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Derby Day a first for oldest county winery

Put on your best “garden party” attire and make a hat for Derby Day to be held Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m. at Bright Meadows Farm Vineyard and Winery located at 1181 Nathalie Road in Nathalie.

According to co-owner Shirley Archer, the idea for Derby Day came from a love she and her husband, Boyd, share for the atmosphere and the races held at the Kentucky Derby and springtime.

“I love the hats, the races and just the atmosphere. It’s all just so exciting,” said Archer.

Prizes will be presented to the male and female with the best Derby hat and garden party attire, she said, although they haven’t decided exactly what those prizes will be at this time but probably will consist of wine baskets.

Souvenir glasses will be given to those attending for wine tastings, and five wineries will be onsite including Tomahawk Mill Vineyard and Winery from Chatham, San Soucy Vineyards of Brookneal, Brooks Mill Winery of Wirtz, Devault Family Vineyard of Concord, and of course, Bright Meadows Farm Vineyard and Winery. All wineries are members of the Southern Virginia Wine Trail.

Cost for wine tasting is $20, and cost for designated drivers is $5.  

Food will be on site and provided by The Lamplighter Restaurant, and Archer said the restaurant will be creating a special dessert just for the event.  

Jewelry and craft vendors also will be on site. 

“The Lamplighter will be making a bourbon pecan dessert especially for the event, and it will be named The First Saturday in May. They usually serve these type of things at the derby in Kentucky,” said Archer.

Hugh Vaughan who began his career in South Boston when he was only 14 years old will provide music. Vaughan primarily plays R&B and blues.

For those wishing to catch a glimpse of the Kentucky Derby, they can watch it live on the big screen TV in the tasting room.

“It’s our first festival here, and we’re really excited. It’s part of our effort to bring the wineries home. We spend most of the spring and summer on the road, that’s just how we roll,” said Archer.

The Archer’s hope to make Derby Day an annual event, and depending on the success of this year’s event, they plan to donate half of next year’s proceeds to a charity of their choice.

The event is a rain or shine event, and tickets can be purchased in advance from the Visitors Center, the Pack House and online at or at the winery at 1181 Nathalie Road, Nathalie.

“We want to bring it home. Halifax County is beautiful, and we’d like to share it,” Archer concluded.