Our Turn


Six years ago my mom passed away. My dad had been doing well since then on his 22 acre farm in Madison County, gradually turning over the mowing to a landscape company, leasing the front field to a neighbor for his cows, keeping the pool open and the place going for our family oyster roasts and pool parties where all five of the Ince families would gather with kids and grand kids, celebrating our good fortune and especially our father.

A simple stumble started the clock ticking. Broken ribs put Dad on oxygen. Team Ince went into motion, moving him downstairs, hovering to the point of pestering and scouting out retirement homes. Dad recovered fully but read the writing on the wall and began looking at his next step in earnest. The ball started rolling. 88 years of life needed to be reduced into a two bedroom apartment. Furniture, artwork and priceless trinkets had to be dispersed among five families, the house needed to be cleared and the farm needed to be sold.

We met each weekend at the farm, my sisters and I, beginning at the top, opening trunks with trepidation then sitting cross legged, facing each other, going through photos, laughing and crying equally as the fabric of our lives went into precious piles and trash bags. It has been a rich time for us, learning more about our parents and their history than we ever knew, refreshing childhood memories from the myriad of homes we lived in as a Navy family and realizing how strong a bond our parents instilled in each of us for the others, making the distribution of our family treasures a demonstration of love rather than division.

IMG_0442Ten weekends have passed and now the family farm, St Clair, stands empty, proud and clean, awaiting its new owner who has already stepped up. We’re “the kids” to Dad but now we have had a chance to take care of things for him and it has been a pleasure. His apartment at The Collonades is exquisite with his favorite things. His moniker, “The Admiral” gives him some well deserved status and pride and the process has been an affirmation that he and Mom brought “the kids” up right.

As our parent’s generation slips away it’s up to us to make the most of it. To celebrate well lived lives and to bring comfort and peace where we can. In the true world, that is our call now that our kids have flown and our elders can use our help. It’s our turn now, so let’s set a good example for our kids, for soon enough, it will be theirs.


charlottesville country vineyard for sale

It’s that time  of year again when we reap what we sow, literally in the case of Virginia farmland. The corn is being threshed and spilled corn is gleaned from the side of the road by opportunistic birds and mammals knowing its time to start layering for winter. It looks like a third cutting of hay is coming off the hayfields but I’m not seeing cheaper hay prices.

Virginia hayfield virginia corn field

Virginia countryside

Soy beans are a bright yellow and the pumpkins are in the market and making appearances on front porches. The white grapes are being harvested from the vineyards with the reds a couple of weeks away yet. It’s fabulous time of year with weather you’d like to put up in a can to remember in February or Mid July.

virginia grape harvest

Looking at Land in the Winter

Anyone who has tried to walk their way through hay fields or woodland during high summer knows what a blessing the dormancy of winter can be, especially when it’s below freezing. It’s easy going in the winter without the threat of poison ivy, blackberry brambles or snakes and you can see all there is to see once the leaves are off the trees.

Pond on 165 acres of fenced farmland near Scottsville Virginia

Ever wonder what the view might be like if you cleared off a couple of trees? Ever wonder if you’ll see that neighbor’s house that seems so nicely screened with trees in the summer?

Camp Buckingham forest

Winter is the best time to look at land especially when it’s nice and frozen and mud is not an issue. Make sure you are aware of hunting seasons and enjoy walking the land without sweating the summer stuff.

Creek at Camp Buckingham

Speaking of land, there’s no better offering on the market right now than Camp Buckingham near Scottsville, 168 acres of fenced pasture and mature hardwood forest with significant timber value, two ponds, gorgeous building sites and lots of division rights. It’s a great value too at just $471,000. MLS# 512843.

