Food

Weekend Escapes: a Gorgeous Virginia Wine Country Inn Debuts with Star Chef Talent

Blue Rock opens in Washington, VA with a Pineapple & Pearls chef, pond-side fire pits, and wine tasting.

Blue Rock opens in Washington, Virginia. Photography by Jennifer Chase

There’s a new spot to put on your fall (or anytime) getaway list: Blue Rock, a freshly refurbished Virginia wine country inn that opens Friday, October 22 in scenic Rappahannock County. The 80-acre property, about 1.5 hours from DC, debuts with five guest rooms and an adjoining five bedroom farmhouse with a roomy porch and hot tub that’s available for rent. There’s plenty for day-tripping food lovers, too: a casual wine and spirits tasting room, and a full-service New American restaurant helmed by former Pineapple & Pearls head chef Bin Lu.

Blue Rock and its 80 acres underwent a revamp under new ownership. Photograph by Jennifer Chase

Blue Rock has operated on-and-off as an inn for some 40 years and is under new ownership of entrepreneur Nick Dowling. He recently also launched Vintage Yacht Charters, which operates two luxury motor yachts on the Potomac River. For his country venture, Dowling is also channeling a refined, nostalgic American feel in Washington, Virginia.

The tasting room where patrons can sip wines and sample from an a la carte menu. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.
Visitors can take their drinks to enjoy the fire pits, and there are s’mores too. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.

Visitors at the tasting room can sip local Virginia wines, old world classics, and global vintages from emerging regions like the Texas high plains or Bolivian mountains. There’s also a sizable spirit list, selection of cocktails (alcoholic and non), and beers to match with a la carte plates.

The bar room burger. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.

Heartier options include warm crab dip, a Thanksgiving sandwich “au jus,” and double stack burger alongside indulgences like caviar service or Champagne sorbet.

Dishes from the four course prix-fixe menu, which will change seasonally. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.

Lu spent nearly five years at two-Michelin star Pineapple & Pearls as well as other fine dining stints at CityZen and Bourbon Steak. The Blue Rock Restaurant, which has 50 seats and an adjoining terrace, is where he’s flexing his culinary muscles. Though not as fancy as the nearby Inn at Little Washington, diners can still book a four-course tasting menu. The $99 per person prix-fixe is designed for vegetarians and omnivores alike, and can be matched with wines for $59 per person—or splurge add-ons like cheeses, caviar service, or fresh bread with chili butter. Reservations are required via Tock

Views from Blue Rock’s dining room, which overlook the pond. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.
The outdoor dining terrace. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.

Beyond plush robes and spa-level bath accessories when you book a room, there’s also the complimentary in-room breakfast. Rates start at $399 per night and may vary by day of the week and season.

The room offers five fully refurbished rooms. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.
Rates include perks like complimentary breakfast in the room. Photograph by Jennifer Chase.

For grand opening weekend, Blue Rock is hosting an open house celebration on Saturday, October 23 from noon to 6 PM with live music, cider doughnuts from the Apple House, complimentary cider and sparkling wine, s’mores kits, lawn games, and more. Interested guests may RSVP through Facebook here.

Blue Rock. 12567 Lee Highway, Washington, Va. 

The 80-acre property contains a pond and working horse stables. Photograph by Jennifer Chase
Common areas include the fire-lit library. Photograph by Jennifer Chase

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.