Plan the Perfect Valentine’s Weekend

Ah, Valentine’s Day. What’s better than having an excuse (not that you need one) to shower the love of your life with affection?

Wait! You check the calendar and suddenly realize that it’s almost two weeks away and you haven’t made plans. Sure, you could go the old “roses-and-a-box-of-chocolates” route, but who hasn’t seen that a hundred times? How about a trip? It’s cutting it pretty close to start planning an extravagant vacation now though.

Hmm… It’s time to get creative. So, you scour the internet for ideas. Eventually, you find yourself here. Well, look no further because we’ve put together the PERFECT Cape May Valentine’s Weekend getaway for you and your love.

Where to Stay

Cape May is known for its gorgeous Victorian charm, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of the beautiful historic B&Bs and hotels. But if you’re looking to really step it up, the Southern Mansion is the place to be. The New York Times has called it “[t]he only place to stay in Cape May,” and the opulent circa 1860-mansion does not disappoint. Once the summer home of a wealthy Philadelphia industrialist, the Southern Mansion has been meticulously restored and now operates as a 24-bedroom cross between a Boutique Hotel and B&B.

Each guest room is beautifully furnished with a mix of original and high quality reproduction furniture but also has all the modern amenities such as private bathrooms with hand painted tile showers, heating and air conditioning, and 32″ flat screen TVs. Guests also enjoy evening turndown service and a full gourmet breakfast in the morning. We also love the complimentary on-site parking, which any Cape May aficionado knows is a pretty big deal in this shore town.

If you and your love are looking for something a little more private for your Valentine’s Day, then you’re in luck! Willow Creek Winery also has several gorgeous apartments available to rent for the weekend that are located right on the vineyard. Imagine waking up each morning and gazing out over the vineyard as you sip your coffee.

Please visit AirBnB to view our listings for Merlot CottageMalvasia CottageChambourcin CottageHamilton Cottage, and The Stable.

Valentine’s Day Dinner

Okay, accommodations are booked, but what about the big night itself? Nearly every restaurant is filling up with reservations for Valentine’s Day dinner, and some of the smaller ones have already booked up. You’re worried that others might feel too cramped or too loud. Will there be music? What will the ambience be like? And perhaps most importantly, what’s for dinner???

Willow Creek Winery has the answer for these questions, too. Enjoy our Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Vineyard, and indulge in a romantic and decadent four-course dining experience in our rustic-chic post-and-beam style tasting room beneath seven-foot crystal chandeliers while sipping on some of the finest wines this side of Europe.

As you gaze across the candlelit table into your lover’s eyes, every sense will be aroused. Taste the divine meal. Smell the aromatic boutique wine. Feel your lover’s hand clasped in yours. And hear the crooning vocals of Rose Kelly as she serenades the room.

View the incredible menu here, and be sure to book your reservation early.

A Low-key Friday

After the formalities that often seem to accompany the traditional Valentine’s Day dinner, you and your love will probably be looking forward to some more relaxed activities on Friday. Spend the morning and afternoon seeing all that Cape May has to offer. Enjoy shopping in the boutiques on the Washington Street Mall, lunch at the many excellent restaurants, and maybe even check out the town’s history by going on a tour or two.

Make sure you keep your Friday night free because you’ll want to come back to Willow Creek Winery for Fire Pit Friday!

Enjoy live music from local musicians 6pm-9pm while you sample our unique selection of locally grown, produced, and bottled wines. Reserve a table to un-wine with a glass (or bottle) of your favorite wine and order farm fresh favorites off our tantalizing tapas and small plates menu. After you finish, be sure to grab another glass before sitting around our fire pit next to our beautiful vineyard beneath the starlit sky.

Pro Tip: Get here early and you can enjoy our Winter Happy Hour. From 3pm to 5pm on Friday we’ll be offering 20% off of our delicious tapas menu as well as glasses of Wilde Cock wines and sangrias (excludes Prestige label).

