David Darugh has dedicated over 35 years to the pursuit of the culture of food and wine. David grew up in has parents fine dining restaurant in Sonoma, California. Later he traveled the world as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Energy, but also used these travels to sample and learn about foods and wines. Wherever he went he collected recipes and information their heritage and foodways. It was always more than just the food.
In 2001 they applied and his wife Gayle applied their love of all things food and wine and became owners and innkeepers of the historic Beechwood Inn, Clayton, Georgia. Beechwood Inn was selected by Arrington Publishing Company’s Inn Traveler Magazine as the #1“Best Inn in North America for Wine Connoisseurs – 2003”, “Best inn in a Wine Region – 2004,” and “Best Inn for a Weekend Get Away – 2006.” The Inn is known for wine weekend packages, wine tastings and gourmet wine dinners. The Inn is also a member of SELECT REGISTRY.
The Inn features Northeast Georgia's only Wine Spectator Award of Excellence restaurant. The restaurant offers Saturday Chef’s Table dinners using the best of local, organic and sustainable products from Georgia farms, vineyards and orchards. The Inn offers daily wine-thirty with tastings of local wines from nearby vineyards and the Inn boasts an extensive cellar of wines from around the world.
For five years the Darugh’s taught Wine Appreciation for the University of Tennessee Adult Education Program at introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. For the Hospitality Management curriculum they taught food and wine pairings and planned the menus for monthly wine dinners for the UT Faculty Club. They have also instructed sommelier and food service classes for wait staff at regional and nationally established restaurants.
Eager to taste food and wine at their sources, the Darugh’s have organized wine and culinary tours for many organizations highlighting wineries, restaurants, farms and cultural sites associated with local heritage and history. These tours explored foodways and wine culture in the United States (California, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia and Texas) and France. David and Gayle have especially enjoyed traveling and teaching seminars on Burgundy wines through-out the United States.
In 1988, the Darugh’s were honored to be knighted in Dijon, France as Chevaliers, Ordre Ducal de la Croix De Bourgogne, an ancient order of Burgundian Knights of Wine and Chivalry, based on their acquired knowledge of the gastronomy, chivalry, wines and history of Burgundy. In 1990 they were elevated to the Grand Council: Gayle became the first woman elevated to the Order’s Grand Council and David was named Grand Seneschal.
David and Gayle have applied their enthusiasm for wine and food to non-profit community events. As Board Members they served as fine wine consultants for the annual Big-Brothers Big-Sisters Tennessee Wine Festival. While working in Dallas, TX, Gayle served six years as Wine Consultant for Dallas Symposium, where she conceived and implemented wine and food events for this annual international symposium on architecture and decorative arts. In Rabun County Georgia Beechwood Inn is an active participant in many of the charity events benefiting local organizations. In 2011 they donated and served 50 pounds of house smoked salmon to Rhapsody in Rabun benefitting the Stekoa Creek Greenway & Park, they made and served 15 gallons of butternut squash soup at Chattooga Belle farm benefitting “Upstate Forever,” and they made and served 50 pounds of local pork tenderloins with wild cherry sauce for the Clayton Crawl, benefiting the merchants association. They are also active in the support of local community gardens.
Both have been active members of the American Wine Society for over 20 years. Gayle is past National President, David served as General Counsel 1996 - 2005. With a membership in excess of 6,000, the AWS is the largest independent wine appreciation and education organization in the world. Gayle is also a past Board Member of the Tennessee Valley Wine Growers Association. They are currently affiliate members of the Georgia Wine Growers association. Beechwood Inn is proud to offer guests four varieties of Georgia Wines under the Beechwood Inn label.