More to Meander: Restaurant open 6 days a week

The Inn at Meander Plantation and Restaurant

Announcing our restaurant’s expansion…
more to Meander …

More Days and More Hours:
Now open, with flexible seating times:
* Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
* Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

More Dining Choices:
Now offering:
* Classic Chef’s Tasting Menu Dinner/$65 per person
* New Prixe Fixe Dinner/$39 per person
* Select from expanded menu prepared fresh daily by Executive Chef David Scales
The menu changes weekly to reflect the season and market availability.

Come help celebrate our growth!
Complimentary glass of champagne with dessert
through August 30.

Named “2007 Restaurant of the Year”

2333 N. James Madison Hwy., Locust Dale, VA 22948
Hwy. 15 between Culpeper and Orange)
540-672-4912 or 800-385-4936

New Vineyard at Meander


And then there’s our other new venture, our very own Vineyards.

Thanks to our friend and neighbor Dean Gruenberg (who has his own Castle Gruenberg Vineyards and Winery just around the corner from us on Meander Run Road and set to open in August), we now have nearly 2 acres of grapes growing here at Meander.

The vineyard actually started last year with planting of a half-acre each of Cabernet Franc (a staple Virginia varietal) and Petite Manseng (our favorite white varietal) at the top of the field to right of the driveway. There is fruit on the vines and Dean says we’ll make about 30 bottles from them this year. But it will be 4 years before we will be able to produce the quality of grapes we want.

Just planted in the field to the left of the drive is an acre of Crimson Cabernet, a brand new hybrid cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton. This is an extremely new hybrid and we are, to our knowledge, only the second vineyard in the state to plant this grape (Dennis Horton at Horton Vineyards and Winery is the other) that has the taste properties of Cab Sauv with the disease-resistance, hardiness of Virginia’s native grape, Norton.

Thanks to Dean for all his hard work of planting and maintaining the vines and thanks to Ron Kilby, our extraordinary gardener, for keeping the rows tidy. What a beautiful site as you approach The Inn to see grapes growing!

We’re thinking of naming the new vineyards Elim Vineyards which comes from the original name of this property in 1726. When the plantation was patented by Col. Joshua Fry, he named it Elim which is an oasis mentioned in the Bible.

Montpelier Civil War Encampment Aug.1 – 3

Montpelier Civil War Encampment
August 1-3, 2008

So, history buffs – make note of two significant upcoming events at historic Montpelier, President James Madison’s home in Orange County, VA.

About 50 Civil War re-enactors from Company A 13th Virginia, which was known as the “Montpelier Guards,” will be camping Aug. 1-3 at Montpelier and participating in activities similar to those of the estimated 4,500 Confederate forces housed on Montpelier grounds in 1863-64. The event is open to the public on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The standard $14 admission to Montpelier covers entrance to the encampment and other activities. And by the way, we have discounted admission tickets which also give you a 10% discount at the Montpelier Gift Shop!

As part of the weekend activities, Montpelier senior guide and noted Civil War book author Jayne E. Blair will lead in-depth guide’s tours of the Confederate Winter Camp Site at Montpelier, as well as recognize the Aug. 1 anniversary of the Confederate return to Orange County Courthouse following General Robert E. Lee’s devastating defeat at Gettysburg.

Prior to the 1864 Battle of the Wilderness, Orange County served as headquarters for General Lee’s army. That winter before the 3-day battle that resulted in almost 30,000 casualties, General Samuel McCowan’s South Carolina Brigade occupied the camp located on what is now Montpelier’s 2,650 acres.

Since the site was abandoned on May 4, 1864, the 5-acre encampment that included huts with hearths laid out in 50-men streets has been nearly untouched. In an exciting discovery, Montpelier’s archaeologists have excavated four of these hut sites, and they are featured as part of a ¾-mile interpretive trail.

Also included on the tours will be the Gilmore Cabin, which is the post-Civil War home of freedman George Gilmore, his wife Polly and their five children. Born a slave at Montpelier during James Madison’s first presidential term, Gilmore was emancipated because of the Civil War. Following his freedom in the late 1860s, he leased nearby land from Dr. James A. Madison, a grandson the president’s brother. The 1873 home he built has been fully restored and opened to the public in 2005. It is the only restored Freedman cabin in Virginia.

