A plan to convert one of the largest homes in the region into a wedding venue and vineyard is becoming clearer.
River Run Manor – the 16,000-square-foot Goochland County mansion that went under contract last month after five years on the market – would house a tasting room and eventual vineyard for Philip Carter Winery of Fauquier County. Its new owners also would aim to host about three dozen wedding events a year, along with charity events and corporate functions in the off-season.
That’s according to a plan by two married couples who are behind the pending purchase: Doug and Tamra Adams, Goochland residents who host weddings and other events at their Montessori-style Adams International School, and Andrew and Kim Moody, the couple behind Blackstone-based Kim Moody Design, a wedding-planning company with an office in Richmond.
The two couples put an offer on the 60-acre riverside estate through an LLC named after the manor.
The group presented their plan to neighboring property owners and residents in a community meeting held at the mansion late last month. The meeting was required as part of Goochland County’s process for reviewing applications for a conditional-use permit, which the group is requesting to allow the new uses.
County planner Tom Coleman, who was on hand for the meeting, said the request is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on Aug. 1 and the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 3. The public would be able to comment on the proposal in hearings that would precede each vote.
Kim Moody, who would manage and reside in the mansion with Andrew and their two young children, said the property’s five years on the market without landing a buyer shows a need to put the mansion to new use – three decades after it was built as the home of the late William B. Massey, a longtime Richmond coal executive whose family founded what is now Massey Energy.
“While the property was built for a residence, being that it’s been on the market for all this time, it’s pretty clear that a regular homebuyer wasn’t going to be purchasing it,” Moody said. “It was going to be somebody that wanted to host events one way or another.”
She and Andrew identified the property as a potential venue for their business just as the Adamses said they were losing interest in it due to its price tag, which, at $7.9 million when it was first listed in 2014, remained the highest in the Richmond market despite several reductions over the years.
When the asking price was reduced to $3 million in May, Moody said she got a call from the Adamses about going in on the property together.
“The Adamses called us out of the blue, on Memorial Day, because they knew we’d been working through this process about six hours a day since last October, just hoping we could somehow get it under contract,” Moody said.
A former real estate agent, Adams said she had a friend write up an offer on the house when she saw the latest price reduction.
“We had been looking at this property for years, and we were going to buy it anyway,” Adams said. “I was driving on 64 one day and Kim called me. I didn’t know what she had been up to, and she goes, ‘I’m thinking about a house that would be a perfect wedding venue.’ I said, ‘I know exactly what house you’re talking about.’”
Philip Carter Winery was brought into the mix via a mutual colleague who introduced Moody and CEO Philip Carter Strother, who runs the family business in Fauquier County but resides in Glen Allen. Strother said he’d been looking to enter the Richmond market for years when River Run Manor became a possibility.
“Philip Carter Winery has been looking at various sites in the Richmond region now for about four years,” Strother said. “My meeting with Kim got set up with this mutual colleague who’s in the hospitality industry, we had dinner, and it was just an absolutely perfect fit. She is committed to putting forth a first-class product for guests and wedding couples, and that complements my brand.”
The tasting room would be located in the lower level of the house, with a setup in the pool house as well, Strother said. Tastings would be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and to 10 or 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Strother said demand would dictate the weekend hours.
Strother would not say how much he plans to invest in the operation, which would eventually involve a vineyard on about 10 acres of the property, likely along the driveway that provides gated access off River Road West. He said he’d also like to have three bee hives on site.
Neighbors at the meeting scrutinized the plans, questioning whether trucks used for events and visitors to the tasting room would cause traffic problems along River Road. Some attendees also expressed concerns about noise and light disturbances.
According to their permit application with the county, the mansion can accommodate seating for 240 people on the main level and 285 on the lower level.
Strother said his winery is in a rural location and has operated for 12 years without receiving a complaint. He also downplayed impacts from events, noting that weddings and other events would typically occur on weekends.
Moody said she and Andrew, being from Blackstone, are mindful of rural communities and privacy concerns. She said only three of the home’s eight bedrooms would be available for events. Short-term rentals would be offered separate from events.
“Goochland prides itself on being a rural-agriculture area, and we’re planning to keep all the acreage together,” Moody said after the meeting. “Events are fairly low-impact, considering what this could have been. A developer could have purchased this and chopped it up. I certainly want to hear their concerns and do what we can to make everybody feel more comfortable with what we’re hoping to do here.”
Moody said having a venue to host events regularly is integral for sustaining her business, which she said operates out of four to six different venues each month. She said the business works with about 20 clients per year on weddings budgeted above $60,000, most of those above $100,000.
“It’s really hard to retire in my industry without a venue, because you can’t really train your employees to work at so many places successfully, weekend after weekend at somewhere new,” she said. “It’s really difficult to get somebody trained enough to where you can walk away and allow them to close up an event or run things, because it’s the biggest day of somebody’s life.
“I’ve worked many 20-hour days in the last 15 years. That’s just part of this industry; it’s part of the tenacity it takes to do it. And we have been self-employed for the past 15 years, so for being able to continue with that and have some kind of staying power, it was important to me that we consolidate to one location.”
Adams said the collaboration made sense, as she and Doug, who owned The Country Vintner (now Winebow) in Ashland before selling the business in 2008, have been hosting weddings at their school since 2012, with all proceeds from their Virginia Barn Wedding business benefiting the school. The couple also manages several rental properties in the area, and Doug remains in the wine business as a co-owner of a wine exporter in Italy.
“We’re twice as old as they are,” Adams said of the Moodys, “and we’ve already been doing this so long. I renovated houses to get through college, so I think I’m more enamored with the property and just taking care of it; loving it and preserving the footprint and not changing it much.”
Built in the mid-1980s, the Georgian Revival-style home includes a marble-floored foyer with double curved staircase, a ballroom, a lower-level rec room with wine cellar and an upper-level terrace overlooking the James River. The interior is accented with 18-foot columns and chandeliers, and the property includes a pool, the pool house, a tennis court and four-car garage.
Now owned by Massey’s four children, who inherited it when he died in March 2014, the property is under contract and could close later this summer, according to Bo Steele, who took over the listing last year with fellow Steele Group | Sotheby’s International Realty agent Debbie Gibbs.
A purchase price has not been disclosed. The latest county assessment valued the property at $5.28 million.
Should a sale and permit approval go through, Moody said she and Andrew would seek a buyer for their Trend retail stores in Blackstone and at River Road Shopping Center in western Henrico County. She said the venue would operate under the name “The Estate at River Run.”
If permitted as an event venue, River Run Manor would join another multimillion-dollar county residence that has been adapted for other uses. The nearby Dover Hall, a 33,000-square-foot Tudor-style mansion, has hosted events since it was sold for $5 million in 2013. The property added a bed-and-breakfast concept to its offerings last year, and its management arm is planning a new event venue in Short Pump at West Broad Village.
Update: Short-term rentals separate from events would be offered at The Estate at River Run. An earlier version of this story reported such rentals would not be offered. Kim Moody has since said they would, just not through online third-party platforms.