On my last trip to the Hampton Roads area with my family, I was dealt a sorrowful blow. One of the favorite fixtures of my youth is The Pottery Wine and Cheese Shop in the The Village Shops at Kingsmill on Pocahontas Trail in Williamsburg. I should say that’s the name by which I came to know it when my mother and I first discovered it in the mid-’80s, though it has more recently been known as The Wine & Cheese Shop at Kingsmill. What it has lately been called is of little import however as, quite sadly, after over 30 years in business it has closed.
The place holds a great many pleasant memories for me. I grew up in York County, and my family and I (my mother and I, mostly) spent a lot of time in Williamsburg. I attended Walsingham Academy during Kindergarten and 1st Grade, and so we made the weekday trip up the Colonial Parkway from Dandy to that Catholic private school on Jamestown Rd. Even on weekends we spent a lot of time around CW. The whole region was and is awash with history and my parents were fond of the colonial atmosphere of Williamsburg. I, too, became so and at a very early age.
We actually moved to Williamsburg (the Kingspoint neighborhood) in the late spring of 1986, but our stay there was destined to be a short one, as my parents decided to divorce the morning after we moved in. All of the stress and anxiety which that sort of thing puts on a 14-year-old aside, it was nice living in town for the summer while we waited for the house to sell. (After the summer, mom and I ended up in Village Green in the Oyster Point area of Newport News).
After we got settled, mom and I resumed our weekend trips up to Williamsburg and around that time discovered The Pottery Wine & Cheese Shop when we were walking around The Village Shops, mom in search of sewing supplies of some sort. It was a lovely place, a small gourmet market and deli that made wonderful fresh baked bread and sandwiches with the most amazing sweet mustard sauce. Mom and I ordered the Turkey Trot (french bread, turkey, swiss, sauce) that day and, since then, I’ve surely eaten over a hundred of them. I have an aunt Jane on my father’s side who is a gourmet, and on our visits to her cottage on Fishing Bay in Deltaville she instilled in me a love of cuisine rather richer and more exotic than that which piques the typical young boy’s palette. Because of this, the cheeses, meats, imported crackers and pastries, and all manner of such things that lined the market’s shelves appealed to me greatly. (There was much wine, as well, but that was something that would wait some years to enter my sphere.) I remember young teenage me thinking that it would certainly be a measure of adult professional success to be able to regularly shop at this market. I hoped I’d get there one day!
Lunch at the Wine & Cheese shop became a weekend ritual for my mother and I, compounded by the proximity of Next Generation Computers of Williamsburg, just around the corner. Being a computer geek since age 10, we purchased an original Macintosh, an Apple IIe, and an Apple IIgs from the place, and so I would have fun fiddling around in there for half an hour, chatting the ears off of poor salesman Dennis Long, while mom perused the yarn and fabrics a few shops down. And after that: the Turkey Trots. That was the drill, basically every weekend for a couple of years, and we loved it.
Back then we were always warmly greeted by the kind manager, Cindy Marin, who knew us from her time previously working at The Gourmet Cellar in Denbigh, a gourmet deli that we enjoyed until it closed in the mid/late ’80s. (I may need to spend a few words here on the Cellar at some point.)
I have many pleasant memories of going there, as I grew older, with various friends and family or just by myself. On virtually every trip down to the area since I moved away in ’97 I’ve made it a point to stop in. I’m pleased to have visited many times now with my wife and daughter, both of whom loved it as well. Departure times for the drive down from Alexandria always targeted lunch at the shop.
And, so it was on our latest trip to the area. My wife, daughter Rory, and I made it in time for a 1 o’clock lunch, parked, and headed in — or tried. That’s when I was met by a locked door and the sight of a dark vacant emptiness through the window. Everything was just gone.
The Pottery Wine and Cheese Shop was so named because it was a second location, opened in 1983 by its parent store that was situated within the famous Williamsburg Pottery Factory in Lightfoot. At some point along the way, in the early/mid ’00s, the shop lost its perhaps confusing “Pottery” moniker and became The Wine & Cheese Shop at Kingsmill. Apparently, a third location was later opened in downtown Hampton, but I only recently discovered this in bemoaning the passing of the place on Facebook, etc.
Four years ago, the shop underwent changes when it was purchased by Amanda and Marc Aguilar. The seating area was enlarged and relocated, the market side of things was altered significantly in scope, and the name was changed yet again, this time to Uncorked at Kingsmill. My family and I preferred the earlier, rather more quaint, long-running arrangement of the shop to the new.
Unfortunately for lovers of the shop (and despite the promise…), Amanda Aguilar indicated that she wanted to pursue a career path that required less of her time, in order to spend more time with her family and enroll in law school. And so, that which I best remember as The Pottery Wine and Cheese Shop closed its doors in March of this year.
Living away from the area in which one grew up makes one destined to feel a sting of sadness upon every return, seeing things change, watching familiar places fade out of the realm of the familiar. This is especially true with a place as beautiful as Williamsburg, Virginia. Reaching out and finding that door locked hit me like a physical force. Standing there, the three of us felt shocked and deeply saddened. Myself most of all, in truth. And, we aren’t alone in lamenting the passing of the place. I did a web search to learn what had happened and found only a single, sterile account of things, so I wanted to mark the shop’s closing with some history and by sharing my own fond memories of a place I loved.
The Pottery Wine and Cheese Shop was located at 1915 Pocahontas Trail, Suite D-6, Williamsburg, VA 23185.