Carolyn HerbertCarolyn Herbert’s 92-year-old mother inspired her wine jelly business. Herbert wanted to do something nice for her mother and went online to look up wine jelly recipes. Her mother, who enjoys half a glass of wine, became the tester for Herbert’s wine jelly. Then her son suggested a jelly made from beer and her friends encouraged her to go further with her products. Herbert built a business.

However, the business soon became less about the product itself, which she enjoys creating, and became more a crusade for mental illness awareness when her son had mental health issues as a result of injuries suffered in an accident. Herbert saw an opportunity to combine a growing business with helping those who are in need of jobs and who experience ongoing mental health issues.

“Did I ever think I would have a business – heavens no – I was a school administrator in special education for years,” Herbert said. What started with an idea to please her mother turned into something Herbert never dreamed of when she made her first batch of wine jelly.

The jelly-making process is tedious and has to meet certain standards before being allowed on the market.

“There are recipes out there for making wine jelly but you cannot sell them because of the alcohol content,” Herbert said. She began research and development a year ago and now is in the process of expanding her business. She has 10 flavors thus far and as ideas flow, more will come. Each has a subtle fruity flavor with a hint of wine taste. The Pear Pinot Grigio can be used in cooking or to enhance the taste of something as simple as an English muffin or cream cheese and crackers. Among the flavors are Apple Merlot, Blackberry Sauvignon, Orange Pineapple Chardonnay, and even Lager. For the winter holidays, she features specialty jellies such as Pineberry Julep and for summer Orange Mojito. Add a comment


Langden MasonLangden Mason, who writes the popular column Don’t Get Me Started, brilliantly weaves into his writing the influences and experiences of growing up on a farm in rural Fluvanna.

Born in 1963, he recalled being content growing up in an age when one used a phone booth instead of a cell phone, drank from a garden hose instead of bottled water, and sat down as a family for dinner instead of microwaving meals individually. He does not dismiss the technological and medical advances over the last 50 years, but believes we’ve somehow lost a lot of the core beliefs that made us a great nation such as patriotism, trust, and the art of conversation without polarization.

He went on to say his parents instilled in him a belief that one could achieve happiness by working hard, doing the right thing, and being a good citizen without bullying and hurting others’ feelings. He believes they were right. He sees the diversity in his friendships as a path to better understanding and cites his upbringing as something that made him a good writer and a better person.

Smiling and sharing memories and witticisms, Mason is always engaged with those around him. His column and plays capture the lament of what we’ve left behind in our past.

Writing began with his parents informing him that great adventures were only a book away.

“I read a lot and my mother taught me to color within the lines, but left room to think outside the box,” he said. After tackling great literature and poetry, his favorite English teacher had his class diagram sentences to learn the structure of writing.

“I learned the importance of word placement and the need for proper grammar,” he said. “A picture is worth a thousand words, but a single sentence, when structured properly, can provide a pretty amazing picture.” Add a comment


Arts Faces2017 saw some big changes for many of the performing and visual arts in Fluvanna County, beginning with the departure of Warren Johnson, who stepped down as president of the Persimmon Tree Players (PTP) after nearly 13 years. Beth Sherk took his place and at first was reluctant in her new role, but has emerged stronger with a vision for a new destination for the group that builds on its successes. Always an optimist with a goal, she has teamed up with other PTP members who are looking out for PTP’s best interests in the coming year.

Sherk brings a fresh, energetic perspective to PTP, whereas Johnson was a stabilizing force who helped build the group back up to the well-respected community theater group it once had been. Sherk and fellow PTP member George Gaige are keeping the engine going.

PTP and the Fluvanna County Arts Council (FCAC) have also forged an alliance with 18-year-old theater wunderkind, Jessica Harris, who started the children’s theater group Empowered Players. Both PTP and FCAC see this as a milestone, encouraging young people and training them in the theater arts. PTP is hoping to eventually have some of her students join them and cut their teeth on a larger, more intense production.

Gaige, Sherk and Sharon Harris are working with FCAC on future projects to bring people in and introduce them to the magic of theater and music. With this addition of newcomers and innovative ideas, President Adele Schaefer feels the future is looking brighter for the performing arts.

Add a comment


Linda StaigerRetired orthopedic surgeon and oil painter Linda Staiger spoke to members of the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA) at their monthly meeting Jan. 19 about her artist’s journey, her painting process and how to create good compositions from photos.

Staiger is passionate about painting landscapes and expressing her love for the natural environment through her artistic approach. Growing up on a farm in Fluvanna reminded Staiger of what keeps her painting. Her favorite subjects are the area’s rivers and woods.

“When I was in college and later studying medicine, I would go to museums,” she said. “I was always fascinated by the variety of artists and wondered how they did what they did.” This is a method that many artists learning about art employ. It can be useful to deconstruct great works in order to have a better understanding of their meaning and composition.

For the last 15 years, Staiger returned to art, taking classes at Piedmont Virginia Community College, including graphic arts and ceramics. Later she attended workshops at The Beverly Street Studio and McGuffey Arts Center, where she studied with artist Rick Weaver. 

“He was a very cerebral artist. Many artists cannot explain the how and why of art,” she said. She then listed the key points of painting: “The formal elements are lines and colors; what is the subject; what is it about.” Add a comment


Marianne HillA renewed interest in the needle arts, particularly knitting and crocheting, has taken a younger generation by storm. Less in vogue but still practiced by many is the art of cross stitch. Ladies learned cross stitch to strengthen sewing skills, create tapestries and young women used it as a learning tool. Some have a tapestry their grandmother or great-grandmother made, often one of an alphabet with symbolism. These were less elaborate than the detailed crewel work or needlework.

Cross stitch has come a long way over the centuries and women today are experimenting with different ways to express themselves through this art form. Marianne Hill is one of them and has a passion for cross stitch. At the age of 18 she started doing crewel work, then discovered cross stitch and liked its uniformity and layout with its charts.

“The repetitious motion of pulling the thread through the canvas is soothing. I can’t draw, I can’t paint, so thread and canvas are my art,” she said. Her sister has joined her in her enthusiasm for the art. But now she has connected her passion with her Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) position as regent of the Point of Fork chapter.

“Virginia State Regent Judy Surber had to come up with a project so all the chapters are finding ways to support the building of the Claude Moore Hall at Montpelier, James Madison’s home,” Hill said. She described the project and how it fits in with their mission of promoting patriotism, preserving American history and its future through education.

The Claude Moore Hall is to become part of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at Montpelier. The $4.7 million project will include classrooms, conference rooms, offices for center staff, a media center, and will be equipped for interactive learning. This will allow the center to expand its audience of adult learners, program alumni and constitutional leaders, creating an online community and sharing expertise and information around the globe. Add a comment