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



Autumn Colors the Vineyard


Crisp and golden leaves
Tired, relinquishing life
Fall softly to earth

 A quiet, crispness fills the silence of this evening's vineyard stroll.  Crunching grape leaves underfoot and lonely autumn crickets are all that's heard.  The birds are silent.  The constant whirr of cicadas and katydids are just a memory of sultry summer nights that remain vivid in my mind. But now the days are noticeably shorter, the nights becoming chilly, the sun is rising far to the south.  Soon the vines will sleep for a nice, long while.

I wonder, as I look at the nearly naked canes and stems, how much vigor the weaker vines were able to store in their roots for next season.  Will they finally come on strong next year, or is there just something inherent in the soil in certain areas of the vineyard that are holding them back?  No one seems to know for sure.  With this year's additional root growth and catching up, hopefully there will be a bit more uniformity to their vigor and size next year.  And with it a more abundant crop.  This was a good year.  They had abundant sunshine, were disease free, were irrigated when needed.  It was in fact a very good year.  Hopefully we will see the results in next year's crop.  In the meantime we wait for the wine from this, our very first season, to develop its inherent qualities and unique expression of all that has brought it to this point.

I have always loved searching the clouds for imaginary figures that feed my imagination.  In this image can you see the bank of angel faces looking down on the vines? 

And Dear ol' Dan... Somewhere along the way, he has lost his grooming skills and has turned into a muddy, gnarly, nearly dread-locked mutt!  He is getting on in years and I cherish the moments we have together.  He is still effective in his guarding duties, although he does now leave the chasing up to Bella while he, without moving a paw, sits and barks at whatever merits his warning!

Ol' ragged Dan!

Oh pretty Bella!

The sheep now roam freely during the daylight hours and every morning I find they have hiked the half mile up the mountain side to graze around the house and enjoy a bit of a different view from up here on the ridge. 

And I was excited today to find this tasty little morsel left on the vine.  It was puckered and nibbled on, but still was a delicious, unexpected sweet treat.

I cannot end this post without including the most magnificent of mornings I enjoyed yesterday. There had been much talk about the fall colors being non-existent this year due to the severe shortage of rainfall.  And up till a few days ago, there really was not much color, and here it was almost November.  But in a near explosion of color, after receiving over two inches of rain the previous day and night, the sun rose and illuminated the most spectacular fall morning.  Ignition!  We have color.. spectacular color that nearly popped overnight and will probably dissipate as quickly as it arrived. In typical years, I've noticed the red-leafed trees lose their leaves before the yellows and golds come on. But this year they all came together for a most unusual and spectacular burst of color.
So here you are.  What gifts such scenes are, a feast for the eyes.  Enjoy!

Next:  Soon we should be getting a sneak taste from the barrels of wine!  Oh, be still my heart!


Goodbye Dear Flippy Dog

My handsome threesome... we've been together for so many years.  Killian is the senior member of the trio, an ol' mixed breed, abandoned mutt, we think an Akita mix.  Then about seven years ago came this most unusual little gal, a Corgi/Bassett (maybe) mix with short, contorted legs and front paws that looked like flippers, thus the name.  And then our big guy BoomBoom found his way to our cabin in the woods as a lost, starving puppy.  My threesome.

Our littleFlippy had been acting a bit confused for a few days.  When I came back from town one morning recently I  heard her yipping loudly and found her stuck in the blackberry patch.  I had to don my beekeeping outfit to protect myself from the prickers and literally cut the briars away from her to release her.. poor little thing.  As the day progressed she grew more confused and unstable and by evening I was giving her subcutaneous fluids as she had gotten very dehydrated.  I was hoping that was all it was, but alas something much more serious was going on.

Within twenty-four hours she had deteriorated enough for us to take her to an animal emergency hospital in Charlottesville.  All of this was going on as we were preparing to attend our daughter, Marisa's, baby shower.  We dropped Flippy off at the hospital while we went to the shower.  Flippy remained stable so we brought her home with us, IV's in hand and enough meds to hopefully keep her alive while we figured out what was going on.  The blood tests they ran on her were relatively normal.  She made it through the night and seemed a bit better the next morning.  I put her outside under a bench next to a tree and she would lift her head occasionally.  I wanted her to feel the joy of the mountain air that she loved, hoping it would send some endorphins through her body and help her heal.

She gradually fell into a deeper sleep.  I layed down on the ground next to her for long stretches, rubbing her back, whispering to her.  She knew I was there.  Then shadows swooped over us in the late afternoon sun.  I looked up and three vultures were circling overhead.  Go away....
What do they know?

If she wasn't improved by morning, we decided there was nothing more we could do.  We were giving her all the meds that could possibly help, but nothing was improving her condition. We tucked her in for the night, rubbing her ears, whispering into them our love.  She seemed cozy in her position, settled in for a good long sleep.

She was gone in the morning.  She looked so peaceful. We cradled her and continued to tell her how much we loved her, hoping she could somehow hear.  We to this day do not know what it was, other than a severe neurological condition, perhaps a brain tumor?

We buried her up on the mossy knoll, Arnold, Dennis and I, along with Killian and BoomBoom, who truly  sensed what was going on and stood vigil throughout the burial process.  And dear Arnold came back with her little "gravestone" he carved from a piece of wood.

Flippy, little girl, we will miss you so.

Oh how she loved to cuddle

My constant companions


Prance those little feet
Your nose lifting for your treats
Silent your steps now