Business Briefs: March 2023

Dr. Hillary Cook, owner of the Animal Wellness Center, at the clinic’s new construction. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Animal Wellness Center Expands Space, Service

The construction looming in front of the existing veterinary clinic on Crozet Avenue should be ready to receive staff and patrons in the next few months, said Dr. Hillary Cook, the owner of Animal Wellness Center. The building site, originally planned to be closer to Crozet Avenue, was changed to allow the staff to use the existing space, with the new construction as an addition to be connected when complete. 

Mostly, the new space will give the existing staff some breathing room. “With five doctors and three exam rooms, we were getting pretty crowded in there,” Cook said. She also hopes to expand the canine rehabilitation program, a service that offers a path to better health and mobility for post-surgical patients. Dr. Cook said the same program is ideal for senior dogs who need to lose weight, or who are arthritic. “We’ve been using an underwater treadmill with good results,” she said. The center also offers acupuncture and other modalities as ways to relieve pain.

The new construction will include a separate, soundproof treatment room for exotic animals, isolating them completely from animals that might seem like predators to them. Boarding services will be expanded, and Cook has a heartfelt wish for the future: to offer after-hours urgent care to the community. “We’ll have the space,” she said: “Staffing will be the problem.”

The center remains open for business during renovation.

Local Wines, Noble Blends, Dominate in State Competition

With more than half of the 142 medals for Virginia wine awarded to Central Virginia wineries, there’s no doubt any longer that vineyard managers and winemakers have grown in their understanding of the area’s unique challenges. For the Governor’s Cup, the panel of judges picked a Nelson County Meritage as the best wine in the state. Delfosse’s 2021 Screaming Hawk was chosen from the gold medalists, just as the Faber winery is undergoing a name change to Mountain and Vine Vineyard and Winery. The Governor’s Cup competition, just concluded, is generally considered the most prestigious wine competition in Virginia. Albemarle Ciderworks in North Garden was awarded top honors in cider for its Orchard Blush.

Delfosse Vineyard in Faber won the 2023 Virginia Governor’s Cup.

Included in the Central Virginia gold winners were several wineries very familiar to Crozet residents. King Family Vineyards claimed 7 gold medals; Pippin Hill, 6; Pollak, 5; Veritas 3; and Afton, Stinson, and Grace Estates, each 1. Delfosse had 2 gold medal winners besides the overall winner, and Pollak was honored by inclusion in the “Governor’s Case,” the top 12 scorers among the gold.

Jay Youmans, the wine expert who assembled the panel for the Governor’s Cup, called the quality of the wines “the highest we have seen.”  He especially singled out the red blends, noting that many were produced in a Meritage style. “Meritage style” refers to the ancient wine-making traditions of Bordeaux, where the grapes traditionally called “noble” grapes are blended to make Bourdeaux, with the blend varying from year to year according to the qualities of each grape at harvest, with no grape making up more than 90 percent of the wine.

There are five grapes traditionally considered “noble,” but Youmans mentioned Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng and Cabernet Franc as examples of Virginia’s success with reds and blends. King Family, Pollak, Delfosse and Stinson all had red blends as well as varietals (wines made from a single kind of grape) from the noble grape category chosen for gold medals. Delfosse’s Screaming Hawk, the overall winner, was a blend of Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

The other judges on the panel also honored the three noble reds: They account for over half the medals, with 28 red blends, 24 Petit Verdots, 16 Cabernet Francs and 11 Petit Mansengs winning gold. 

The competition is considered one of the most stringent in the country, beginning decades ago with just a handful of Virginia wine pioneers. To receive a gold medal, a wine must win an average score of 90 points or higher on a 100-point scale. 

Virginia wine fans who want to taste the winning wines can inquire about the complimentary Gold Medal Wine Trail, a mobile passport that features all 66 gold medal winners. Following the trail, they’ll find exclusive prizes and special offers. For more information or to sign up for the Gold Medal Wine Trail, visit

Experts Discuss Downsizing Dilemmas

It’s an emotional topic, to be sure, and the expert speakers at the Lodge at Old Trail’s annual downsizing workshop acknowledged it to the full house assembled in mid-February. 

Along with the sympathy came a healthy dose of tough love. Mindy Godding, co-founder of Abundance Organizing, called the dilemma of too much stuff “a paradox of a society built on consumption.”

Here’s how it happens, Godding said: “Every day you bring a little more into your home, fitting it all into the corners and closets, until one day you look around and there’s no more room.” Like Ken Farmer (see page 36), she said there are a number of emotional reasons that make people reluctant to dispose of objects. Some of the reasons are family associations, the worry you might someday need an object, or the monetary investment you’ve already made. 

Denise Ramey spoke at the “Downsizing Workshop” at the Lodge at Old Trail

“But think of the hidden costs of keeping all this stuff,” Godding said. She believes that visual clutter causes low-level agitation, creates stress between partners, and generally takes away from the beauty, comfort and efficiency of your home. To ease the pain of de-cluttering, the company begins with objects with no emotional ties, and keeps the focus on what is to stay rather than what is to go. 

