Virginia Wine, Oh-So Fine

“…wine [is] a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
Benjamin Franklin, The Posthumous and Other Writings of Benjamin Franklin … Volume 1 of 2

When I’m not immersed in politics, I enjoy what my adopted home state has to offer.

Apart from being a gateway to Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia has a lot of great places to visit and things to do. (Yes, there’s a world beyond the concrete jungle.) That’s why I decided to venture out to Wine Country this past weekend.

One of the Commonwealth’s best hidden secrets is Wine Country. (Disclaimer: I’m not a wine expert; I’m just a connoisseur. All subsequent thoughts are purely subjective.) This was my third time visiting vineyards in Virginia. Since moving to Virginia in June 2012, I’ve been to Rappahannock Cellars near Front Royal (May 2013), Doukenie Winery, and Hillsborough Vineyards (August 2013). All these vineyards were unique and had individual appeal. I wouldn’t recommend going to Front Royal to sample wine–I found Rappahannock’s wine tasting option to be pricey and its premises to be too small. (Good wine, but certainly not worth the drive or price.) The other locations, both based in Purcellville, were reasonable and had better amenities for guests.

This past weekend, I visited Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia–an hour drive from Alexandria and Arlington. Middleburg and the surrounding areas comprise Virginia Wine Country. (I hear that Charlottesville is also a great spot. I hope to sample wine there in the future!)

For $10, you get to sample about 10-11 varieties of red and white wine. (One wine–called Schitz and Giggels–is chuckle-worthy.) Also, this winery popularized the Norton grape:

Of particular interest to Chrysalis Vineyards is the native American grape, Norton (sometimes also known as Cynthiana). Recognized among North American varieties for its unique ability to produce premium quality red wines, the Norton was internationally recognized in the 1800’s as the source of distinctively robust reds with overtones of berry and pitted fruits. Today the Norton is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, and a key element of the Chrysalis Vineyards program is to restore this grape to its position of eminence among fine wines. Presently we have the largest planting of Norton in the world.

Overall, I was impressed with this vineyard and its amenities (which included picnic areas and corn hole.)  Below are pictures:

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Complimentary wine glass you keep after wine tasting

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Grapes!

You might be thinking, “Virginia has wine?” Growing up in California, I was in disbelief to hear that Virginia had good wine. However, this August 2013 article in Forbes put things into perspective and made a convincing case in dubbing Virginia the “East Coast Napa Valley”:

Over the past 30 years winemakers have steadily notched improvements. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation and is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer. As of 2012, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 individuals and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy annually. More importantly, Virginia wines are surprising critics, winning awards and fans across the globe. World-renowned U.K. based wine critic Steven Spurrier characterized Virginia as a “national contender, producing wines of bright fresh character that call for a second glass.” In blind tastings the wines consistently beat out candidates from other parts of the globe (read about the Breakfast of Champions tasting here). Virginia has momentum, but concerns over grape supply, distribution and growth demands will keep things interesting. Yet, it’s a safe bet that the combination of strategic vision from the Cases and local winemaking zeal will keep the energy headed in the right direction—straight for the tipping point.

If you ever make it out to Virginia and want something fun to do, I recommend checking out the wine scene in Northern Virginia.

Check out Virginia is for Lovers and VirginiaWine.org to learn more about the Commonwealth’s wine selection!

Angling Right: Fishing in Occoquan Reservoir

My dad and I ventured to Occoquan Reservoir for the first time yesterday morning.

Below is a picture I captured at Lake Ridge Marina prior to fishing.

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Occoquan Reservoir is a 2,100-acre body of water that forms at the border of Fairfax County and Prince William County. It’s about a 25 minute drive from D.C. without traffic. This place is known for largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, northern pike, bluegill, and perch. Moreover, it’s been dubbed one of the best places to go bass fishing in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Here’s another shot of the mighty Occoquan.

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Compared to other fishing spots I’ve been to, Occoquan was more picturesque and tranquil. There were plenty of opportunities to see and hear wildlife. Blue herons (pictured below) are quite common at Occoquan Reservoir.

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My dad and I fished for about four hours. In the process, we caught nine crappie/bluegill fish collectively. (Pictured below.) Although we didn’t catch any largemouth bass and lamented over a lost catfish, we weren’t disappointed with Occoquan Reservoir. In fact, I enjoyed the frequency of bites my rod had. It’s a good indication that this place is replete with fish. (Arriving early morning is recommended for catching big game fish.)

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Before you decide to go fishing at Occoquan Reservoir, note several things:

1) Always have your Virginia Freshwater Fishing license on you. Yesterday, the local Virginia Department Game and Inland Fisheries warden made his rounds at Occoquan Reservoir to ensure all anglers were licensed. They will check up on you. Don’t forget to have it with you!

