In rural Purcellville, immerse yourself in all things vintage—clothes, antiques, whiskey, and wines.

Photography by Samantha White

What draws me back to Purcellville, one of Virginia’s northernmost settlements not far from either the West Virginia or Maryland borders, is the concept of vintage. First settled in 1764, Loudoun County has had an explosion of wineries in recent decades—50 plus, at last count—and produces an impressive range of vintages from the vines. But we also use that term to refer to something classic and fine, usually representing a bygone era. Vintage clothing, vintage furniture, even vintage whiskey.

Once I start to explore the mainly rural area through this lens, I’m delighted by how truly timeless many of Purcellville’s offerings are. Silas Redd, owner of a vintage clothing boutique there aptly named Nostalgia, gives me his own angle. 

“Vintage translates into a familiarity,” Redd says. “When people see a vintage dress, they can associate that with something else, whether a dress that their grandmother had or a dress they saw in an old Turner Classic movie. It’s something you can connect with on an emotional level.”

With his shop housed in a repurposed home on the town’s main drag, Redd particularly enjoys that connection when three generations—grandmother, mother, and daughter—find what they’re seeking
on his shelves and racks. Like many Gen Z’ers, Sam—my daughter and co-traveler—regularly buys clothing at thrift stores, but a vintage store, explains Redd, is more curated. 

“What’s really cool about vintage is you’ll most likely find something that nobody else is going to wear,” he says. That uniqueness, along with vintage clothing’s sustainability factor, especially appeals to the younger generation. Redd also runs a shop called Mister that offers new menswear with a classic look.

Stitching Together a Vibrant Community

Not far down the road, Graffiti & Silk—a shop, gathering spot, and volunteer center with a vintage-y vibe—focuses on repurposing items that are past their prime to produce something new and marketable. “We get a lot of people’s jewelry and clothing they want preserved,” explains Amy Burns,
creative director. “They want it to go to a home or a person that appreciates it.”

Also the shop’s woodworker, Burns envisioned this space to “be more
relational and not so driven by transactions.” Part of the Loudoun nonprofit Mobile Hope, Graffiti & Silk is all about giving things and people—particularly at-risk teens—a second chance. With a focus on sustainability, the staff and volunteers reenvision items “that would otherwise be in the landfill.” They take castoffs to remake them into saleable creations, like a rug made
of unwearable jeans and other fabrics. Partnering with a master sewist and the Fiber Guild of the Blue Ridge, they also teach teens to weave and sew such re-creations, sometimes using a floor loom. 

“This is about creating the community you want to live in,” says Jeff Styles, director of programming. They also offer a speaker series, a couture section, and a textile space decorated with reclaimed doors. 

Sam and I could spend hours in this vibrant, welcoming space, but we have much to explore. To experience a Purcellville mainstay, we head to “Maggie’s,” as the locals call it. Featuring local producers, Magnolias at the Mill is a beautifully redone grain mill at the tail end of the Washington & Old Dominion Rail Trail. Sam’s dad and I once rode our bikes here from Arlington—all 42 miles—and I still recall the sheer joy of arriving. 

In the early 1900s, Purcellville and beyond was a train destination for D.C. dwellers to escape to these cooler foothills. The restored 1904 train station is right next to Maggie’s, which welcomes all, even sweaty bikers, into their tented outdoor area or indoor dining room.

Vintage-inspired Spirits and Flights

Finding our way to Catoctin Creek Distillery, we discover that their primary source of inspiration was whiskey-maker George Washington, whom some might call a Vintage Virginian himself. 

“We were inspired by the history of whiskey in Virginia, which started in the 1600s and was all about rye,” says Becky Harris, a chemical engineer who co-owns the distillery with her husband, Scott, a former government contractor. “Rye was the cover crop that was paired with tobacco, the
primary agricultural product here, and it was used to replenish the soil.” Farmers then harvested the rye and made it into whiskey. Catoctin Creek’s trademarked Virginia rye grain-to-glass whiskey is made from local grains and uses pot still distillation, which creates a fuller flavor and body.

“We wanted to make our whiskey a homage to what used to be at the time of George Washington’s distillery,” Harris says. Back then, when Washington
was the biggest distiller in the U.S., there were 3,600 distilleries in Virginia alone, according to an 1810 census. That means “all whiskey was local,” she adds.
In 2009, when Catoctin Creek opened, they were one of six distilleries in Virginia, which now amount to 60. 

Harris refers to their 80-proof offering as “a front porch sipper” because it’s easy to drink. Their 90-proof is spicier, with citrus notes that make it perfect for a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, she says. For those looking for a more “intense” experience, they also distill a cask proof whiskey, but Harris designs them so they’re not “all burn.” 

I prefer my spirits with some jazzing up, so their mini cocktail flight was perfect. We particularly savored their “Berry Well Then” cocktail, which included their 80-proof whiskey with strawberry syrup, lime juice, and a salt-and-pepper rim, which gave it a nice kick. 

“That’s what’s nice about spirits in cocktails,” says Harris. “You can play with it and bring out different flavors.”

At Catoctin Creek Distillery, which specializes in Virginia rye grain-to-glass whiskey, visitors can sample a flight of straight-up spirits, including their “front porch sipper.” 

A Restorative Floral Farm

Just outside Purcellville, we head to Hope Flower Farm & Winery because
I can’t resist that name. I soon find myself agreeing with a quotation on a sign from the farm’s owner, renowned floral designer Holly Heider Chapple. 

