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The Darling Blog

Welcome to The Darling Blog, a life and style blog by the owner of Darling Boutique, Linnea White. Darling is passionate about empowering women and inspiring strength through fashion to restore dignity and true beauty. Enjoy outfit inspiration and style tips, featured #darlingfinds, local collaborations, and so much more. Live the Darling lifestyle - an altogether beautiful life.

Filtering by Tag: charlottesville winery

Rustic Fall Style in the Vineyard | Darling on the Trail

Linnea White

Darling is back on the trail – the Monticello Wine Trail, that is. This stop on the trail took us to the mountains for the gorgeous, 360 degree view at Afton Mountain Vineyards. Not only is Afton Mountain a scenic reprieve in the mountains, but it is also a vineyard that produces wine as robust and beautiful as the scenery. For our afternoon at Afton, we sipped on the Festa di Bacco, the "Super-Tuscan" red blend named after the original vineyard, Bacchanal Vineyards. This wine blended perfectly with our styled shoot, from hue to history, as we walked the grounds of a vineyard established in 1978. It was a bustling late afternoon at Afton, with wine club events and a lawn full of patrons sipping on wine in the evening sunlight. From the patio and lawn to the vines and even to the stunning water below, we explored this mountain-side winery, wine in hand.

Inspired by the autumnal scenery, we styled the models in colorful, fall-toned denim, cozy sweaters, and rich patterns with a boho-rustic feel. See how we styled the looks for a chilly Fall afternoon in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and shop these items and more at Darling Boutique, located on Charlottesville’s downtown mall!

Shoot Styled by Linnea White / Photography by Megan Tiernan, Assisted by Scott Tiernan

Photo by Megan Tiernan

The lovely Paige Pitstick was styled in a dreamy Free People sweater contrasted with a silky blouse, adding a warm plum to the sage green sweater. The Heidi braids and boho-inspired jewelry were the perfect compliment to the look.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

On Paige: Free People sweater, $32 (sold) / Loft blouse, $18 / Joe's Jeans, $64 (sold) / Owl Ridge Farmstead antler collar necklace, $30, and sliced antler studs, $22 / Kitsune's Closet Mulberry Lipstick, $10 / Ugg clogs (model's own)

Photo by Megan Tiernan

Shea Zwerver was styled in all the fireside goodies, from a chunky cardigan to easy booties, this colorful Fall look is ready for those evenings by the fire, Anthropologie catalog style.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

On Shea: Loft stripe sweater, $20 (sold) / Philip Lim cardigan, $200 / AG Denim jeans, $64 (sold) / Joie boots, $96 (sold) / Owl Ridge Farmstead antler tip necklace, $50, leather knot studs, $22, and leather bracelet, $20 / Kitsune's Closet Noir Red Lipstick, $10 / Hat (model's own)

Photo by Megan Tiernan

With her bob and overall adorable, retro personal style, styling Erin O'Hare in this Anthropologie sweater was a given. I started with the sweater and the oxford heels, and found the perfect olive, faux suede dress to pair with the look for a gorgeous autumnal look, with that vintage twist.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

On Erin: Anthropologie Moth sweater jacket, $38 (sold) / Sienna Sky dress, $24 / Guess oxford heels, $30 / Pip's & Co. earrings, $10 / Kitsune's Closet Decco Red Lipstick, $10

Photo by Megan Tiernan

After styling the other three models, I knew I wanted to styled an outfit that would compliment the fall hues and textures I'd chosen for their looks. I started with the patterned, flowy blouse, incorporating some of the colors in their outfits, and added layers for the perfect boho outfit ready for a stroll in the vines.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

On Linnea: Anthropologie Angel of the North sweater, $34 (sold) / Umgee tunic blouse, $20 (sold) / Rag & Bone jeans, $88 / J. Crew boots, $96 / Owl Ridge Farmstead hammered brass bangles, $30, and smoky topaz empress necklace, $44 / Kitsune's Closet Mulberry Lipstick, $10

Photo by Megan Tiernan

We loved our mountainside afternoon at Afton! I'm not sure how many references to The Sound of Music we made, but it was many. The rolling hills and rows upon rows of vines is truly a site to see.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

How much more "the hills are alive with the sound of music" does it get than this?

