James Andrew Mitchell, 95, Maine

Co-founder of Sakonnet Vineyards

Posted 3/2/22

James Andrew Mitchell died peacefully on Feb. 17, at age 95, in Rockport, Maine. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Force as an aviation cadet during World War II, he earned a degree in Engineering …

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James Andrew Mitchell, 95, Maine

Co-founder of Sakonnet Vineyards

Posted

James Andrew Mitchell died peacefully on Feb. 17, at age 95, in Rockport, Maine. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Force as an aviation cadet during World War II, he earned a degree in Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. He worked for Union Carbide, the United States Agency for International Development in South Korea, and Arthur D. Little, as a Senior Vice President in the International Division.

In 1975, Jim and his wife Lolly left corporate life and spent the next 15 years transforming a potato farm in Little Compton into Sakonnet Vineyards. They planted acres of grapevines — and neighboring farmers planted grapevines for them, as well — and built the winery and the house they lived in, with Jim swinging a hammer along with others. It was the first licensed winery in Rhode Island since Prohibition.

When Hurricane Gloria hit in 1985, they created a commemorative wine, “Eye of the Storm.” Their wines won multiple awards, and Sakonnet became the premier vineyard and winery in New England and a pioneer in the growing regional wine industry.

In 1989, Jim and Lolly retired to mid-coast Maine. In his so-called retirement, he wrote six books, including a photographic essay of emotions in motion called “Body and Soul” and “Finding Their Own Voices,” profiling 35 women in Maine doing unconventional jobs. Over his lifetime, he also built five boats and restored one. Always ready for an adventure, Jim also helped Lolly plan, organize, and lead over 25 trips to centers of contemporary art in this country and abroad.

He leaves his wife of 49 years, Lloyd Adams Mitchell, two daughters, his sister, two granddaughters, and three great-grandchildren.

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