Here in Virginia’s northern peak, with DC to the east and Richmond to the south, towns hail from the 1700s, paths were once trod by the likes of Washington and Jefferson, and battlefields where Union and Confederate soldiers once clashed crisscross the landscape. Miles of black-board horse fence hugs the hills like upended railroad tracks. The beauty of the landscape and the surrounding mountains have long been a draw for tourists—even Jack and Jackie Kennedy vacationed here as First Family.
Today, the steady growth of Virginia’s wine industry, as well as a new appreciation for the culinary treasures that thrive in area soil, are making this lush landscape an ever-more popular place to retreat whether in search of leisure, a bit of history, or simply an outstanding dining experience. In our August issue, we covered three luxurious stays you simply shouldn’t miss when visiting this picturesque portion of Virginia. Here, we can’t help but squeeze in one more delicious recommendation, the immaculate Glen Gordon Manor in Huntly, Virginia.
YOU LOVE the English countryside and the insider access of a top chef serving as your personal instructor. The recharge of the fresh mountain air and a rural retreat.
YOU NEED to hear the soft cluck of free-range chickens at a relaxed, private retreat dedicated to personal service.
Glen Gordon Manor
in Huntly, Virginia
The story goes that nearly two hundred years ago, Wells Fargo stagecoaches regularly rambled up to this stone and slate-roofed outpost, but today it’s hard to believe that the airy and elegant manor house ever received the likes of such worn and dusty travelers.
Surrounded by stunning vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the forty-five-acre grounds here are worthy of a visit all by themselves. Thoroughbreds graze in pastures beside an orchard of fruit trees while chickens roam unmolested by a nearby row of beehives and two centuries-old beech trees sit resolutely in the front yard like guardians of the estate. It’s a rural scene as pretty as a postcard.
Inside, owner Nancy Moon Smith has decorated with paintings and pieces inspired by classic English estates and foraged from area antique shops. But there’s no rarefied air here. Nancy’s obvious fondness for her two boys playing lacrosse out on the front lawn makes me feel comfortable enough to sit right down and join her, and before long we are chatting like two old friends.
The warmth of hospitality continues even as her husband Dayn Smith dons his chef whites. A celebrated executive chef and owner of three top restaurants in Puerto Rico, today Smith is going casual to lead a cooking class for four in the open sunlit kitchen of Glen Gordon Manor.
Smith is teaching us to make gnocchi, and he ribs me endlessly as I volunteer to roll a bright-yellow dough into a log and chop it into the bite-sized potato pillows that will become my lunch’s main course. Also served is an exquisite demitasse cup of sunchoke and cauliflower soup topped with a tasty latte-like foam and a plate of rich gamey squab drizzled in wild mushroom sauce.
The next morning, Dayn personally makes sure I get my coffee and a melt-in-my-mouth blueberry scone. I walk the property one last time, lingering along the fence when it’s time to go, wishing, as I’m sure so many other guests have, that I had more days to let the Smiths spoil me.
More Gourmet Getaways
in the Virginia Wine Country
The Inn at Willow Grove
in Orange, VA
The Salamander Resort and Spa
in Middleburg, VA
The Inn at Little Washington
in Washington, VA
Mentioned in this post: