Courtesy of explorecharleston.com
THE MANSION ON THE RIVER
It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River. He was talking about Charleston, South Carolina, and he was a native son, peacock proud of a town so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure just to walk down its spellbinding, narrow streets. Charleston was my father's ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life. His bloodstream lit up my own with a passion for the city that I've never lost nor ever will. I'm Charleston-born, and bred. The city's two rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper, have flooded and shaped all the days of my life on this storied peninsula.
I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged shell of some soft-tissued mollusk. My soul is peninsula-shaped and sun-hardened and river-swollen. The high tides of the city flood my consciousness each day, subject to the whims and harmonies of full moons rising out of the Atlantic. I grow calm when I see the ranks of palmetto trees pulling guard duty on the banks of Colonial Lake or hear the bells of St. Michael's calling cadence in the cicada-filled trees along Meeting Street.
Deep in my bones, I knew early that I was one of those incorrigible creatures known as Charlestonians. It comes to me as a surprising form of knowledge that my time in the city is more vocation than gift; it is my destiny, not my choice. I consider it a high privilege to be a native of one of the loveliest American cities, not a high-kicking, glossy, or lipsticked city, not a city with bells on its fingers or brightly painted toenails, but a ruffled, low-slung city, understated and tolerant of nothing mismade or ostentatious. Though Charleston feels a seersuckered, tuxedoed view of itself, it approves of restraint far more than vainglory.
As a boy, in my own backyard I could catch a basket of blue crabs, a string of flounder, a dozen redfish, or a net full of white shrimp. All this I could do in a city enchanting enough to charm cobras out of baskets, one so corniced and filigreed and elaborate that it leaves strangers awed and natives self-satisfied. In its shadows you can find metalwork as delicate as lace and spiral staircases as elaborate as yachts. In the secrecy of its gardens you can discover jasmine and camellias and hundreds of other plants that look embroidered and stolen from the Garden of Eden for the sheer love of richness and the joy of stealing from the gods. In its kitchens, the stoves are lit up in happiness as the lamb is marinating in red wine sauce, vinaigrette is prepared for the salad, crab meat is anointed with sherry, custards are baked in the oven, and buttermilk biscuits cool on the counter.
Pat Conroy, South of Broad - Prologue
The Classic SLR Roadster
United States Coast Guard Tall Ship Eagle passing the Sullivan's Island Lighthouse
ike all good things Charleston, Spring comes a little early in the Lowcountry and the Summer goes too fast. Life springs eternal. Welcome to the premier issue of the digital magazine of the Portal to Charleston, View. With this new digital issue of View it will now be in it's thirty third year.
You just never know who is pulling into town these days. It has always been like that here, though. Mark Twain visited the city on the yacht, Kanawha, with his best friend and financial savior; H.H. Rogers. George Gershwin played his new song, “Rhapsody in Blue,” on the second floor of a home on the High Battery on a breezy summer evening in the 1930’s. He was living on Folly Beach in a weathered beach shack. With his brother, Ira, he was working on his new opera “Porgy.” The Folly Beach cottage was furnished simply and had a piano. The brothers had just composed and written Summertime with Folly Beach as the backdrop. Movie stars, artists and great writers live, hide out and enjoy living in and visiting Charleston.
View magazine first launched in Charleston in 1985 with a small home office at 27 State Street, in the French Quarter. It soon moved to the City Marina next to the Rice Mill building until Hurricane Hugo arrived and swept it all away in 1989. What you will see here is the digital rebirth of View, with the same Editor in Chief / Publisher and the same great content, style, new and old writers and photographers. The sea town still has her charm and grace as she moves further into the 21st Century. As Pat Conroy wrote when he was still with us, "I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged shell of some soft-tissued mollusk. My soul is peninsula-shaped and sun-hardened and river-swollen." Pat gave us all an anchor in the meaning of time and how quickly it moves past us now that he is gone. We all experience an attitude adjustment on a constant basis and are lucky to spend time in the historic seaport. The first digital issue of View will arrive in the early summer. Enjoy!
George Gershwin sketched his cottage at Folly Beach in watercolor. Gershwin passed away young at 38. He loved Charleston and visited from Manhattan often.