“For me, the answer is always in the garden,” the sign says, quoting her. Before the pandemic, Chapple used the farm primarily to grow flowers for her wedding and event designs and for teaching workshops. Afterwards,
she opened the farm to the public. Now its 25 acres welcome visitors for
floral workshops, celebrations (tulip days, dahlia days, wreath-making),
and a yearly FlowerStock Festival, featuring guest designers, glamping tents, and firepits. You can also drop by most days to relax and experience the
seasonal blooms. They grow their own apples for their Jack Cat hard cider, produced on site, and also offer international wines and light snacks.

After recently losing her husband, Chapple wants to develop the farm as a place of healing and plans to offer yoga, meditation, and other flower-inspired paths to wellness. As Sam and I admire the 1850 manor house, an adorable “he shed” made by a local carpenter from reclaimed woods, and their ample event spaces, I ponder the role of flowers in our lives. For most Americans, gifting or displaying flowers often signifies celebrations and special occasions, but Chapple is an advocate for us to immerse ourselves more often, even daily, in the rich and rejuvenating floral world. I make a note to revisit this blooming property in other seasons and maybe even take a design class as my own wellness prescription. 

Chapple has also assembled one of the best garden-themed shops I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t resist a pair of gardening gloves that come to my elbows for future floral therapy in my own garden.

The “He” shed on Holly Heider Chapple’s gorgeous Hope Flower Farm is dedicated to the memory of her husband, Evan. 

Family-crafted Vintages and Beers

In 2003, Bora Baki and his son, Kerem, planted their first vines in what’s known as Loudoun Heights and were among the county’s first vintners.

Hillsborough Vineyards & Brewery is a true family-run vineyard and tasting room that also has the business savviness to satisfy any palate. They offer 100 percent estate-grown vintages using old world French techniques while also crafting local brews, which are overseen by Tolga, Kerem’s brother. Their mom, Zeynap, is the resident artist, and Kerem’s wife, Asli, is head of public relations.

Kerem, a winemaker who studied enology at Virginia Tech, and Tolga, who owns Belly Love Brewing and Taproom in Purcellville, occasionally experiment with mixing their two callings. Their Rusty Silo beer is aged in a musky wine barrel, which produces a memorable flavor. Last summer, Tolga even used an AI-generated recipe for a hazy IPA as an experiment.

Since our afternoon is early, I opt for my favorite summer sipper; their Serefina, a Provence-style rosé, is perfect for this warm day. The outdoor patio spaces with trellises for shading give us relaxing views of the vineyard and Blue Ridge foothills. This topography provides nice inclines with good drainage for the vines, Asli tells us. They grow the usual regional grapes, along with tannat, roussanne, and fer servadou—some unfamiliar names for me.
Hillsborough is best known for its reds, Asli adds, and they offer a vertical tasting series in red, white, and rosé or a vintners selection, often including their award winners. For the weekend crowds, they opened a wood-fired brick oven to serve flatbreads and sandwiches.

While we tour, Asli emphasizes the camaraderie between local vineyards rather than competition. “No one comes to just one winery,” she points out. “We all bring awareness to the area.” In 2020, several Loudoun Heights vintners combined their varietals to create a blended vintage, Valle Tranquilo, a nod to the verdant region and their family-style attitude.

Hillsborough Vineyards offers ample outdoor seating overlooking the vineyards and the area’s rolling hills. 

Greening the Vintages

As the newer owners of the popular Sunset Hills vineyard, one of the largest in the state, Chris and Katie Key are staying true to the previous owners’ goals to take sustainable care of the land that produces their vintages. Their 245 solar panels supply about 65 percent of their electricity needs, leading them to proclaim they’re “turning sunshine into wine.”

I also appreciate the EV chargers onsite and their new commitment to stop using herbicides. They also rarely use insecticides, relying more on manual labor and technology. All wines are estate-grown, including vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley which produce 13 types of grapes on 75 acres. 

“The local wines are just getting better,” Katie says. “The whole region has really elevated the game.” She puts many local wines on par with the California ones she’s tasted. 

Located in an 1870s German hay barn that was renovated in 2007 by Amish carpenters, the Sunset Hills tasting room is spacious and welcoming. Visitors can also enjoy a covered outdoor area, picnic tables, and ample space for dogs and children.

Sam and I sit down to taste their medal-winners flight of three whites
and three reds with Katie and winemaker Jason Burrus. I enjoy their crisp Chablis-style chardonnay, the dry rosé, and the viognier. 

“Virginia has really embraced viognier,” says Burrus. “Wine should be a reflection of the fruit, the area in which it was grown.” The complex character of this fruit is subtle, so they ferment it in stainless steel. “We want to be able to taste the variety first and foremost and not cellar processing technique,” he explains.

Their flagship wine, Mosaic, is a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and cabernet sauvignon, which Burrus describes as “a harmonious creation in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” I wholeheartedly agree. “The greatest wines are defined by the fruit and the region,” Burrus says. “All the other things we do here are to support that, not to dominate it.” 

This nurturing, collaborative philosophy seems to echo through our Purcellville experiences. The business owners we’ve met have a special appreciation for this lush and productive land. They want their products—whether new or reclaimed—to be worthy of the community and its cherished landscapes. 

Click here for places to shop, stay, and eat in Purcellville!

This article originally appeared in the August 2024 issue. 

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum