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



An April To Remember

The vineyard survived this unruly month of April, 2012.  Our vines waivered from giving it their all during those early warm days to hovering in protective retreat in hopes of staving off the "freeze -n-fry" effect of  frost that can easily destroy their delicate, tender leaves and shoots.  We had days of spitting snow, bitterly cold winds, as well as delightfully warm and sunny days where it felt like summer.   I would hope this stretch of schizophrenic weather is now history for the spring of 2012.  Clusters are stretching, canes are climbing...summertime is closeby.

And with the summertime weather comes summertime pests.  I caught this image with my camera the other day in the vineyard and sent it off to Dr. Pfeiffer, the bug afficionado at VA Tech.  He informed me it was an assassin bug and that the bug upon which he was feasting was a vineyard pest called a grape flea beetle.  Nature at its finest at work... which is why I prefer not to spray insecticides if I can help it!  Killing the beetle would also kill the assassin bug.  We struggle to maintain that delicate balance.

Bottling Day, Chardonnay 2011 Vintage!

Trying to fall asleep the night before our first bottling at our own winery was so reminscent for me of the night before our first harvest in August, 2010.   I looked back on my blog entry of that night and came across these words... I felt a bit blind, like I could not quite see the day ahead, only imagine it with a blurred, uncertain vision. That feeling of the unknown, the uncertainty for me was not as intense on the eve before this event however.   I have Nathan to thank for that.  It is he who was in charge this time and I felt confident  all was under control.

With the help of several Wine Club members and some wine industry folks and friends, we sailed through the day with an abundance of laughter and only a couple broken bottles!  We did not bring in a "bottling truck" like most of the wineries do, mostly because of our small size, but also because we needed an excuse for a party!  And a party we had!   We had about nine stations and nearly double that number of helpers so everyone could take breaks and sip a little "refreshments" and smell the cassoulet cooking over the firepit that Arnold and Dustin built just outside the winery. 

The "festivities" began with the (first) traditional "Ankida Ridge Bottling Day Kickoff Champagne Toast"!  Then with instructions from Nathan on how all the stations worked, the positions were manned, and the cacophony began... clanking bottles, the hum and squirting sound of filling bottles, the pounding of the corker, the grinding noise of the capsule shrinker, the snap and roll of the labeler, the sound of boxes being filled, stamped and moved into position.  All music to our ears.  And the aroma of this lovely new wine combined with drifts of the firepit cooking the cassoulet.  And of course the laughter... it was the orchestra that carried the production to its proper finale... a "whopping" 86 1/2 cases of 2011 Chardonnay!  Voila!  And then the feast of cassoulet, crusty French baguettes, Ankida and other local wines and peach clafouti!  It was all magic and we thank so very much our Wine Club members and dear friends who helped to make it so special!

A compendium of images follow.  Our Pinot Noir bottling day will be announced soon (to our Wine Club members first).  Watch for the announcement and be sure to reply quickly.  Spaces fill up fast!  We will be bottling double the number of Pinot Noir, so it'll be double the fun!!

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And with bottling day over, it is back in the vineyard to tend to our dear vines that have given us the gift of these glorious memories. 

Daybreak in the Chardonnay

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