2) Rent a boat. It’s worth the $39.

3) Note limits on fish you can catch and keep.

Largemouth Bass

The daily bag limit for bass is five per day. There is no minimum size limit.

Bluegill

Bluegill (bream) and other sunfish may be harvested without size restriction. Anglers are limited to 50 per day in aggregate (combined).

Crappie

Black and white crappie may be harvested without size restriction from Occoquan. The daily limit is 25 per day in aggregate.

Catfish (Channel and Flathead)

There is no minimum size limit for catfish, but anglers are limited to 20 fish per day of each species.

Northern Pike

The minimum size limit for northern pike in Occoquan Reservoir is 20 inches and anglers are limited to 2 fish per day.

4) Don’t bring alcohol on your boat. (It’s a no-no.)  Instead, have water and light snacks.

 

I foresee myself coming here again in the future. Fellow Virginia residents should make the trip to Occoquan Reservoir if they are looking for good fishing, opportunities to kayak/paddleboard, and nature.  Undoubtedly, this is a great escape from the concrete jungle.

I’ll be taking a brief hiatus from fishing for a few weeks, so expect my next “Angling Right” post in early or mid-August.  Happy fishing!

Angling Right: Fishing in the Potomac River

 

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Yesterday morning, I ventured out to a new fishing spot on the Potomac River. I typically fish at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax Station, Virginia, which is replete with catfish, bass, and crappie. Burke Lake is a great fishing spot, but my dad and I have wanted to explore new places to test out different bodies of water. So we decided to try Little Hunting Creek in Fort Hunt, VA–which is very close to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. (Both of these spots are in Fairfax County, VA.)

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Little Hunting Creek can be found near Riverside Park at the mouth of the Potomac River. It’s known as a great spot to catch largemouth bass, perch, and catfish.  The Potomac River usually gets a bad rap as dirty, polluted, and icky. Although not forbidden to catch fish, most fishermen aren’t encouraged to catch and keep their fish. (Use discernment when fishing in the Potomac. Avoid areas near the Capitol.) The area where Little Hunting Creek flows into the Potomac is generally safe, so there’s no need to panic.

Below is our final catch: one decent-sized catfish, some crappie, and some small bass/perch.

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Best conditions to fish: I recommend going early in the morning between 7:00am-9:30am. The fish were actively biting when the river was overflowing. (Courtesy of a full moon the night before.)

What to bring: I suggest packing water, light food (jerky), chairs (depends on the surface you’re fishing from), and of course, a tackle box.

Recommended equipment: Essentials I recommend using are a rod (Shakespeare), hooks, weights (lightweight, not too heavy), bait (smaller night-crawlers), a net, and a bucket.

Appropriate attire: I recommend wearing pants (preferably jeans), t-shirts, hat, sunglasses, boots or sneakers. (Avoid nice clothes!)

If you’re fishing here in Virginia, remember to have a fishing license on you. Permit rates are quite reasonable (i.e. $23/year for freshwater fishing), so it’s a great investment valid a calendar year from the purchase date. Always have a fishing license on you. Reminder: it’s imperative to follow the laws and practice conservation while fishing. As fishermen, we must do our part to protect and preserve the places we fish. (Thankfully, we don’t rely on the government to conserve our surroundings!)

Next week, I’ll post about an upcoming fishing excursion in Prince William County.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Photo Voter I.D. Goes Into Effect Here in Virginia

Today, a photo voter I.D. law went into effect here in Virginia. (More information on the new law from the VA Department of Elections can be found here.)

Here’s a summation of the new provision from WDBJ2:

The new ID will be available in July for voters who do not have other acceptable forms of identification.

Other acceptable forms of photo ID include a Virginia driver’s license, a U.S. passport or any other photo ID issued by the United States, Virginia or one of its political subdivisions, a student ID issued by any institute of higher learning in Virginia or any employee identification card.

The new IDs will be for voter identification only and cannot be used for anything else.

Poll taxes are unconstitutional, so states with voter ID laws have to provide photo identification to voters for free.

Under the new law, documents that do not contain a photograph of the voter are no longer acceptable forms of identification when a person is voting in person.

The new law allows voters without photo ID to cast a provisional ballot but they must present identification to their local electoral board within four days following the election for their vote to be counted.

This is a good step in the right direction for our state. Protecting the integrity of voters is crucial to vibrant and transparent elections. If you need an I.D. to board a plane, purchase alcohol, purchase firearms, check into hotels, set up bank accounts, et al., you shouldn’t be bothered with presenting an identification card at the polls.

Sic semper tyrannis!

Year 2 in DC: Making DC Listen

Two years ago today, I boarded a DC-bound plane from Orange County, CA to begin my post-graduate life on the East Coast. Following my arrival, I began an internship at a reputed media organization and was then hired by LI a few weeks later. (I was very lucky to get a job straight out of college.)

You might be asking me, “Why would you leave sunny California for DC/NoVA?” Moving from the West Coast to the East Coast was certainly a big change in my life. I left family, friends, and all things familiar behind in California to advance my career in conservative politics. The DC-area gets a bad rap for being an incestuous, corrupt cesspool (which it is), but thankfully there are many good elements here.

Funny thing is, ever since I moved the to Washington, D.C. area, my disdain for politics as usual and the status quo has exponentially grown. Here in Virginia, I now pay fewer taxes and am working towards becoming a gun owner–which are foreign concepts to most Californians. Additionally, I’ve had more opportunities to enjoy the finer things in life like fishing, shooting guns, traveling, and relishing a quasi-Southern lifestyle. I’ve made some life-long friends, met some interesting people, and have done my part to #MakeDCListen in the process. I have no regrets moving here.

Thank you to my family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else who helped and welcomed this wide-eyed Southern California girl to the East Coast!

GOOD NEWS: Anti-Gun, Wife-Beating Congressman Jim Moran Retiring From VA-8

According to a Politico report, Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) representing Virginia’s 8th district is about to announce his retirement:

Moran, a longtime former Alexandria, Va., city official, is expected to make the announcement Wednesday morning, according to party sources.

As a resident and taxpayer in Alexandria, Virginia, I couldn’t be more thrilled by the news.
Moran occupied the seat for 23 years and is the former Alexandria mayor. He’s a notorious anti-gunner, wife-beater, and anti-Semite.
At a anti-gun townhall last year, my friend Celia Bigelow and I (with me filming) confronted Jim Moran about his support for gun control and denying women the choice to keep and bear arms. The video made national news. Watch below:
This could be an opportunity for a Republican to take the seat, although the district is heavily left-leaning and the state is now run by Terry McAuliffe. Alas, it’ll be fun to watch Democrats eat each other alive during the primary.
Hello 2014 election cycle!

Post-Election Analysis on Virginia Governor’s Race

Here’s my post-election analysis of the Virginia gubernatorial race:

Ken Cuccinelli was the right candidate to run for governor on our side. Say what you want about his conservatism, which didn’t hurt him, he only narrowly lost to Terry McAuliffe 45.27% to 47.75%. Had a moderate Republican been selected, McAuliffe would have won in a landslide. Exit polling showed that Cuccinelli actually won independents on the issue of ObamaCare 47 to 38%. Thankful for grassroots groups like Women for Ken and countless volunteers for their tireless work. (Yes, it is because of them – not the RNC – that this race was a narrow loss.) Yes, Cuccinelli should have been more ruthless…McAuliffe had so much dirt, we should have exploited it better. But McAuliffe had $15 million more to vilify, defame, and lie about Ken.

Why did Cuccinelli lose? No, it’s not because he was conservative. (Cuccinelli out-performed Romney in areas he won and even won a few liberal counties.) My only concern was that Ken wasn’t aggressive enough. Lack of help from the RNC is mostly to blame and the Obama bundler-backed “libertarian” Robert Sarvis did spoil the race.

There’s a number floating around saying the RNC spent $3 million in this race. According to records, the RNC donated $85,098 to Ken’s campaign (Virginia Public Access Project). The RNC put more resources into the NJ governor race although we all knew Christie would win in a landslide. Give me a break about having limited resources. If they weren’t so intent on undermining conservative candidates, we would have won this race. Everything is local, which is why you dedicate time to winning the Governor’s Mansion. They did diddly-squat for Cuccinelli. This incompetence is only foreshadowing the imminent war between the grassroots and Establishment. Don’t say that we didn’t warn you… (More on this later.)

Robert Sarvis, that squirmy “libertarian” spoiler who was backed by an Obama campaign bundler….This guy spoiled the race and took some votes from Cuccinelli. This guy supported high taxes (gas mileage), Medicaid expansion, taxpayer subsidized abortion, and wasn’t a fan of Austrian economics. People like this creep should never EVER be given the day and time in politics. This guy screwed libertarian ideas (especially economic ones) over by aiding and abetting McAuliffe.

What’s the takeaway? Cuccinelli was fighting for you; Terry McAuliffe was fighting for his pockets and Hillary Clinton. You will reap what you sow. ObamaCare is going to hurt our great Commonwealth, and angry white liberal males who were scared about a mythical war on birth control will get full maternity coverage under ObamaCare — until they lose their HC coverage. Terry McAuliffe will try to pass a lot of executive orders to usher in Marxist policies. We must be prepared to stop him.

