Not very long ago I visited the town of Aldie, Va., in Loudoun County. Your immediate reaction might be to ask “Why?” and I could say because it’s there, but that isn’t the whole picture. I was on my way to the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, about six miles away, and was driving through Aldie.
I thought it looked interesting and right away knew that not many folks were writing about it, so I decided stop for a while to check it out. And I was glad I did. I met some interesting and nice folks and learned a little history along the way.
I found myself in Aldie Mill Historic Park, on route 50, which was established in 1810. My first stop there was Aldie Mill. The building was restored and currently is a four-story brick structure with tandem waterwheels. It offers visitors a look of what life was like in the 19th and early 20th century. In those days, the mill was a vital center of the community.
It is one of the best preserved historic mills in the state and Virginia’s only known mill powered by twin overshot wheels. Once upon a time a miller would grind grain as wagons rode in filled with wheat and corn. The Aldie Mill is open for tours. (703-327-9777).
Next door is the locally owned Mercer Tavern Antiques where you’ll find 19th and 20th century furniture, Smalls china, collectibles, paintings and prints. The same family also owns the Little River Inn within walking distance. It has eight rooms situated in two cottages and a main house. It opened in 1984 in the 19th century buildings. The average rate is $150.00.
About 2 or 3 miles from all this you’ll run into the Chrysalis Vineyards, one of 250 wineries in Virginia. Jennifer McCloud opened Chrysalis Vineyards in 1998. There are 70 acres of grapes, including the world’s largest planting of Norton grapes, a native Virginia variety.
Chrysalis offers self-guided tours, tastings of 10 wines ($10) and the vineyard produces about 10,000 cases a year. The winery is open year round, seven days a week. From the main house you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding acres. I saw it when the autumn leaves were in full bloom.
All of this sightseeing works up an appetite and next to Mercer Tavern Antiques is Brassica’s Farm Fresh Market & Cafe. Locally owned by Gary Hall, the cafe has seating for 12. In the back is a 3,000-square-foot garden where he picks fresh fruit and veggies for his menu items. Most of the other food served is purchased from local Virginia farms. I tried the pumpkin sandwich, the first I ever had and I liked it. It is just the kind of restaurant you’d expect in a small town, and that’s a good thing. (703-327-2006)
Aldie is an unincorporated community in Loudoun County with a population of about 11,500 and it is said to be the second fastest growing zip code in the state. It has its beginning in 1765 when James and George Mercer established a mill. It is named after a village in Scotland.
When exploring the Northern Virginia area, I do suggest a visit to Aldie. I think you’ll enjoy what the town offers. Tell them Eddie sent ya.