by deborah k. dietsch | August 12, 2013 | Lifestyle
Inside the Goodstone's Carriage House is one of the country's top-rated restaurants.
Icelandic sheep are raised on the property.
No two rooms are alike at Goodstone.
Most accommodations offer sitting areas, kitchens, and porches with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Like many luxury travel destinations, the Goodstone Inn & Restaurant offers a relaxing escape from city life. From a hilltop in Middleburg, it encourages guests to savor nature’s bounty amid the rolling hills of Virginia Hunt Country. But this world-class inn strives to provide more than a place to relax and unwind: From rooms scented with fresh flowers to cuisine prepared with homegrown ingredients, Goodstone draws from its abundant gardens and working farm to connect guests to its land and provide eco-friendly hospitality at every turn.
“We spend a lot of time and energy to bring as much from the farm to the table as possible,” says owner Mark Betts. “Guests get to enjoy meals with produce that has been harvested that day, and the taste is better than anything from a store.”
At the center of the property is a working farm where Icelandic sheep and chickens are raised next to a former dairy barn. The grounds are also dotted with about a dozen ornamental gardens, including seasonal displays of flowers and shrubs surrounding each guest cottage. A native garden features blooming iris, coneflowers, and majestic weeping willow trees.
“We want our guests to enjoy the gardens and farm as much as we do,” explains vegetable gardener Meredith Kope. “Guests can sign up for farm and garden tours, or attend workshops on making flower bouquets and learning techniques for their own gardens.”
In the farmstead’s produce garden, vegetables such as microgreens and summer squash are grown without pesticides for the Inn’s restaurant. “We forage for watercress and morel mushrooms on the estate…. and grow a lot of figs for cheese plates,” says Kope, adding that the summer season sees staff harvesting more than 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes along with blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
At the restaurant in the Inn’s Carriage House, meals are prepared by Executive Chef Ian Dieter, with the seasonal produce harvested nearby. “Being a part of a sustainable culinary process has taught me to truly appreciate each ingredient that comes from our gardens,” says Dieter, who previously worked at L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls. “We also use seasonal flowers from our farm to garnish dishes and [to] put on the tables in the dining room,” he says. (Since becoming executive chef at Goodstone last year, Dieter has wowed critics near and far with his farm-to-fork finesse: In 2012, OpenTable gave the Inn its Diners’ Choice Award, naming it one of the “Best 100 Overall Restaurants in the USA,” and Wine Enthusiast Magazine pronounced it one of “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants.”)
EXPLORING THE SPACE
While the fresh ingredients and expertly prepared meals are a draw, the Inn encourages guests to meander through the property, which extends across 265 pristine acres. Its 18 rooms are housed in converted farm buildings, cottages, and a stone manor house. In nearly every direction are views of the Blue Ridge Mountains—and about five miles of hiking trails to enjoy them. Each of the six renovated guesthouses has four rooms or less, so visitors can relax in their very own vacation retreats. No two rooms are alike, and most of the accommodations offer sitting areas, kitchens, and porches.
The home was built in the ’30s by New York financier Frederick Warburg, who purchased the original estate as a country getaway. Prior to his ownership, the property was home to the Goodstone Dairy Farm, with a neoclassical stone mansion that was destroyed by fire in 1939. The only portion of the original mansion that remains is an ivy-covered façade now serving as the gateway to an outdoor swimming pool.
Luxury and convenience are a key part of the Goodstone experience. Most suites have whirlpool tubs and Keurig coffeemakers, and flatscreen TVs and Wi-Fi are standard throughout. To ensure that guests fully enjoy the natural beauty of the property, the Inn supplies mountain bikes for traversing the trails, canoes for paddling on the creek, and binoculars and guides for birding.
Summer also brings with it brides and grooms who are eager to marry in the idyllic setting. The single-suite Bull Barn cottage with its own fireplace, library, and private garden is a newlywed favorite, says Betts. He and his staff recently developed a farm-to-table wedding concept that allows brides and grooms to plan their reception menu and flowers around the Inn’s operations. “We [can] plant a wedding garden or select farm products for a wedding feast,” explains farm and maintenance manager Chris Hines. 36205 Snake Hill Road, Middleburg, VA, 540-687-3333
photography by Jumping Rocks Inc