Are you looking for a getaway place that seems far from Knoxville, but is really within about 45 minutes of here? A place to go to relax and explore nature? A place where you might could have a small overnight retreat for your executive team? Or, as we did, unwind with a few friends?
It’s Windy Hill Farm and Preserve in Loudon County. We bought a weekend for six there during an auction last year benefiting the Knoxville Museum of Art. But the farmhouse actually can sleep 10. Owned by Steve and Mary Ellen Brewington, our purchase came with a gourmet dinner cooked by Chef Simon Hall. Mary Ellen added to the experience by selecting wines from her own wine cellar to pair with the courses. We arrived Friday evening and left in time to get to Citico’s for brunch on Sunday.
It mattered not a bit to us that the weather was drab and rainy. We hunkered down with a big jigsaw puzzle (and a few bottles of wine) and passed the time between meals working on that and watching the Olympics and other sports on TV. What a sweet, unforgettable weekend we had.
Windy Hill Farm rents for $850 per night. It’s a 500-acre working farm on the banks of the Tennessee River, providing home to a herd of Black Angus cattle and lots of interesting wildlife. The Brewingtons are turning much of the former row gardens into wildlife habitat. We saw an eagle — there’s a nest nearby.
A gatehouse is under construction, which will provide a wonderful meeting spot for hunters, hikers, wildlife viewers and others who visit Windy Hill. Right now, you can access Windy Hill through its Facebook page. We at Moxley Carmichael are working on a website now for the phenomenal venue.
When we arrived, we were greeted by Windy Hill’s manager, Steven Brewington, right, who started a fire for us in the outdoor fireplace. Our guests for the weekend were Bruce (pictured) and Monique Anderson and Judith and Michael Foltz.
All we had to do was poke the fire now and then and pile on more firewood. Steven replenished our wood supply in the morning.
Alan busied himself in the kitchen opening wine.
This dramatic window is the focus of the living room.
Looking down on the living room from the stairs.
Big master bedroom.
One of the two king guest rooms. The overall atmosphere at Windy Hill Farm is one of tranquility.
This is one of the two twin guest rooms.
Back in the living room, Monique was doing first things first — finding the edges of our jigsaw puzzle!
Michael started making our dinner — his special shrimp pasta dish.
Judith worked on the sauce.
Bruce kept up the good work on the puzzle.
Yum, yum. Dinner was fantastic.
After dinner, back to the puzzle!
Before bed, Monique got a head start on the quiches that would be our Saturday brunch. She’s famous for her quiches!
In the morning, while waiting for the quiches to bake, we enjoyed the view of the Tennessee River from the back porch.
Beautiful! We added fruit and scones from The Fresh Market, which were delish!
Judith and Alan decided to take a hike. They made the following photos on their hour-long jaunt.
Beginning of the trail.
A bluff along the way.
Judith taking a break.
The end of the trail. At least that’s what they thought. Later, Mary Ellen would tell them it wasn’t really the end. A tree just fell across it! Oh, well.
Looking at the farmhouse on the return.
While they were hiking, the rest of us were working on the puzzle. I am proud to say I found all the pieces for the moon! (Hey, I like to do my part!)
Around 5:30, Chef Simon Hall and Mary Ellen arrived, and Mary Ellen set this beautiful table.
Chef Simon Hall getting started.
Mary Ellen showing me the first two beverages: Saison beer from Blackberry Farm and a California sparkling wine.
Here’s the 2012 Schramsberg sparkling wine from Schwarze Vineyard in the Carneros area of Napa. It was fabulous.
To which Judith and Monique will attest!
Here’s the Classic Saison Farmhouse Ale.
Which Alan enjoyed before dinner.
A hard-working and happy chef.
First course was a winter vegetable soup with parsnips, turnips, leeks and asparagus in a lemon broth.
Mary Ellen paired it with a 2015 Eleven Eleven sauvignon blanc from Napa. The lemon and grapefruit notes in the wine were a great match for the lemon broth in the soup.
The next course, an apple and walnut salad with fennel, blueberries, fresh thyme, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, was refreshing and interesting.
It came with my favorite wine of the night: a French Christian Moreau Pere & Fils chablis. I love chablis.
I checked in with Chef Hall in the kitchen and found him doing something very interesting with some potatoes.
You boil the potatoes until they are soft, smash them with your palms beneath a kitchen towel, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. And then crisp in an oven set to high.
Meanwhile, Mary Ellen was unveiling a surprise. This cabernet sauvignon blend was created exclusively for the Knoxville Museum of Art’s L’Amour du Vin fundraiser last year. It was the result of three California vintners who worked together to create a wine in honor of the late Sam Beall, proprietor of Blackberry Farm. We were so lucky to get to have it for dinner!
And it was fantastic with our entree: beef tenderloin, French green beans, rosemary smashed potatoes and red wine demi-glace.
Our hosts came out to raise a glass with us prior to dessert. Cheers!
And, speaking of dessert, I would like to say a word to Alan’s cardiologist. This was one of the two desserts he is allowed to have per month! Chocolate cake with semifreddo and peanuts. Alan was in heaven.
Steve Brewington says that only one thing goes with chocolate: port! After this evening, we would tend to agree!
We hated for the night to end, but at least it was on a very sweet note.
The next morning was a little hectic, as we had to pack up and get to a 10:30 brunch reservation at Citico’s at WindRiver. It’s a restaurant in a residence in a golf course community near Lenoir City. While it seems far from Knoxville, it was close to Windy Hill Farm.
First things first. That’s a bowl of delicious clam chowder next to my Bloody Mary.
Chef Robert Allen surprised us with some house-made gravlax on bagels with creme fraiche, capers, pickled red onions and arugula. It’s one of my favorite things for breakfast.
Most of us had omelets followed by sweets like these white chocolate chip cookies and apple cake with blueberry compote. Damn, it was a great brunch! And a great weekend. We recommend!
If you’d like to read about the event where we purchased this wonderful auction item — and about the special wine, click here.