Middleburg, VA and Apple Picking (again!)
Emily and I continued our annual tradition of fall apple picking this weekend, heading with our dogs to Stribling Orchard in northern Virginia.
Our newest, Annie, is a 1 year old whippet or italian greyhound mix–we think. We actually have no idea. She had a broken leg when we adopted her (from Capitol Canines), having been hit by a car in North Carolina. Poor thing, the pin the vet had placed in her leg was too long and it was protruding from her skin when we got her. She’s all better now, and enjoying life in her new home.
I think Stribling Orchard is the best place to go apple picking in the Washington DC area. It’s about an hour and fifteen minute drive from DC, straight down I-66. It has rows upon rows of trees laden with apples–tens of thousands of them. The orchard has about ten different types of apples, and the map they hand to drivers entering the orchard tells you where to find them and which types are best for baking or eating (or both). My one suggestion is that they either improve the map or put markers next to the trees to identify the type of apple.
We like Stribling not only because of the quality and quantity of delicious apples, but because it’s dog friendly. The prices are fair and the market store where you pay for your apples is well stocked with all sorts of fruit butters, jams, syrups, honeys, and pies. We picked about 15lbs of apples, enough to last us until the next century. I even picked a pumpkin out of the pumpkin patch–first time I’ve done that (that I can remember).
Afterwards, we drove to Middleburg, a small town in the middle of Loudoun County in northern Virginia horse country about one hour west of DC. It’s billed as the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital” and draws in visitors from all over the U.S.
We ate lunch at Market Salamander, an eatery and market on the historic main street. You order at the counter and the food is brought out to you, either on the nice back porch or inside in a cozy dining room that is decorated to look like an outdoor courtyard. The food was really good and surprisingly cheap. I had a pulled pork sandwich ($7.50) and Emily had a veggie wrap ($6.50). There was even another dog inside the market, quietly sitting next to its owner as she drank her coffee. A place that serves food and allows dogs inside? That’s almost unheard of in the USA.
Across the street from Market Salamander is Mount Defiance Distillery. Opened in 2014, this small distillery makes ciders, rums, and absinthe in small batches. From the look of the exterior, Mount Defiance used to be a car maintenance shop, but the owners did a great job of sprucing the place up inside with lots of wood and a nice bar. We chose the $5 cider tasting menu, which consisted of three different types of ciders. I liked the fall-inspired cider the best and bought a big bottle to bring home. We also tried their absinthe, which tastes too much like Sambuca for me. Emily loved it though.
And Mount Defiance allows dogs!
At the suggestion of a friend we ran into near the distillery, we went to the Home Farm Store to buy some groceries before heading back. I think the building used to be a bank back in the day; its neoclassical portico welcomes you into a main room with a deli/butcher, a cheese counter, wine section, and a section for fresh produce. I bought a bottle of Virginia wine made from the Norton grape, a red variety that Thomas Jefferson tinkered with. And the best part about Home Farm Store…it’s dog friendly!
I already had a couple of apple cider donuts (before lunch) at Stribling Orchard but was in the mood for more dessert before heading back to DC. So we headed to The Upper Crust, located in a small historic home right off the main street. We didn’t know if the bakery would allow our dogs inside, so we took turns going in. I bought one of those cookies with a Hershey Kiss in the middle, for a whopping 85 cents.
Another great day trip from DC. Dog friendly and all. We will be back to Middleburg now that we know dogs are so welcome there!