A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman




Three weeks to the day after we harvested our Pinot Noir, the Chardonnay were ready to come off the vines. It has been a very difficult year for Chardonnay in Central Virginia. A week of fog and rain at bloom dramatically reduced fruit set. Then just as the grapes were nearly ready to be picked, the Brix just about where we wanted it, we get hit with a deluge of rain, some places over 4 inches of rain. Our brix dropped 1 1/2 points.. from 22 to 19.5. So we have to wait for the sun to come out, dry things up, let the sugars come back up. Just about ready again... another deluge, the brix back down. This was the scenario throughout our region as we all anticipated our Chard harvest.

In the meantime, while our dogs were "guarding" the vineyard at night, aka "sleeping" in the near-side of the  vineyard, some woodland critter had been sneaking in from the forest on the other side of the vineyard, crawling up into the netting and using the space as a convenient little channel to stroll through and feast on the grapes the netting was supposed to be protecting! Here is a critter's eyeview of this bountiful opportunity!

So, what had already been a diminshed crop was diminished even more by the little beasts! Next year (are you beginning to hear "next year" pop up quite a bit??) I will raise a new dog to live on the far side of the vineyard and that will be his area to patrol as the grapes ripen!

The day of harvest for our Chardonnay was the antithesis of our Pinot harvest morning. The skies were bright blue, the air cool with soft breezes drifting by. Our harvest was completed in half the time of the Pinot, and off Nathan went, driving an air-conditioned cargo van of fruit to the winery.

And with that... Done!  A year's worth of raising these grapes from the day the little buds of green broke through in early April, timing our sprays around weather systems, pruning, tying, thinning, watching, searching for disease, testing the sugars, monitoring for the multitude of pathogens and critters that would love to devour our fruit before we send them off to become wine. It is done. The season over. Oh, we must still monitor for foliar diseases and keep the vines as healthy as we can for the next couple months while they replenish their body with sunlight, nutrients and water in preparation for a hibernating winter season, after which it will start all over again. That is the redeeming factor in growing these cherished grapes.. there is always another year. Until then, we will be monitoring and sampling the juice from our fruit and waiting patiently as it sits in the barrels over a season, making that magical transformation into wine.


A season of toil
Completes a measure of time
Light are your arms now