The HooK  

On The Block: Don't grape about it
By Lynn Jo Jameson

Asking: $369,000
Square Footage: 3,750
Year Built: 1993
Address: 1652 Harris Creek Road
Neighborhood: Southern Albemarle countryside
Curb Appeal: 7 out of a possible 10
Listed by: Roger Voisinet of Re/Max Realty 974-1500

Route 20 South's curvaceous roads demand the utmost attention from any driver, but if you take your eyes from the road for a moment, the sights are stunning. After the turn onto Route 740, about 12 miles from town, the road winds through an almost-neighborhood of small well-lived-in homes. Not exactly a swanky up-and-coming area, but one that bespeaks privacy and stability. Past this stretch the road is vineyard heaven. Here the landscape changes dramatically, as all views are of the sculptural tumble of dormant grapevines.

The house, originally part of Totier Creek Vineyards (nearby, but not related to Sam and Jessica's former abode at Totier Creek Farm), now stands as a kind of beacon over the wine crop. First Colony Wines bought the winery and land but sold the house and five acres on top of the hill. The house stands alone-- except, of course, for the grapevines that flank much of the driveway and continue all the way up to the garage.

At first sight, the house has a fairytale quality. Shining in the sun, it sparkles with all pale gold newness and interesting angles. Unlike many of its suburban contemporaries, this house gives few exterior clues about where rooms are situated.

Pea gravel that seems to be a foot deep covers the front walk (hell for those in heels). Entering, no visual adjustment is needed, as floor-to-ceiling windows flood the place with southern sunshine.

The stairs that rise from the entry hall split the place in half, literally. The left side houses a working fireplace with a living/dining combo, decks off the front and back doors, and access to the kitchen. The right side set-up is similar, but has all the lived-in accoutrements. It's a bi-polar experience.

The kitchen could house (and probably feed) a small country. Nooks and crannies abound for the flighty gourmand with the latest kitchen gadgetry. Extra space for laundry and mud rooms is hidden and unobtrusive.

The upstairs landing is covered by deep, soft carpeting and directs one into three fathomless bedrooms, each with its own walk-in closet and bathroom. The master bedroom has the bathroom to die for. A raised Jacuzzi-style tub overlooks the vineyard, and a triple-head shower (to clean those hard-to-reach spots) services a mammoth stall as large as a dance floor. One room upstairs (currently an office) enticed us with multiple doors, one leading to another, that one to another, and that one to yet a third, hide-and-seek heaven.

It is impossible not to mention the glossy magazine layouts the house resembles. Indeed, owners Jamie and Mary Lewis did pick this model from a Southern Living House Plans book entitled "All the Comforts of Home." Those comforts, besides a huge amount of space, include either a large family and/or a fairly heavy party schedule. Must be southern comforts.

The outside, however, is where it all wilts, if there were anything growing out there to wilt. A raised walkway leads to a screened porch about 50 feet away, but the only thing to look at is good ol' Virginia clay. The requisite shrubs line the front walkway, but they seem to have exhausted the landscaping budget.

Nonetheless, it's a unique spot. When the grapevines unfurl their green flags in the spring, the views must resemble other better-known wine producing regions such as California and France. Not bad company to keep.

© Copyright 2002 The HooK.   Last update: 03.07.2002; 8:33:10 PM.