Fauquier County spans more than 650 square miles, the eighth-largest county in Virginia. It is no wonder then, that you can find hidden gems everywhere. Off the beaten path in southern Fauquier, take a drive through the bucolic countryside and stop at one of these unique family-owned businesses. Each provides quality local goods, friendly conversation and a connection to genuine small-town living. While any are singularly worth the drive, why not plan to visit them all in one memorable road trip?
The Corner Deli – Remington
Several years ago, a traveler broke down as he was driving on Route 29 near Remington. After getting help from a nearby gas station, he found himself across from The Corner Deli, and went inside. The food and service impressed him so much that now, years later, he makes a special stop at this family-owned restaurant every time he passes by. It is no wonder why.
Stan and Jeanne Heaney, who started the Corner Deli in 1988, are there to greet you with a smile and serve you some of the best comfort food around. Almost every item on their menu is made in-house, with no frozen or pre-made alternatives. Popular dishes include homemade soups, chili, and sausage gravy with chipped beef – a true southern classic. For lunch, try their famous Reuben sandwich: Shredded corned beef glazed in Thousand Island dressing and swiss cheese, between two slices of buttery toasted rye bread. Visitors can dine in or grab a bite to go. for more information visit www.cornerdeliva.com.
Hayfield Farm Shop – Goldvein
Driving through the countryside of southern Fauquier is just one treat on the way to visiting Hayfield Farm Shop. Upon arriving, you immediately know you are on the premise of a family-owned operation, where cattle roam the hillside and free-range chickens peck the ground. If you’re lucky you may even see Pickles the cat, the family pet who greets every customer with a friendly purr.
Dylan Butler grew up on this farm, learning to care for animals through his 4-H club. Now, he and his wife Erica continue to raise animals to produce high-quality beef, pork, and lamb meat. The animals are raised on the farm and processed a mere seven miles down the road, making it some of the most local product you can find.
Hayfield Farm Shop offers a chance to pick up pre-ordered meats or drop by to browse the farm’s products and other local goods. Customers can choose from sausages, steaks and a variety of other cuts, including Korean style ribs (always call to check availability if you are looking for a specific cut). The shop also carries items from other regional providers, including homemade ice cream from Wild Thistle Kitchen and handmade goat milk soaps by Genesis Soaps, a nearby mother-and-daughter team. For more information visit www.hayfield-farm.com.
Cider Lab – Sumerduck
James Rasure was once told that you can make a wine out of anything. Looking out at his garden at the abundance of tomatoes in Southern Fauquier, he thought he’d give it a try. A few months later, his wife sampled the tomato wine and said quite honestly, it needed improving. A scientist by trade, Rasure and his physicist son A.J. decided to take a wine-making class at a nearby vineyard. From there, they started their creative concoction of ciders, perrys (made from pears), and jerkums (made from stone fruits).
Now, visitors to the Cider Lab can sample the fruits of their labor. The most popular flavor is the Mango Habanero Cider, which offers a pleasant punch with a hint of the tropics. Nothing at the Cider Lab is overly sweet, yet their blends make each drink a palate pleaser. In fact, James and A.J. do not serve a blend they would not drink themselves. True to their scientific roots, they are constantly experimenting and making improvements. Once a beverage makes it on their menu, you know it will be good.
The atmosphere at the Cider Lab is laid back and welcoming. Grab your Cranberry Cider or Pineapple Perry and sit on an Adirondack chair beside a fire pit, listening to music under a string of lights. The cidery often hosts food trucks as well, so you can munch on delicious snacks while enjoying a flight of cider. For more information visit www.cider-lab.com.
Moo Thru – Remington
No trip down Route 29 toward Southern Fauquier is complete without a stop at Moo Thru for homemade made ice cream. Since 2010, Moo Thru has been serving a variety of handcrafted, slow-churned ice creams to both locals and travelers alike. Located right off the highway, it is a popular waypoint where lines are often present, yet service is fast and friendly. The short wait is worth it. The secret is not only in their unique flavors – which include blackberry, sweet cream, and dark chocolate – but also the Holstein cows raised on the family farm just two miles down the road.
Ken Smith, who owns and operates Moo Thru, grew up on that fourth-generation dairy farm. He now uses the fresh milk and other local ingredients to craft this one-of-a-kind dessert. Make sure to check out their special concoctions, offered seasonally. They have included such delights as blackberry merlot and bourbon caramel. For ore information visit www.moothru.com.
Snake Oak Farm Store – Remington
When Erika and Christian Warner first moved to the area, they began raising chickens – something Erika has observed is often a gateway to larger farming enterprises. After pursuing an interest in growing flowers, Snake Oak Farm began to take off. A family of makers, they now offer cut flowers, handmade soaps, fibers, cosmetics and letterpress products. All are made by the pair or other members of their family. After several successful years at the Culpeper Farmers Market, a natural extension of the business was to purchase the historic building in Remington. Visitors can now peruse their goods at that location.
Walking into the shop on Main Street feels like walking into your stylish friend’s home. The soaps, yarn, pottery and other locally made products are elegantly displayed, yet everything is handcrafted and made with care. In addition to their own products, the Warners sell goods from other regional makers too, each with a connection to the area or the family. There is a seasonality to the shop – walking into the store in the spring could look completely different than the summer. Erika offers floral design classes, where budding florists can come and learn to arrange flowers that are provided by Snake Oak. The Warners also host fiber craft gatherings on Saturdays in the fall, where anyone can come and work on their fiber arts in the company of friends. Make sure to contact the store before scheduling a visit, as their hours vary seasonally, or find them on weekends at the Culpeper Farmers Market. For more information visit www.snakeoakfarm.com.
By Erin McCarty