by Clay Barbour
The orange-feathered chicken approached the grapevine with determination, its wattle dangling, its comb bouncing with each step. It was beautiful in its own way, but altogether unremarkable. That is, right up until it made a move that caught our team off guard.
Standing on its tippy toes, the chicken stretched its neck up as high as it could and plucked a grape right off the lowest vine. “What in the world?” thought EJ Toudt, our creative director.
He and his team had traveled three-and-half hours into the mountains of Virginia to bring our readers a story on world-class pinot noir being made in our state (“The Accidental Pinot,” page 58) and returned with tales of the crazy chickens of Ankida Ridge Vineyards.
The owners keep a lot of animals on their land, including sheep, bees and chickens. The latter earn their keep by providing beautifully colored eggs and serving as pest control for certain insects. But it seems over time the little cluckers have developed a taste for pinot. Some might even say an appetite. We can sympathize.
That’s how it goes in this business –you don’t get rich, but you do get to meet interesting people, travel to amazing spots and encounter rare moments of peculiar beauty. In the past year, our team has traveled across the Chesapeake Bay on a historic schooner, toured the finest culinary inns on the Blue Ridge Mountains, hung out with the best rock cover band in Hampton Roads and interviewed some of the best artists, illustrators and businesspeople in our region.
And we can honestly say that most of those stories have been as fun for us to experience as we hope they’ve been for you to read. Sure, there’s been the occasional hiccup; a subject here or there that proved more trouble than the story was worth, the rare business that flaked out. But bringing the best of Virginia to you is almost always interesting – and sometimes, a little weird.
So, as you dive into this book, I urge you to imagine the stories behind the stories. Sometimes they’re just as interesting. And if you write us, we may even tell you a few.
Thanks for reading. And please, let us know how we’re doing.