By Rhonda Wilkins
As a Northern Virginia girl, many of my favorite childhood memories were created amidst the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont, east of The Blue Ridge Mountains. From Marshall to Middleburg and over to Upperville, Fauquier and Loudoun counties have long been an equestrian playground for city folks seeking relief from the bustle of the crowded capitol. I love returning here in the fall, just as farmers are taking in the bounties from their harvest. From the expanses of farmland and orchards bordered by centuries-old fences, to the region’s historic villages dotted with restaurants, galleries and antique shops, let me show you a place dear to my heart.
Field and Main
8369 W Main St | Marshall, VA
Farm-to-table dining is the only way to savor the fall harvest. From “the field to Main Street”, this restaurant in Marshall celebrates the region’s land and is one of my favorites.
A Tale of Two Bakeries
Red Truck Bakery | 8368 W Main St, Marshall, VA
Nestled within a restored farmhouse, this bakery is just rustic enough – and more delicious than imaginable – to make sure that their creations never disappoint.
Uppercrust Bakery | 4 N Pendleton St, Middleburg, VA
This family-owned bakery has been a Middleburg staple for more than 30 years and hasn’t lost an ounce of its charm; owner Jim still comes in at 4am every day and operates the business with his son Scott. Remember to try their famous Cow Puddle Cookie!
Fall Wardrobe Essentials
One of my favorite recent discoveries is Middleburg artist, Debbie Cadenas. She commissions custom hand-painted boots with scenes of country and equestrian life — pair them with a classic blue jean, a cashmere wrap, and you will be off to the races.
 CCXX Designs, Minerva Buckle, $51,000, ccxxdesigns.com  Loro Piana, Regina Cashmere Cape, $3,595.00, NeimanMarcus.com  Debbie Cadenas, Custom Hand-Painted Boots, Commision only  Hermès, Plume Silk Twill Giant Scarf, $780, Hermes.com
Tailgating at The International Gold Cup
The Great Meadow Equestrian Center | 5089 Old Tavern Rd, The Plains, VA
Tailgating at the races is a time-honored tradition and a fabulous affair — I love donning my best hat, throwing a blanket and picnic basket into the car, and driving off to enjoy the festivities and show off my homemade recipes.
 Sea+Grass, Handwoven picnic tote, $78-$120, food52.com  Hermès, Double Horse Blanket, $4,500, Hermès.com
2250 Delaphane Grade Rd | Delaplane, VA
In June, I attended “Dinner on the Farm,” part of a series that brought together Chef Eric Zeibold (of Kinship / Metier in D.C.), farmers and vintners to Martin’s Family Farm in The Plains. Our palates were first treated to a glass of 2014 Rendezvous, an an energetic red blend from RdV Vineyards, a place synonymous with producing iconic American wine — and a beautiful Autumn setting!
 RdV 2014 Rendezvous, $75, rdvvineyards.com  Asprey, Horse Head Decanter, $3665, Asprey.com  William Yeoward CrystalFern Wine Glass, $290, NeimanMarcus.com