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About the Innkeepers - David and Gayle Darugh
About the Innkeepers
A Life of Food and Wine by Gerard Voos:
“It was so exciting at that time,” said Gayle Darugh, “because so many people were making it and selling it from their garage or whatever, and they were just passionate about it, and wanting to see what would happen if they came from all these different backgrounds to do this thing with the earth.” Such was the winemaking industry in California during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
Gayle and husband David own and operate the Beechwood Inn, a bed and breakfast, in Clayton, Georgia. Both were raised among the vineyards of California; Gayle in the Napa Valley and David in Sonoma County. David’s family owned and operated a restaurant, where he, “learned mostly about food, cooking in the restaurant,” he said, but he also picked up quite a bit of knowledge on wines at the same time. For Gayle, her early education in wines was more osmotic, but still effective. “At first,” she said, “what I always liked about it was the tie to the soil. How involved they were with the earth, the production of the grapes.”
Later on during college, David became interested in fine wines working part-time at a winery. He went on to write his senior thesis at San Jose State University comparing the operation of a small winery versus a large winery. David also worked as a clown during college, performing in parades and at Christmas parties for companies such as IBM and other Silicon Valley high-tech firms. He met Gayle while performing in a parade, jumping into the car she was riding in as Miss Fire Prevention. Wine was such a part of their lives that their first dates were at local wineries. In the tasting rooms, they could inexpensively indulge their tastes for good wine and food.
After graduation, David went to law school, and then entered the Air Force. After five years, he went to work as a lawyer with the Department of Energy (DOE) and Gayle joined the U.S. Park Service as an anthropologist. Their travels with the DOE took them to Oak Ridge, Tennessee where they built a house with a wine cellar. They taught wine appreciation classes at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and hosted wine dinners at the UT Faculty Club. It was while in Tennessee and working in Appalachian communities that Gayle developed an appreciation and talent for the region’s music and instruments, especially the dulcimer.Read more...
From Oak Ridge until recently they lived in Augusta, Georgia. David worked at the Savannah River Site as Lead Counsel and Gayle was a community income manager with the American Cancer Society. To expand their culinary repertoire, they have studied in Dijon, France; Sonoma, California; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was during a separate trip to Dijon that they were knighted into the Ducal Order of the Cross of Burgundy. The Ducal Order is, “based on the Order of the Golden Fleece back in the years of chivalry and knights,” said David. “They are chivalrous orders that are interested in the food, wine, gastronomy, customs and chivalry of France.” The knighting took place at the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in a very elegant ceremony, during which, period instruments were played and participants wore tuxedos and gowns, and displayed their crosses.
During 1999, Gayle served as national president of the American Wine Society. David continues to serve as the Society’s general counsel. Describing her experience working with wine enthusiasts, Gayle said, “We’ve worked with people from all across the U.S. at all levels; from the vineyard owners, the amateur winemakers, the professional winemakers. It’s just fascinating what people bring to it, the great variety of people involved in it.” David added, “As a lawyer, you see the bad sides of people, and lawyers aren’t much fun to work with, they’re aggressive people. But the people in the wine industry, and the combination business like B&Bs, I would say that the quality of people is just wonderful. The people love other people and love showing off their wines. It’s just a fun, entertaining thing to be engaged in.” They continue to teach about wine, “trying to do a monthly wine tasting either here on our premises or, because of the size of the crowds we are getting, we’ll use some of the restaurants around here when they’re closed on Sundays,” David said. He continued, “We’re also doing wine dinners with some of the restaurants where we put together…a matching dinner with wines.” David and Gayle proudly proclaim the increasing quality of Georgia-produced wines, including their own label. Comparing Georgia wines to others from around the country, David said, “They’re on their way. They are on a trajectory to equal the best wine growing regions in the country. They just need a few more years of study to match the best grapes to the best soils and microclimates. Right now they do equal many of the good wines in the country.”
