3rd Harvest and Coronavirus

2020 was an interesting year with many unforeseen and some foreseeable developments.
photo of vineyard
Our Vineyard
Vineyard. In the foreseeable category, we enjoyed our third harvest. Mother Nature was kinder than she was in 2018, but not by much. We didn't have too much rain (see 2018). We had too little. The presence of too much sun, some drought, and too little rainfall produced crop losses in our western-most vineyard blocks (Merlot), although much less severe than crop losses incurred in 2018. We survived largely unscathed by early season frost and hail. And, so far, the 2020 vintage is a very good one. We are preparing for a crisp, fruit forward, white/rose wine bottling in February 2021. Our reds have very good chemistry, great color, great fruit on the nose and pallet, and are aging in new and neutral French oak barrels (38 new barrels and 12 neutral barrels).
pruned vine burn photo
2020 Pruning Burn
We also enjoyed having our oldest son, Stephen, take on the role of vineyard manager in 2020. He managed vineyard spraying, maintenance, vine planting, pruned vine burns, and vineyard record keeping. He also worked with our seasonal help to bring in the 2020 harvest. For the first time, with his help, I felt we had our arms around everything in the vineyard in 2020. We are hopeful to see Stephen's return to the vineyard in 2021.
banner sign photo
Road Closures. Also in the foreseeable category, we endured, and continue to endure, a public works project in our neighboring town of Hillsboro. The project will provide much needed safer streets in the town along with clean water, much needed storm drainage, and community septic systems. The project has resulted, however, in almost a year of road closures on the primary road used by our Eastern customers to reach our vineyard (VA Route 9).
The project taught us the value of diverse geographic marketing to customers in areas unaffected by the Hillsboro projects. We did new sponsorships, new targeted social media ads, new cooperative promotional campaigns with neighboring wineries affected by the Hillsboro project, and formed a new wine trail, the Loudoun Heights Wine Trail, with those wineries. But we couldn't have survived the Hillsboro project (and coronavirus) without our customers. And we love our customers: those in WV, central and eastern MD, and in VA who were unaffected by the project when they visit us and those Eastern customers in DC, MD, and VA who were, and still are, affected by the project but make the trip over detours to see us anyway. Thank you all so much.
Coronavirus. In the unforeseen category, we have the coronavirus. In early March 2020, ahead of government mandates, we closed our doors until the end of May 2020. We did this to safeguard staff and customers and relied on the good will of customers to order online and to pickup wine orders or to take wine order shipments. We encouraged this limited business with several rounds of promotional discounts and free shipping promotions.
At the end of May 2020, we opened our doors again. Initially, we only had socially distanced outdoor seating and rigorous virus control protocols. Eventually, we opened socially distanced indoor seating while increasing our virus control protocols. Total surprise--our business actually expanded in 2020. We wouldn't have made it, however, without our wonderful customers.
photo of wine club blending trialsphoto of wine club member blending trials2020 La Famiglia Wine Club Winery Red Wine Blending Trials
Winery. In early 2020, before coronavirus closures, we held our first wine club blending trials in our winery. These events were all about wine club members making several red blends of 2019 vintage red wines in competition with each other. Winning blends were determined by wine club members at the trials by blind tastings.
Two winning blends emerged and were named by the winning wine club member teams: B3 (the Bells and Beauxs of BealAir) and Sei Amici (Six Friends). The winning blends are both Bordeaux-style blends that are now bottled, labelled, and in storage awaiting release (which may happened in late 2021). The trials were much fun and when the virus eases we will do more of them.
Future. As I write this short blog post, we are finished our dormant winter pruning and getting ready for bottling 2020 white & rose wines. We can see Spring from here and look forward to work in the vineyard and winery in the new year. Cheers and be well!