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Escape for a Romantic Food and Wine Getaway in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

by Kelly Magyarics

Jun 2, 2019

Kelly Magyarics

Destinations / North America

If you and your significant other share a love of culinary pleasures, this region in Virginia a few hours from Washington, D.C., will more than pique your palate. Fulfill your cravings with a few days in the countryside.

Stay:

You can’t ask for better hosts and a more bucolic setting than The Inn at Vaucluse Spring in Stephens City. Derrick and Tiffany Niide relocated from Hawai’i in 2015 when they fell in love with this property — and you will, too. The Manor House, built in 1785 by young Revolutionary War Captain Strother Jones, was restored in 1997; today it holds six accommodations, two dining rooms and two sitting rooms, one with a fireplace. Outside, the large porch has a row of rocking chairs and views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Book the Jones Room, which features a queen-sized, four-poster bed, two-person Jacuzzi-tub shower combination and remote-controlled gas fireplaces in the bedroom and bathroom. For more privacy, select the Mill House Studio, a two-story cottage on the property’s spring, or the tobacco barn-turned-upscale-rustic Cabin by the Pond. Each morning starts with a three-course breakfast cooked by Derrick (cross your fingers his fluffy rolled omelet topped with crispy prosciutto is on the menu during your stay); end the day with a glass of wine on the patio or in front of the fire. From time to time, Tiffany offers morning mindfulness classes and programs that speak to the calm and relaxing escape you’ll feel after just a short sojourn here.

Sitting Room at Inn at Vaucluse Spring.

Sitting Room at Inn at Vaucluse Spring. Photo: Kelly Magyarics

Savor:

You’ll be crushing on the small plates and pours at Crush Wine Bar in Winchester, whose intimate, cozy vibe

Burger at The Butcher Station.

Burger at The Butcher Station. Photo: Kelly Magyarics

parallels general manager Tom Donegan’s casual and accessible approach to wine. The menu and wine list is presented on an iPad, and it’ll be so difficult to tear yourself away from perusing the more than 110 wines categorized by grapes, region and style. Start with a ready-made flight of themes like French Whites, Pinot Noir or Wines Around the World, or build your own (any wine on the menu can be used to create a flight of four one-ounce glasses), followed by a glass of your new fave. Dishes are designed to partner with the pours. Over-order, because they are all fabulous: Addictive shishito peppers are blistered with olive oil, tapas-style shrimp are sauteed with garlic and smoked paprika and Pacific Northwest Salmon is candied and served with crispy skin.

For a casual lunch (and some day drinking), head to Sexi Mexi Burrito Bar in downtown Winchester. Combos like Cristina’s Crazy Cuban (with pulled pork, black beans, jalapeños, pickled onions, avocado, cheese and chipotle aioli) and Masala Mama Beef (Indian Masala ground beef, rice, cabbage, poblano sauce, cheese and corn salsa) can be served either wrapped in a tortilla or gluten-free in a bowl, with a side of chips and salsa. The Sexi-Sour shakes tequila with grenadine, egg white, agave bitters and lemon, and an entire menu of lower ABV cocktails like a Spanish 75 and Mexican Mule are perfect when it’s five o’clock somewhere — just not where you happen to be.

Slater Run Glass

Slater Run Glass. Photo: Kelly Magyarics

Sometimes you just need to sink your teeth into a burger. That’s where The Butcher Station comes in. Chef Sandy Gallagher uses locally grown beef, pork and chickens butchered in-house, meaning the meat is as fresh as it comes. The Bacon Swiss Burger is killer, as is the side of tangy pickled cucumber salad on the side. If you come during dinner be sure to try some of the local oysters in various preparations: on the half shell, stuffed and baked or fried.

Sip:

Slater Run Vineyards is about to open a gorgeous new facility with an expansive tasting room and patio. But if it’s not yet ready, the tasting room a few miles up the road is also quite cute. Either space works to taste the winery’s really well-made wines, thanks to French winemaker Katell Griaud who manages to deftly balance Old World restraint with the expressiveness found in Virginia’s lush terroir. Taste the Pét-Nat, Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux blends Roots and First Bridge, then buy a bottle (or a case.)

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