Fellow Virginians: I’m not giving up on the Commonwealth of Virginia and neither should you. Be prepared to fight.

Today I Voted for Ken Cuccinelli

Happy Election Day, fellow Virginians!

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This has been a long year and a half of smears, lies, and deceit from Democrats eager to turn Virginia into California or even worse, Detroit, MI. Terry McAuliffe is a crook and our state can’t afford to have him lead it to ruin.

This was the first time I voted in Virginia’s statewide elections. Previously, I voted in my home state California and am happy to be in a state where my vote actually counts. That’s why I voted for Ken Cuccinelli (Gov), E.W. Jackson, (LG), Mark Obenshain (AG), and Brian Wolfe (Sheriff) this morning.

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Not surprisingly, I received some lovely hate from a McAuliffe supporter. Keep it classy!

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Also, it was just revealed that “libertarian” candidate Robert Sarvis (unsurprisingly) received money from Democrats, namely an Obama campaign bundler from Texas. I knew he wreaked of sleaze too. (Libertarians and moderates, don’t be deceived by this big government phony masquerading as a libertarian.)

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So naturally, I had to confront this troll about being an accessory to McAuliffe’s scheming.

tweet5What’s the takeaway from all of this? Democrats and sore loser Republicans attempted to undermine Ken Cuccinelli and should pay for their misgivings. If we pull out a victory tonight – yes, it is possible – we will deliver a HUGE upset to our opponents. Let’s make that happen, please? Mark my words: This race will be very, VERY tight. Please make sure all of your friends and family members here in Virginia vote for Ken, E.W., Mark, and Bryan Wolfe if they live in Fairfax County.

#StandWithKen

UPDATE: Around 6pm ET, the Virginia Board of Elections will start tabulating precinct returns. Polls will close at 7pm. Pay close attention.

New Counter Cultured Column: Terry McAuliffe Wants Virginian Women to Submit to Big Government

I’ve penned a new column at Counter Cultured just in time for Election Day here in Virginia. My family and I will be voting for Ken Cuccinelli for Governor, E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor, Mark Obenshain for Attorney General, and Brian Wolfe for Fairfax County Sheriff.

Below is an excerpt from my column criticizing Terry McAuliffe’s misogynist views and crusade for big government:

Tomorrow is Election Day here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Many of you have seen me comment, tweet, and write about the gubernatorial race in great detail. (Disclaimer: I’m a Ken Cuccinelli supporter and have been since he launched his campaign in Summer 2012.) This race is important for our state, and its outcome will have an impact nationwide.

A win for Cuccinelli is a win for freedom; a win for McAuliffe is a win for big government.

Much to the dismay of Terry McAuliffe and his surrogates, Ken isn’t an extremist or a woman-hater. On the contrary, Ken is pro-woman–more pro-woman than McAuliffe could ever claim to be.

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

It’s November in Virginia: Vote Ken Cuccinelli and the Rest of the Ticket

Can’t believe it’s already November…Within a few days, those of us here in Virginia will be voting for our next governor. This race not only matters to our state; it matters to this country. There is one candidate who is a Washington outsider, constitutional conservative, and defender of freedom. That man is Ken Cuccinelli. (I will have two more posts here before Election Day explaining my support for Cuccinelli.)

What about McAuliffe and Sarvis?

Terry McAuliffe is a big government, cronyist stooge eager to turn Virginia into California or New York. He models his policies after the Clintons and President Obama. He’s currently under several federal investigations too. He’s pro-woman? Quite the contrary. He left his wife and newborn kids in the car to go raise millions of dollars for the DNC; and he recently declared getting an abortion after 20 weeks is a constitutional right. The guy is as corrupt as they come.

Robert Sarvis is a moderate progressive masquerading as a libertarian. This guy ran for office in 2011 as a Republican, lost, and is bitter. Heck, he even campaigned saying he’d model himself after Cuccinelli. In several recent interviews, Sarvis revealed that he likes higher taxes (i.e., gas mileage tax), Medicaid expansion, no regulations on abortion clinics, and is in favor of mainstream economics (not much of a free marketeer). A vote for Sarvis is a vote for McAuliffe.

This is not a repeat of 2012. Cuccinelli has never flip-flopped on issues, and he was the first Attorney General to file an injunction against ObamaCare. He has stood up to the federal government on numerous occasions.

Fellow Virginia voters: Please vote smart. Vote for limited government – vote for Cuccinelli and the rest of the ticket.

#StandWithKen