Also within this Portal to Charleston as well as View, is Charleston Traveler. It launched 22 years ago in 1996. It was a web site as well as a printed guide, published by Wilson Hill Publishing. Charleston Traveler enjoyed 98,000 unique visitors a day until 2004 when John Wilson and Pierre Manigault created Garden & Gun magazine that launched in 2007. G&G just happened to be conceived and engineered at Dubose Heyward's home at 190 Tradd Street where Heyward lived as a child. In the Summer View, Vic Brandt will write a portrait of Alfred Hutty who happened to live up the block on Tradd Street in his carriage house studio home.
Charleston Traveler Prologue from 1996
Perhaps no other city in Colonial and antebellum America has enjoyed as much celebrity as Charleston, South Carolina. Named after King Charles of England and inhabited by the most sophisticated people of that era, Charleston was not only the "Holy City," but also the port of opportunity for every stripe of society from Europe and the Caribbean: swashbucklers and entrepreneurs; planters and potentates; slaves and agricultural engineers from West Africa. It was a city steeped in history and romance. Charleston has now been rediscovered, and has a vibrant new international reputation as a destination of choice. The energy and vitality of the old city is virtually palpable. The arts, food, culture, gentility and variety of Charleston are unsurpassed in America. And then of course the last lines of Margaret Mitchell’s classic book, Gone with the Wind, available at the Mockingbird Bookstore. mockingbirdbookstore.com
Scarlett: Rhett! Rhett, where are you going?
Rhett : I’m going back to Charleston, back where I belong.
Scarlett: Please, please take me with you!
Rhett: No, I’m through with everything here. I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn’t something left in life of charm and grace.
The Gershwin brothers with DuBose Heyward, (center) the Charleston author of Porgy, a close friend and collaborator of the Gershwins.
Anna Heyward TaylorGibbes Museum Collection
And to use one of Mark Twain’s great quotes, “Apparently, there is nothing that cannot happen today.” You might want to just sit down and have Charleston’s favorite drink, just one more.
E B White
You're going to need one
Richard Jenrette collected houses and then restored them to the Preservation Standard. When he was in residence in Charleston he was at his 1838 William Roper House on the high Battery.
Please go to our Home &Garden section to view a photography selection and text by the Charleston Architect Jenny Bevan. What Jenrette accomplished was an astounding portfolio of beautiful homes now all with museum quality restorations for all time. We also have Richard Hampton Jenrette's book, Columns By The Sea, for sale in the Mockingbird Bookstore on the restoration and life at the Roper House in Charleston.
April 5, 1929 – April 22, 2018
In 1838 when William Roper built the house there was nothing around it. He wanted it to be the first thing you saw when entering Charleston Harbor.
Charleston is the talk of the town in Houston, Chicago, Manhattan, Washington and Atlanta. It is not the Beaux Arts or the architecture. It is the digital culture and young style of 21st Century America with the American Renaissance as the backdrop that is causing a stir. Well, perhaps one of America's most dynamic companies building an airplane final assembly plant in Charleston might have just a little bit of an effect on that conversation. And now Volvo also enters the mix.
When the engineering marvel and pride of American ingenuity, Boeing, built their new 787 Dreamliner Final Assembly factory in North Charleston; they partnered with South Carolina Electric and Gas to draw part of their power from the sun. There are a lot of lessons to be learned by watching their lead position of forward thinking. America continues to be the most inventive country in the world.
The Charleston rollout for the first 787-10
At 10:27 am Pacific Time (18:27 GMT), on the 15th December 2009 the first “Boeing 787 Dreamliner” eased effortlessly in the skies into Everett, Washington, powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. It marked the debut of the quietest, cleanest, and most efficient airframe and engine partnership flying today. The 787 is the future of aviation. In 2016, Boeing celebrated it’s Centennial birthday – 100 years of aerospace innovation! On February 14, 2017 the first Boeing 787 - 10 rolled out of the plant in North Charleston.
787-10 and the 737 Max Fly Together at the 2017
Paris Air Show
“Now I would say that people want to ride in airplanes more and more each day -- and I shall go so far as to say they will someday regard airplane travel to be as commonplace and incidental as train travel. We are trustees of a veritable revolution that is taking place once more in the economic, social, and political fabric with the advent of this new speed medium.”
