It’s been about 6 months since our last post. Here’s a progress update and a short term road map.
We are now a fully-licensed winery. We received our federal license in December 2015 and our license from the Commonwealth of Virginia in January 2016. Yippee. We won’t be able to produce wine from our own fruit this year because our first usable harvest will be, God willing, in 2017.
Not to despair. We leased small portions of a nearby vineyard and expect to harvest a modest amount of grapes for winemaking this year, beginning in late August to early September and through late October. Our harvest (and wines) will include Viognier, Petit Manseng, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot. We hope to produce and bottle both varietal wines and blends, especially a red Bordeaux blend. If the wines are good (in our humble opinion), we hope to open in 2017.
We completed our vineyard public waterworks system and await final State inspection and our operations permit. In the meantime, we have very high quality water for our site that comes from an aquifer almost 900 feet below ground (we’re on a mountainside) that is crystal clear, doesn’t require treatment, and is very cold. This doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but think about a forested site in 2013 and having no water until 2016. No water means: manually watering new vines from a water tanker; not having water to drink, wash up, or clean equipment (except in containers brought to the site), and not having working lavatories (only “blue hotels,” that is, port-a-potties). Trust me, it’s a big deal.
We completed our stone entry gate posts (and they look fine). The stone gate posts will be complimented by wrought iron side sections (where we have temporary wood fencing now). The wrought iron is in powder coat stage and will be installed soon.
We pruned our second year vines, placed protective covers on them, determined and are carrying out this year’s spray program (especially to help control weeds on the vineyard “floor” below the vines, Japanese beetles and powdery and downey mildew), and planted our new and replacement vines, which are all doing very well. The vast majority of our vines are second year vines, but about 1100 are new or replacement first year vines. In total, we have about 10,500 vines planted.
Second year vines were pruned to a single spur with two buds. This promotes growth of a few stronger canes for training the vines on trellis to produce fruit next year for harvest instead of many smaller and weaker canes that would occur without such pruning and which would not be as productive from a fruit standpoint, or so the books and experienced consultants advise us (and we follow advice).
Courtesy of our vineyard consultant, we also have a vine map for our vineyard, showing blocks and varietals. Additional map pages also show clones and rootstocks. Our separate vine inventory, done annually, shows this information as well as number and percentage of replacement vines and new vines, soil types, all by vineyard row. Each of our rows is numbered and each block has signs showing varietals. This is very handy. There is always work to be done in the vineyard. Row number and varietal signs help those of us who aren’t so sharp anymore (your’s truly) find the problem and implement the solution more quickly.
We’ve also had some friends and family time at the vineyard, now that we have buildings with indoor plumbing. It’s a real pleasure to share this space with them, especially the “kids” (our children) and the grandkids (the future vineyard masters, we hope). We look forward to our public opening to share the great views, wine, and music with our new friends and family.
Finally, we know we are blessed. A passerby snapped a photo of a double rainbow over our vineyard and sent us the photo recently. Just beautiful. See photos below.
By the time of our next post, we should be at or near harvest and winemaking. Can’t wait. In the meantime, we’ll be ordering additional winemaking equipment, including chillers for white wine tartrate stabilization (to remove harmless crystals formed in white wine during fermentation) and filtering equipment (to help assure clear finished wine). Cheers.