FOOD- DISH- Pit stops: Pair BBQ with berry wine!

The Dish must have a hankering for barbeque these days. Two weeks ago, we told you about Jinx's Pit's-Top Barbecue's new delivery option at the newsstand on the Downtown Mall, and this week we've smoked out another 'cue spot in Scottsville, Pee Wee's Pit on Valley Street. No, not the most glamorous name for a restaurant; but certainly unforgettable– especially when you hear their slogan.

"It took me six years to figure out how to make barbeque I liked," says co-owner Suzette Oyler, who, along with her husband, Pee Wee, ran a catering business for eight years before opening the restaurant. "We'd always done a kind of upscale barbeque in our catering business," Oyler says. "And we've tried to bring that same idea to the restaurant. Presentation is really important to us."

But what about that name? Oyler laughs, but she won't reveal how her husband got the nickname. She does, however, gladly reveal their slogan. 

"It's ‘Nothing smells like Pee Wee's pits,'" she says. "During our romance he did used to be quite odiferous, but now, of course, it just means his barbeque pits." (Hmm...catchy, yes, but is this the double entendre you want in your head before mealtime?) 

Oyler says they offer three main meats and any two of eight sides for only $6.95. "Our mac and cheese is also fabulous... very extreme in the cheese department," Oyler says. "We have a great old fashioned sweet-and-sour cole slaw, too. It's my grandmother's secret recipe, and it's the perfect complement to our barbeque."

But you better hurry. Although they're open seven days a week, 11am to 7pm, they close up when they run out of barbeque.

 "We strongly believe in not throwing away food," Oyler says. If there are leftovers at the end of the day, she says, it all goes to a local church food bank.

Apparently, nothing "sells like Pee Wee's pits" either. Oyler tells Dish that they've already franchised the business. There's a new place opening in Blacksburg, she says, and plans for more Pee Wee's Pits around the state. 

"We wanted to make this an affordable venture for middle-class people," Oyler says of their business philosophy, "a simple turn-key business. If one of these were on the Corner, you'd make a fortune."

Berry wine heaven in Nellysford

About a month ago, some new owners took over the 22-acre Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery in Nellysford. Marlyn and Sue Allen, previous owners of the pick-your-own blackberry farm, had turned it into a popular specialty winery in the late 1990s, offering a variety of fruit wines and historical honey meads. The new owners don't fall far from the vine. In fact, they're the Allens' three daughters, Kimberly Allen-Pugh, Crystal Allen-Wulin, and Marlo Gayle-Allen.

Allen-Pugh says she quit her job as a UVA police officer to take over as wine maker from her Dad. "I guess I've followed him into two careers now," she muses, explaining that her Dad had also been in law enforcement. "But we've been running things for sometime," she says. "We just finally bought them out a month ago." 

Allen-Pugh says it's all they can do to keep up with the demand for their fruity beverages. In particular, she says their "true to the fruit" wines are quite popular. "Most fruit wines are merely flavored with fruit, but ours are fermented totally from the fruit," she explains. 

Allen-Pugh also says they make a number of historical wines such as mead, which is made from fermented honey. "I'm always trying to find ancient drinks. I love history," she says.

Visitors are also welcome to pick blackberries. Although they have seven acres of the jam and jelly delights, Allen-Pugh says that due to the dry weather the pickings are running out.

"You really have to hunt for the blackberries now," she says, "but you can also call us, and we'll pick them for you." Allen-Pugh also says they hope to have blueberry picking fields in the near future.

The berry winery also holds special events throughout the year, including a steak dinner party with live bluegrass music in September, fall food and wine parings, a medieval style banquet in October, and holiday events in December featuring mulled wines.

Hill Top Berry Farm & Winery in Nellysford offers "true fruit" wines, beautiful views, and swordplay!