-William E. Boeing, 1929
On March 3, 1919, William Boeing (right) and pilot Eddie Hubbard performed the first U.S. international airmail flight in this Boeing Model C, a modified World War I trainer they flew from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle. The famous plane is located in the wonderful Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.
William Edward Boeing founded one of the great dynasties of commercial aviation -- transforming the Pacific Northwest into a major aeronautical center. When he arrived in Seattle in the first decade of the new century, however, he was armed with little more than the optimism of his generation and the idea that “it was time to do something.” That optimism and vision to do something – to build something better – lives on with Boeing and the 787 today.
The key to the exceptional performance of the 787 is a suite of new technologies being developed by Boeing. As much as 50 percent of the primary structure – including the fuselage and wing – is made of composite materials. General Electric and Rolls-Royce are making the engines. The new airplane is more than 20 percent more efficient than the airplane it replaces. Airlines and the flying public wanted a more efficient airplane and Boeing stepped up to meet the challenge.
The 787 program has signed on 45 of the world’s most capable top-tier supplier partners and together finalized the airplane’s configuration in September 2005. The suppliers are connected virtually at 137 sites around the world. Basically Boeing bet the ranch on this aircraft. It incorporated all of the history of American ingenuity rolled into one airplane. It is the first time that Boeing outsourced components and materials to craft their new commercial aircraft. Forty five logos are building the 787. Four modified Boeing 747's fly around the world twenty four hours a day seven days a week picking up parts for the aircraft to then be assembled in North Charleston. The finest large and small manufacturing companies in the world craft the airplane. Technically it is beyond wizardry. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd is responsible for the design and manufacture of the 787 wing box which is a composite material that spans 190 feet and reduces the weight by 20 percent. Smaller companies like PPG Aerospace based in Huntsville, Alabama are making the windows. With all of the Newtonian mechanics and theories of Albert Einstein at play, Charleston moves into the future. It would certainly not be surprising to see some of the 45 logos ponder the possibilities of making some of those parts here in South Carolina.
Delivering the component parts to the North Charleston Boeing plant the converted 747 Dreamlifter delivery system for the 787 is but one of the many modern engineering plans of crafting the aircraft.
The moment passengers step into the 787 Dreamliner, they feel welcomed aboard by the spacious surroundings. The interior designers for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner understand fully that first impressions can be everlasting. Therefore, they’ve designed a larger, more open entryway with sweeping arches that immediately direct the eye upward. The romance of flying has returned with the 787. Every detail of comfort – the roomy cabin interior, larger windows, has been addressed. The air pressure is the equivalent of 6,000 feet - 2,000 feet lower than in other airplanes. This improves oxygen absorption into the blood, reducing in-flight headaches and fatigue. And passengers enjoy better air humidity, so they arrive feeling refreshed.
The 787-10 has impressive aircraft statistics:
197 ft. wingspan
Mach .85 cruising speed - 647.03 mph
6,430 nm (11,910 km) range.
Charleston to Cairo 6,198 miles
Two of either the General Electric GEnx-1B or Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines
will be used, producing 76,000 lbs. of thrust per engine.
Life has a way of throwing things at you Be prepared
Through the Years
LAND ROVER TESTED AND PERFECTED
843 852 4000 Charleston, SC
David Brinkley at Home in Wyoming
The Mockingbird Gallery
THE ART of PHOTOGRAPHY
William Watson McCullough
Bill McCullough was born on a farm close to Kingstree, South Carolina. The farm is a Kings Grant. Though he often paints all over the southeast, and the South of France where he currently resides, you can usually find him in the countryside close to the farm. “One can learn about a lot of things simply by painting - how and why they work. No other endeavor allows one to go out and spend ten to twelve hours looking at a clump of trees, or that spread of sky. It is pure visual information.” The McCulloughs lived in Charleston on Rutledge Avenue for many years. Kingstree is only an hour away from Charleston and he often paints around the city. He has two daughters and a son. One who lives in Charleston, another on the West Coast and another in France. In the Fall/winter of 2017 -18 McCullough is working in his studio in the beautiful 2000 year old town of Uzes, France not far from the border of Spain.
