Slave Quarters Wouldn’t Cost a Dime…

Headlights illuminate a gate.


I hop out of the car,

open the latch,

swing it forward,

and hook the rope to a pole, so it doesn’t swing back.

I jump back in the car.

I’m about to meet Sabina,

a recently widowed German lady who lives next to Dodon,

and who is willing to house me for free.

…well, maybe not entirely free.


my beanie comes off,

ears still frozen from 8 hrs of farm work…

I rustle my hat hair,

letting it settle into an acceptable sort of mess.

Roughly I rub my hands together,

to get off any really noticeable dirt.

I’m as ready as can be.

Walking up to the front door,

I notice a white paper, taped…

“Please use backdoor”


Does this apply to me?

Most likely…

I turn from the path,

and stride over the grass and through the darkness.

Ducking under a birdhouse,

and dodging a planter,

I reach the door.

My knock sounds like a snare drum…

…tch ch…

Two large dogs make clumsy noises,

scrambling up from the kitchen floor,

barking, scratching, and tumbling over one another.

The door jiggles as they crash into it.

And Sabina soon follows,

pulling at the dogs, commanding them to stay back, and bodying them out of position.

The barks calm,

and Sabina opens the door for me to step in.

Two feet in,

and I’m bombarded with big furry greetings.

Sabina introduces herself, and then leads me two steps into the kitchen,

to discuss living arrangements…

I’ll need a place to stay starting in April,

and Sabina wants someone around when her daughter is gone.

The dogs will need to be cared for,

And Sabina hints at a few other chores… The cost of living for free.

She leads me to the guest room…where I would be staying…

… a slave quarters (c. 17??)…

Fully furnished. Couches, chairs, plants. Fireplace w/ furnace. About 12’x12’.

Wood stairs lead up to the 2nd story.

Same size. Also furnished. Two beds.  Space heater. A/C.

At the back of the room,

She directs my attention to a walk in closet

used for storage.

Sometimes she’ll come through if she needs something.

Descending the stairs,

She heads back to the kitchen,

And discusses cooking…

her husband cooked,

but she never learned.

The kitchen is available… and she’d love for me to use it.

She mentions the vineyard, and its’ soil.

Corn and other crops grew terribly.

With her thumb and pointer finger Sabina shows me

a length of about 3 inches… the size of the corn ears.

I’m thinking… Awesome! This could mean something…

A well-drained soil, low on nutrients = decreased vigor in vines = better grapes.

Sabina has one more thing to show me…

Around the corner, in the dining room…


5 bottles.

Very old.

One as old as 1964,

and the youngest… a 1980

from Boordy.

Boordy? A Maryland wine?

Sabina holds the Boordy up to the light.

Still clear.

…but probably vinegar.

This may be the oldest bottle of Maryland wine in the world…

After oogling over the rarity/age of these bottles,

We bring our talk to a close.

A decision won’t be made for a while.

I say my goodbyes,

to the dogs,

then to Sabina.

Back through the gate,

I stop,

hop out of the car

unhook the rope,

and pull the gate shut.

Update: Rob Deford, president of Boordy Vineyards, was gracious enough to supply me with some information about the 1980 vintage… here’s what he said:

“The 1980 vintage is a special one in Boordy’s history, as it was the year that the winery changed hands from the Wagners – who founded the winery and ran it from 1945 -1980 – to our family, who own and operate Boordy to this day.  The 1980 harvest marked our first vintage.  We do  keep a library, and in it are several bottles from that momentous year as well as others going back to the mid-1960’s. They all confirm what was known at the time, which is that the wines from those days were designed to be enjoyed at a young age.”

Thanks Rob!


About ANewVine

Developing the art of making fine Maryland wine. View all posts by ANewVine

4 responses to “Slave Quarters Wouldn’t Cost a Dime…

  • Anticipating a fresh and free commute « A New Vine

    […] Sabina is welcoming me to stay in her slave quarters temporarily. […]

  • bellegroveatportconway

    I loved your story. I am a history nut so anything old gets my attention. We are about to open a bed and breakfast here in Virginia on a plantation that has a home built in 1791. The property deeds back to 1670 though. It was the birthplace of James Madison. What is cool about it too is that there are three outbuildings dating back to the period of the house. One Summer Kitchen, one Smoke House and one Ice House. We are building cottages to add to the space for people to stay along the road that would have led to the barn. We want to use the Summer Kitchen as a guide for making these cottages fit the plantation. But as I look more closely at the kitchen and compare it to Virginia slave cabins, I am beginning to wonder if this kitchen may have started out as a slave cabin before it became a kitchen. But I do look forward to reading more of your blog as we are surrounded by vineyards here. We are hoping in the future to take part of the acres that is currently rented to a farm and do our own vineyard.

  • ANewVine

    That sounds fantastic! What’s the name of the bed and breakfast? When is the opening date? Good luck!

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