Rebirth at The Inn at Vineyards Crossing

By Posted on Jan 23 2014 | By

Hume bed & breakfast brings 227 years of history back to life 

In 1787, James Madison wrote the Virginia Plan, a document that outlined what would ultimately become the basis for the U. S. Constitution. It was also the year that Barbee’s Tavern—located at Barbee’s Crossroads but today known as the village of Hume— opened its doors to weary and thirsty travelers.

The tavern, with its wide pine flooring, American chestnut interior logs and three stone fireplaces, is once again providing shelter and relaxation for the weary. But overworked excursionists are guests rather than farmers and tradesmen.

And libations of hard cider, whiskey and rum have been replaced with Virginia wine, a beverage largely unavailable to the colonials.

IMG_8539The Inn at Vineyards Crossing is a diamond centered on a necklace of local wineries. It opened just five months ago but guest reviews can be characterized as “raves”.

The world’s largest travel advisory website, Trip Advisor, already has posted twelve guest comments, all of them bestowing an “excellent” rating on the establishment. No small achievement in the demanding world of hospitality.

Typical comments from the website include, “Absolutely outstanding”; “Wonderful weekend with great food; “Best B&B I’ve been to”, and “Excellent on all fronts.” It’s impressive how social media can catapult a new establishment to success with minimal advertising. Resultant bookings have been good with occupancy rates building faster than anticipated.

The inn was also recently accepted into the Bed & Breakfast Association of Virginia. The Association’s quantifying criteria involves an onsite property inspection before an establishment can be listed on its website.

The forces behind the newest Fauquier County bed & breakfast are Philip Carter Strother and Steve Mills. Strother is a Richmond attorney and owner of Philip Carter Winery. Mills is an executive with a Washingto DC firm and co-owner of the B&B and an investor in the winery.

The day-to-day operation of the inn is in the capable hands of General Manager, Joshua Haugh, who is also the chef. Haugh has twenty-five years experience in the hospitality and culinary field and has seen duty at resorts in Hawaii, Canada, DC, New Jersey and Virginia.  When asked why he accepted the position he says, “It looked like a great opportunity.” Indeed, for him and his guests.

Wine centric concept
Virginia is home to over 260 wineries, twenty-six in Fauquier County alone. The idea to open an inn centered on showcasing local wineries made for a sound business plan. Vineyards Crossing has partnered with five locals wineries, creating the necklace of establishments with the inn at its center.IMG_8516

The wineries are Rappahannock Cellars, Desert Rose, Philip Carter, Barrel Oak and Naked Mountain. It is anticipated additional wineries will be added in the future.

When guests arrive at the inn, they are greeted by Haugh and given a unique check-in experience. Luggage is conveyed to the guests’ room and then a wine tasting is conducted in the reception area. The inn has a license to pour and sell wines and features its five partner wineries on a rotating schedule.

Lodgers can pre-book a VIP tour at nearby Phillip Carter Winery. The tour is an educational and pleasure filled excursion of the winery’s vineyard, where the challenges and rewards of growing wine grapes in Virginia are discussed, followed by an in-depth presentation in the cellar on winemaking and bottling.

Guests then adjourn to a private tasting room to sample the full lineup of Philip Carter wines. The tour concludes with a picnic basket containing locally sourced meats and cheeses to be enjoyed in the winery or on its grounds in seasonable weather.

IMG_8529The inn has five rooms for lodgers: The Commonwealth Suite, The Virginia Viognier room, The Grand Cru room, Barbee’s Crossroads room and The Cobbler Hunt Loft. The Commonwealth Suite offers a cozy bedroom with fireplace and separate sitting room. It also comes with a unique attraction; sleep here and your dreams will unfold in an original room of the National Historic Trust tavern.

All rooms have king size beds and private baths. Rates range from $189 a night to $269 for the historic Commonwealth Suite. There is no two night minimum stay except on Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine Day.

Typically, a B&B provides only breakfast, often simply continental in style. Not so at Vineyards Crossing. Not only is a full fare breakfast served but the rare treat of dining in the evening at an historic venue is available when prearranged.

There are two dining options. Guests can join their fellow travelers for dinner in the inn’s main dining room. Up to ten diners can be accommodated for a three course repast prepared with local fare and wines.

“When guests make reservations, I ask them to let me know if they would like to join us for dinner. I prepare all of the dinners using locally available produce and meats. A typical selection might be pork chops from Dark Hollow Farm in Markham with apple stuffing,” says Haugh. The dinners run $40 per person.

Joshua Haugh

Joshua Haugh

For the more romantic souls, a four-course private wine dinner for two can be arranged and served in a smaller dining room. The couple creates the menu along with Haugh and are assured the ingredients will be “farm to table” fresh. “It’s a intimate wine dinner and a special experience that guests can take advantage of, if so desired,” says Haugh. The cost ranges from $70 to $90 per person.

In seasonable weather, visitors can enjoy drinks or simply relax on a quiet patio located off the dining room or take a dip in the pool located behind the inn.

In addition to the VIP winery tour, Marriott Ranch offers trail rides with lunch and a bottle of wine for equestrian fans. And wine tastings at the numerous local wineries provide freestyle afternoon outings reinforcing the name of the inn.

Philip Carter Winery Vineyards

Philip Carter Winery Vineyards

A unique tour is being offered the weekend of February 29 – March 2 that has not heretofore been available in Virginia. “We are hosting a ‘Wine Camp’ for registered guests limited to five couples,” says Haugh.

The camp will involve visits and presentations at the five partner wineries. Guests will arrive Friday and after check-in there will be a reception and an hour discussion on Virginia wine history led by a winery owner. The next morning after breakfast, the tour continues at Philip Carter Winery for a vineyard discussion on trellising, grape growing, and grape varietals that thrive in Virginia, followed by lunch.

Next, the group will visit Rappahannock Cellars and meet with the winemaker and “learn how wine is made and participate in a wine blending exercise to understand first hand how the final product is created,” explains Haugh.

Later, a visit to Desert Rose Winery will offer an opportunity to meet with the owner and talk about owning a boutique winery and its operation. The day ends back at the inn with a five course wine dinner.

Following Sunday morning breakfast, the group will visit Barrel Oak and Naked Mountain wineries for more wine related seminars. The camp provides a weekend graduate course in culinary and wine related subjects coupled with the opportunity to meet and talk with winery owners and winemakers. “It’s an experience you really can’t find elsewhere.” says Haugh.

The “Wine Camp” cost $1,200 per couple and includes all lodging, tours, meals and, of course, wine, says a smiling Haugh.

The Inn at Vineyards Crossing anticipates expanding its excursion offerings in the future. Additional information on rooms, dining and tour packages are available by visiting http://www.vineyardscrossing.com/.
 Published in the January 22, 2014 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES