It’s been quite a while since we posted on our vineyard progress. We’ve been busy and here goes:
We’ve finished clearing our land and the mountain views are so nice. Our fields are ready for planting and are “resting” for the winter. We’ve ripped the soil to about 36″ to remove remaining tree roots, rock, and other debris, added a host of soil amendments after property wide soil tests, and planted and mulched permanent grass seed to control erosion. We also erected some serious erosion controls, including silt fence, earth berms, rock check dams, and multiple silt ponds. These ponds are strategically located at natural drainage points on the property and they help prevent water and topsoil from leaving our property.
We will plant about 12000 vines in Spring 2015, after final frost. Our initial varietals include 4 reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot) and 2 whites (Chardonnay and Viognier). We’ve selected ENTAV vines from Mercier-California. We’ve purchased 2 clones of each varietal and will use 2 low vigor root stocks for each varietal. We will also erect thousands of linear feet of trellis works to train our vines. We plan to use VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) trellis initially.
Our deer fence and farm roads are in. Our well, septic system, drainfield, and injection well are in. The injection well is specially permitted by the EPA and allows us to dispose of vineyard and winery waste water after conversion of that waste water into near drinking water quality instead of allowing untreated waste water to accumulate on the surface as some wineries do.
We have all permits for our initial vineyard buildings, an office and equipment barn. We started construction on our barn last week on the coldest day this new year. Our 2-story office construction starts later this month. The office will provide work space for 3-4 people, a kitchen, a full bath, and a second floor loft. Both buildings are post and beam/timber frame, farm-house style buildings (which fits our area of Loudoun County, VA), and red (barn) and white (office). Remember, we’re a vineyard.
We expect to start construction of our much larger gravity-fed red and white winery and tasting room buildings in 2016. The tasting rooms will be on 2 floors with elevator access. They will have plenty of glass and mountain views and will face at least two large vineyard blocks. We will connect the tasting rooms to the winery building by a 2-story, climate-controlled, glass-enclosed atrium. The atrium will empty onto a deck with vineyard and mountain views. We will shade the west-facing deck by large suspended fabric sail shades and will provide plenty of seating to enjoy wine, conversation and great views on warmer fall and spring days.
A bridge will connect the second story tasting room to the winery and will run the length of both buildings. Tasting room visitors will be able to “tour” the winery operation from above while strolling across the bridge, sipping a nice red (or white). We also plan to have winery tours at ground level for the more adventurous.
The basement level, with 14-foot ceilings, will run the length of the winery, atrium and tasting room building. In the winery area, we will have gravity fed fermentation, racking, blending, and transfer wine tanks, plate wine filtering equipment, fork lifts, pumps, a lab, and barrel storage. We will also have a mobile bottling line dock at the basement level so bottling trucks can access the transfer wine tanks with ease.
The first floor winery area will have a crush pad and will be equipped with fork lifts, de-stemmers, sorting tables, pumps and grape presses. In addition, the first floor area above the basement level fermentation tanks will be open to the tanks below so that pressed must and fruit from first floor presses can be moved directly into the tanks with minimal pumping, hence the term “gravity-fed.” Reaching the tanks will be easy since we plan to install moveable walkways on the first floor over the tanks below.
The basement area under the atrium and tasting rooms will be used for barrel and case storage. These storage areas will be entirely underground providing especially good temperature control for aging wines. The entire basement level will also be fork lift friendly so we will be able to move equipment, barrels, and cases with ease below decks. “Cellar rats” (initially that will be me) won’t have to move heavy stuff manually in our winery.
We’ve purchased our tractor, hedger/pruner, sprayer and other implements. They will be delivered when the barn is done next month. More toys for the boy.
Exciting times. In a few months, we’ll be an actual working vineyard.