Photo by Paige Pitstick

See you on the trail, darlings!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this shoot possible, from our gorgeous friends/models, Sarah Craun of the Monticello Wine Trail, and Elizabeth Smith and the staff of Afton Mountain Vineyards!

Photo by Megan Tiernan


“Darling on the Trail” is a series in collaboration with the Monticello Wine Trail and the many amazing local wineries. Expect styled shoots on location and feature interviews with the wineries. All photography by Megan Tiernan and shoots styled by Linnea White, unless otherwise stated.

Meet Afton Mountain Vineyard | Darling on the Trail

Linnea White

"Everyone knows that Pinot Noir and turkey have been happy together on the Thanksgiving table for many years - but how about cranberry sauce and Pinot?!" Elizabeth Smith, General Manager of Afton Mountain Vineyards, is certainly in the holiday spirit - and so are we! For our latest Darling on the Trail collaboration with the Monticello Wine Trail, we made our way up Afton Mountain for a beautiful November afternoon at the vineyard. With 360 degree views of the mountains, this Tuscany-inspired villa winery is truly a relaxing retreat.

In the words of Elizabeth, Afton Mountain wines are "reflective of the boundless beauty in which they are born and raised." We couldn't agree more. The Festa di Bacco is a wine rich in heritage, and the perfect red wine for those cold nights ahead. It warmed our bodies on the day of the chilly shoot, and the rich, red color paired perfectly with the autumnal tones of our styled looks.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post to see how we styled our outfits for this autumnal afternoon in the mountains of Afton! Today, meet Afton Mountain, from the vineyard's rich history to the breathtaking scenery.

Q&A with Elizabeth Smith

You and your husband have personal roots here in the Charlottesville area. Give us a brief history of Afton Mountain Vineyards.

The first vines were planted in 1978 here at Afton Mountain Vineyards. At that time it was called Bacchanal Vineyards; we have a wine now (Festa di Bacco) that is an homage to the original vineyard [see the picture below].

The only wines commercially produced here have been Afton Mountain Vineyards. The tasting room opened in 1990 and the 2014 wines that we are currently pouring are our 25th vintage.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

When and why did you decide to found a winery here in Virginia? What about Cville and the surrounding area makes it ideal for wine-makers?

Tony and I purchased the existing vineyard and winery facility in 2009. We are both originally from the Cville area. We were looking into planting grapes on land that we already owned; realized that our land was not suitable for the type of grapes that we wanted to grow and so started the search for the best vineyard site, which led us to AMV.

Our rolling hills of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge are similar in many aspects to some of the great wine-growing regions of the world. Add in a little humidity and tropical storms just to keep us on our toes, and there you go.

Working together as a local wine community, we all share our knowledge of best practices in the vineyard and the winery, with the goal of creating the best wine not just for Virginia, but to compete at an international level as well.

Let's talk Afton Mountain wine. Describe the types of varietals grown and the winemaking philosophy.

We grow 11 varieties of grapes for 16 total wine styles produced. We have the usual Bordeaux grapes such as Cab Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot; we have some less common varieties for Virginia such as Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Albarino and Cabernet Sauvignon. Our philosophy is driven by our vineyard. We spend huge amounts of time in the vineyard, hand-working the vines to produce the highest-quality juice possible. We focus on premium dry red wines, along with Chardonnay and the few white wines we produce.

Photo by Megan TiernanIn 10 words or less, describe Afton Mountain wine. Be creative!

Handcrafted, elegant, and refined. Lovingly produced by a very small number of hands, which manage the wine all the way from baby vine to ripe fruit, and from sticky, sweet juice to nuanced finished wine. Wines reflective of the boundless beauty in which they are born and raised.

What are 5 things people don’t know about the wine-making process?