Although Abundance Organizing is especially proud of the compassionate care and attention it gives to senior moves, the services are available to everyone who feels overwhelmed by the task of organizing their home. For more information on having a professional organizer help you downsize, declutter, or set up realistic systems, go to

Having a realtor who sells your home in record time is a good thing, but be aware that it will speed up your process. The time is now to begin the process of downsizing, if you have any thoughts about selling in the next year or so, said Crozet realtor Denise Ramey. Many of the homes she’s handled have sold in less than nine days on the market. “When you put your home for sale, you should have already done the decluttering,” she said. 

The very things that make your house a home to you are the things buyers don’t want to see, she said: personal photos, little bits of art and souvenirs you’ve collected, your quirky decorating style, the signs and books you find inspiring. “All of these prevent the buyers from imagining themselves in your space,” she said.

Ramey urged those considering a change to be very thoughtful in their choice of a realtor. “You should interview several,” she said. “Ask detailed questions about their sales history, how they will market your home, their list-to-sale price ratio, and references from previous clients.”

Professional organizer Mindy Godding spoke about compassionate guidance for seniors who are about to make a life transition. Submitted photo.

Ramey noted some unexpected changes in the real estate market, especially in Nelson County. “During the pandemic is when everyone wanted to move there,” she said. Some of the pandemic-inspired and other sales anomalies have now calmed down, but she expects a “normal” market to reflect pre-Covid figures. Ramey said she stages every home she sells at her own expense. She maintains a store of home furnishings to enhance her clients’ homes, or to warm up a vacant home. 

Blair Family Woodcraft at Crozet Artisan Depot

The Crozet Artisan Depot welcomes Erin and Gordon Blair of Williamsburg for March. There will be a “Meet the Artist” event Saturday, March 18, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Solo Hikers by Blair Family Woodcraft mixes intricate woodwork with acrylic painting

Erin and Gordon Blair create art that brings home the comfort of the outdoors. Their show is titled “Nature’s Canvas,” and features acrylic over knotty pine wood, “Our landscapes are inspired by our favorite places and activities in nature, from paddling on the Shenandoah River to hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains,” said Erin Blair.  Many layers of sanding and painting allow the natural wood grain to shine through the paint, then silhouettes of original drawings of kayakers, hikers, and tree lines are layered on the paintings to give depth and add a personal element. The pieces are framed in reclaimed lumber gathered in central Virginia.

Biz Bits

Another expansion is underway at the Crozet Market. The wall between the existing deli and the adjacent space has now been demolished to make room for expansion of the deli, the deli kitchen, and tables and chairs for dining in.

Trey Wilkerson, formerly of Trey’s Restaurant and Sam’s Hot Dogs in Crozet, now at The Barn in Waynesboro, is moving again. It’s not far, though. Wilkerson is moving across the street to the building vacated by Enigma Mexican Restaurant and Mi Rancho, both now in Crozet. Wilkerson said he appreciates the history of the building on East Main Street, which decades ago housed an Italian restaurant owned by veteran restauranteur Paul Bukarokus, who still owns the building. Wilkerson said the larger space will allow him to expand his menu and serve more customers.

Dino’s Pizza & Grill, a food truck that’s been part of the Charlottesville food community for years, is now parked at Pro Re Nata Thursday through Monday. Dino’s offers artisan pizzas made to order, plus healthy bowls, salads and wraps. You can order ahead from the website, Also at Pro Re Nata, the Skyline Apothecary is no longer in a separate building on Rte. 250, but has moved inside the original brewery building.

Crozet Market Manager Jeff Robert explains deli expansion. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Beginning May 3, Avelo Airlines will fly nonstop to Orlando from Charlottesville Albemarle Airport. Following the initial flight on that Wednesday, Avelo will provide service twice a week both ways. Introductory fares start at $49 each way, but every seat, as well as every bag, is a separate cost. Flights leave Mondays and Fridays from Charlottesville at 8:40 p.m., arriving in Orlando at 10:40 p.m. Flights from Orlando leave Monday and Friday at 6 p.m., arriving in Charlottesville at 8 p.m. via Boeing’s 737 aircraft. The Houston-based company is now actively booking Charlottesville flights through September, at

 The City of Waynesboro is applying for a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation for the funding to build the Waynesboro Western Portal Trail. This 1.3-mile, paved, multi-use trail would run roughly parallel to U.S. 250, from the western end of the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail into Waynesboro. The project would provide a safer alternative than using U.S. 250 for pedestrians and bicyclists, including hikers from the Appalachian Trail and bicyclists traveling Bicycle Route 76.

The Waynesboro Western Portal Trail would start at 1800 E. Main Street in Waynesboro and end near the 1.75-milepost of the Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail. When completed, the trail will serve as a pedestrian and bicycle connection to Afton in Nelson County and the planned Three Notched Trail, a 25-mile multi-use path from the City of Charlottesville through Crozet to the Village of Afton with eventual connections to Staunton and Richmond. A study of the 25-mile stretch from Charlottesville to Afton was funded by a 2022 RAISE planning grant.

The gruesome 1996 murder of two Appalachian Trail hikers gave birth to a number of theories and suspects, but it’s never been solved. Veteran journalist Kathryn Miles became intrigued with the case and eventually developed her own conviction about what happened to the young women. Miles just released a book, Trailed, that traces the crime and the investigation. She’ll speak at Bluebird & Co. March 17, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Register for the talk (it’s free) and find the full slate of March events at 


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