Plans for a new vineyard on Harrison Hill Lane near Lucketts is moving ahead with county board approval for a small restaurant and an events center on the property.
Jeffrey Judge and Lori McKeever’s plans to open Eagletree Farm & Vineyard, including a restaurant with up to 40 patrons and a banquet center with space for up to 100. Attorney Frank Stearns, representing Eagletree, said the restaurant would be “very exclusive,” requiring reservations and featuring the work of Judge, a Le Cordon Bleu chef. The two previously ran McKeever’s Pub in McLean.
Public comment in support of Eagletree’s plans during a Feb. 15 public hearing turned into a general referendum in support of growing Loudoun’s rural economy. Weatherlea Farm and Vineyard owner and Rural Economic Development Council member Malcom Baldwin told supervisors Judge and McKeever “have been significant contributors to Loudoun County’s rural economy and to the winegrowers association.”
Supervisors were also supportive of the application, waving off county planners’ concern about a request to reduce the setback requirement.
“The best way to ensure the rural, historic and scenic future of western Loudoun for generations to come is by having a strong rural economy,” said Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge), repeating a common refrain among supervisors and supporters of rural businesses.
“Loudoun’s rural economy thrives on the backbone of small business owners working to pursue their dreams,” stated Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin). “I am most impressed by Jeff and Lori’s vision and perseverance to build a restaurant and banquet/event facility on their beautiful farm.”
Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) joked that she looks forward to “that time when my husband has made me really mad, when he has to take me to that exclusive restaurant where only 40 people can be.”
“The prior board worked really hard to give additional resources to the Department of Economic Development and to try and focus on trying to get a growing and thriving rural economy going, so we appreciate every applicant such as yourselves that comes forward and says, ‘I want to be another piece of the fabric of the rural economy,’” Volpe said.
The property is bordered by Lost Creek Vineyard, White’s Ford Regional Park, a home, and undeveloped residential lots and a farm that is in the process of being subdivided into residential lots.
The requested parking setback reduction cuts the distance from the property line from 100 feet to 30; however, McKeever and Judge live on the adjoining parcel. One of the conditions of approval named in the board’s unanimous vote requires a boundary line adjustment between the two parcels to bring the parking setback back into compliance prior to the approval of any site plans.