50 West Vineyards grounds itself in its location on Historic US Route 50 and the highway’s tie to Virginia History. The highway, itself, was created in 1926 but the history of the land can be traced back even further to the battle of Aldie and surround battles of the American Civil War.
On May 18th of 1863, General Robert E Lee defeated Union armies in the Battle of Chancellorsville in a major victory for the Confederate army. After fighting for nearly 2 years, Lee’s soldiers were in need of supplies. They moved north through the Shenandoah Valley where Lee strategically sent his general to set up blockades around all of the major mountain gaps to screen Union movement including Ashby Gap and Snickersville Turnpike. At the same time, the Union general was advancing to Aldie, Virginia to catch up to Lee.
The Armies made a stand on the exact hill where 50 West Vineyards is located today. There was nearly 4 hours of bloody fighting that ensued. The battles that took place along the Ashby Gap and Snickerville Turnpike delayed Union soldiers long enough to stop them from advancing into Loudon County and finding Lee’s army.
One of the main mountain passes in early Virginia Was a wind gap called Ashby(s) Gap. Its located where Fauquier county, Clark County, and Loudon County meet. The Gap reached an altitude of 1000+ feet. Before the Civil, the gap was known to the Native Americans as a trail for tavel between regions and used by the Europeans as a toll road to connect the Piedmont to the Blue Ridge. It was known as the “Upper Thoroughfare of the Blue Ridge” Until it was given the name “Ashby” after Thomas Ashby, who owned land on the east side of the gap and was a major factor in settling Paris, Virginia. During the Civil War Ashby Gap, along with other mountain passes, played a key role in the strategy of battle and benefited those who knew the land and its rolling hills.
The Battle of Aldie was a key battle in the aftermath of Chancellorsville and the confederacy’s desperation for supplies from up north. The Union sought out Robert E Lee’s Troops by attempting to advance through Aldie Virginia through Loudon County and to the mountain passes that connected the Blue Ridge to the Piedmont Region. Robert E. Lee sent his top general and troops to Aldie as a response to Union and successfully stopped them from reaching Lee.
The reason behind the lack of height across the Blue Ridge mountains is due to its age! While most people find the rolling hills to be nothing substantial in height in comparison to the peaks of the Rockies or the Plateaus of Montana, the mountains that span across the East Coast and through-out Virginia are some of the oldest mountains on Earth! They have weathered down over time from taller than the Rockies and sit alongside the Alps in age. If you give the Rockies another 400 million years they will look similiar!