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



Cicadas, "Lambs-in-Law" and Some Exciting News!

Cicada Invasion!

Many of you have heard about the cyclical cicada hitting our region of the country this year.   They crawl out of a hole in the ground in late spring after a seventeen year "incubation" period. They then transform from the larval stage into about an inch long flying insect that lives as an adult for only a couple weeks.  They hatch by the millions and during this time the air is filled with what sounds like a house alarm off in the distance. They "sing" for about two weeks, then mate, and then die... no wonder they sing so loud!  They have to make the best of their short time on this earth. It was not certain how much damage these insects would do to vineyards, but it was felt the damage would be to young vineyards with young wood.  Then I began hearing details of entire blocks of vineyards wilting in one afternoon after the females layed their eggs in the canes. Our concerns grew with the increasing sounds rising up the mountainside toward the vineyard.
We could hear the cicadas at first down at the cabin, around 1300 ft.  Every day the singing grew louder and higher up the mountain. We nervously monitored the growing proximity to the vines. Then last week we saw our first cicada in the vineyard.  The sound filling the woods had reached about 1600 ft altitude, the bottom of the vineyard.  I watched them fly from the woods over the vines, light on a cane, fly to another, then they flew up high into the poplar trees around the vineyard.  Very few entered the vineyard and stayed, as far as we could see.  The few that we saw, Guppie (our youngest mutt) jumped up to the vines and snapped up the delicious treat.  We found  a female in the act of laying her eggs.  We were able to snap a couple pix with Nathan's phone, offering you a close up view of the egg-laying and the resulting damage to the cane.
Note the thin black ovipositor puncturing the cane
Note the line of puncture wounds
Interestingly, the cicadas did not emerge from the ground above the 1600 - 1700 ft altitude up here.  We are happy to say we suffered very little, if any, damage to our vines and the next time the cicadas emerge our vines will be 23 years old and should be able to withstand any egg-laying wounds. It's hard to imagine twenty three year old trunks on these young adolescent vines.

Exciting News!

There was a photo shoot here a couple of weeks ago.  A photographer from New York City spent the day with us.... in the vineyard, in the pasture and the winery capturing an assortment of shots of us, the animals, the vines, the views. It seems we are to be included in a feature article, photos and all, in the September issue of......  Food & Wine magazine!  We think it will be out the end of August, so keep an eye out for it.  Pretty exciting, don't you think?

Sharing the Flock!

This lambing season added sixteen more lambs to our growing flock.  We are very happy to announce that the Vroomans of Ankida Ridge Vineyards and the Hodsons of Veritas Vineyards are now "lambs-in-law"! Stop by and visit the flock next time you visit Veritas.  Casper, their horse, was not so enamoured by them at first, but has since adopted them and looks after them.  It is a beautiful sight and a wonderful spot to sip a glass of wine.

Vines Gone Wild Again!

In my last post I described all that goes into maintaining the vines throught the growing season. The first image below was taken four weeks ago. The second, taken yesterday. We no longer have a vineyard. It is now a jungle. Help! Every year we think we have things under control and then Wham!! In the third image you can see the difference after we have thinned out and tucked in the gazillion shoots-turned-canes, an extremely time-consuming, arduous task.

On the bright side, everything looks extremely clean and healthy. And for the first time since our premier 2010 vintage, we had a great fruit set in both the Chard and the Pinot Noir. Sunny days are very important when the blossoms come out and we did have a number of consecutive sunny days when everything was in bloom this year in contrast to previous years.
Poor fruit set in 2012 from rainy weather during bloom

Beautiful, complete fruit set 2013

So far so good! I'm very excited for this year. I think the vines are showing signs of maturity. They are evening out more and the fruit load is becoming more consistent across the vineyard. Will this be our very best vintage? We'll have to wait a year to find out, but I do feel good about how the vines are looking and feeling. And the season has started out with rather cool temps which Pinot Noir does love. It would be great for our vines if the summer maintains a slightly cooler average. We are, as always, at Mother Nature's mercy so we will have to accept and work around whatever she decides to throw our way for this 2013 vintage.

Come Visit!

When we planted this vineyard over five years ago, I never imagined at the time the joys of meeting new folks and nurturing friendships with our guests who would visit the winery, especially because we weren't even thinking then of building a winery!   So to add this element to our adventure up here has been so heart-warming.  It puts a smile on my face to see friendships develop amongst those that visit and to subsequently watch them greet one another as old friends when re-visiting Ankida.  We have the most wonderful group of steady guests and wine club members.  You all add so much to our experience here at Ankida and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support of Ankida and for your friendship.
We are not open often, usually opening for tastings just one day per month, so if you want to visit, plan ahead and refer to our "Events" page for upcoming events.  If you are not already a friend of Ankida, please find the time to make the trip down (or up or over) here! It will be worth the trip, I promise:)
Here is a lovely blog post by Paul and Warren of Virginia Wine Time who finally made the trip down here from Northern Virginia.  We had a delightful afternoon with them.

So please plan a trip to join us.  We look forward to your visit!

with author RICHARD LEAHY
discussing his book, "Beyond Jefferson's Vines"
Sat, June 15 1-5pm
 A Special Event!
with noted Early Mountain Vineyards sommelier
 Michelle Gueydan
Taste Pinot Noirs from around the world
Sat, June 22    2-4pm
"Seasons at Ankida - Summer"
Live music
And more!
Sat, July 20   Noon - 5pm
With all events, please email contact@ankidaridge.com for reservations
For our out-of-town guests, inquire about the special
Ankida Ridge/Indian Creek B&B packages!