Cannon Street Charleston oil on canvas
“Thus while the so-called post-modernist heirs continue to pursue novelty, realists such as William McCullough would prefer to remind us of the extraordinary beauty of the light on the side of a house. In a time when the survival of this lovely little blue planet has come into question, this is not an insignificant thing”, writes Bradford R. Collins, PhD, Professor of Art History at the University of South Carolina. McCullough has never wavered from his “older, realistic traditions”, never.
Neither has he given up his connection to his Southern Heritage. A reverence for sense of place has allowed this painter to depict the light and natural essence of a locale whether McCullough paints a tryptic of the city center for The Greenville County Art Museum’s “25 Years of Greenville”, or depicts the interior of a cracker cottage as in his work, “Napoleon in The New World” for The Ogden Collection of Southern Art in New Orleans. Although his trade has taken him to other locales, collectors and academics recognize his ability to divine and depict the true heart and essence of his subject.
Water Tower oil on canvas
Studio Interior oil on canvas
Porch Light oil on canvas
Contact Currie McCullough at
843 853 2004
n the Spring and summer of 2018 Bill McCullough is living and painting in Provence in the South of France, in Uzes. Uzes is close to Pougnadoresse where he has a house/studio. His roof trouble has driven him to the small village close to his studio/home. Years ago few people visited Uzes but now it is a mecca of tourism. The open air market on Saturday is full with visitors from all over the world. It is a wonderful place and famous for it's light. McCullough's friend the great artist Ben Long had a house close to Uzes and Ben raised his children there. McCullough is producing some of his strongest work in Uzes and we will present some of that current work below. His daughter Currie McCullough in Charleston is representing him and he also has a gallery in Pawley's Island, South Carolina , the Cheryl Newby Gallery that is carrying the new work. To review more of the new paintings go to southernpainter.net
EDWARD BRICKELL WHITE
CIVIL ENGINEER, ARCHITECT AND SURVEYOR
1806 - 1882
By FRANK O’NEILL
with Neil Stevenson
As it is, 19th Century Charleston is to a startling degree the city of E.B. White. The Huguenot Church, St. Philip’s Steeple, The Second Baptist Church, Grace Church, St. Johannes Lutheran Church, the Market Hall, the Gothic parts of the old Citadel, the old Charleston High School on Society Street, the most striking elements of the College of Charleston, The South Carolina Electric & Gas building and the Petigru Law office, the Customs House and the sturdy embankment along East Battery and White Point Gardens are all his.
It is a vast achievement
Between Chalmers Street and Marion Square the gravity of Charleston’s architecture thickens. The Barbadian housefronts lacquered and waiting south of Broad Street, frail as wasps’ nests north of Calhoun (but always children of the sun and breeze) change in this middle ground to an urban mixture. Still open, yet heavier, more insistent. Three things change: the buildings are often mid-Nineteenth century instead of late Eighteenth, they are often public, and their architect is often Edward Brickell White.
This Central District is the germ of a very different Charleston, one that would have grown over much of the Charleston that is, just as Nineteenth century Boston supplanted the baytown of cod merchants and chandlers, and Nineteenth century New York supplanted to the old market and port of up river Dutch patroons. But in Charleston, decline, war, an earthquake and great fire arrested it at the moment of its quickening. It is easy to forget from a Lowcountry perspective that 18th Century Boston and New York were towns of charm, and that late 19th-century Charleston brought then to full development could have been a city of a immense distinction.
As it is 19th-century Charleston is to a startling degree the city of E. B. White. The Huguenot Church, St. Philip’s steeple, the Second Baptist (now Centennial Methodist) Church, St. Johannes Lutheran Church, Grace Church, the Market Hall, the Gothic parts of the old Citadel, the (old) Charleston High School on Society Street, the most striking elements of The College of Charleston the South Carolina Electric and Gas building at 141 Meeting Street, the Petigru Law office on St. Michael’s Alley, and the sturdy embankment along East Battery and White Point Gardens still stand to his name, as do various small monuments and the major post - 1865 repair of St. Michael’s Church; the United States arsenal and all but a gate of the Ann Street railroad yard have gone. The United States Customs House rising majestically above East Bay Street, enormously impressive even in the form to which it was reduced after the War Between the States, was nominally by a Boston architect, but White devoted eight of his best years to it as Superintending Architect and the building is significantly his.
