Landscaper crafts his vision as a vintner with clay pavers for the next 200 years

Landscaper turned winemaker renovates a historic home from the 1700s into a winery and event space in Northern Virginia. When the time came to build outdoor terraces, walkways, plazas and the floor of an event space, he wanted something that is as durable and aesthetically pleasing as the 250-year-old buildings on the property.  He went with what he knew: five tractor-trailer loads of genuine Rumbled Full Range pavers from Pine Hall Brick Company.

From its beginnings near Leesburg in colonial Virginia, Fleetwood Farm was always destined to be a winery. The then-owner of the property and other prominent citizens had such an interest in a wine startup that in 1760, they offered 500 pounds, a huge sum at the time, to anyone who was able to produce the best wine in one year’s time.

That owner was William Ellzey, a wealthy businessman and lawyer; the prominent citizens were John Mercer and George Washington.

Yes, that George Washington.

“We keep adding on to it. We used the pavers throughout for continuity and they look beautiful.”

A Very Historic Home

It’s doubtful that anyone ever collected on the bounty for the finest wine. Wine didn’t really take off in northern Virginia for decades, or, more accurately, for centuries. But Ellzey’s desire to produce wine on his farm would indeed get underway in 2019, more than 250 years after it was first promoted.

Last year marked the first harvest for the grapes grown at Fleetwood Farm, which are set to be bottled as a port wine later this year. In 2018, the winery opened its doors using wine purchased from other vintners and importing it from Bordeaux.

Today’s Fleetwood Farm is the brainchild of Skip Edgemond, who has owned Greenworks, a landscape design-build business in Chantilly, VA for 34 years.

Edgemond bought the property in 2017 and then set about converting it into a winery and event space.

Because Edgemond often installs Pine Hall Brick clay pavers for his clients, it was a natural for him to specify five tractor-trailer loads of Rumbled Full Range pavers for walkways, patios, plazas, ground gutters and even the interior floor of the event building.

“It was an authentic look for this house, which was built in 1760,” said Edgemond. “We tried to keep it as authentic as we could and still be practical.”

After mowing grass starting out at the age of 14, graduating from the University of California-Davis in horticulture and owning a landscaping firm for more than three decades, why build a winery?

Because it’s there.

 

Edgemond and his wife, Jamie McClellan, wanted something new to do. They’re now empty nesters—his three children have moved out and gone to college. (He does say that one may be interested in the landscaping business, but it’s not a done deal yet.) He takes care of the exterior of the farm, even down to training his landscape employees on cultivating and pruning grapevines, which gives them continuing employment. She looks after the interiors and the events business.

“We wanted a different experience for adults, almost a Disneyland for 21 and older with no kids and no dogs, for people who need a break to unwind,” said Edgemond.

In all, Fleetwood Farm can accommodate up to 600 people on the grounds. In the short time it has been open as an event destination, it has handled corporate events, holiday parties and weddings.

Guests are greeted by a manor house, a smoke house, a spring house, a grand terrace,  an event space and a carriage house. In all, it retains the original designs of its colonial beginnings, when it was known as Peggy’s Green and Greenhill Plantation. With the lines of roof and wall and interior layout, especially the wide-board heart pine floors, the manor house was used as the model for the Sully Plantation nearby.

In its beginnings, the manor house and outbuildings had an additional connection to George Washington, beyond the reward that was offered for producing the highest quality wine.  The property was originally owned by the Rev. Dr. Charles Green, who was Washington’s physician throughout 1750 and into the early 1760s. Green was also one of the rectors of Truro Parish, the church that Washington attended.

Green was granted 1,497 acres north of the Potomac in 1740 from Thomas Fairfax, the Sixth Baron Fairfax of Cameron, who was the proprietor of the Northern Neck. The property was sold in 1761 to William Ellzey, a Tidewater planter. The property had something of a role to play in the history of the area, as Ellzey participated in the Revolution by signing the 1774 Loudoun County Resolves for Independence. George and Martha Washington were also houseguests of the Ellzeys. Later, during the Civil War, legend has it that troops used the property as a hideout or as a makeshift hospital.

The property was originally owned by the Rev. Charles Greene, who was granted 1,497 acres north of the Potomac in 1740 from Thomas Fairfax, the Sixth Baron Fairfax of Cameron, who was the proprietor of the Northern Neck. The property was sold in 1761 to William Ellzey, a Tidewater planter. The property had something of a role to play in the history of the area, as Ellzey participated in the Revolution by signing the 1774 Loudoun County Resolves for Independence. George and Martha Washington were also houseguests of the Ellzeys. Later, during the Civil War, legend has it that troops used the property as a hideout or as a makeshift hospital.

Over the years, it has been built and upgraded, with a new exterior finish added to the main house in 1940 and a wing added in 1984.

Edgemond purchased the property in 2017 and finished work on it earlier this year.

McClelland, who is Edgemond’s wife, says that the designs concentrated on the idea of continuity, by repeating the same lines, angles and colors throughout the property, even down to using barnwood from a barn that had stood on the property throughout the interiors of the buildings. The buildings – from manor house through tasting room – get progressively more modern.

“We keep adding on to it,” said McClelland. “We used the pavers throughout for continuity and they look beautiful.”

We actually do like to encourage that kind of thing. Add on some more, another plaza, say or better yet, a parking lot. We know where you can get the pavers. The best part? They’ll be identical to the ones you already have and it’ll last centuries into the future.

Photo: Bonnie Turner Photography.