Girls’ Day Out at Tunnel Creek Vineyard
Covid hair, Covid extra pounds, Covid isolation frustration; by Nov. 19, 2020, I had just had it. Of course, I took the situation seriously (still do) but by Nov. 19, I needed a girls’ day out. I had not stepped foot in my parents’ home (the house I grew up in on my great grandfather’s tobacco farm in Oxford) since before March 2020. On Nov. 19, I called my dear mother and said, “Grab your mask and hand sanitizer and let’s meet in Roxboro for a girls’ day out and get wild!” Just kidding, not wild, but definitely dressed up — really anything but pajamas — with somewhere to go.
Where could we go during a pandemic that’s not all outdoors? I did my due diligence and asked my friends Peter and Chris, the editors of this magazine, “Where can we go where it’s safe?” They gave me a list of great spots in Roxboro and mother and I began our adventure at Brookland Eats. We went at 11 a.m., when they opened, and before they got busy. I had called ahead to ask if they were taking safety measures and was assured that yes, they were. Tables were spaced apart; everyone was wearing masks, and capacity was limited. We felt really good about being there. Great food, terrific atmosphere and helpful staff. The old, former store building is gorgeous. My mother used to go there many years ago to shop.
After lunch, mother and I consulted our list and chose to ride up to Tunnel Creek Vineyards in the Bethel Hill community. We found a beautiful family tobacco farm turned vineyard and winery. Of course, we wanted to see the famed tunnel but stopped by the tasting room first. I like wine. Red is my favorite. I like craft beer. I like a little Bailey’s in my coffee or on the rocks for a treat. I had never heard of nor had a wine slushie, though. I saw the slushie machines churning when we walked into the winery (everyone was masked with their ultra-chic black logo masks) and thought, oh, how cute, slushies for the kids. And then I thought, “Wait, who brings kids to a winery?”
We moved on and Sharon Holler, one of the owners, started showing us around. It was sparkling clean and stunning, and as we toured, mother and I were trying to decide whether to do a tasting when Sharon’s husband, Larry, presented a small sample of a slushie to mother and me. We politely took them, since he’d already made them, and we are properly trained Southern ladies after all. While we oooood and ahhhhhhd over the winery finery, we distractedly took our first delicate sip. We hadn’t really encouraged the samples but what could we do?
We stopped in our tracks and looked, wide-eyed, at each other. We were frozen in place, not because we were cold from the icy slushie, but from the incredible, delightful concoction that had just passed our reluctant lips! Our tentative, polite, delicate sips rapidly turned into an upside-down cup and unladylike slurps. I may have started licking the inside aggressively while making some pretty obscene noises. Then I heard my mother exclaim “JoANDRA!” (I go by Jo.) She seemed slightly horrified but also amused. Larry was grinning broadly at us and when I got my nose out of the cup to reconnect with my surroundings, he said, “Yeah, that’s good stuff, isn’t it?”
Now, at 50 years of age, I don’t blush often but I do believe I blushed, about the same color of the yummy slushie.
I still think about that slushie. A LOT. If I hadn’t been my mother’s escort/driver that day, the slushies and I would certainly have spent more time together. I will be back but not for the dry red. We did do a tasting and their wines are wonderful. The return visit will be all about the slushies, though. And, mother, next time, you’re driving me!
1576 Berryhill Road
Roxboro, NC 27574