Escape the city to exquisite dining at Virginia Wine Country's Ashby Inn, an hour from Washington

Travel out to Virginia Wine Country, starting about 45 minutes outside of Washington, DC, and you'll begin to discover exquisite dining as well. As with wine, the best restaurants are those that take full advantage of the terrain, and the string of towns and villages -- Middleburg, Upperville, Paris -- that dot scenic U.S. Route 50 through Loudoun and Fauquier Counties serve up compelling terroir indeed.

We stopped at the Ashby Inn in Paris, an unincorporated village straight out of Americans' stereotypical vision of a small English town (or, the Hobbit). The setting is positively idyllic, the type of place at which you stop for lunch between wineries, and then realize hours later that you've sat in the garden until your next destination has closed. Situated about an hour outside of Washington, the Ashby Inn is an absolute no-brainer for city escapees, romantic weekenders, and winery wanderers alike.

A path leads you to a covered terrace as you wander up through the garden from the parking lot. Ours was a beautiful day, so we took brunch outside, sitting under the vines that are meticulously maintained in the ceiling above the terrace. We recommend angling for a table near the steps so that you can stare out into the garden and the unobstructed view of the hills beyond. A bright light soaked dining room, rustic tavern, or cozy library will likewise welcome you when the weather turns.

The Bloody Mary Bar will tempt you away from the wine you came seeking in this part of the world. They are a solid choice, one that Meghan went to several times while I stuck with wine. The generous cheese plate (ask for recommendations if you struggle choosing) and our apple crepes kept us happy. Stuart, the Sommelier, has crafted an excellent wine list from a combination of the best of Virginia and a wide net cast to winemaking regions around the globe. He is spectacularly knowledgable, able to guide you to whichever pairing you crave, and is clearly very happy to educate novices and banter with aficionados.

Eventually you'll be on your way, perhaps to Delaplane Cellars or RDV Vineyards just minutes down the road... or you'll realize that I spoke the truth when I told you how easy it is to get lost in your thoughts and the beautiful country just sitting in the garden with your wineglass.