Hit The Books

Virginia Oyster Academy is back in session.

Captain William Saunders

Agritourism hits the water at Virginia Oyster Academy in Irvington. 

Previously offered only in the fall since it was launched at the Tides Inn in 2016, the academy will now be available year-round following its reopening this spring. 

The day-long crash course on all things oyster begins with a talk about the history of oysters in the Commonwealth, from Jamestown through today, by Joni Carter of area tourism group Virginia’s River Realm. Participants then set off on an excursion from the inn’s dock with longtime waterman Capt. William Saunders on his classic Chesapeake Bay deadrise. 

On the water, Saunders demonstrates methods for harvesting wild-caught oysters, including dredging and hand tonging. One of the highlights of the day is the chance to taste fresh oysters Saunders plucks and shucks straight from the Bay. 

The final stop of the day is back at the Tides Inn where executive chef TV Flynn roasts oysters on the terrace and offers a lesson on wine and oyster pairings as well as shucking methods. Flynn serves his signature Buffalo-style fried “angry oysters” accompanied by a glass of what else, Virginia Riesling. 

Virginia Oyster Academy is open for reservations Fridays and Saturdays. $185 per person. TidesInn.com


This article originally appeared in our April 2018 issue. Click here for pairings and recipes courtesy of the Virginia Oyster Academy.

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