“Everything is open for business in Wytheville,” says Shane Terry of the Wytheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. With terrific cultural amenities and the lure of surrounding mountains and streams, Wytheville is the envy of many communities this spring. Here, at the crossroads of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwest Virginia, this town is thriving with restaurants, breweries and cultural attractions.
Just outside of town, Beagle Ridge Herb Farm, a 210-acre educational growing center surrounded by 7,200 acres of wildlife preserve celebrates 20 years in business in 2021. The farm is named after the owners’ beloved beagles who ran along the mountain ridge. Here, Ellen and Gregg Reynolds maintain beautifully planted garden beds, a butterfly exhibit, hiking trails and a well-stocked pond. They cultivate 14 varieties of lavender and make everything from culinary delights such as lavender ice cream and shortbread cookies to lavender oils, sachets and decorative lavender items. Beagle Ridge sells 100 different products, including live plants, and the Reynolds’ socially distanced educational programs on planting and growing lavender and herbs are ever popular.
On April 24 and 25, Beagle Ridge Herb Farm will host Lavender Academy to teach cultivation techniques. Ellen says “lavender, once established, will remain hardy without constant attention. It thrives in a Virginia climate and requires little water.” A water garden, Japanese meditation garden and a tea garden, where the Reynolds invite visitors to sip their herbal teas are just a few of the many themed plantings the Reynolds have created. If COVID-19 restrictions are lifted this spring and summer, Gregg Reynolds will take guests on UTV rides through the mountains to the highest elevation on the property at 3,200 feet. Along the trails, Gregg will spot wildlife and share local history. Ellen is active at the national level in lavender associations and has also created a certified haven for Monarch butterflies. The couple offers programs on how to feed the endangered species. Beagle Ridge does not charge admission but requires registration fees for educational seminars. With notice, they can provide lunch or dinner for a minimum of six; some dishes are flavored with lavender.
The region is a haven for outdoor recreation lovers and the New River State Park is one of many great places to hike, cycle and paddle.
Also celebrating over 20 years in Wytheville is Wolfhart Haus Dinner Theatre, which hosts a lively revue of two decades of musical theater this month. The Wolfhart’s Matterhorn Restaurant and outdoor Biergarten serves authentic German food and beer, as well as Virginia-made craft beers.
Historic attractions include the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace, a tribute to the life of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s second wife, influential during WWI as First Lady of the United States. Civil War buffs may want to explore sites in town or at nearby Fort Chiswell. The Rock House Museum tells the town history in a building from the early 1800s.