Saturday: Enough love, time to laugh!

Lucky you, you’re just in time for Comedy UnCorked! It’s been a pretty serious weekend, so now is the time to lighten the mood with a three-course wine-paired dinner and comedy show. This hit series of monthly comedy shows featuring professional NYC comedians is back by popular demand. Make sure you purchase your tickets early though because these shows always sell out.

FYI – if you’re easily offended, this is NOT the event for you.

View the February Comedy UnCorked menu and more event details here.

Is the weekend really over already?

Well, eventually every good thing has to end, and Sunday is finally here. Spend your last few hours relaxing with one last glass of your favorite wine or sangria, and maybe grab a few bottles or growlers for the road (our small-batch produced wines are currently only available on-site). Or grab a stool at the Vineyard Bar, sip a wine cocktail to shake off the last bit the Sunday fog, and catch the game on the TVs before loading up the car and heading home.

And remember, it’s not “Goodbye,” it’s “See you later!”

It’s almost time for Woofstock!

It’s almost time for Woofstock!

We have so many exciting things coming up here at the farm, and we want to be able to share all of them with our Wilde cocks and hens! 

On April 29th, join the Humane Society of Ocean City as they host Woofstock here at Willow Creek Farm & Winery. The voice for the voiceless, Jeffrey Gaines, will be performing a very special benefit concert to bring awareness to the needs of shelter animals and a call for education and training so that ALL animals find the loving home they deserve. There will also be a special performance by “The Turtle Head Band” of South Jersey.

The Humane Society will be providing the entertainment and awareness, and Willow Creek will have wine and tapas available for purchase, as well as the beautiful vineyard views.

Tickets for this very special show are only a $25 donation to the HSOC and all proceeds raised go to help house and care for our shelter animals as they await their FURever homes. Tickets can be purchased at the Humane Society of Ocean City, or online HERE

We hope to see you there to support this awesome cause!

Cheers!

Team Willow Creek

What’s Happening at Willow Creek Farm & Winery 4/13-4/21

Hello Wilde cocks and hens and hello SPRING! We have been waiting for this since last spring ended for many reasons. For one, spring marks the start of our BUSY wedding season. Our first wedding kicks off Saturday, April 21st, so be sure to call and check for current hours during wedding season, as they may be different than advertised due to special events.

Here is what we have coming up at the farm:

Friday, April 13, 2018 – Fire Pit Friday – This weekly event continues through May 11th. Join Willow Creek Farm and Winery every Friday Night as we welcome a different talented musical guest to perform live inside the winery! We have a NEW lineup of local musicians, so don’t miss out!

The fire pit is lit outside at 5:30pm. Seating is first come first serve and self serve in this area, with our enclosed Outside Wine Bar open and our full wine and tapas menu available to order with out outside bartenders.

Music begins at 6pm inside the winery with a different musical guest every week! Reservations are strongly suggested for full service seating or tastings, as they fill up quickly!

Be sure to call 609-770-8782 x5 to reserve your seats and to ensure we are not closed to the public for a private event.

Saturday, April 21, 2018 – Our first wedding of the season! We will be open to tastings, tapas, bottles and glasses from 11am until 4pm, with last call for tastings at 3:30 pm. We kindly ask all guest to be off the property by 4pm so our events team can set up the room for the bride and groom and their guests. Since we are only open for a short period of time, we fill up fast! To make a reservation, please call 609-770-8782 ext. 5 to speak with a member of our reservations team.

We are open during the week from 11am to 5pm for tastings, glasses and bottles. Our kitchen still remains closed Monday through Thursday, but stay tuned for updates on that! The summer seasons is coming, and we can’t wait! In the meantime, we have spring flowers blooming, and trees budding, so still a beautiful atmosphere here at the farm.

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Narcissus

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Narcissus

The Daffodil (Narcissus) brings an over the top burst of golden yellow to brighten up our day and mood!