Asked what advice they would give to a person just learning about wines, David said, “Just don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the wines and enjoy drinking wines for the companionship and interest of meeting new people.” He continued, “Second, try wines with foods, because wine in France is not just a beverage…wine is a part of the meal. That’s when it becomes a little bit more serious—matching foods to wines.”
Why we Bought the Beechwood Inn
Once upon a time, when Gayle McClain was 6 years old her first grade teacher asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Gayle answered that she wanted to be a gracious and gentle hostess in a wonderful and beautiful cottage surrounded by lush gardens filled with wildflowers, herbs and gentle birds. There would be views of mountains, valleys, forests and waterfalls. Her guests would sleep on fine scented linens and be surrounded by rare art and handsome antiques. The dining would be exquisite. Fine meals would be served on beautiful china in a garden-room filled with flowers and gentle breezes. Her guests would all be charming and filled with wonder, manners and grace. She also wished for world peace.
About 12 months later when little David Darugh was 6 years old, his first grade teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. Little David said he wanted to be a champion racquetball player, an accomplished white water kayaker and balding. He also wanted a Yellow Labrador that could catch Frisbees and a job that gave him 6 months of vacation each year. During the 6-month long vacation he would travel the world in search of fine wines and wonderful cuisine’s that he could bring back to share with his family and friends. He said he wanted the best wine, gastronomy, hospitality, and culture from exotic places, and that all of this would be tax deductible. Little David also wished for world peace.
It now appears that both Gayle and David’s wishes for their grown-up future have been granted – with the exception of the world peace thing. You are invited to the Beechwood Inn . . . a luxury bed and breakfast in the North Georgia Mountains.
Owners’ Wine Philosophy: Great wine is the singular passion for Beechwood Inn owners Gayle and David Darugh. The goal of the Beechwood Inn’s Wine Program is to offer the most exciting wine experience to each guest, whether they are beginners or dedicated wine connoisseurs in search of the perfect wine. Our philosophy focuses on the hedonism of wine as opposed to its snobbery or point value; if you like it and it compliments the food – then appreciate and enjoy it. We pride ourselves on guiding guests through the Inn’s large wine inventory, including an extensive wine library, to select a bottle that is perfect for their meal.
However, the Inn’s forte is its Prix Fixe dining menu featuring 5 course gourmet meals with a different wine selected and matched to each course. And if the wines we select do not find perfect harmony with the cuisine and atmosphere, we will happily replace them with more satisfying selections. For guests interested in an introduction to wine appreciation – or just an opportunity to sample some of Georgia’s Premier Vinifera selections, we can guide them through an unpretentious tasting using the Inn’s own Georgia made wines. Together we have made award winning amateur and commercial wines for over 30 years, so we can offer commentary that will entertain even the most knowledgeable wine connoisseur.
The Beechwood Inn’s impressive wine list reveals a serious interest in promoting Georgia’s premium French varietal wines and it also delves into wines from around the world that offer serious and interesting complements to the Restaurant’s Southern Appalachian and Nouveau Cuisines. The 3,000 bottle Wine Cellar also reveals our passion for several specific wine-producing regions and reflects our world travels. We are always seeking unique varieties and esoteric wines that offer a standard of deviation or two from some of California’s sometimes lackluster mainstays. Want to try something unique and different – then just challenge us to select a wine that will surprise and delight you.
Food and wine enthusiasts will want to take advantage of the Inn’s wine weekend packages and culinary events, when the most celebrated winemakers, chefs and bon vivants from around the world collaborate to expand guests’ oenological and epicurean horizons. Participants in a Beechwood Inn culinary event will observe the Inn’s Chefs prepare signature dishes and then share the recipes and secrets that come from years of experience. With each course throughout the event, guests will be treated to rare wine selections from our guest winemaker’s private cellars. Best of all, guests will return home to impress friends and family by preparing some of the same dishes they experienced in Beechwood Inn’s culinary wonderland!