Camp Buckingham land for sale near Scottsville VA

Blue Ridge Morning

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.
Wake to the sun creeping up the Blue Ridge while still under your covers or slip out of your west facing first floor master suite onto your private deck and let the morning greet you in all its glory. Each day will be different as the weather shifts and changes, bringing you misty sunrises and glorious sunsets over the mountains. In 2008 our client purchased the premium parcel on Geer Lane just south of Stanardsville. The four acre parcel was chosen not just for the extraordinary vistas but also for its position in front of any other homes with nothing but the mountains and wild wetlands for her view. Here she built her dream home capturing views from every room of the 3800 square foot home and allowing her to live all on one floor with two guest bedrooms and a full, three room apartment on the finished terrace level. With four bedrooms and four full baths in total, this remarkably low maintenance, highly efficient home is a testament to exquisite design and modern craftsmanship taking full advantage of one of the most inspiring settings in Virginia’s Piedmont. It’s a postcard perfect setting and it could be your for a fraction of what it would cost to reproduce. Please call or email with any questions about this property. We’ll be happy to help.

Trout Stream

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.
I’ve been known to take a week off to travel out to some great trout streams, trying to learn new waters and new fish. I find great comfort, however, in parking in my regular spot along the Conway, taking a wide path downstream to my favorite starting point and seeing if I can find some old friends behind boulders or in riffles where they’ve been before. I drool over those thousand acre spreads in Montana or Wyoming with miles of wild cutthroat rivers, but know I’m not a rich enough cowboy to make that happen. If you’ve always wanted your own trout stream but aren’t in the Ted Turner category, you might want to take a look a look at these nice photos of the South River in Greene County. It’s cold, winter water and stocked by Fish and Game with fat rainbows from Fall to Spring. It’s also yours for just $475,000 and comes with 17 beautiful acres and a lovely brick home offering complete privacy and a location just 30 minutes from Charlottesville and less than five minutes to golf, tennis and swimming at Greene Hills Country Club right down the road. Premium Brook trout fishing is just fifteen minutes away on the Conway or Upper Rapidan in the Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest. If you’d like to take a look at a great riverfront property and talk local fishing please give me a call. I’ll enjoy it as much as you will.
Click here for a brochure of this property. View at 100%.

Bounty-Is it too Simple?

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

How many of us tear our hair out trying to figure out how to make our fortune grow, whether to invest in stocks, gold, futures, real estate? It’s all so complicated, so obtuse. Of all the investments we could make, is there any sure thing? Are there any numbers that always add up? Ask an economist, ask an investment banker, ask a money manager, ask the mailman.

Or maybe ask a kid who just ripped open a pack of Blue Lake bean seeds and dropped them into the warm dirt at his feet. A week later the dirt blossomed with bright green sprouts reaching for the sun. Three weeks later big, lustrous, green leaves are a foot off the ground and starting to spread. Six weeks later the kid, beaming from ear to ear, brings his Mom a dozen fresh green beans. Eight weeks later he’s helping his mom can 12 quarts of green beans to put up in the pantry.

What’s the return on that investment? 1000%?…in three months….from a 3’X12’ patch of dirt and a small envelope of white seeds?

It’s August, and I’m giving food away from my garden…food! If you haven’t been a little worried lately about our economy, our country, our security, then you haven’t been paying attention. It’s nice to know I can feed my family and myself from my garden. Sure, it’s just for fun now, but it’s the root of our survival, isn’t it? I’ve been thinking about that a lot more lately.

I think it’s helpful to look backwards sometimes, back to our roots, back even further. See how things grow with soil, sun and water right in your own back yard… see how simple it all is. It should make you grateful… and humble.

And as a very wise man once said… Buy Land!


It’s Hot

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

It’s July 21, 2011, and it is HOT today. 95’ in the shade and “feels like” 110’ Hooo weee! It doesn’t feel like 110’ to me since I’m sitting in my air conditioned office, but it’s not a day to fix the flashing on your roof, that’s for sure. I tell people who ask and I believe it to be true that we get about two to three weeks of summer when it’s really too hot and the same is true for the winter when we get those cold snaps that go down to zero at night and barely make it to the teens during the day. The good news is that the rest of the time it’s really nice here so that’s 44 out of 52 weeks to the good. I wonder what it is in Buffalo?