This is a vast achievement. In tons of material, in ground covered, in institutions served, in sheer costs it dwarfs those of Gabriel Manigault and Robert Mills, Charleston’s more well-known architectural leaders. True to its mid-19th century formative energies it is overwhelmingly reserved to government, business, and large institutions. (White designed some houses and small charming country churches but they are of lesser importance.) Some of it is pedestrian, some of it is very nearly glorious, all of it is extremely competent, structurally impeccable, aesthetically harmonious at least. Nearly all of it is in daily use eight generations apart from its creator.
Charleston in 1855
E.B. White's Huguenot Church - Church and Queen Street
E.B. White was, to be sure, the originator of the Gothic revival in the Deep South though he never troubled to study it in Europe, and it is unclear how far his heart was in it or his sensibility at one with it: Grace Episcopal Church on Wentworth Street relates to the High Gothic as a groundhog to a swallow.
This inceptive transformation of Charleston was carried out by a man not merely a native son, but thoroughly connected with the Lowcountry’s patrician class. Edward Brickell White was the offspring of cultivated planters; that is, in Charleston, a class by no means bucolic, but one which used its landholdings for cornerstones for careers largely spent in the professions, business and the arts. E. B. White always direct, demonstrated this at the outset by being born in 1806 at Chapel Hill plantation near Charleston, the seat of his namesake uncle, Dr. James Brickell, a physician. His father, John Blake White, was one of those polymaths whose impassioned indecision made pockets of the American wilderness almost as cultivated as Bath: he flourished as a painter, author, sculptor, lawyer, playwright, planter, and political flaneur. His mother was an Alston by birth; her family included a more than competent painter, Washington Alston, and had a long literate tradition (the excellent surviving library of the Edmonston-Alston House on East Battery is a rump reminder of this.)
E.B.White was an intellectual child of the period bridging the classical and romantic impulses. It was also a long era when architecture was counted among the polite sciences closely allied to literature: Jefferson had not long before built Monticello. Horace Walpole has initiated the Gothic revival with “The Castle of Otranto” and then built Strawberry Hill to prove it, the medieval building boom within Walter Scott was breaking ground (Edgar Allan Poe’s architectural suggestions, with their manifold domestic inconveniences and structural failings were by contrast mainly studied in France, giving rise to the Paris apartment.)
Young Edward, however, took the sternly conventional path of West Point, then as now one of America’s premier educations. By guiding him into military engineering, the Academy served him extremely well, perhaps focusing the multiple talents as parents bequeathed. White had the experience of war at the beginning and end of his adult life, in the Black Hawk expedition 1832 and as a recruiter and leader of troops on James Island and later in North Carolina during the Civil War. Yet there is no doubt his military interest lay in construction. By the time he left the U.S. Army at
the age of thirty he had worked on or designed Forts Pulaski and Adams, a major bridge (the Potomac at Georgetown,) and a trans-mountain railroad of several hundred miles. The military, this time Confederate and much later, also provides one surviving physical vignette of White (described by an acquaintance as “a pompous, remarkably short officer in large boots on a very large horse.”) a vision the hilarity of which should not obscure the courage of a sixty year old civilian gentleman leading troops through musket fire at its center. At all events by the time he set up private practice as a relatively young man, White was a formidable engineer, and as Beatrice St. Julien Ravenel notes, entered architecture “obliquely.”breaking ground (Edgar Allan Poe’s architectural suggestions, with their manifold domestic inconveniences and structural failings were by contrast mainly studied in France, giving rise to the Paris apartment.)
Young Edward, however, took the sternly conventional path of West Point, then as now one of America’s premier educations. By guiding him into military engineering, the Academy served him extremely well, perhaps focusing the multiple talents as parents bequeathed. White had the experience of war at the beginning and end of his adult life, in the Black Hawk expedition 1832 and as a recruiter and leader of troops on James Island and later in North Carolina during the Civil War. Yet there is no doubt his military interest lay in construction. By the time he left the U.S. Army at the age of thirty he had worked on or designed Forts Pulaski and Adams, a major bridge (the Potomac at Georgetown,) and a trans-mountain railroad of several hundred miles. The military, this time Confederate and much later, also provides one surviving physical vignette of White (described by an acquaintance as “a pompous, remarkably short officer in large boots on a very large horse.”) a vision the hilarity of which should not obscure the courage of a sixty year old civilian gentleman leading troops through musket fire at its center. At all events by the time he set up private practice as a relatively young man, White was a formidable engineer, and as Beatrice St. Julien Ravenel notes, entered architecture “obliquely.”
