Our History

Early History

In May of 1607, three small ships under the command of Captain Christopher Newport arrived at Archer's Hope, a point of land at the mouth of College Creek, a part of which became Jockey's Neck.  Describing their visit, George Percy wrote in his journal, "...the soil is good and fruitful, with excellent good timber.  There are also vines in bigness of a man's thigh, running up the tops of the trees, in great abundance."

Among those first permanent settles who worked their land with a hoe in one hand and their "killing stick" or "peece" in the other were Joachim (Joakin, Jockey) Andrewes, from whom Jockey's Neck derived its name.  Archival records include references to Jockey's Neck dating to 1619.  William Spence, one of the first landowners at Jockey's Neck, survived the Indian Massacre of 1622 while five others living on his property did not.  One of our streets bears the name of his daughter, Sarah.

"Three things there bee which in a few years may bring this Colony to perfection:  The English plough, vineyards, and cattle," spoke Speaker John Pory at the first representative assembly in English America at Jamestown Church in 1619.  Following his advice, the burgesses passed "Acte 12" requiring the colonists to plant vineyards.  John Johnson was among the first to comply with this act when he "patented" eighty-five acres known as Jockey's Neck.  Although not profitable, the colonists continued their pursuit of growing grapes and, in 1770, the General Assembly appointed Andrew Estave winemaker and viticulturist for all of Virginia.  It is believed that this Frenchman is the man for whom our street, Andre Esteve, is named.

Is it a coincidence that Endre Estave and Richard Boling are connected cul-de-sacs in The Vineyards?  Perhaps not.  History tells us that the two men were engaged in an on-going debate about what type of grapes would grow and produce the better wine in Virginia.  Having experimented with both European and native grapes, Estave (Esteve) believed that only native grapes could survive the Virginia climate.  Bolling (Boling) proposed that the Italian grapes would make the only wine worthy of the name.  Unfortunately, the argument was never settled.  Bolling died before his first vineyards could be harvested and made into wine and Estave's endeavors failed due to several years of devastating weather coupled with his poor management.  Estave's land was taken over by the Burgesses and eventually sold to the College of William and Mary.  The college immediately sold the land at public auction, thus ending Estave's vineyards.

Over the next 230 years, Jockey's Neck would change hands numerous times.  When wealthy Williamsburg resident, Goodrich Durfey, acquired the property in 1848, he set the course for Jockey's Neck to become a profitable agricultural venture.  In just two years, Durfey had amassed quite an impressive inventory.  According to the James City County Agricultural Census of 1850, Durfey had farm equipment valued at $500, 2 horses, 4 mules, 15 milk cows, 10 working oxen, 10 other bovines, and 16 swine.  In one year his farm yielded 4 bushels of peas and beans, 5 bushels of Irish potatoes, 30 bushels of sweet potatoes, along with wheat, corn, and oats.  Slave labor enabled Durfey to carry out his farming operations and, by 1852, he had 34 slaves on his property, 11 horses, and 160 cattle, sheep, and hogs.  Later owners continued to farm and, to this day, many of the local "old timers" still refer to the Jockey's Neck area as "the farm."

The Vineyards at Jockey's Neck has come a long way since the Indians of the Powhatan Chiefdom hunted white-tailed deer, small game, and wildfowl in the forests, fields, and marshes.  The hardships of famine, disease, fear, and loneliness suffered by the early settlers are long forgotten.  While much has changed over the past 400 years, the legacy of our forbearers lives on.  Our streets, lakes, and landmarks bear the names of those who set out to start a new life, building their homes and farming the land where our houses now stand.  We are reminded of this heritage when, occasionally, an old piece of hoe, a rusty horseshoe, or piece of barbed wire is unearthed.  The deer, the waterfowl, and small game continue to roam our open spaces and frolic in our backyards; and, as the morning mist hovers over the vineyards, one understands why settlers came and why they stayed.

The Vineyard's At Jockey's Neck Our Neighborhood Today

Over the centuries, the area has evolved from hunting grounds and farmland into a quiet, but vibrant, neighborhood nestled among the lush vineyards of the Williamsburg Winery.  With 98 home sites, the Vineyards is a neighborhood where one tends to know everyone if not by name, then by car, child, or pet.  The neighborhood is a true melting pot with residents from the four corners of the USA to around the globe.  We are a mix of families with children from tots to teens, empty-nesters, singles, couples, and retirees.

With the arrival of warm weather, The Vineyards awakens to a buzz of activity.  The entire neighborhood enjoys our summertime weekly cookouts at the clubhouse that we fondly refer to as "Friday Frenzy"  parents are outside with their children and sounds of laughter echo from the pool.  Dog owners are out exercising their pets while joggers, bicyclists, and walkers are doing their thing to keep fit.  Enjoying scenery and fresh air, older couples holding hands interrupt their stroll to chat with their neighbors.  Paddle boats and rowboats on the lakes drift silently along, as fishermen on the banks cast out their lines, hoping to catch "the big one."  Beautiful gardens and flowers abound in The Vineyards as those whose labor of love is to coax their gardens into vistas of color.  Is it any wonder that we love our neighborhood? 

We hope that our predecessors would be proud of our close-knit community that they were instrumental in settling so many years ago.  We owe them a debt of gratitude fro their hard work, sacrifices, and perseverance that made it possible for us to call The Vineyards at Jockey's Neck home.