Our property has a rich and interesting history. Originally the property was part of the “Virginia Reservation” which was a four million acre tract of land reserved by the State of Virginia prior to the Revolutionary War to award soldiers for fighting for the colony of Virginia. After the revolution, a large tract of land which included our winery property was awarded to a Virginia military officer from tidewater, who subsequently gave various parcels in the original tract to his children. The original deed to the winery property dates back to 1804.
According to experts in Ohio architectural history, the original Settler’s House on the property was build around 1830. We are currently checking the historical records to determine if this is accurate, and are planning to restore it.
We continue to add grape varieties. We have nearly ten acres of vines in the ground now and will be adding more vines in order to expand our selection of wines. In April, 2013 we installed a “test plot” of eight (8) new grape varieties consisting of eighty vines. It is always a challenge to find the best variety of grape to grow in given soils and micro-climates, but we feel our chances of finding the best variety for our property are improved with testing and regular experimentation. We shall be looking at the test plot in to make future planting decisions.
Caesar Creek, which runs through the property south of the vineyard, was named for an African slave named Caesar, who (depending on the source) either escaped from servitude on his own or was taken captive by the Shawnee Indians during a raid in the 1700’s. In either case, Caesar was adopted into the tribe and remained with them for the rest of his life in the Caesar Creek area. It was a turbulent time for the Shawnee, who were engaged in a war against the white settlers. Caesar participated in many battles of this war, under the famous Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket.
A popular history states that Blue Jacket was the Shawnee name for Marmaduke Van Swearingen, a white settler who was born in Fayette, Pennsylvania and spent his childhood on the Ohio frontier. Van Swearingen came to love the Shawnee ways and joined the tribe, eventually rising to the office of war chief. Other historians point out that Blue Jacket came to prominence during Lord Dunmore’s War of 1774, when Von Swearingen was 11, if the birth date in his family bible is correct. Blue Jacket was not described as a white man until a descendant of Van Swearingen’s claimed that the Pennsylvania settler and the Shawnee war chief were one and the same, in a letter to a newspaper 67 years after Blue Jacket’s death.
Whatever the truth, the Van Swearingen version of the story was presented each summer in “Blue Jacket”, an outdoor drama housed in an enormous open-air theater near Xenia, Ohio. It was a thrilling show, which we greatly enjoyed, and hope returns to the Caesar Creek area soon.
The original deed to our vineyard property dates from the early 1800’s. Shortly thereafter, the original settlers built a house on the property, which stands to this day. It is constructed of bricks that originate from local clay, and is amazingly solid, with exterior walls thicker than 1.5 feet to keep out the winter cold. It stands on the highest point of the property, overlooking Caesar Creek and the area where we have since planted our vines.
We are currently working to trace the history of the house—who lived there, what modifications they made to the original building, and when. Eventually we would like to incorporate the house into our vineyard as a tasting room and small historical museum.
Lake Fifi is our affectionate name for our new pond situated in the vineyard. We have dammed a confluence of three subsidiary streams that feed into Caesar Creek, and the area has filled to form a 1½-acre lake, surrounded on three sides with vines and enjoying a commanding view to the southwest. A perfect place for a summer picnic!
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