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Finding the perfect “home away from home” for your wedding

When it comes to getting married, fewer places are more beautiful for three seasons of the year than central Virginia. Whether you choose a historic home with wide Southern porches, a vineyard with mountain vistas, or a gorgeous field with a billowing white tent, your event is bound to be as unique and special as you are.

But picking out your perfect wedding spot doesn’t usually include accommodations for your guests—especially the important ones. You don’t want your parents to stay in a generic hotel room, or your wedding party to be separated on different floors or different buildings. You need a unique and special space to call home while you’re getting ready to celebrate. Where you have access to an entire house and its beautiful grounds. Where you can enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch, a glass of wine next to the pond, or a glass of champagne as you get your hair done. Where you can come back from a wonderful afternoon or evening to a freshly turned-down bed and the promise of a gourmet, home-cooked breakfast in the morning. A place where you can connect, relax, and renew. You deserve it. Especially on the most important day of your life!

Spring in Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a real treat in spring – the trees bloom, the grass turns emerald green, and the historic buildings seem to lose their age and become as fresh as they must have been their very first spring. There are so many activities to enjoy, too. Wine festivals, music festivals, art festivals, book festivals and more are starting all over the area, providing entertainment for everyone. The Charlottesville Dogwood Festival is an event that locals and visitors look forward to every year, providing live music and local culture, a carnival and of course the much anticipated Dogwood Parade. Outdoors is the place to be, with all the great scenery and mild weather, and there are so many places to enjoy al fresco dining while looking at the mountain or listening to live music. The Historic Downtown Mall is an amazing venue in spring, and brings both tourists and locals together to enjoy the live music of Fridays After Five while dining at world class restaurants. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello bursts into bloom with flowers originally planned and planted by its founder. You can learn about what types of things Jefferson grew in time to plant your own garden accordingly.

Take a look at our “Plan your Stay” page and find out about some the wonderful things Charlottesville has to offer in spring – then make your reservation at Chester, where you can enjoy them all in your own beautiful spring setting!

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Finished whining about winter? Wine into spring!

We can finally see it here…despite the awful winter, central Virginia is turning green again. Spring is one of the most exciting seasons here at Chester, as our arboretum grounds are filling with budding branches, birds’ nests, and the promise of new beginnings.

Speaking of new beginnings, the grape growing season is upon us. While Virginia may not yet be the “Napa of the east,” our vineyards and wine trails are certainly worth a weekend of exploration and tasting—and a getaway to Charlottesville is definitely less expensive than a flight to California!

Thomas Jefferson himself gave wine production a try more than 200 years ago, but his attempts were thwarted by Virginia’s distinctive red clay soil. Today, however, thanks to some expertise and perseverance, Virginia is the 5th largest producer of wine in the country.

Gabriele Rausse is at the forefront of these pioneers, and Barboursville Vineyards, just 30 miles north of us, remains at the forefront of Virginia’s wine renaissance. There are over 230 vineyards in the Commonwealth today. Next weekend marks the Monticello Wine Trail Festival. Make Chester your home base and explore a wide range of wineries and varietals, all while enjoying a luxurious and relaxing getaway.

We are happy to make vineyard recommendations upon request, pack you a picnic lunch with advance notice, and provide assistance in making your wine tour a memorable one. If you can’t make the festival, never fear. All of our vineyards have wonderful tasting rooms, tour hours, and even Sunday afternoon polo matches in season!

Mention this blog while booking and we’ll provide you with a complimentary plate of cheese to accompany your local wine!

A bird (or 200) in the hand…

Those of you who have visited Chester during the holiday season know that our Christmas tree is decorated mainly with birds. At our “taking-down-Christmas-census” today, we counted over 200 birds–from doves and wrens to the more flamboyant flamingos and peacocks! We’ve been collecting for some 45 years now, so as you can imagine, there’s quite a variety.

And what would a tree be without a few nests? As we head into the deep of winter, we thought we’d remind you that spring is just around the corner. Here at Chester, an arboretum and certified National Wildlife Federation habitat), we provide a home to many birds as they bring little ones into the world. We often have the privilege of finding their nests, which we gently place onto our Christmas tree each year. We do our best to identify them (some of our feathered friends are better builders than others) and thought you’d enjoy seeing some of them here.Below, you’ll find the nests of an African weaver bird, wren, cardinal, Carolina wren, chimney swift, mockingbird, and the red-eyed vireo.

Happy New Year from Chester!

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Decking the Halls

It’s hard to believe another year has flown by, but here we are. With turkey leftovers in the fridge, it’s time to turn our attention to decorating Chester inside and out in a holiday style that befits this grand old house. Each year, the act of hanging wreaths and roping and adorning the entrances has such a feeling of tradition … and makes us think about past generations who were preparing Chester for the holidays in the mid-1800s.

We don’t normally adorn our gardening tools with wreaths, but they make a wonderful staging place for our preparations! As an arboretum property, we have lots of natural materials at our fingertips to create some beautiful things.

We just picked our bay laurel and wove gorgeous and fragrant wreaths that will last all winter long (and provide some wonderful seasoning for stews in this cold weather!). Chester is home to a majestic stand of English boxwood, which is sought after by the florist industry this time of year. You might not know that this greenery is rather rare; it only grows an inch or two a hear. A floral wholesaler comes each year and prunes the stands for us in exchange for the trimmings.