The hot days are pretty tough. I keep a kiddy pool full for my dogs. Lots of fresh water and salt for the horses and try to stay inside. The warm evenings are wonderful with tree frogs so loud you can hardly talk and fireflies adding southern charm to every back yard. When we’re blessed with a thunderstorm the temps drop ten degrees and beckon you outside again. I’ve lived alot of places and to me, this is the ideal climate. Spring and fall are our longest seasons though we definitely get to experience all four. There are those who want to be warm every day and for them there is Florida. There are those who don’t like any humidity and for them there is Arizona and its treeless desert. As for me, I’ll take Virginia with all its seasons and diversity and when possible slip down to Florida for a week in the winter and a week in the Rockies in the August. More than a week and I’m homesick.


Knee High in Buttercups

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

Horses live a long time. They hit their prime around seven and can perform at a high level for about ten years after that. Once they hit twenty they’ll start slowing down a little bit. They tend to get a little more efficient with their energy, not wasting as much with all that cavorting around. They mature philosophically as well getting a wizened look in their old eyes, garnering respect from the youngsters who are all stronger and faster. My herd is aging. They are the remnants of an Egyptian Arabian breeding program begun around 1980. They were seven, now four. I’ve known each one since they were born and I’ll keep them till they die. It does my heart good to see them in good grass and buttercups up to their knees. There have been times when I’ve regretted being tied to this equine family but it’s times like this, May 4, 2011, that make it worthwhile. They’ve been around much longer than my son and daughter who are about to fly the nest. Two of the mares are in their mid-twenties, the fella on the right is thirty and the one in front is only five. It looks like my nest will be full for a while yet. I need to let my daughter know that her dowry is a horse.

Growth Around Charlottesville

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

When I first moved here thirty years ago commercial growth pretty much stopped at the Rivanna River on Route 29 going north and on Route 250 going east. That has changed a lot. With the advent of Forest Lakes in the late 80’s and Glenmore in the early 90’s, our population spread out and so did the business districts all the way to Airport Road to the north and Pantops to the East. Crozet was designated as a growth area to the west but so far that growth has been mostly residential with commuters zipping in to Charlottesville on I-64.

Now there are a lot more traffic lights as you drive on these major roads and it gets a little congested during rush hour which fortunately, really is about one hour, twice a day. The upside is a plethora of fine restaurants, (Charlottesvillians are pretty picky foodies), a wide variety of retail and grocery options. (Whole Foods is expanding, Trader Joe’s is coming) and even more interesting people to bump into at Fridays After Five on the Downtown Mall.

Growth is not my thing. I’m a bit of a recluse, a loner who cherishes good company in small doses, someone who thinks living around the beltway would be like living in a cage. This is what I like about living here. When you’ve seen a little bit too much of the car in front of you on Route 29 or Route 250, just take a right or a left and within a mile you’ll be out there in the country. You’ll find out the places you’ve heard of like Free Union, Whitehall, Somerset, Barboursville, Greenwood, Batesville, Syria and Graves Mill aren’t towns or villages even… they’re country stores and post offices and they really haven’t changed much in the last 30 years. You’ll be driving past farms, forests, slowing for tractors and cyclists and absolutely loving the view.

Credit good planning for not making a mess of things. I can see the activists cringe as I say that but contentious as it may be, as drawn out and frustrating as it seems before imperfect decisions are made, this is still a wonderful place to live. I would even say that the overall quality of life we can enjoy here surpasses what I found and knew I loved in 1982. Pro growth, slow growth and no growth proponents will always be at odds and they will find a vibrant forum here in Thomas Jefferson’s hometown. On one thing they will always concur: Preserve our Quality of Life. So far, so good.

One of my favorite things to do is to check my watch when I leave my office or my house and see how many minutes it takes me to make my first cast on the Moormans or the Conway or the Rapidan River. It’s usually about 30 and that includes rigging up my fly rod and putting on waders. I always do that, check my watch, because it thrills me so to be so close and so far away at the same time.


Ahhh Spring…

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

Ahhh Spring…This one shows promise and not just from the plentiful rain keeping the rivers and streams full and rushing, not just the rolling fields of orchard grass and timothy hay getting green, fruit trees blossoming and daffodils popping up in yards and wild fields. Something else is starting to turn green too. Real estate…believe it or not.

