Vineyard View - A Sommelier's Story at a Historic Location
Vineyard VIEW A Sommelier’s Story at a Historic Location
By Peter Leonard-Morgan
One of Middleburg’s shining stars is the awardwinning Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, tucked away on 265 rolling acres just three miles northwest of Middleburg. The inn is at the top of a steep, curved drive off the appropriately named Snake Hill Road, which itself winds its way from Foxcroft Road to the village of St. Louis.
The property has some fascinating history. Jamie “The Scot” Leith provided supplies to General George Washington’s Continental Army during the Revolutionary War from what was then the 640-acre farm close to where Goodstone now sits.
Later on, Leith descendants fought in the Civil War with the south’s John Singleton Mosby and General J.E.B. Stuart, local legendary figures from a bygone age and a turbulent, momentous period in American history.
During the early 1900s, the land was acquired by the Goodwin family. They built a substantial house and equestrian facilities, naming the property Goodstone. Sadly, fire razed that original house to the ground in about 1939. However, the front façade remains to this day as the photogenic entryway to the outdoor heated pool, and a true selfie spot.
The Warburg banking family eventually purchased Goodstone in 1943 and set about constructing what we see today as the main manor house. That house has been fastidiously expanded upon over the years in its guise as a destination inn and restaurant, with rooms and cottages dotted around the property.
Goodstone’s sommelier, Stephen Elhafdi, is a native of Morocco whose French influences brought him to mainland France at the tender age of 14. Following school, or lycée, Stephen made the decision to learn all about the science of wine and enroll in an oenology program in historic Nantes, which is, appropriately, in the heart of the Pays de la Loire wine region.
He graduated after three years in 1985 with that essential understanding of wine and wine-making which would ultimately guide him to a career as a sommelier. Then Stephen made the bold move to the United States where he had extended family.
He began his restaurant working life at La Colline, which was then a wellknown and beloved French restaurant on Capitol Hill. The chef there, Robert Greault, took him under his wing. Colline, aptly, is French for “Hill.”
La Colline was followed by a continuing apprenticeship next to the acclaimed Marc Fusilier at Chez Marc in Manassas, a Master Cuisinier of France, and Commander of the Cordons Bleus of France. There, Elhafdi honed his craft as sommelier over the ensuing 14 years.
After Chez Marc, it was back to Washington for Elhafdi, who spent the next 13 years with renowned Chef Bob Kinkead at his eponymous Kinkead’s American Brasserie. Esquire Magazine named it as one of America’s 25 best new restaurants when it opened in 1993.
In 2013, Elhafdi accepted the role of Wine Director and Sommelier at Goodstone and has nevr looked back. During his first six years there, he’s developed the wine program from a solid base to a point now where he oversees some 6,000 bottles, and 650 varietals.
Two years ago, Goodstone opened its newly expanded Conservatory, a wonderful dining room with windows all round and overhead. There, guests enjoy truly exquisite dishes prepared by the talented culinary team, matched perfectly with wines suggested by Elhafdi.
For larger groups, there is the “Wine Cellar,” a completely private room to the side of the Conservatory. A visit to Goodstone is always a treat and Stephen’s deep knowledge of wine ensures perfect pairings.
Goodstone Inn & Restaurant is located at 36205 Snake Hill Road in Middleburg. For more information call 540-687-3333.