes me so happy. And I’m not the only one that is so happy to know that there are people out there who care about the structures and the history.

Loch Aerie has a bright future and that’s amazing. Adaptive reuse works. Historic preservation is possible.

a wine tasting on a lavender farm

I wrote about visiting beautiful Mt. Airy Lavender earlier this summer. The place is amazing and their products awesome. It is also a bucolic and lovely event venue.

We returned yesterday evening to the farm located in Wagontown for a wine tasting. We went to meet the lovely Gretchen Voelcker, owner and creator of Luna Hart Wines.

Our winemaker Gretchen

Founded by Gretchen Voelcker, Luna Hart Wines is a boutique wine company specializing in small batch, handcrafted wines in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Gretchen makes select wines in which she explores the techniques and nuances that continue to stoke her passion for wine.  

Nancy Saha, Gretchen’s grandmother (whom I adore)

Santa Ynez is part of the Santa Barbara wine country and home to other vineyard like Fess Parker. It is an amazing area, and as per my research each year over a million cases of wine are produced in the Santa Ynez Valley. The area features I am told well over a hundred wineries, most of them are boutique operations and family owned and operated. I prefer small businesses and have tasted many lovely wines from one of the most beautiful regions of California.

Why Luna Hart? Other than the wines are quite good? Because her proprietress and winemaker is from Chester County.

Gretchen Voelcker, the winemaker and creator of Luna Hart Wines grew up in Europe and right on the farm hosting the wine tasting event.  

While she and her family lived in Europe during her high school years and continuing with summers during her college years, she visited many different wine regions in France ultimately falling in love with the craft of winemaking and developing her own passion for wine.

When you speak with Gretchen as I did, you can see the passion for her chosen profession right of her face. She completely lights up while discussing how passion for wine began while living in Europe and visiting the many wonderful wine regions and vignobles in France.  Another passion was fueled by her love of nature and all things outdoors bringing her to California where she has had the fortune of working with gifted winemakers, mentors and role-models. 

After studying Business & French at Georgetown University and earning a degree in plant science from University of California, Santa Cruz, she moved to Santa Barbara County.

Gretchen worked at Rideau Vineyard for six years, starting as an intern and eventually became the assistant winemaker.  Now she is with Martian Ranch and Vineyard where she is the winegrower, producing minimal interference wines from biodynamically grown Estate grapes.

Gretchen has definitely produced some fabulous high quality wines and last evening we sampled four. Our favorites? A 2016 Cabernet Franc and a 2017 Grüner Veltliner.

The 2017 Grüner Veltliner was my pick because I am allergic to most red wines, and I prefer varietal whites over a bland Chardonnay. People laugh when I entertain because I don’t include Chardonnays. This wine is reminiscent of three wine styles to me: Alsatian, Austrian, and German.

My husband’s pick was the 2016 Cabernet Franc. It was a bold wine and lovely at first sip, and even better as it opened up. He is not a Merlot or Syrah guy generally, although he also said the 2018 Syrah presented was quite nice and fresh and fruity.

I also sampled the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc which was nice, but as I said the wine that hooked me was the 2017 Grüner Veltliner.

We purchased and bought home a few bottles of the 2017 Grüner Veltliner and 2016 Cabernet Franc.

You can order from Gretchen’s Website for Luna Hart and like many boutique and family vineyards, there is a wine club as well.

There is a lot of pretentious and not so enjoyable wine out there. Luna Hart is a label to watch. Gretchen is a talented winemaker and I look forward to tasting and purchasing more of her wines. Another one which interested me but sold out was the 2016 Aurora White. It uses in part a viognier grape and one of my all time favorite white varietals is a viognier.

Many thanks to beautiful Mt. Airy Lavender for hosting this event and a special note about how lovely the place looked and the food was terrific especially the salmon. A lot of times people skimp or do not truly bother with food at a wine tasting which I find to be a mistake. Wine is an experience generally paired with food so if you do a proper tasting the food should be sufficient and complementary.

If you are interested in hosting an event there, go to their website for further information.

Have a great Saturday!

happy 25th anniversary to the west chester growers market!!!

IMG_6363I missed all the political fanfare early this morning, but I did make it to the 25th anniversary of the West Chester Growers Market.

State Senator Andy Dinniman and Chester County Commissioners Michele Kichline and Terrence Farrell were there at the opening of today’s market to celebrate with everyone and present citations and proclamations.

But where oh where were the officials of West Chester Borough? Borough Council? I mean it is NO SECRET they have been discussing the lot on the corner of Chestnut and Church Streets again right?  And what developer and hotel owner want in on whatever is discussed, hmmm?  Oh the irony that they just discussed this again, what? This past week?

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And no one from the Borough could come to the West Chester Growers Market in an official capacity to celebrate their 25th anniversary? The County and State felt they should be there, so why not the Borough?

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Photo courtesy of County Commissioner Terrence Farrell’s Facebook Page.  He and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline presenting a County citation to Paul “Bud” Hauser, an inspiration behind and one of the four original growers who founded the West Chester Growers Market 25 years ago. I think this is fabulous that they did this!!