This is what I’ve noticed; larger properties that have been on the market for years finally going under contract. Sure, they were over-priced to begin with and have come down and down to the point where they are great deals now, but buyers are pulling the trigger. There is a sense of anticipation in the air that this is the moment. Portfolios have recovered, and real estate prices have dropped for three years in a row, a perfect storm for opportunistic buyers. Here’s more good news. New listings coming on the market are priced for this market, this new base. Sellers know, Realtors know, that it’s the only way to sell a property.

You can still find plenty of doom and gloom if that’s what you’re looking for, but if you look at the sales everyday like I do, you’ll be doing plenty of double takes and ah ha’s as you see these new sales of old listings. Yes, the real estate world has been mightily pruned. That’s important, even critical in the grand scheme of things. Ask that rose bush that was looking like a dead stump just two weeks ago what it has planned. Happy Spring!

If you’d like to see a cross-section of properties that I think are great deals in today’s market, just drop me a note and you’ll have it!

Preddy Creek Trail Park

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

All the real estate ads that read “Close to NGIC” or “Close to DIA” might also say “Close to the Preddy Creek Trail Park” This is a wonderful resource for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders who can enjoy miles of well maintained trails in Albemarle County’s newest park just off Burnley Station Road in northern Albemarle County. I have explored both on horseback and mountain bike and found the trails somewhat less challenging than Walnut Creek Park but just as beautiful, traversing mature hardwood forest with multiple grade changes and nice views down to meandering Preddy Creek. The ample parking area with rest rooms has just been completed and includes room for horse trailers and even hitching posts for tacking up. The trail maps are not posted yet but getting lost is half the fun in this wonderful new asset for outdoor lovers in Albemarle County. Go to PreddyCreekTrails for a printable map.

Virginia Wine Country

There are 187 AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas) in the United States. Six are in Virginia. One of the most productive for quality wines is the Monticello AVA nestled between the Blue Ridge and the Southwest Mountains, home to 24 wineries which can be found along the Monticello Wine Trail. Barboursville Vineyards, founded in 1976 was a trailblazer in the wine industry and instrumental in putting Virginia on the map by producing quality wines and assisting other Virginia vineyards in their success. Today there are over 160 vineyards in Virginia ranking it fifth in the U.S. The Old Dominion’s terrior, (the special characteristics of the land that influence the character of the wine) is variable from region to region with the Monticello AVA offering some truly superior sites for specific varietals. There are some excellent resources for information on the Virginia wine industry. http://www.virginiawine.org is an excellent site for news and events for all the wineries in the state. For those contemplating starting a vineyard, Virginia Tech has an excellent color coded map highlighting those areas from fair to excellent. http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/viticulture . For the most up to date listings of farms or land in the Central Virginia Region suitable for vineyards, contact: charlottesvillecountry.com Cheers!

Join the party! We have several properties listed that are ideal for vineyards. Ridgeview Farm in Barboursville has ideal slopes and soils. Located in the heart of Virginia’s wine country and comprised of excellent soils, these 185 acres of rolling fields and forest are suitable for any agricultural pursuit.

Until very recently, Ridgeview Farm has been a productive cattle and hay farm along with professional horse facilities for the owner’s daughter. The farm is well watered with three good streams and two stocked ponds. There is an excellent site for a large lake within the property.

The mid 19th century farmhouse has been beautifully renovated by the current owners and now offers four bedrooms and three and one half baths in approximately 4200 finished square feet. Adjacent to the home is a charming guest cottage and pool.

Outbuildings include three attractive barns built for the owner’s classic car collection. One bay is a shop with a hydraulic lift. These buildings have clear open space inside and would be ideal for a small winery.

The horse facilities have not been fully utilized for a few years but are well suited for the serious hobbyist or professional equestrian. There are two center aisle horse barns with a total of twenty stalls and an extra long lighted indoor arena measuring 60’ by 220’. The front third of the property is fenced and cross fenced with three board horse fencing and the back of the property is in well maintained woven wire fencing. The farm and all improvements have been impeccably maintained.

Ridgeview Farm is located near Barboursville in Southern Orange County, a surprisingly quick 20 minutes from Charlottesville and less than two hours from Washington DC in light traffic. The property is made up of two tax map parcels and has long state road frontage. There are no added restrictions on the property making it an ideal candidate for a conservation easement or an unencumbered investment property. $1,999,500