The nine-foot Frasier Fir is also staged in the garage, and will soon grace the living room. As a newly certified member of the National Wildlife Federation, we’re excited to send in a photo once our tree is decorated! With over 35 natural nests collected from as close as our backyard and as far as Africa, and 150 bird ornaments, we’re willing to bet you’ve never seen a Christmas tree like this one.

Chester is open, the fires are roaring, and we’re in the holiday spirit. Come and enjoy a toasty and warm stay with us!

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Cider Week Virginia

This is an exciting week in Virginia, because it’s Cider Week! That means lots of delicious local food, music, and of course – CIDER! Events and activities span across the state this week, allowing everyone to enjoy Virginia’s best in food and drink  in the beauty of  cool, green landscapes draped in the rich russet of lingering oak leaves. Entertainment and music follow, and Cider Week is further highlighted by activities that allow you to learn everything about cider – What are the best cider apples? How do you make your own cider? If you are serious about Cider, this is the week to be in Virginia!

It is absolutely delightful to follow a fun afternoon in the crisp air with a warming glass of wine by the fireplace at Chester! Our own old oak tree is stunning as it drops its last leaves, and the inn is a cozy home base while you explore the many offerings of the season. Find out more about Cider Week and all the activities you can be a part of right here in the Charlottesville area – click here.

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The Virginia Film Festival 2013

Paramount TheaterIt’s not too early to book your room for Virginia Film Festival weekend! The festival runs November 7-10 at locations in and around Charlottesville!

The Virginia Film Festival is a four-day celebration of the magic of the movies featuring first-run features and timeless classics, high-profile industry insiders and up-and-coming stars, and filmmakers from throughout Virginia and beyond.  Every autumn at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, the Virginia Film Festival has brought the best in contemporary and classic cinema to its audiences for nearly twenty-five years.  An array of leading cultural experts lead fascinating lectures and discussions, providing unique insight into not only the world of film, but the world in which we live. A collection of special events throughout the weekend invites the entire community to dive into the art of film in exciting new ways.

Previous landmark screenings have included a 25th Anniversary tribute to In the Heat of the Night and Sidney Poitier; Distinguished Filmmaker presentations to Robert Altman, John Sayles, Emile de Antonio, and Arthur Penn; and Roger Ebert’s “shot by shot” workshops on classics such as Vertigo, Sunset Boulevard, and The Third Man. Memorable premiere events have included an advance screening of Mother & Child with actress Cherry Jones and director Rodrigo Garcia; and a live producer’s commentary of the show True Blood featuring its creator Alan Ball. Other guests have included Jimmy Stewart, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Hopkins, Sandra Bullock, Nicolas Cage, Gena Rowlands, Sigourney Weaver, William Styron, Ross McElwee, Matthew Broderick, and Cherry Jones.

Working closely with the Virginia Film Office, the Virginia Film Festival brings filmmakers from throughout the United States and abroad to Virginia to take advantage of its outstanding locations, communications, and talent. Filmmakers find the Virginia Film Festival a rare opportunity to screen and discuss their work with not only industry members and colleagues but also bright, appreciative audiences. The Festival also brings many visitors to Charlottesville, allowing them to discover the beauty of the area while learning about film.

Learn more at

Mention the festival when booking for the weekend and we’ll have a complimentary bottle of wine in your room when you arrive!

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Local Author Holds Book Signing at Chester

Scottsville is home to artists of all kinds–from photographers and painters to musicians and authors. Earlier this month, Chester Bed & Breakfast and The James River Arts Council hosted local author Kathryne Finn as she launched her first novel, And Tomorrow is a Hawk, the first in a trilogy about Dame Juliana Berners.

Kathryne’s interest in Dame Juliana was piqued when she edited Ernest Schweibert’s two volume classic Trout and learned about this English noblewoman, whom trout fishermen everywhere know and respect. Dame Juliana was the first person to write about fly fishing, as well as the first woman to publish under her name in the English language.  In addition to the treatise on fly fishing, this 15th century author wrote on hawking, hunting and heraldry. 

However, little was known about Dame Juliana and Kathryne set out to learn more. This first book of the trilogy is the result of her exploration of the life and times of this amazing fifteenth century woman.

Kathryne has written and published poetry and short stories and was an editor for Crown, McMilan and St. Martins presses. This is her first novel She and her husband John live with a relatively rational contingent of dogs in Howardsville, Virginia.

We are particularly fond of Kathryne here at Chester, as she and her husband lived in the cottage on the grounds for several months while their home was being completed. Her passion for history, creativity, and finding delight in ordinary things certainly rubbed off on all of us. Having read the book for ourselves, we find ourselves incredibly impressed by her writing as well, and are busy cheering her on as book two comes to fruition! To learn more about the book, visit here.

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Summer Fun!

Summer is an amazing time in Charlottesville! There are so many things to do, and so many restaurants featuring fresh, seasonal dishes and ingredients from local farms. Virginia is so wonderful an unique, and at Chester Bed and Breakfast, you have a home base for whatever you want to do. Visit our Plan Your Stay page to learn about all the great things you can do this summer!

Charlottesville Entertainment

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Springtree Farms

We were lucky enough to receive pictures of the Springtree Farms chickens greeting the warmer weather! Springtree Farms is a local commune and they provide all the eggs we serve our guests, making it easy to look forward to the “Breakfast” part of Bed and Breakfast! Come visit us and taste these amazing eggs! Check out more pictures on our Facebook page!

Springtree FarmsSpringtree Farms

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