  1. First and foremost, we are a working farm. Though our surrounding scenery is breathtakingly beautiful, we grow our own grapes and make our wine right here on the property.
  2. Winemaking is both art and chemistry. You can’t have one without the other.
  3. Quality wine starts in the vineyard. If you don’t have good grapes, it’s a real struggle to make good wine.
  4. There’s a lot of manual labor involved in running a small-production, high-quality winery. This is not an automated process.
  5. The smell of the winery during crush is a beautiful thing.

How have you seen the local wine scene grow over the past years?

Not only does the Monticello AVA produce the best quality wine in the state, wineries outside of our region that buy grapes from this area also produce award-winning wines. The “local” movement that Charlottesville supports so well is the perfect fit for our locally produced wines. Our proximity to the major metropolitan areas of Richmond, DC and Tidewater give us great access to folks who want to enjoy our beautiful bucolic scenery while enjoying delicious wine.

As an AVA (American Viticultural Area) the Monticello AVA is hugely collaborative, supporting winemaking trials in various wineries, roundtables for discussion of industry issues and generally providing the communication among its members as we work towards making our quality wines known to all.

Talk about the concept that "grapes don't grow in ugly places." (We agree!)

We trademarked that phrase in 2009. If you’ve been to visit us you’ll know why. But as you travel the world of wine, there are so many different and yet uniquely beautiful settings that are conducive to grape-growing. It’s a phrase that we hope encourages people to not only visit us, but to think about their wine experiences and appreciate the beauty that comes with winegrape growing regions of the world.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

What is your most popular wine? Why?

It depends on the season. Our Gewurz is a year-round favorite, perfect for Thanksgiving, and yet we’ll sell out of it before then. Rose’ is a summer favorite. Our most popular wine year-round is the Festa di Bacco, a super-Tuscan red blend of Sangiovese, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It’s very versatile and food-friendly, medium-bodied with bright acidity that makes it easy to pair with a meal or enjoy on its own.

Suggest one of your wines for the Fall season ahead. What makes it perfect for the changing seasons?

We just released our 2014 Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are the “big reds” of our fabulous 2014 vintage. They are full-bodied, smooth and rich. Perfect for chilly weather and good friends.

Share a recipe or favorite dish to pair with one of your wines.

Everybody knows that Pinot Noir and turkey have been happy together on the Thanksgiving table for many years - but how about cranberry sauce and Pinot?! Check out this recipe for a new twist on an old favorite.


“Darling on the Trail” is a series in collaboration with the Monticello Wine Trail and the many amazing local wineries. Expect styled shoots on location and feature interviews with the wineries. All photography by Megan Tiernan and shoots styled by Linnea White, unless otherwise stated.

Darling on the Trail: Meet King Family Vineyards

Linnea White

Darling is on the trail - the Monticello Wine Trail, that is. Our first stop: King Family Vineyards for an afternoon polo picnic in the Blue Ridge Mountains. James King shared with us the history of King Family wine and Roseland Polo, a Sunday tradition for many locals. Read more in the Q&A below.

Consider these pictures a teaser for the styled shoot on location at KFV coming to the blog next week!

Q&A with James King

We love the strong family dynamic of King Family Vineyards. Give us a brief history of King Family Vineyards.

After moving from Houston, Texas, we purchased the original 327 acre farm in 1996. In late 1998, a young man named Tom Vandenberg, knocked on our door and asked if he could lease ten acres for a vineyard. Sparked by his curiosity and research, we did our homework, and soon hired a vineyard consultant. A nursery in California had a few extra vines, so six months of hard work later, our first eight acres of vines had been planted.

Initially the plan was to simply sell the fruit, but in the interest of learning as much as possible, we decided to make wine with a portion of the harvest and sell the rest. 480 cases in 2000 became 1,050 cases by 2001, and it all sold! After a quick visit to California for ideas, we designed our winery on the back of a napkin and by October 1, 2002 opened our real, honest-to-goodness winery. Since then both the vineyard and the business have grown.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

When and why did your family decide to found a winery here in Virginia? What about Cville and the surrounding area makes it ideal for wine-makers?

