Friday, August 28, 2015

Highlights from Rappahannock River Wine Cruise Rally

by Wilt Greenwood

Our early Summer Rappahannock River Wine Cruise Rally, Hosted by the Schoolars and the Greenwoods on June 12 through 15, turned out to be a very enjoyable event, despite the crippling heat wave that passed through Virginia that weekend.  Sixteen coaches braved the 100+ degree temperatures to dry camp at Fairleigh and Cil Schoolar’s business location, the Top Shop at Bray’s Fork (where Fairleigh’s team manufactures high-end counter tops for upscale kitchens).  Fairleigh managed to provide limited electricity for many of the coaches, but the heat forced all but a very few to run their generators at least a portion of the time.  This was not really a problem – the Schoolars had plenty of space for the exhaust fumes to dissipate – and everyone managed to keep cool, at least while in the coaches.

We had a total of 32 ½ people at some point during the rally, although not all were present all the time (the ½ was the Tilmans’ grandson Thomas, who got more fun out of the event than anyone).  Most folks arrived Thursday night, and some went into Tappahannock to eat out while others just hung around the coaches and sweltered.  Friday was a free day, to explore Tappahannock and Essex County or just hang out, and then on Friday evening we were treated to a Guamanian dinner at the Schoolars’ home, prepared by Executive Chef Cil, with the assistance of a horde of hapless volunteers who just did what they were told.  Fairleigh and Ed Tilman handled the meat, cooking a truly enormous amount of barbecued ribs and chicken over Fairleigh’s charcoal grill.  Everything was excellent, as usual, and many recipes were copied down by the wives in the group.

After sleeping off the food for a while Saturday, we all gathered at Hoskins Creek around 9:00 to board the Captain Thomas.  We took up about half the boat for our trip up the Rappahannock to Ingleside Vineyards for a winery tour, wine tasting, and lunch.  The fact that we were running into the prevailing breeze kept us all cool enough to enjoy the boat ride, and we saw some nesting eagles on our way up the river.  The meal was a very nice luncheon buffet, the tour was informative, and the wines were really good – Virginia is becoming quite a well-respected wine producer.  The only drawback was that the trip back, running with the wind instead of against it, was not quite as comfortable as the ride up!

After the boat ride, we all returned to the coaches for a short break and happy hour before traveling into town for dinner at Lowery’s, a Tappahannock tradition for several decades.  Back to the coaches for Saturday night, and then a Quite-A-Bit-More-Than-A Continental Breakfast on Sunday morning to fortify us for our respective trips back home.  All in all, a great rally and a pleasant weekend. 

Click here to view rally photos.