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



So Just What Do You Do in That Vineyard?

Ahh.. what are we doing these days at Ankida?  It's all about the vineyard in the merry months of spring and summer. With the initial winter pruning and final pruning behind us, we are currently focusing on "dis-budding" and shoot-thinning, removing all the little buds that pop up all over the vine and extra canes, that if left in place would leave us with vines that look a bit like bushes.

When this is completed, in about another week or so, depending on the temps, we will have to go through the vineyard yet again and tuck all the rapidly growing canes into the space between the wires that secure them. No sooner will we be finished with that and we will go through the vineyard again and position the growing shoots so they don't crowd each other and lean into the neighboring vine's space, as seen in this image above, creating a crowded canopy and fruit clusters that are clumped together, a perfect environment for fungal diseases to start wreaking havoc with our tender fruit.

Soon after that, we begin "leaf pull". This is when we remove the leaves around the cluster, only on the south east side, especially for the pinot because we want to keep the fruit from baking in the hot afternoon sun. Leaving just the right amount of dappled sunlight is key to slow, sunlit ripening.  After this, we "drop fruit", removing some of the clusters if there are too many on the vines, wanting to keep our total production to about 2 1/2 tons per acre.  The less fruit on a vine, the higher the quality and flavor of the fruit.  When the green fruit begins to turn color, known as "veraison," we have to watch the fruit closely, keeping an eye out for anything that can come in at the last minute and destroy our fruit. The sugar levels are increasing and all sorts of diseases and fungal pressures love to grow in the grape's sweetness.  And then finally... HARVEST!! You can understand why growers sleep well the night after the crop comes off the vineyard.  The vintage is now out of their hands, hopefully giving the winemaker the best fruit possible to make the best wine possible from a given site.  And now it is the winemaker who begins their sleepless nights!!

It's a good thing the growing season is not longer than it is. The pressures and nerve-wracking weather and pest situations can take their toll.  You can see in the image above, we are finally getting some growth on the vines after one of the coldest springs on record.

The perils are many.  Some area vineyards got hit with a hail storm this past week and now forecasters are predicting a threat of frost and even a freeze for next week. A hard frost at this tender stage of growth could wipe out the entire vintage. Send warm thoughts for this upcoming Tuesday morning to Virginia vineyards. We'll take all the help we can get!

Every step of the way, each action requires thought and care, from the work in the vineyard to the tender care in the winery as Nathan crafts our wines..  Each of the nearly 4000 vines, twelve canes per vine, two clusters per cane. is given the utmost care and attention, all intended to grow the absolutely best fruit possible up here on this beautiful mountain in central Virginia.   The symbiosis between us and each vine is strong and the connection reciprocated.  It is my dream that the joy I feel while working amongst these plants in "My Peaceable Kingdom" with the chickens and guineas, the kitties and dogs, the bluebirds and martins, and in the off season the sheep, will be experienced in the person who sips our wine and their senses uplifted by this luscious nectar that grew on this very special mountain.  This is truly "la dolce vita."

April 24
May 10

Found!  The missing coffee mug!


Turning blue

My, what big antennae you have!

On the march to find some bugs!

This hummer returned from Mexico to the very same window,
 looking for food before I put out the feeder.  Amazing!

Return of my hummer, fresh eggs from our hens and a stink bug!

Tending the bees
Ahhh....The Good Life 
Who goes there?! Oh, it's Guppie...

You know I love you?
I love you too
Guess I'll just have to find someone else to harrass
Or maybe just rub my back

Come celebrate with us the beautiful season of summer at Ankida Ridge.  "Veraison" is when the grapes get to the final ripening process, turning from green to purple as the sugar levels rise.  It is a short-lived spectacle of color in the vineyard... a sight to behold!
Email contact @ankidaridge for reservations (which are limited)


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