As we began taking this new idea very seriously, we started discussing features and ideal amenities we would want to find in a bed and breakfast. We took a seminar together at Penn State on “owning and operating a B and B”. We left that day feeling even more confident that this was a path we were both ready to take. One of the key things we learned at the class was that it was important to find a place that WE loved and felt comfortable in, because we would ideally attract people like ourselves that we would enjoy. Several of our previous B and B stays had been in Napa Valley, where we loved to experience the gorgeous wine country. California would have been a fabulous location, but it was just too darn far from family and friends. So Mike started googling “up and coming East Coast wine regions”, and Nelson County continued to come up amongst the top. Nelson County?? We’d never heard of it! We’d never been to Virginia, but we had heard what a gorgeous area it was.
Next step was to research inns for sale. One of the choices was the Orchard House. At first glance, it appeared to have several assets that were appealing: a main farmhouse with six beds/baths, a second, smaller farmhouse with three beds/baths, a barn, a pond, and WHAT??!!: it’s own one-acre vineyard that was actually growing grapes!!! We reached out to the former owners and they were somewhat baffled that we had contacted them…they weren’t for sale! Well….they HAD been for sale, but they had recently added a private addition for the innkeepers to live in, and they were so happy with it that they had taken the property off the market. A few days after that initial phone call, they contacted us and said they’d be willing to meet.
Needless to say, our first visit to the Orchard House was amazing. We both immediately could see the potential in the property, and the former owners had done a spectacular job of renovating an 1874 farm property. It felt like a place we could make ours. We liked it way better than any of the other properties we viewed. The surrounding area was very different from what we were used to in a golf course community outside of Pittsburgh, PA, but it was also very appealing. We started the search in early October, and by early February, we had made an offer.
Lots of changes in a short time for our family, as we worked hard to prepare our treasured home of fifteen years for the market, reassured our college kids that we hadn’t lost our minds, explained to our friends, family and neighbors why we would consider leaving our beloved Pittsburgh…and answering the same question over and over: “do you have any idea how much WORK that is going to be???”
Next blog: we find the answer to that question very quickly!