We actually produced our first vintage back in 2000 at Afton Mountain Vineyards, in Afton, Virginia. Back then we didn't have our own winery and they graciously opened their doors to us to help us get into the wine industry. We picked our grapes on our farm, loaded them up into a cooling truck and drove them to Afton Mountain Vineyards for processing. While this worked fairly well, it was challenging from a logistical standpoint and we quickly realized that in order for this to be sustainable, we'd need a facility of our own. We visited California and looked at several wineries for different design ideas and ended up drawing the design on the back of a napkin. We broke ground in 2001 and by October 1, 2002 we officially opened our doors.

Let's talk King Family wine. Describe the types of varietals grown, and the winemaking philosophy, under the direction of winemaker Matthieu Finot.

We grow seven different French varietals including Viognier, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot & Malbec. With these grapes, Matthieu Finot makes 11 different wines. Predominantly, Matthieu makes dry, traditional and Old World style wines whose production is lead by terroir, or "sense of place," rather than on science in the winery or the winemaker. Matthieu would describe himself as a “non-interventionist.” His role is to supervise how the fruit expresses itself as it is made into wine. This style encourages greater complexity and balance, and results in wines that best reflect the importance of the terroir.

In 10 words or less, describe KFV wine. Be creative!

Our wine is made for sharing with family & friends!

What are 5 things people don’t know about the wine-making process?

  1. The hours are long and difficult... 16-18 hour days!
  2. You're typically wet and cold most of the time.
  3. It takes a lot of beer to make wine!
  4. Weather can impact each day dramatically.
  5. Winemaking is about 60% science and 40% art.

How have you seen the local wine scene grow over the past years?

The local wine scene has grown tremendously over the past decade. When we started there were about 70 wineries in the state of Virginia. Today, there are over 270 licensed wineries across the Commonwealth. Agritourism succeeds in clusters, so we encourage and support other wineries and those who are entering the wine industry by sharing equipment, knowledge and staff. A rising tide, raises all boats!

Roseland Polo is a Sunday tradition for many in the area. What came first - polo or the winery?

Polo! My Dad, David King, who founded King Family Vineyards in 1998, has played polo since 1980. When we moved from Texas to Virginia in 1995, he was looking for the flattest piece of land in Albemarle County so that he could build a polo field. At that point, growing grapes and making wine weren't part of the plan. Polo is his hobby and passion and something that he enjoys sharing with others.

Photo by Megan Tiernan

Talk about the family's polo history, and the beautiful concept of creating "a country place where we could all live, work, and play."

Even though grape growing and winemaking became the focus of the family business, polo was still a hobby and passion that my dad wanted to pursue. Once the polo field was built and he started practicing on it during business hours curious customers would watch from the tasting room and ask, "What is going on over there?" Before you know it, people were bringing their lawn chairs out to drink wine and watch polo practice. Practice morphed into matches and lawn chairs morphed into cars, tents, and full-scale tailgating. The rest is history.

As far as creating a "country place where we can all live, work, and play" goes, we all feel very blessed to not only live here in Crozet within a half-mile from one another, but we also get the opportunity to work together and raise our children here. It's a very rare opportunity.

What is your most popular wine? Why?

While Meritage is our flagship wine, I'd have to say that Crosé is our most popular wine. It's light, crisp and refreshing...perfect for summer! It's only 11.9% ABV so it's easy to drink and very versatile with food pairings and goes well with almost anything off the grill.

Photo by Lindsay Wine

Suggest one of your wines for the fall season ahead. What makes it perfect for the change of seasons?

I'd recommend drinking Cabernet Franc. It's our lightest red wine by far, which makes it great for both red and white wine drinkers. As the weather cools, most people prefer to transition from white wines to reds. Along that same line, many dishes prepared in the fall tend to be heavier than summer start to see more Italian food, lamb, pork, and turkey. Cabernet Franc pairs well with all of these making is a great transitional wine going into the fall.

Share a recipe or favorite dish to pair with one of your wines.

I'd make Roast Pork Loin with Apples and pair it with our Cabernet Franc.


"Darling on the Trail" is a series in collaboration with the Monticello Wine Trail and the many amazing local wineries. Expect styled shoots on location and feature interviews with the wineries.