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



And Hear, Hear to our Man of the Year!!

It is safe to say we would not be making our wines in our own winery this year had it not been for the person Dennis and I are announcing as our Man of the Year, our fabulously talented, hard-working, magnificent son, Nathan!!
Nathan, has been in charge of the entire winery project.  I can't even begin to mention all the hats he has worn during this undertaking; from the beginning design concepts, all the way through to setting up the tanks and everything in between.  He got through it all...and got us where we are, ready to open our own winery in time for our own harvest!! Amazing!   He ordered equipment, arranged subs, negotiated, conferred, designed, repaired.  You name it, he did it.  He even faced the chimney with stone when we couldn't get anyone here in time so the roofers could finish the roof.  This guy can do it all.   AND... he is in charge of making the wine, under the guiding hands of our dear, Monsieur Mattheiu Finot. 
Words are insufficient to express our gratitude that he chose to move from that lovely city of Denver and take this family business to the next step. Hear, hear.. to Nathan! Bravo, dear son!  And more thanks than you can imagine.

He even works in the vineyard! What a guy!
What a gift!

Countdown! Pinot Noir Harvest 2011!

One aspect of this whole "viti" endeavor that has taken me by surprise is the excitement of harvest.  Last year we were exhuberant over our first ever harvest. There would never be another very first!  I thought at the time I would not experience it all to the same degree.  Perhaps after many, many years the vibrancy of the event will fade, but I have to say that this year I think I am even more excited, possibly because of less anxiety of the unknown... just how does one know how to harvest a vineyard if they have never done it before?  And I think, because we now know that our wines are considered to be of fine quality and they taste really good, I am even more excited to see how this year's vintage will turn out.

The numbers are of vital importance in determining when to harvest.  We look primarily at the brix (sugar levels) and the ph.  Having the proper proportion of each will offer the greatest chance of making an outstanding wine.  It is difficult to find that perfect sugar/acid balance, but at this point, it looks like we will hit those numbers spot on come Sunday morning.  We are aiming for 23 brix and 3.4ph and we are going to be very close, if not precisely there, in less than 48 hours from now.

And here, my little "viti-kid", Owen, learns how to read the brix level in the refractometer!


It hurts sooo bad.....

To drop fruit!! "Dropping fruit" is the industry term for cutting off fruit from the vine during the ripening process before harvest.  This is done for a couple of reasons.  If too much fruit is on the vine, it is believed that the intensity of flavor is diminished, so the fewer the berries, the more flavorful the crop.  The other reason is to help achieve a more uniform ripening.  By removing those clusters whose ripening is lagging behind the others, we will achieve a brix (sugar) level more close to our desired percentage.  This must be done at a point when the majority of grapes have changed color, but not all.  If done too late, we cannot tell which of the grapes just turned.  They might appear as ripe as the others, but their sugar and acid levels are not where we want them to be.  So a good time to accomplish both goals is now when we are almost through veraison (color change).
Can you pick out the two clusters I ended up snipping off this vine?

After struggling to produce fruit on our young and under-vigorous vines last year, this year it really is painful to remove these beautiful, perfect, large clusters of grapes.   So I decided to put the riper ones cut from the over-abundant vines to use and make some Pinot Noir jelly from the juice.  The juice is now in the fridge.  I'm too busy to make the jelly right now though.  Hopefully I will get to it before it starts to ferment. 

And I am soo glad.... we spent all that time, energy and money putting up all that netting that will keep those cute little birds from feeding on our crop!