The Petigru Law Office Charleston William W. McCullough
The City Market
LAURA WITTE WARING
The E.B. White designed building at the front of the City Market on Meeting Street across from the Planters Inn.
An excerpt from the book, The Way It Was In Charleston, SC.
Laura Witte was born in Charleston in 1877
The city market used to be an exciting place to visit. One whole section of the market was occupied by the vegetable women. They sat behind their stalls, and would hold up bunches of carrots, or soup bunches, yelling to the passer-by, “Here you is Mauser,” “I got um Missus.” They quarreled among themselves, if a customer they considered as their own rightful property would go to another stall for something better and fresher. Usually men did the marketing for the families, carrying a servant along with a basket.
At the meat section of the market, the butchers would throw waste to the buzzards which would be on Market Street throughout the marketing hours, and they would sidle up to snatch at whatever was thrown out. A fine of ten dollars was levied for anybody running over a buzzard. They were very disgusting, but important scavengers.
The fish market held a variety of fine fish, which formerly were so plentiful in these waters; there was a poultry section also. It was customary to do your own marketing, and the older generation knew the cuts of meat, and what food was the best.
Laura Witte grew up with her five sisters in the house that is now Ashley Hall school. She painted a picture of Charleston from 1882 to 1895 in her book The Way It Was In Charleston, SC. The Witte house was a vibrant and animated household and the sisters enjoyed exotic pets. The black bear was named Frederick and the alligator in the fountain was named Wishy Washy.
Anna Heyward Taylor Gibbes Museum Collection
CHARLESTON MUSIC HALL
37 John Street
In the Historic District
At the end of the growing season this next summer ex Charlestonian John Sutcliffe will have a few people over for dinner in McElmo Canyon. Usually over a hundred will attend. This past year he was celebrating 29 years of his vineyard’s wonderful life. And they said you could not make fantastic wine in Colorado.
107 people are seated at one long, beautiful table that runs the length of the orchard. But this exquisite candle-lit moment was two days in the making. One of our hogs is split and dressed, the massa has been molded into tamales around young lamb, trays of charcuterie lie dense and seasoned, the succulent, white flesh of freshly-picked peaches is being pressed into chutney, black plums are pared open to be grilled on the sizzling pork. Summer squash for the soup, red onions sliced thin and pickled, new potatoes scrubbed not peeled. A table of preserved lemons, figs, candied nuts, shimmering olive oil, plump olives, pickled cucumbers and ripe chevre, might have graced Caesar’s Table. Young Cinsault drawn from the barrel, brilliant and garnet in a plump carboy.
by John Sutcliffe
Photography Heather Greene
Charleston Architect Reggie Gibson worked with Sutcliffe on the buildings at the vineyard.
The flat bed of an old Dodge vibrant with flowers. A fence line hung with grapes, delicately colored gourds and mile long vines. And still a day away. Monday, the day we have worked towards. A pale sky, a hint of Autumn, brushed lightly with Cirrus that frames the Sleeping Ute Mountain. Horses, lots of them, hanging on the fence-line to watch our indefinable exertions. The tables have arrived, sparkling linen, chairs, all as white as fresh drawn milk. The chefs glide confidently around, a hog spits on the grill, long baguettes appear in tall brown bags.
It’s later. “ Two hours”, I hear myself yell. But it is all moving relentlessly, elegantly forward. The endless table is replete with delicate bunches of flowers, votive candles, snakes of vines, colorful, sculpted squash. The fleshy pop of corks as the red wines are pulled, Field Blend... the grapes the year gave us, Syrah loaded with chocolate and as dark as night, Cinsault garnet, brilliant, young and bright. Chardonnay lying somnolent in its’ bed of ice.
“Need to change.” All is ready, the bower on the Portales hung with dark ripe grapes, peaches, pears, apples and lemons bobbing for a second day in a barrel of Rose’ Sangria. The staff appear, pristine like Novice Nuns, starched and crisp, hair restrained in soft romantic waves. The chefs immaculate like TV surgeons, handsome and confident.
