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DAY 3 ), which has a remarkable modern winery building, is open by appointment only and makes just two wines, both Bordeauxstyle, both expensive, and both promising.The weekend I was there the 2010 Rendezvous was being poured at a White House state dinner.(He wasn't our only penniless president, just the smartest one to end up that way.) Nevertheless, Monticello was worth all the money spent to construct it, so exquisite are the details.
The only challenge is deciding which part of the state to visit, for it is of formidable size, the largest of the original 13 colonies—although it shrank somewhat after West Virginia broke away to remain in the Union in 1861. The battlefields, mansions, restaurants, and wineries are in a class by themselves, and of particular interest to me was the fabled Skyline Drive, 105 miles on a mountaintop road.
When I announced my itinerary to Dorothy Mc Auliffe, wife of the state's governor, Terry Mc Auliffe, she said that I had picked a "sweet spot" but added (as a First Lady who can't play favorites must), "We have so many beautiful parts.
The state of Virginia blessed this country with Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, boldface names from our political past, and added four later presidents as a bonus.
Native sons drafted the Declaration of Independence and much of the Constitution, a proud accomplishment, but the state would ultimately falter.
I was fortunate to meet a diner by the name of Aida, 85 years old, who was wearing pearls ("real pearls, dear") and having such a fine time she planned to celebrate her 86th birthday there.
When you get past such relics of the South as fried bologna and cheese sliders, the food is startlingly sophisticated.
(But brace yourself for the psychedelic decor.) Culpeper's main shopping street has a store unlike any I've encountered: La Bee da Loca, which specializes in honey and the education of visitors in the ways of bees.
A tunnel allows them to come and go from outside to the hive inside the shop.
He has operated it for nearly 40 years, and it is better than ever, an almost inconceivable accomplishment these days, when restaurants tend to peak within six months after opening and never improve.
Those who want to make a night of it can stay at the inn's hotel, which is spread over several buildings in the tiny town ().