Since 2003, Montpelier’s 26-room, 12,261-square-foot mansion has been undergoing the most significant historical restoration in the nation to return it to the home James and Dolley Madison created. Completion of the $24 million project will be celebrated on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, with a Restoration Celebration that will be attended by numerous national dignitaries and luminaries. Admission to Montpelier will be free that day, honoring Mr. Madison – the Father of the Constitution, architect of the Bill of Rights and fourth president of the United States.

Of course, there’s more to do around us than just go to these exciting events at Montpelier. And it’s going to take you more than one day to do it all!

We are surrounded by some of the state’s finest wineries – Gray Ghost, Old House, Keswick, Prince Michel, Horton, Barboursville, Gadino Cellars, Three Foxes and Pearmund, just to name a few.

And we’re within an hour’s drive of historic Charlottesville and Fredericksburg or the always scenic Skyline Drive. And then there are the galleries, antique shops and quaint markets.

So, if you reserve for the Civil War encampment on August 1-3 and mention you read this blog entry and we’ll give you $100 off a two-night stay with dinner at least one of the nights! You can make reservations on-line from our website,, or call us at 800-385-4936.

Virginia Wine Academy

Welcome to the new Inn at Meander Plantation blog! We’ve got some exciting Meander happenings to share with you!


First is the launch of our new Virginia Wine Academy, which premieres June 22-24. What a fun, fascinating, information-packed “experiential learning vacation” this 3-day package promises to be … after all, what could be more fun than learning, drinking good wine, eating fabulous food, making new friends and savoring the serenity of Meander.

The “Dean” of our new Wine Academy is Warren Dunn. Warren brings extensive wine knowledge and teaching experience to our new school. Our thanks to Warren for all the excellent work he has done.

For us, this is a culmination of a wine journey we started 16 years ago when we first moved to Virginia and started The Inn. Soon after planting our roots in the Piedmont of Virginia, often compared to the Piedmont of Italy, we were surprised to learn of the state’s fledging wine industry. As we developed The Inn and its philosophy, we made a conscious and strong commitment to use local products and support the local economy.

Virginia wines were at the top of the list. We knew we wanted to offer wine to our guests, and we decided in the wide universe of wines, we could at least get our minds around, and become somewhat knowledge, of the world of Virginia wines. Thus was born our commitment to serve only Virginia wines, a decision we have never regretted and, which in fact, has come to be a point of great pride!

Admittedly, back then the selections were limited. There were about 40 wineries and, quite frankly, some not-so-good wines. But fortune brought a wonderful couple, Diane and Steve Eisenach from Virginia Beach, to our door. True “pioneers” in the appreciation of Virginia wines and visionaries of the shining future viticulture had in the state, Diane and Steve were extremely knowledgeable about the wines that were out there.

So we asked Diane and Steve to help us develop our first wine list … which consisted of about 12 wines. We were on our way! We started visiting wineries and finding more wines we liked. We started meeting and making friends in the Virginia wine industry, and they recommended wines from their peers. Other guests started mentioning wines they liked.

And our list kept growing, as did the number of wineries, until today we offer more than 100 different wines from about 20 different wineries. (And, yes, we have sampled every one of them … it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!) Our wine list is an ever-changing entity, as we continually seek out the state’s finest to share with our guests, often introducing them to Virginia wines.

With the Virginia Wine Academy we want to take that a step further and offer not just a greater appreciation of Virginia wines but a learning experience that can be fun and life enhancing. We are looking forward to learning more ourselves! We hope you’ll join us as we take the next lap on our wine journey!

Check our website at to see complete Wine Academy details and upcoming dates.

Suzanne Thomas
Suzie Blanchard

It’s begining to look a lot like Christmas!

Decorating the Inn for the Holidays is always such a joy! We’re able to gather greens from all over the farm…cedar, holly, magnolia and pine. The fresh scents of the newly cut greens just bring the joy of the season closer.
It’s an interesting thought that when Meander was originally patented in 1726 it was not the custom to decorate much at all. Winter was drawing nearer and nearer and the garden wasn’t offering much in the way of fresh fllowers perhaps all that could be brought in were a few limbs of brightly colored berries. I wonder what the colonial family would have thought of todays over the top decorating and gift giving. Additionally the current calender wasn’t used and there was a 13 day difference in the gregorian calendar that we all know today.