Let’s Try This Again…

It has become abundantly clear over the last few months, that I’m sucking at keeping up with this blog. It’s easy to say, and certainly true, that I have been too busy with the construction of the winery and keeping up with the vineyard but in the end, that’s really no excuse. So, that being said, my goal is to blog at least once a month.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get caught up on the progress, there has been plenty of it. Construction on the winery is moving along nicely. The framing is all done, the roof is on, the electrical rough-in is almost done and the plumbing rough-in is done. By the end of the year the siding will be on, the HVAC will be roughed in, and maybe even the insulation will be done. Here’s a couple of pictures to catch you up on that:

Front of winery in June 2013. Large winery side door.

The vineyard is finally looking much better. With the tractor I’ve been able to keep it mowed like it’s supposed to be. Unfortunately I’m not there as often as I should be so wildlife did some serious damage to the vineyard or at least any possible harverst. As a result we didn’t get any fruit again this year, but at least we’ve had some vine growth. I’m hoping that next year with some agressive pest control I’ll actually be able to get a small harvest:

A clean vineyard floor.

And lastly, as far as progress goes, effective 10/01/2013 we are officially a farm winery with a farm winery ABC License in hand.

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Another Year…

I keep saying this, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Time is flying by, hard to believe that 2012 is just about over. Tomorrow is the last day of the year, and I still have a lot of work to do. We’ve been working on the roof for the last several weeks and still have quite a long way to go. I knew going in that a metal roof was going to take longer to do than shingles, but I still believe that the finished product will be well worth it. The weather started out great through all of Fall, but once Winter hit, it really has changed. That has not made it easy, but it is what it is. This is what the roof is looking like so far:

Metal roof going on winery.

The vineyard, well, that is something else. The weeds are absolutely huge. I’ve been focusing all of my time and effort this last year on the winery, which as good as that is for the winery, it has been to the detriment of the vineyard. Without being able to spend time really working the vineyard, the weeds have taken over. Well, 2013 will be the year of the vineyard. I’ve been saying it all year, and I’ve finally done something about it. I bought a tractor and I can’t wait to get the vineyard all cleaned up. As soon as I can get the winery under roof anyway. This is what the tractor looks like:

My new vineyard tractor.

Click here for more pics of our winery.

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A Long Summer…

First, let me start off by apologizing for taking this long to write another post. It really has been a long, long summer, even though not as much progress has taken place as I would have liked. By this point I planned on having the winery completely under roof and the vineyard should be looking great. Unfortunately neither of those are true. Most of the framing on the winery is done, but not quite finished. Another couple of weekends, and I should be ready to put a finished roof on it. It has taken some time and we’ve exhausted several options that we really wanted to pursue as far as our roof covering goes, but unfortunately, our first, second and third choices are just too far out of our budget. Ironically, we’re actually back to where we started as far as roofing goes, as we’ve decided to use a metal roof. I should be able to make that work by doing the labor myself. Of course, before we get to that point, I need to finish the framing, paint the exterior walls and install windows. This is what the building is looking like right now:

Front of winery with most of the framing completed.

As far as the vineyard goes, I REALLY, REALLY need to buy a tracotr. I’m not sure how most of the vines are doing because I’ve been so busy building the winery and more importantly, because I haven’t bought a tractor yet. The weeds I can say with absolute certainty, are thriving. As for the beautiful Vidal Blanc cluster in the picture from the last post, well, the following week when I got to the vineyard, I was quite unhappy to see that some critter had eaten off every single grape from every single cluster. I wasn’t really planning on getting enough fruit this year to actually make any wine, but that was still very frustrating to see. I did buy some Vidal Blanc grapes from a vineyard down in the Wintergreen area, that is doing quite well. This is a picture of that:

Vidal Blanc going through fermentation.

Click here for more pics of our winery.

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Winery Construction Continues…

Construction on the winery building is still ongoing. Unfortunately, my time estimates haven’t been as accurate as I would have hoped (by now I suppose I should be used to that), so everything is taking a bit longer than I planned. That being said, work is progressing, and the building is really taking shape now. This is a picture I took after I finished up yesterday. The floor over the future tasting room is now up and next weekend I’ll put some walls on top of it and hopefully start setting some roof trusses.

