The drive to Lenox, Massachusetts, is nothing to look at, really. In the fall you might happen upon some impressive foliage and in the summer you're likely to run into some construction. Drivers here end up watching the strip malls and counting down the minutes between exits as they approach the Berkshires.
Turn off the highway onto Blantyre Road then make a right turn through pillars that open to a small gravel road and you're suddenly transported to a different time and place. That's the beauty of Blantyre, a 19th-century mansion that retains its original Scottish charm.
The Berkshires is known to many as the home Tanglewood, where the Boston Pops play during the summer, and to endless campgrounds and hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts.
Blantyre mansion is another matter altogether. Here four-poster beds, antique lamps, flower wallpaper that matches curtains and fabrics, dressing rooms attached to bathrooms and lion-footed tubs fit for the privileged. Jay Gastby could have made this his hideaway. The rolling hills of Blantyre's landscaped estate are the perfect setting for dirty martini lunches and croquet games played by ladies in chiffon dresses and sipping wine from the cellar.
Blantyre begins each night's dinner with a glass of champagne and passed canapes among lit candles that glimmer under crystal chandeliers. On special nights - four times a year - the resort hosts an exclusive wine dinner that features one vineyard, and a table of very happy guests. The wine dinners are a unique feature to Blantyre. The resort invites vintners from around the nation (and sometimes internationally) to debut their newest bottles and sip some old favorites while dining on Chef Christopher Brooks specially created menu to accompany each wine.
Fisher Vineyards, located in Santa Rosa, California, was the vineyard of choice on the night I dined, and a perfect pick for the summer months. Fisher Vineyards was founded in 1973 by Fred and Juelle Fisher, and today is a family-run vineyard that grows and produces wines from both its Napa Valley Estate and Spring Mountain Estate. The owners join each wine dinner at Blantyre and recall stories about each wine and how they were conceived, named and bottled. Seared Maine scallops with English peas, bacon and mint accompanied a 2006 and 2007 Chardonnay from the Mountain Estate Vineyard. New England squab with mushroom ragout and foie gras sauce was paired with the 2004 Chardonnay. As the wine got heavier, the meals got more intense. Dry aged New York striploin, braised ribs and local vegetables were paired with the 2007 Coach Insignia Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2006 "Wedding Vineyard" Cabernet (named after the point on the vineyard where the Fishers were married decades ago). The meal commences with a cheese plate before guests leave the formal dining room, signaling the end of a full meal. But all is not over at Blantyre...
The guests of Blantyre slowly sauntered from the dining room into the music room, where a pianist sat playing tunes from the 1920s and champagne and port is poured into glasses flanked by desserts so decadent they'll lure you back for more. The night goes until the last guest leaves, and I admit I was not that guest.
Full from a four-course meal and six variations of Fisher Vineyards' wine, I retired to my room in the main house. I opened the door to the dimly lit guestroom, draped my formal dining attire over the chaise lounge in the dressing room and crawled into the four-posted bed. I let the pianist playing in the music room below my room lull me to sleep with sounds of slow jazz. The past lives at Blantyre.
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