Down Memory Lane for Feb. 15

Sept. 22, 1999

Years of planning and planting — Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec. Six years to the first vintage — and to the Sauvignon Blanc that took a Bronze medal at the Virginia Wine Growers Association Wine Competition.

David and Marilyn Armor of Sharp Rock Vineyards and Bed & Breakfast have, through sheer determination and hard work, developed an idyllic setting in the shadow of Old Rag. The B & B complements their young vineyard that under David’s able stewardship has already produced vintages of consequence. And the vineyard and winery, in turn, add a decidedly old country flavor to the venerable Sharp Rock Farm (established in 1795).

Sharp Rock Vineyards was the fiftieth commercial winery license in Virginia (there are fifty-three at last count), and one of 140 vineyards in the Old Dominion. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services promotes viticulture in the state, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension offers seminars and consultation on such topics as wine making, site selection for commercial vineyards, and the economics of wine production in Virginia.

The Packing Shed Gallery, the most recent gallery to join the ranks in the town of Washington, marks its grand opening with a special reception Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2 and 3, from 2 to 6 p.m.

“Opening my own gallery has been a goal of mine for many years,” June Jordan explains. “This opportunity became possible when a friend moved her movie rental shop, Cinema Paradiso, to the south end of town and the two endeavors could be incorporated.”

The partners hope that the development of the Packing Shed Corner will add more interest to the overall walking tour of the historic town.

Painting from life, Jordan considers herself a representational painter, ranging her interpretations from an abstract approach to a more detailed rendering. She creates a value range from vivid and delightful colors to define shapes and forms.

Nov. 27, 2003

Sperryville resident James D. Russell remembers sitting at the bedside of his great-grandmother, then over 100 years old. He remembers fetching her pipe and tobacco, turning down the oil lamp, and listening to her stories about the days of slavery and the Civil War. He was about 12 years old at the time.

“I would go to her house and spend the nights there,” Russell recalled. “She would prop herself up on the pillows in bed and tell stories of the plantation days. It was a nightly ritual.”

Now Russell is 82, and in the twilight of his life he has turned the tales of his great grandmother, a slave in Rappahannock County, into a book that is a culmination of a long-held dream. He may be one of the few people alive today who can say he heard about plantation life, slavery and the Civil War from someone who lived it.

Her name is Caroline Terry, and thanks to the persistence of her great grandson, her story will not be forgotten.

James Russell — native of Sperryville, World War II soldier, retired printer and postal worker — is now James Russell, author. His book is titled “Beyond the Rim: From Slavery to Redemption in Rappahannock County, Virginia,” and it may be the first published work of black history ever done in this county. It not only recounts the fascinating life of Caroline Terry — or “Sis-tah Cah-line” as she was called — but also the memories of a young black boy growing up in a segregated society during the era of the Great Depression and World War II.

Sperryville’s newest restaurant, the Thornton River Grille, serves upscale meals at moderate prices, featuring signature dishes by chef Tom Nash. It is the culmination of a long-term dream by owner Andy Thompson, who also owns the adjacent Corner Store grocery.

The Corner Store has been providing goods and services on Sperryville’s Main Street for more than 50 years. Old time residents may remember when the store sold clothing and other goods along with groceries and the store willingly made home deliveries of food, socks, shirts, and kerosene to nearby hollows back when many folks didn’t have autos.

When Thompson acquired the business in 1999 from Randolph Clater he wanted to maintain the store’s history of being a helpful member of the community. He wondered what he could do with the extra space on both sides of the store. He leased out one side of the building to the Corner Boutique.

On the other side, he visualized a restaurant, an enterprise that dovetails with a grocery store. Now, after several months of building and renovating, the Thornton River Grille is open for business.