When Philip Strother was a young boy, he frequently visited his grandfather’s homestead in Delaplane to help out on the family farm. At the end of those days, dinner conversations often turned to how they could keep the farm thriving amidst changing economies and landscapes. Discussions at the table always centered around the family’s strong desire to be responsible stewards of the land. Their efforts, which began many generations ago, have set the foundation for two excellent agricultural endeavors, now open for visitors to experience. Philip Carter Winery and Valley View Farm – both located in northern Fauquier County – offer guests a chance to be part of this family’s deep history in Virginia agriculture.
Philip Carter Winery
Sitting by the fire in the tasting room of Philip Carter Winery in Hume, it is easy to absorb the legacy of farming in both the views and vines. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the winery stands as a testament to the family’s long history in viticulture. Wines here have been longer than 250 years in the making. Guests are invited to step back in time to the founding of the country when landowners were required to plant 10 acres of vines to fulfill England’s thirst for wine. While much of this early wine production fell flat, there was one big success story. In 1762, Strother’s ancestor Charles Carter sent several bottles of wine made at his home, Cleve Farm, to the Royal Society in England. The society awarded it a gold medal, and it marked the first time a U.S. wine was recognized on the international stage.
Today, Philip Carter Winery honors their ancestors with several wines that harken back to his family’s early days of winemaking. Guests can sample anything from a flowery viognier to a deep-flavored pinot noir. The vineyard’s flagship wine, Cleve, is a delicious blend of grapes that grow well in Virginia. The hard ciders should also not be missed, and their Virginia Perfection Dry Cider is one of the best tart ciders around. In the barn-style tasting room, visitors receive friendly and knowledgeable service and may access the grounds around the building, which include comfortable Adirondack chairs around fire pits and scenic views in every direction.
Strother not only has a passion for blending elegant wines but also for education. Visitors can participate in tours on Virginia wines, where they are taken from field to cellar for a newfound appreciation of Virginia winemaking. The owner’s commitment to celebrating the state’s rich history in viticulture permeates the visitor’s experience in many delightful ways.
Valley View Farm
Ten miles down the road from the winery sits Valley View Farm, the five-generation family farm Strother visited as a boy – which he now owns and operates. Here, visitors can pick their own produce, shop at the Locavore Farm Market, and sip on locally produced ciders. The farm has a “come as you are” vibe, and guests are encouraged to bring their families and dogs and enjoy the day on an actual working farm. Fruit abounds and pickers can enjoy peaches, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, apples, pears, or pumpkins – depending on the season.
Sitting in the middle of the farm, the classic red gambrel roof barn invites visitors to get a glass of locally made cider and relax on the front porch that overlooks the historic Crooked Run Valley. Valley View Farm has locally crafted ciders, mead, and wine to taste, including several wines from Philip Carter Winery. Each offering is a reminder of the human-landscape connection. Everything from the fruit trees to the nearby beehives influences each sip. There are also many local foods, such as jellies, salsas, and cheeses for sale, to enjoy onsite or take home.
Guests witness Strother’s commitment to responsible stewardship of the land in every experience at Valley View Farm. A new pollinator garden and apiary create a habitat for dwindling bee populations. There is a comprehensive fencing program in place to protect springs and waterways from cattle damage.
Twice a year, they host a race that takes runners up the farm’s steep mountain to neighboring Sky Meadows State Park, making a loop inside the park before coming back down. All proceeds of this challenging race go to Friends of Sky Meadows, the volunteer organization that helps educate visitors and conserve park resources.
Valley View Farm is also under conservation easement, which means the land cannot be broken up and sold, a fate many nearby farms have met. But experiencing the Strother family’s commitment to agriculture, it is hard to imagine such a future is in store. Strother’s own sons often come back to work the farm where their father once spent his childhood.
A visit to either Philip Carter Winery or Valley View Farm offers a casual tourist the enhanced experience of understanding and becoming part of a family legacy and agricultural history. Guests may leave with a new favorite wine or a bag full of peaches but will undoubtedly discover an appreciation for a family farm that has been years in the making.
Visit the Strother family establishments at these addresses:
By Erin McCarty