The Wine & Brine Lounge at the Gabriel Archer Tavern officially opened Labor Day weekend last year to showcase the diversity of local aquaculture by offering oysters from different waterways throughout the region paired with wines from The Williamsburg Winery.
Oysters from Big Island Aquaculture were featured for that inaugural Wine & Brine weekend. This weekend, the Wine & Brine Lounge welcomes back the father and son team of Daniel and Bruce Vogt, who will be shucking their briny-buttery Big Island Aquaculture Oysters.
Based in Gloucester, about 25 miles east of The Williamsburg Winery, the Vogt family established Big Island Aquaculture in 1989 and started cultivating oysters in 2010.
Bruce Vogt and his wife Cathy moved from Northern Virginia to Gloucester in the 80’s. The family’s new property came with eight acres of oyster lease grounds, which would, years later serve as home for their oyster business.
The move to the Gloucester area provided the Vogt’s three young sons the opportunity to grow up on local waterways where they worked on the water operating a soft shell crab business and also developed an appreciation for the importance of good stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay.
Today, two of Vogt’s sons work in or around local waterways: Vogt’s oldest son Bruce is a Marine Scientist for NOAA and Daniel, the youngest of the Vogt brothers, cultivates Big Island oysters.
Prior to helping start Big Island Aquaculture, Daniel worked at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences doing sturgeon research, which led to helping with oyster farming on the side.
As part of establishing their oyster farm, the Vogts researched various cultivation methods to find the one best suited for their location; they determined floating cages would provide the best oysters for their location.
Big Island’s oysters are cultivated in Monday Creek, where the York River and Mobjack Bay meet the Chesapeake Bay. The Big Island Aquaculture oyster farm is located in region six (known as the Lower Bay Western Shore), very close to region seven, of the Virginia Oyster Trail, where water salinity levels range between 24 - 26 parts per thousand.
Being so close to region seven, Big Island oysters are a hybrid between two regions — they offer briny notes of region attributed to the salty waters of region seven and the buttery notes associated with the less salty waters of region six. Because their oysters are grown in cages that float at the surface of the water column, keeping them above the sand and mud, they do not have the metallic taste noticeable in some oysters.
Today, the deep-cupped, salty-butter Big Island oysters are considered some of the best in the region. Join us this weekend to meet Daniel and Bruce and enjoy their local oysters paired with the newly released 2016 Dry Rosé or glass of 2015 Wessex Hundred Viognier.