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Posted April 8, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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First-class dining: Local vineyard re-creates last meal served on the Titanic

titanic place settings
The place settings at North Mountain Vineyard and Winery, in Maurertown, will emulate those featured in the first-class dining area of the Titanic on the night it sank for a dinner theater meant to remember the famous tragedy of April 14, 1912.

entry to the dining area at North Mountain Vineyard and Winery
In the entry to the dining area at North Mountain Vineyard and Winery sits a sign commemorating the White Star Line. Dennis Grundman/Daily


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By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

MAURERTOWN -- Ninety-seven years and four days after passengers on the Titanic ate their last meal, the tables will be set again.

Every plate, spoon and wine glass will be in its proper place. This time, each distinguished guest will receive first-class treatment.

The North Mountain Vineyard and Winery hopes to recreate -- to exquisite detail -- the experience of the doomed ship with its "Last Evening on the Titanic" event. On April 18, participants will enjoy an eight-course meal professionally prepared from a surviving menu, entertainment from Theatre Shenandoah and period music played on piano and violin.

Winery owner Krista Jackson-Foster speaks easily about the era that saw the Titanic set sail. She said she wanted to showcase the beauty of the great ship with an event unique to Shenandoah County.

"On the Titanic, this opulence was recreated," she said. "Survivors told their stories over and over again, how fabulous the meals were, how beautiful everything was."

Reservations are coming in. Jackson-Foster said only 40 people will dine at the vineyard's tasting room. Jill Spackman, a chef at Shaffer's Catering in Woodstock, is specially preparing the feast.

First on the menu: Cream of barley soup, followed by poached salmon, filet mignon, punch rose, roasted game hen, asparagus salad, eclairs, ice cream, fruit, cheese and coffee.

George Shaffer, owner of Shaffer's Catering, said Spackman has been working with suppliers to accurately replicate the meal. He said finding the right greens and spices, not to mention the game hen, takes planning.

"We've got a team who's flexible enough to make these recipes," he said. "We'll do a sample meal and make sure it's what they want."

There's also the issue of converting some 1912 units of measurement -- like a "stone" -- into modern quantities.

"It's just a matter of doing some experimenting," Shaffer said. "You can't always just quintuple something and have it come out the same. That's not the cheapest way to do business," but it means a high-quality product, he said.

In between courses, local actors will perform scenes from Jeffrey Hatcher's "Scotland Road," using an office as backstage.

In the play, several modern-day characters on a Norwegian fishing vessel find a young woman floating on an iceberg, dressed in 1912 clothing -- an impossible survivor?

"Every time we rehearse, it becomes more fascinating," said Barbara Strong, who is producing the production for Theatre Shenandoah. When she was approached with the idea, she said, "I thought it was a little morbid. But the more we read this play, the more we got into it."

A small cast of actors tenured with the theater group will perform an abridged version of the play in five short acts.

"[Guests] are going to be entertained with some fine acting in a very interesting production," she said.

Jackson-Foster, along with her husband, Brad, and son, John, operate the vineyard from their picturesque home tucked behind country roads in Maurertown. Jackson-Foster said she's no stranger to putting on special events, but that this would be a first for the winery.

"These are the things we do for the community. The big word is 'agritourism,'" she said. "We work with bed and breakfasts to promote them and the winery. We try to work together for the visitors to really have a good experience.

"We really have excellent wines, and I'm always trying to find more venues to [show] that," she said.

Several other events are on the schedule at North Mountain, including a "Mother's Day Brunch on the Decks," a "Father's Day Bird Walk and Country Gentleman's Luncheon" and several dates set aside this summer for a "Summer Sunset Dinner."

The Last Evening on the Titanic event requires a $100 per person reservation, plus gratuity. Reservation deadline is 5 p.m. April 16.

North Mountain Vineyard and Winery is at 4374 Swartz Road in Maurertown. For more information, call 436-9463, visit www.northmountainvineyard.com or e-mail nmtn@shentel.net.

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