Front of winery with floor installed.

Our best Vidal Blanc vine is still holding strong. As can be seen here, the fruit is starting to change color and will soon be a beautiful golden yellow:

Vidal Blanc Cluster.

I had previously put up a picture of half of the door that will be welcoming you into your tasting room one day. The door has now arrived, and though it has not been installed yet, I pulled it out of the crate, leaned the two halves up against some shelves in our garage (which happens to be blocking everything Tracie was trying to get to this morning… Oops) and here they are, the guys over at Design Master Doors did a great job:

Winery Door.

Click here for more pics of our vegetable garden.

Click here for more pics of our vineyards.

Click here for more pics of our winery.

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Time Really Does Fly…

Wow.. I can’t believe it has been almost a month since my last post. There has been so much going on. The exterior walls of the winery have been set, the plumbing was roughed in, the winery drain was installed, the slabs have been poured and trusses ordered. I’ve spent the last several weekends getting the site prepped for all of that to take place so there have been some really, really long weekends. If all goes according to plan, I’ll start framing this weekend to get everything ready for roof trusses to be set on June 30th. I’m still trying to find a tractor so to say that the vineyard is overgrown with weeds right now is a serious understatement. Checkout the view of the front of the winery:

Front of Winery.

There have been lots of other pictures taken showing the progress, you can follow the links below to our photo albums which also include a time lapse video of the walls going up. It was pretty impressive to watch them being set. On Thursday, our winery door is supposed to be delivered and I can’t wait to see it. I’ll make sure to upload a picture of it to our Facebook page.

Click here for more pics of our vegetable garden.

Click here for more pics of our vineyards.

Click here for more pics of our winery.

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Vineyard and Winery updates….

The last few weeks have brought a lot of changes out on the vineyard and the winery. I’ve spent the last several weekends prepping for and installing the three sets of catch wires on our vineyard rows that will catch the vines as they continue to grow far above the cordon wire. Our newly planted Traminette rows that are about a month old at this point are doing really, really well. Some of them are growing up above the grow tubes already. This picture below shows what the vineyard looks like now that the wires are all in place. Since we put the Traminette vines in, we’ve gotten a fair bit of rain which has certainly made my life easier. Of course, as great as this rain is great for the young vines, unfortunately, it is also great for the weeds. I’m currently going through the available options out there as I shop for a tractor to help me do all of the vineyard work.

Vineyard with catch wires.

This is what one of the new Traminette vines is looking like:

Traminette vine.

With the great weather we’ve been having, the vines are really moving along nicely, this is one of the Vidal blanc vines where the little grape clusters are starting to develop flowers that will become actual fruit by Summer’s end:

Traminette vine.

As far as the winery goes, we are really making some progress now. The area has been prepped for the exterior walls which will be set next Monday. I’ve ordered the roof trusses, and I’ve ordered the front door which will become the tasting room door one day from a company called Design Master Doors. They have been so kind as to send me a picture of the door as it stands now. This is just one side of the double door, and it looks awesome so far, I can’t wait to see it once it comes in.

Future Tasting Room Door Under Construction.

Click here for more pics of our vegetable garden.

Click here for more pics of our vineyards.

Click here for more pics of our winery.

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Spring is in the air… sort of

It’s been a couple of weeks since we got the Traminette vines into the ground, and in spite of Mother Nature’s best efforts, they are doing very well. To say that the weather has been interesting the last few weeks is a serious understatement. We’ve had a couple of frost scares that we have managed to get through unscathed but looking at the extended forecast, we have a couple more to endure. In between that we’ve also had some record high temperatures that have helped advance the growth in the vineyard as well as our vegetable garden which is looking great and has provided us with lots of greens these last few weeks. This is our best looking Vidal Blanc vine that is about to force me to have to install catch wires to keep its growth off the ground. I suppose, that’s not a bad problem to have.

Vidal Blanc vine.

Though there isn’t much to show for it, we’ve continued to make progress in the winery. Over the next few weeks, things are going to change and we’ll actually get to see some real progress. If all goes well, we’ll have walls up by the middle of May and the roof on by the end of June. I ordered our winery door, and it looks awesome, I can’t wait to post some pictures of that. We are close to making some decisions on windows, and once that’s done, we can actually get going on having the exterior walls ordered.

