ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – After USA Today nominated Abingdon, Virginia for Best Small Town Food Scene for possibly its fifth win in a row, News Channel 11 visited the mountain town for a taste of what sets it apart from the rest.
Summers Roof and Cellar
Summers Roof and Cellar is a relatively recent addition to the Abingdon food scene, with only a few months of operation under its belt. Despite that recent timeline, the venue is already a darling of downtown.
“It’s something from the very beginning, wanting to share this,” said David Berg, partner in the venture. “Not just an exclusive rooftop venue that really everyone can come and enjoy.”
The business is split across the middle with a light, airy rooftop space on top of the historic Summers building on the corner of Court and Main Streets and a dark, moody stone cellar housing a southern-style kitchen.
For Charlie Berg, the business’s sommelier, the cellar represents much more than a hewn stone space. It’s a connection to the old world and a way to tell stories.
“You go down into these small family cellars and there’s rock and racks and old bottles of wine and it’s just kind of a magical place,” Berg said, speaking of his educational travels. “You can feel the wine breathing, so the ability to build out a cellar and be able to have dinner in that while watching the kitchen, I thought this is really the heart of what we’re doing.”
Charlie is more than a decade into his journey with wine as an appreciated art, and holds the combined class time to place him in the ranks of the world’s top experts on the subject.
“I think of wine almost as a food,” Berg said. “Like an integral part of eating and part of the meal.”
The wine list at Summers is expansive, but no bottle is unfamiliar to Berg and staff.
“I do seek out wines that do have a story, that were made by someone, they come from somewhere,” Berg said. “No matter where you are in the list, there’s going to be an incredible story of sacrifice, weather patterns, soil types and people that have given their life to creating a true expression of where they are.”
Some may have the impression that savoring a good bottle of wine is reserved for those with an expansive palate or budget, but the Berg siblings are intent on ensuring Summers is accessible to as many people as possible.
“[We want] to not create the kind of social cutoff only for the ‘haves’ and the ‘whos’ but also just the regular people like us that just love living in the mountains,” David said. “Maybe you don’t make a pile of money every week, but you still want to come out and enjoy yourself.”
David and Charlie both were quick to thank their staff and supporters, especially in the wake of USA Today’s nomination. One standout name was head chef Brad Griffin, who Charlie said has a close connection to local agriculture and cuisine. Every Berg sibling and in-law is involved somehow, and many staff members are family as well.
As Abingdon continues to grow and receive recognition for its culture, the Bergs hope to be right in the middle of it all. The business was born to provide a space to relax for tourists and locals alike, and now the space is settling in to a town already steeped in history.