Escape to Hertford’s Wild Blue Acres

Wild Blue Acres

Rental retreat on NC’s Albemarle Sound, the creative brainchild of Press 626’s Lindsay Bennett, is an idyllic haven for getaways, weddings and blueberry bliss

Perched at the cusp of the brackish waters of the Albemarle Sound and the bucolic farmland and forest of Hertford, North Carolina, is Wild Blue Acres, a mini resort with a down-home vibe and uptown amenities.  

Nestled between a broad blue expanse of water and three fertile acres of robust blueberry bushes, this 20-acre property—a former soybean farm with only one close neighbor—is a little bit country and a little bit (soft) rock-n-roll; John Mayer’s song, “Wild Blue,” inspired the name.  

The farm’s 1,500 feet of shoreline, 500 feet of it newly bulkheaded, broad expanse of lawn, 4-bedroom Main House, 2-bedroom Guest House, outdoor entertaining spaces and charming orchards combine to create an idyllic haven at the end of a gracefully curving tree-lined road.  

Designed with weddings, reunions and other intimate gatherings in mind, the thoughtfully and stylishly conceived spaces have stayed booked since inception garnering exclusively 5-star reviews. 

The brainchild of Lindsay Bennett, a certified Sommelier, CMS, and proprietor of Norfolk’s Press 626 wine bar and restaurant for 16 years, and her husband, Ed, president of Rapid Response Drug Testing, Wild Blue Acres is the fulfillment of a dream—or maybe a warning: when the couple married 18 years ago, Lindsay said to Ed, “Just so you know, we’re going to get a farm.”

Their search on the Eastern Shore and in the Crozet-Charlottesville area turned up properties that were either too big, too historic, or in need of too much work. “We’re not the Rockefellers,” jokes Lindsay.  The couple recalls putting the idea on the back burner “and then COVID happened.” 

But one Sunday in 2021, sipping coffee and reading the paper, they spotted an ad. All it took was one visit to the property—just 20 minutes from Elizabeth City, an hour from Norfolk-Virginia Beach, and 1.5 hours from the Outer Banks (or 40 minutes by boat)—where they looked at each other and just knew.  

According to the Bennetts, Vivian Jones, a single, retired pharmacist, built out the property herself: first the Guest House some 18 years ago where she lived until the Main House was built in 2011, leaving very little for the Bennetts to do before welcoming guests. 

A little paint, a little lighting, a replaced vanity, and Lindsay’s flexed design muscles made good bones look—and function—even better.

The first floor of the Main House features an open concept layout with an upmarket gourmet kitchen, dining room, seating area and waterfront porch for more dining and gathering, all with spectacular views of the Sound. Also on this level is the main suite with a king size bed and ensuite bathroom with double vanities and a large full-length mirror.  

Up the elevator or stairwell, clad in wood harvested from the property, are two queen bedrooms with a shared bath and a charming sleeping porch onto which two twin beds are tucked.  

A high-ceilinged great room offers a pool table, board games, and a smart TV, while an upper balcony provides guests with easy access to more breathtaking water views.

The barn-style Guest House, complete with a silo-style turret, is 50 yards away—close, but not too close—and accessible by foot or golf cart. On the ground floor, a game room is outfitted with a pinball machine, air hockey and foosball tables, and a smart TV for some lively competition.  Attached is a full bath with walk-in spa shower.  

Upstairs, a large kitchen with double ovens and a gas stove provides easy access through sliding glass doors to an expansive attached deck overlooking the bonfire pit nestled within the rural tranquility.  Two queen bedrooms offer views of the blueberry field, orchard and pastures where deer are likely to be grazing or gracefully bounding over the fence.  

The focal point of a charming vintage-style bathroom is a clawfoot soaking tub offering optimal orchard gazing.  In the silo, up a flight of European stairs, Lindsay tucked a mid-century writing desk.

Her appealing approach to furnishings and décor can perhaps best be described as comfy contemporary meets vibrant vintage and grandma chic with inviting textures and unexpected touches at every turn.  

Virtually all rooms are anchored with wood floors and patterned rugs—with neutral tile on bathroom floors and stone on bath and kitchen counters—and soothing tones of blue: navy, ultramarine, sky, or robin’s egg; even the ping-pong table is blue.  White trim throughout injects a note of crispness into the coziness.  

Stained or painted wood predominates on cabinetry, vanities, and mirror frames that bounce the ample sunlight. Metals like a copper tiled ceiling over the massive island in the Main House kitchen and a stainless farmhouse sink, fans, bedside lamps, and select decorative objects provide subtle shimmer.  

Verdant plants and artwork—many pieces by Reba Arts—enliven corners and walls between the extensive windows which are dressed with organic shades and drapes for privacy. Motifs in both houses lean into the flora and fauna of Lindsay’s 4-H Club roots and the current coastal environs.

Perfectly acceptable activities include basking in the near-constant breezes on expansive decking, connecting around the firepit, or watching a searing sun rise above or dip below the horizon, staining brilliant orange 180 degrees of sky. But for those with a little more ambition, kayaks, bikes, paddle and cornhole boards, blueberry picking, and more are part of the package.   

Says Lindsay of her new role of farm-meets-resort Airbnb Superhost, “There’s nothing better than giving people the experience of a lifetime,” whether that’s a few buckets of blueberries or wedded bliss.

And don’t be surprised to see fresh-picked blueberries or blueberry jam from the farm on the menu at Press 626. An upcoming blueberry-themed wine dinner (see sidebar) on July 21 will pair savory and sweet menu items featuring blueberries with select wines.

Learn more at wildblueacresnc.com.


Press 626 Wine Bar & Wild Blue Acres

Blueberries & Wine Dinner | Paired with select wines.
July 21, 2024  |   Press 626, Norfolk

MENU

Scallop Crudo
Lavender Pickled Blueberries/Coconut Cream/Thai Chili Blueberry Jelly/Salt Cured Kumquat/Peashoots

Cast Iron Crabcake
Blueberry and Grilled Corn Salsa/Arugula/Radish Citrus Vinaigrette

Duck Bau
Five Spice Sous Vide Duck Breast/Blueberry Hoison Glaze/Pickled Carrots/Cucumber Red Cabbage/Cilantro

Palate Cleanser
Blueberry Ginger Sorbet

Australian Lamb Chop
Balsamic Blueberry Glaze/Lemon Couscous Edamame/Charred Lemon

Blueberry Yuzu Cheesecake
Blueberry Compote/Biscoff Crust
Fresh Mint

Learn more at press626.com.

Photos by Leona Baker, David Uhrin or courtesy of Wild Blue Acres or Press 626.

BD
Betsy DiJulio

Betsy DiJulio is a full-time art teacher, artist and curator with side hustles as a freelance writer, including for Coastal Virginia Magazine, and a vegan recipe developer, food stylist and photographer. Learn more on her website thebloomingplatter.com.

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