“Welcome, it’s lovely to have you here.” I hear myself saying. People clap, some have attended every dinner we have given. Some are quiet in the still beauty of it all. “Welcome to Sutcliffe Vineyards and Brix Restaurant’s Harvest Dinner”.
Suddenly it feels so effortless, so polished. And it is because of the thought, imagination and creativity that it has required. The chefs David and Stephen, Paul the owner of Brix, Joe Buckel the wine maker, Jesus Castillo who grows everything we need and Nor who gently ensures those talented disparate forces work as one. It is always worth it, absolutely always worth it. Let the show begin.
12174 Rd G Cortez, CO 81321
John Sutcliffe is an iconic ex Charlestonian Englishman who founded Sutcliffe Vineyards in McElmo Canyon, twenty miles west of Cortez, Colorado. A former British Army Officer, and former restaurateur (Tavern on the Green was one of the many he ran) Sutcliffe is now producing some of the finest wine in America.
“The Oh-seven Signature,” Sutcliffe said, and then he paused. “That wine came from a single acre of grapes. We got two-and-a-half tons from that acre. We picked over the grapes before we crushed them and put them in oak. We ended up with fifty cases. It’s not an apologetic wine. It’s a grand wine. We thought it so well represented our ambitions—that’s why we called it a signature wine.”
Joshua Baer On Sutcliffe's 2007 Sutcliffe Vineyards Signature Chardonnay
In the glass, the wine looks like Chardonnay in a glass. It has a pleasing, pale gold color, and there is something special about the way that color manages to catch and hold the light, but the color does not prepare you for what you are about to drink. The bouquet, on the other hand, fires a shot across your bow. It informs you that any preconceived notions you may have about American Chardonnays are about to be blown to smithereens. On the palate, the 2007 Sutcliffe Signature Chardonnay tells you a story you cannot forget. The story travels from your mouth to your heart, and then it breaks your heart. The finish lasts until your heart is in pieces. In 1986, 1989, 1991, and 1992, Andre Ramonet (of Domaine Ramonet in Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy) made a series of Batard-Montrachets that displayed (and still display) the rare combination of generosity and restraint that characterizes the 2007 Sutcliffe Vineyards Signature Chardonnay. Andre Ramonet’s Batards are legendary. Collectors pay hundreds of dollars a bottle for them at auction. John Sutcliffe’s Chardonnay is unknown. You can buy it from John for $32 a bottle or $375 a case. John’s telephone number is (970) 565-0825. If you want to read more about John and his wines, go to sutcliffewines.com. After I tasted his 2007 Signature Chardonnay, I called John and asked him why he put the word “Signature” on the label. “The Oh-seven Signature,” he said, and then he paused. “That wine came from a single acre of grapes. We got two-and-a-half tons from that acre. We picked over the grapes before we crushed them and put them in oak. We ended up with fifty cases. It’s not an apologetic wine. It’s a grand wine. We thought it so well represented our ambitions—that’s why we called it a signature wine.” By “we,” John meant himself and Joe Buckle, the winemaker at Sutcliffe Vineyards. Here are John’s thoughts about Joe Buckle. “At first, I was making the wines. Ben Parsons came on as the winemaker in 2003. Joe Buckle came on in 2008. Ben started the 2007 Chardonnay. Joe finished it. Joe came from Flowers Winery, in Sonoma. He is the Charles Dickens of winemaking. He is completely and utterly authentic. His methods are absolutely traditional. He will not do anything that is without proper respect for the wine. He has immense respect for the grapes and immense regard for the farming. He is a first class bloke.” The time will come when it will not be easy to buy the 2007 Sutcliffe Vineyards Signature Chardonnay. When that time comes, a few us of will have cases stashed in our cellars. The world will be a different place, but the wines in our cellars will be time capsules, memories of an era when we could still imagine that being avant-garde had its merits and that our chances of survival were good. One Bottle is dedicated to the appreciation of good wines and good times, one bottle at a time.
Joshua Baer is based in Santa Fe and his site www.onebottle.com is dedicated to the appreciation of good wine and good times one bottle at a time.
A current version of the same book is published by The Evening Post Industries and sold at the Mockingbird Bookstore.
Peter Frank Edwards
In June, 2018
The Magic City Goes Live
"Every kid has a bug period, I just never grew out of mine." NPR
Anna Heyward Taylor Gibbes Museum Collection