Oh and my opinions are my own, by the way.  And sadly I think West Chester Borough needs to appreciate the organizations which bring people into the Borough weekly for 25 years, don’t you? The West Chester Growers Market brings people and farms and small food producers together. In a world filled with ugliness, this is something genuine and nice.

Today the market was bustling in spite of the crazy heat.  And the vendors were nice enough to have lots and lots of water on hand for customers. And ice cream!!  And balloons and face painting for kids!

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I love the West Chester Growers Market and it is pretty much the only one I patronize at this point since East Goshen seems to have given up on their farmers market which I think is a huge mistake since they have one of the most awesome locations.

The photos I took today were my own.  I am not compensated in any way for posting about the market. I post about the West Chester Growers Market because I love it and think it’s fabulous.

And if West Chester Borough Council gets their knickers in a twist because I do not feel in my opinion that they appreciate the market in all it’s fabulousness, tough noogies and am I wrong?

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY WEST CHESTER GROWERS MARKET!! 

WE LOVE YOU IN CHESTER COUNTY!!

 

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adaptive reuse ❤️

I love that whomever owns what was once a motor court on Route 30 in Exton is rebuilding the little cottages/cabins one by one.

Adaptive reuse and preservation. We need more of that combined with land conservation and farm preservation here in Chester County.

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kitchen acquisitions

IMG_E6171It’s not all garden, garden, garden.  I am still cooking! And over the years I have treated myself to upgrades on pots and pans.

The other day I was watching an interview on The Today Show. These two young women had founded a cookware company in New York and their cookware was good-looking. It wasn’t ready for the clown car like the stuff Racheal Ray produces which is cheap and freakish looking.

Great Jones cookware seemed to be too good to be true, but the price points weren’t bad so I ordered a stock pot on a total whim. Complete impulse buy.  I have a stock pot I was looking to replace because it was wearing out and holding stains even on the stainless steel.

So I went to the website and read about Great Jones:

We started Great Jones because we believe in the power and pleasure of making food with your own hands, even if you’re just frying an egg.

We’re childhood friends of 20 years who first met at summer camp…Prior to starting Great Jones, Sierra worked as a food editor at New York Magazine and won a James Beard Award for her writing. She also hosted a show for CBS This Morning interviewing chefs. Maddy comes from the startup world; she managed consumer insights for Warby Parker and was a product manager at Zola. We’re both first-time entrepreneurs.

The name Great Jones is a nod to Judith Jones, a cookbook author and editor who championed and published the work of Julia Child, Edna Lewis, James Beard, and many others. She died in 2017 at age 93. It’s also a reference to New York, where we’re proud to both live and build our business.

Then I went to the shop section to check out their line. Not a huge line, but they have manufactured a line of core pots that every kitchen should have. I ordered Big Deal the stockpot to try them out.

Love at first sight.  Stockpot arrived today and it lived up to the hype.  Just the right weight and little details like cup measurements inside. Oh and another plus? On their website Good Jones has this finder thing where you put in your zip code and places you can recycle old pots and pans pops up!  Socially responsible and very cool!

Also today I got some new kitchenware from Brandless which was kind of a necessity.  I love  roasting and grilling vegetables. Only I ruined one of my baking sheet pans on the grill this week doing so.  So I put in a Brandless order for some pantry and beauty/bath staples and checked out their Cook’s Tools section. I replaced my ruined half sheet pan with a new one for $9 (yes $9 and it is GREAT quality) and got a grill pan with little holes in it for the grill for my veggies! The grill pan was $8!!

Brandless is a cool option where you get great products, many organic food staples, health and wellness and beauty and cleaning supplies at great prices because they removed the label.  Hence the name “Brandless”. If you want to try Brandless, CLICK HERE.

Another cool thing about Brandless is they believe in fighting hunger and giving back to the community.  They donate meals with every purchase you make. My husband discovered them, and I like their products.

Anyway, that is what is new in my kitchen as far as my “gear” goes.  As always, I feel I need to add the disclaimer that I am NOT a compensated blogger and if I write about stuff it’s because I want to, am a customer, etc .

Thanks for stopping by.

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visiting mt. airy lavender

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About a month ago I wrote a post called when good conquers evil eminent domain you get lavender fields.  It was about the new adaptive reuse of the Saha Farm in Valley Township (Coatesville/Wagontown). The farm is now Mt. Airy Lavender!!

I went to one of their open farm days in June, and will go back again when they have another one.  Mt. Airy Lavender is so worth the drive!  And I am hooked on their lavender based products! My big favorites are the Lavender Peppermint Body Butter  and Lavender Water and Lavender Essential Oil Roller!

You can buy their products online or when they have open farm days.  They have fun events too! (Including a wine tasting in August.)

For me, this was a special experience to finally visit the farm the Sahas fought so hard to save from eminent domain for private gain from Coatesville all those years ago.

I hope you enjoy the photos I am sharing and I hope you will visit the farm or consider it for an event.

I received nothing for writing this blog post.  I went to the farm because I wanted to see it and I buy their products and lavender plants because they are awesome.

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this is why artists are drawn to our area

Yesterday with the storms was also a marvelous day for photographers. Here are some that I took.

This is why we need more open space preservation and fewer fields of ticky tacky plastic mushroom houses.