By Randy Arrington
STANLEY, Feb. 11 — When Steven and Cassandra Wallace put their Jacksonville, Fla. home on the market last year, they knew what type of surroundings they wanted to relocate to…they just weren’t sure where that vision would lead them.
“We had already decided to put our house on the market, but we hadn’t decided where to go,” Cassandra said. “We had been looking for a place in the mountains, with land and animals.”
Their search for a working farm with a scenic setting ended when they heard about a vineyard owned by Sue and Moussa Ishak just outside Stanley.
“They wanted someone to continue what they built and maybe expand a little bit,” Cassandra said, “but what they built was great, so why change it.”
Community leaders gathered last Friday to welcome the Wallaces as the new owners of Wisteria Farm and Vineyard — historically, Page County’s first winery.
As one of the organizers of the Blue Ridge Whiskey-Wine Loop, Luray resident Karen Riddle noted that Wisteria was one of the first stops to sign up for the Loop. In welcoming the Wallaces last week, Riddle noted that they had chosen the right location because “Page County loves wine.”
“I figured that part out,” Cassandra replied.
“Page County is very pro-business, so anything you need…don’t hesitate to ask,” Nina Fox, director of Page County’s Economic Development and Tourism office, said at last week’s soft re-opening.
“It’s such a different atmosphere here,” Cassandra noted prior to a ribbon cutting on Feb. 11. “Everyone has been so helpful.”
Wisteria plans to continue the “Music Under the Arbor” series running from June through October. The music series will contain acts from previous years, while also adding a few new ones.
In the coming season, Steven and Cassandra will work alongside longtime Wisteria owners Sue and Moussa, who are set to stay on as consultants to help facilitate the transition of ownership. The Wallaces plan to continue the Ishaks’ work to produce Valley wine and utilize sustainable farming practices. Steven, an avid home brewer, hopes to eventually add cider and mead made with locally sourced ingredients to Wisteria’s lineup.
In addition to a selection of wines made from estate-grown grapes, Wisteria Farm and Vineyard features a small flock of Romney sheep and free-roaming chickens, as well as farm fresh eggs and yarn available for purchase.
The Wallaces are now settling into their new environment, along with their 2-year-old daughter. They say they were drawn to the Shenandoah Valley’s wide open spaces and its “sense of community.”
“We’re excited to be here,” Cassandra told those gathered at the vineyard last week. “We’re looking forward to being a part of a tight-knit community.”
Wisteria Farm and Vineyard, located at 1126 Marksville Road just outside Stanley, is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For more information, visit WisteriaVineyard.com