There is something about that warming burst of yellow after the winter grey/brown doldrums that will always make Narcissi a perennial favorite of so many.

It’s an easy flower to grow from bulbs and they naturalize so well with so little effort. They also have the additional benefit of a lovely sweet scent!

The high levels of alkaloid poison, lycorine, found in the bulbs and leaves makes Daffodils unattractive to the squirrel, skunk, mole and deer – another bonus that makes them a spring garden necessity .

The history of the Latin name for Daffodil stems from the myth of a beautiful youth named Narcissus, who upon looking into a pond fell so in love with his reflection that he would not leave it to eat or drink. As the story goes, the gods took pity upon him and transformed him into a flower whose yellow head looks down to always feast upon it’s reflection!. You can remember this tale every time you use the word “narcissist.”  Bottom line, they are gorgeous and supremely mood up-lifting.

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Camassia Quamash

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Camassia Quamash

Another edition to Barbara’s Favorite Flowers is here! See what she has to say about this weeks entry.

I love blue flowers and Camassia Quamash is a great blue flower for early to mid Spring that can handle a damp, sunny or shady area. I use it in my shade gardens at the Mansion and in marshy meadows at the Vineyard. Meadow gardens are one my favorite natural gardens to design. Nature herself is truly the greatest muse. Wild bog meadows in southern New Jersey are sensual places with sedge, tawny grasses, and seasonal natural flowers like Swamp Mallow, Asters, Clethra, and Joe Pye weed catching the caress of the wind and glistening in warm sunlight offering beauty throughout the seasons. 

The Camassia was originally placed in the Lilliaceae family and was a food staple for the American Indians. The bulb can be roasted and is actually sweeter than a sweet potato. (Yes, I ate one and it was very delish!) It can also be ground into flour.

Camassia is a friendly, easy to grow bulb that naturalizes well and rewards you with ever-larger swaths of brilliant azure blue every year.

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Cat Mint

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Cat Mint

Cat Mint Nepeta × faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’

This is a great drought tolerant re-bloomer. Blooming starts in May or early June so you can luxuriate in a whole field of glorious purple. The leaves are a great grey-green and heart shaped. I recommend this plant in huge masses to everyone! Cat Mint is super easy peasy and looks good most all the time.  Even though it is in the Lamiaceae family and very similar to catnip, it does not have the same euphoric effect on our feline friends. Beloved by hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, plant to stellar effect in front of borders en masse and rock gardens. Trim back a bit after flowering and you are rewarded with constant blooms! Also used in herbal medicine! The mild sedative effect on humans makes it a wonderful relaxing tea!

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Water Iris & Duck Weed

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Water Iris & Duck Weed

Iris Pseudacorus – Water Iris – what a phenomenal bog plant to use in the water garden!  This is one of the more robust Iris. The tall, thick leaves contrast well in the spring with tall spikes of bright yellow flowers. This plant grows up to 5 feet tall, with yellow  flowers on stalks towering above.  It’s best to place in the back of the bog with cattails, etc. This picture of the “swamp” at Willow Creek looks like it’s framed by the Black Willow branches. Water iris, is also instrumental in natural water purification systems. The roots then improve water quality by consuming nutrient pollutants, such as from agricultural runoff.

Duck Weed, Lemnoideae –  Notice, the green plant floating on top of the water ? This is Duck Weed. Many people think that it is algae or something slimy but when you look at it closely you realize it is lots of tiny individual green platelet plants. Duck Weed Lemnoideae is wonderful and many faceted. Duck Weed is an important high-protein food source for waterfowl and is also eaten by humans in some parts of Southeast Asia. As it contains more protein than soybeans, it is sometimes cited as a significant potential food source. I scoop it from the swamp with a pool skimmer, and feed it to my chickens as a great green protein enriched snack.  The chickens love it and return the favor with brilliant orange, super healthy yolks! The tiny plants provide cover for many aquatic species. The plants are used as shelter by pond water species such as turtles and frogs. They also provide shade and, although frequently confused with them, can reduce certain light-generated growths of photoautotrophic algae, which can cause overgrowth problems.

