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Back at Blackberry Farm

with super-somm (food and wine director) Andy Chabot

Somehow, my commitment to post more often went astray...cancer has a way of doing that. But after several surgeries, I'm good as new! Or perhaps more accurately, as good as anyone who's not so new could hope to be! We had made plans for a three-day weekend at Blackberry Farm, including Little Big Town's Christmas concert. Given a major surgery in early December and a follow-up surgery a week later, it wasn't clear if healing and circumstances would allow us to attend. Even a few days prior, there was still suspense. The "docs" told me to listen to my body in making the decision. As you can see from the photo, my body said "You can go!" So we did. And to give us even more to celebrate, on the way we got the word that my post-surgery biopsies were clear. I can't think of a better place to celebrate great news than Blackberry Farm!

Friday night, we hosted friends who live in the area for dinner at Blackberry Farm's The Barn--a wonderful combination of fine dining in a rustic setting. It was a lovely evening. Great food, great wine and great friends. And all truly were great. After champagne to celebrate the reunion, we chose a 2010 Chateau de Beaucastel and delicious with the scallops. There were a variety of main courses--and the 2006 Peay Scallop Shelf Pinot Noir went well with all of them.

Saturday, we relaxed and enjoyed a quiet day as it was raining outside. Blackberry Farm, decorated for Christmas, is lovely. For dinner we returned to The Barn. We were pleased to have ten or fifteen minutes to chat with Andy Chabot. Andy, who oversees food and wine at both Blackberry Farm and its new nearby sister resort, Blackberry Mountain, is one of America's most respected sommeliers. He's also a good friend and former boss of our friend Neal Wavra--owner of Field & Main, our favorite local restaurant. In our glasses in the photo with Andy, you see chablis from Dauvissat and the La Forest vineyard. Always a great way to start a meal. And we returned to Peay Scallop Shelf--this time 2008. Another really enjoyable dinner. As we were relaxing at the table, I looked at the table across from us. The couple there looked familiar--as indeed they should have. It was Jenna Bush Hager and her husband, Henry. We exchanged smiles, but managed to resist the temptation to disturb them.

Sunday brought a delicious brunch and an enjoyable day of relaxing and exploring the farm. Dinner was a collegial affair as those who would attend the concert dined together. Ours was a table of 12 in The Barn, where we enjoyed a six-course dinner with wine pairings. Then we strolled across the circle to Bramble Hall--Blackberry Farm's intimate concert hall. There were perhaps 150 of us in all, including family and friends of Little Big Town and of Blackberry Farm's owners. We were fortunate to be seated in front, where we had a chance to chat with Jenna Bush Hager. She was as warm, friendly and down to earth as she seems on the Today Show. The concert was wonderful--it had the polish of a grand tour but the intimacy and personal nature of a small Christmas party. Little Big Town even brought their children up on stage to sing a Christmas song. All too soon, it was over and we were on our way home. But we were able to relive the memories a few days later as Jenna did a major feature on Little Big Town and Blackberry Farm on the Today Show.

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