Click here for more pics of our vegetable garden.

Click here for more pics of our vineyards.

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A lot going on…

It’s been a busy few weeks, and the upcoming weeks appear to be even more so. The unseasonably warm weather has led to the Vidal Blanc to be going through bud break well ahead of schedule. Hopefully we won’t have any frost in the next few weeks as that would be very, very bad. Check out this picture of one of our Vidal vines:

Vidal Blanc bud break.

I had previously talked about my struggle with having a vegetable garden. So far this year we’re off to a great start. Our elevated garden bed is looking great and in the next few days I should be enjoying an Arugula harvest. Here’s how it’s looking:

Elevated garden bed experiment.

As far as the vineyard goes, I’m very excited to say that in just a few days, Tracie and I will be planting 200 new Traminette vines that just arrived today. I was lucky enough to have help last Saturday (thank you Brian and Cam) when I rented a two man auger to drill the holes for the vines. We got them all done and a few extras to finish up some posts that I hadn’t been able to finish previously. These two pictures show the newly dug out holes ready to plant as well as the vines that just arrived this afternoon:

Ready for planting.200 newly arrived vines.

It also looks like we’re getting closer and closer to having the winery up. I’m about to order the exterior walls from Superior Walls of VA, as well as the roof and floor trusses from Better Building Components. If all goes well, by mid May we’ll have the walls up and by the end of May the roof trusses will be on and maybe even shingled. That will get us one step closer…

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Let’s try this one more time…

For the last several years we have tried rather unsuccessfully to put together a vegetable garden. We ‘ve tried different spots around the yard, different kinds of soils, we’ve tried to just plant in pots instead of in the ground, we’ve tried what feels like just about everything. This is something we really want to figure out since we believe that serving our own vegetables is something that we want to do as part of our Inn experience. So after doing some research we are trying something totally different this year. I built an elevated garden box. It’s off the ground a little more than a foot and then it’s about twenty inches tall making the top of it about the same height as a kitchen counter top. That, so far, seems like the perfect height. I made it 8′ wide by 4′ deep making every square inch easily reacheable from the outside. I put about 3″ of gravel at the bottom of this box that will be kept full with water most of the time as we get into the Summer months and then the rest I filled up with really good soil – a mixture of screened top soil, compost, peat moss, humus/manure and organic garden soil. I really wanted to only use organic soil, but it is just too expensive. I used some plastic pipe and plastic sheathing to make a removeable dome over it for the next few weeks, until we are out of frost danger and I started planting some things. I sowed Gourmet Lettuce, Arugula, Mustard Greens, Speckled Lettuce, Yellow Carrots, Beets, Shallots and Red Onions seeds, and I also have several varieties of Tomatoes and Peppers going. So far it looks great. :-) Only time will tell. This is a picture of the elevated box with the dome over the top of it.

Our elevated garden bed.

Click here for more pics of our vegetable garden.

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Spring has arrived…

Spring has come entirely too fast this year. Really, it feels like it has come and gone. Nature is way ahead of schedule which means that the next few months are going to get quite busy. Now that the vineyard rows are all cleaned up, it is time to get ready to plant some new vines. I have 200 Traminette vines coming the first week of April. In order to be ready for that, I’ll be renting a two man auger the last weekend of March to get all of the holes dug out. Sometime before that I’ll also be fertilizing the rest of the vines from last year to see if we can get some real growth out of them this year. The last two years haven’t gone as well as I’d hope, but I have a good feeling about this year. As far as the winery building goes, we’re making some progress there as well. I went down to Amelia, VA to meet with John Cotton and Jim Avery from Superior Walls of Virginia to get the rest of our plans finalized. I’m hoping to place that order here in the next few weeks which hopefully will get us to the point where we can have a winery building up by the end of the Summer. If we can make that work, that would be awesome. I also have been working with a company in Portugal to get some estimates on fermentation tanks, stainless steel basket presses and stainless steel “lagars” for red wine primary fermentation. If all goes well, I’ll be able to get most of our large winery equipment from them.

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