Duck Weed aids in nitrate removal, and are important in the process of biomediation, because they grow rapidly, absorbing excess mineral nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphates. Duck Weed is now touted as water purifiers of untapped value and also may be used for waste water treatment to capture toxins, and control odor. 

If a mat of Duck Weed is maintained during harvesting for removal of the toxins captured thereby, it prevents the development of algae and controls the breeding of mosquitoes, our perennial pest in South Jersey!

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Peony

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Peony

A plant that is familiar to many is a favorite to Barbara, especially the ones at Willow Creek and Southern Mansion. Here’s why!

My Peony Patch at the Willow Creek Vineyard includes several hundred heirloom peonies, salvaged from a historical West Cape May peony garden on Landis Ave and mixed in with other fabulous hybrids. I remember seeing the “Peonies For Sale” sign off of Broadway for years and buying dozens of them from a delightful little lady in her 90’s. Her son maintained the Peonies for many years later, and finally he offered the plants for sale.  Needless to say, I purchased the entire lot and established them in my Vineyard gardens.  Now as these are old-fashioned peonies, they are more in the anemone, or semi-double style, as compared to the more outrageous, modern, hybridized varieties, but their delicious sweet scent and beauty are unforgettable.

These fleeting, over-blown, decadent blossoms are the stuff of dreams and bridal fantasy.  These are flowers that are purely over-the-top. A huge bouquet of peonies in a crystal vase next to your bed or on a marble counter in front of your bathroom mirror is exquisite. Peony season is short-lived in early May; the Chinese, or tree peony, blooms first. Tree peonies originated in Asia and can live hundreds of years. Certain colors and varieties are in such high demand that they command millions of dollars. The herbaceous peony has a soft stem that comes up from the bare earth every year, but it shares the Asian ancestry and delicious blossoms. Peonies are also very popular motifs in classic Asian art and Museum quality tattoos. They are known as the King of Flowers in China.

Peony flower type varies tremendously as they become more complex in their arrangement of petals. The flower types include Single, Japanese, Anemone, Semi-Double, and Bomb-Double. Herbaceous peonies die back in the winter and regrow in the spring, while tree peonies lose their leaves in winter, but leave woody stems.

I hope you enjoy the gorgeous peonies at Southern Mansion and Willow Creek Winery as much I do!

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Platycodon

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Platycodon

 

Platycodon grandiflorus, is a great hardy perennial for your garden border. Here is why Barbara loves it:

She reproduces and reseeds well, which is always an added bonus (it produces lots of babies to gift your gardening aficionado friend’s with). In the family Campanulaceae (like several of my favorite waterfall and Canterbury bells), but she is the only member of the genus from the Greek meaning broad bells.

A Native of East Asia, she bears big, blue flowers, which start off in lovely swelling buds that for all the world resemble wonderful puffy balloons.

Medicinally, the root of this particular species is used as the base for many age-old natural, and commercially prepared remedies for colds and coughs. You can also use them in salads and soups!

I hope you enjoy this beauty Platycodon as much as I do!

Barbara’s Favorite Flower: Queen Anne’s Lace

Barbara’s Favorite Flower: Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace Daucus carota, a wild carrot, is a wonderful flowering biennial that is native to Europe, but naturalized all over North America. Here is what Barbara has to say about this wild carrot:

Related to carrot (Daucus Carrota) you can eat the root when young, (it tastes and smells like carrot) but it gets nasty and woody as it matures.

Women have used the seeds from Daucus carota for centuries as a contraceptive, the earliest written reference dates back to the late 5th or 4th century B.C. appearing in a work written by Hippocrates. “The seeds, harvested in the fall, are a strong contraceptive if taken orally immediately after coitus.”  I can not speak to the efficiency but it certainly is interesting historically.