Vineyard Cleanup…

One of the problems we’ve had in the vineyard is that last year the weeds went a little crazy, so much so that it made just walking up and down the rows quite a challenge. I had the rows cleaned up last week and they look a lot better. With the weather warming up, I needed to make sure that everything was ready for the planting of the 200 Traminette vines that are due to arrive the first week of April. Check out a Panoramic shot of the vineyard.

Panoramic view of vineyard

Click here for more pics of the newly cleaned up vineyard.

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We’re in print!!!!

We’ve been subscribing to the Virginia Wine Lover magazine for quite sometime, probably since their inception or soon thereafter. Sometime last year, I noticed a link in one of their eMail newsletters about hosting your own Virginia Wine tasting party, and how the results of that tasting could get published in the magazine. So, in October of 2011, we did just that. We picked Virginia Cabernet Sauvignon as our wine, and our guests brought in unique bottles that were logged and then concealed as this was to be a blind wine tasting. I sent off the results to the magazine, and a few weeks back got an eMail from them that an article about our wine tasting would appear in the next issue, which came out last week. Check it out on page twelve of the magazine. I’m also including the article below.

Virginia Wine Lover.

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Slow month…

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. It has been rather slow on the progress front. I made a couple of trips down to the Charlottesville area, but mostly to meet with contractors. After much work we were finally able to layout roof trusses for the winery building. It’s no longer a hip roof, but the pros greatly outweigh the cons in that regard. I was really hoping to have all walls being just concrete which would have been possible with a hip roof, but the layout was next to impossible because of multiple roofs and roof pitches being blended together. Going the gable route, the first nine feet of wall will be concrete, and the gable ends will be cedar shake style vinyl siding. It should actually look pretty cool. By going with this style roof, we’ll also open up the inside of the building getting us much needed storage.

Last Tuesday we went back to FOODĒ for dinner. I had the Crispy Pork Belly again, for appetizer this time because well, it is just that good, and finished up with the Anniversary Spinach Salad that is finished with spicy caramel popcorn (yes, you read that right), and it was great. Tracie had a yummy short rib Ravioli appetizer and their Chef’s salad. Beth and Joy along with their wonderful staff are doing a great job here and I wish them the utmost success. I can’t wait for our next visit, Tracie and I have decided that’s where we will go from now on when we go out to eat, which is not that often anymore.

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The first of many trips to FOODĒ.

Almost a year ago, FOODĒ opened in oldtown Fredericksburg. I’ve been wanting to go there for months, ever sense I first found out about their existence. When it comes to sourcing fresh, local ingredients, they are doing a lot of the same things that we are hoping to do when we open the Inn. After many months of talking about it, Tracie and I finally went there for today’s brunch. Although we often try to get different things when we go out to eat, we both ended up ordering the same thing – Crispy Pork Belly. I had seen a picture of the dish on their blog a few weeks ago so I knew that’s what I was getting before I ever got there, and once Tracie saw it on the menu, that was that. This is what it looks like, and trust me when I say this, the picture does not do it justice, it was delicious. I’m hoping today was the first of many trips to FOODĒ.

Crispy Pork Belly.

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Work on the winery continues.

My parents and I drove down yesterday to work on building the foundation wall that will separate the future tasting room from the winery part of the building. I had 275 12″ cinder blocks, a cubic yard of sand and 9 bags of cement delivered on Friday for this particular task. I was under the impression that it had been dry the last couple of days because you know, the weather people said so. I guess they lied, it looks like it rained quite a bit the night before and what we thought was going to be pretty dry ground we were going to be working on, was actually a whole lot of mud. That aside, it was actually a pretty nice day to work outside. At one point, I owned a small concrete mixer, well, I still own it, but it’s broken. I thought about spending the $300 to buy a new one this week, but my dad helped talk me out of it since we wouldn’t be mixing that much mortar. That is a decision I regretted very, very early yesterday, Mixing nine batches of mortar by hand just plain sucks. The first couple of rows took the longest, but once we got past that, it moved along pretty quickly. The pictures below show where we were just before we took a lunch break and then how it looks finished. The left part of the wall that is only five courses high is the retaining wall outside of the building next to what will be the crush pad.

Christmas Tree.At the end of the day.

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Holiday goodies.

I remember growing up that right around Christmas time, my dad would always make Filhozes (Pumpkin Fritters). Very simple, they consist of pumpkin, flour, sugar, eggs, and a little bit of salt, water and cinnamon. Once fried they are covered in a sugar and cinnamon mixture. When you eat them warm, they literally melt in your mouth. Well this morning he made a batch of them using Butternut Squash instead of Pumpkin. As soon as I walked in the smell of their sweet goodness just covered the air bringing back childhood memories. I think this is something we’ll have to make at the Inn around the Holidays and just have a plate of them in the dining room for our guest to enjoy.

Butternut Squash Fritters.

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Winery foundation.

It’s been a long time coming to this point, but a little more progress has just been made. We started digging out for the foundation last week, and of course, we hit rock. I guess that’s what happens when you decide to put a winery on a mountain. We’ve had to make a couple of adjustments to the orientation of the building, but luckily, not enough to negatively impact the views or our landscaping plan. If all goes according to plan, and by plan I mean if the weather allows it, by the end of the week, the rest of the foundation and the footers will be dug out. My plan is to go down on Friday with my Dad and pour the footers. Then the following week, we’ll be able to start building the wall that will divide the back part of the winery where our wine will be made from the front part, which will one day, hopefully, be a tasting room. I still have some decisions to make when it comes to the interior layout of the winery, but luckily, I have some time on that.

Winery Foundation dug out.

Update – 12/24/2011:
Yesterday, my Dad and I went down and poured the footer for the winery building. As it turns out it rained WAY more overnight than we thought it had. Luckily I hadn’t scheduled the delivery of the concrete until ten o’clock so we were able to dig a ditch so that the water would run off from the footer. I got done shovelling the mud from the dirt that had collapsed into the footer just in time for the arrival of the concrete truck. We finished up, stopped off at Dr. Ho’s for an order of their awesome fresh cut fries while we waited for our pizza. We headed off to meet Stephen at Keswick Vineyards where he joined us for that pizza before we tried his 2011 wines. As has been said in just about everything written about the 2011 Virginia harvest, this was probably the toughest year Virginia wines have ever had, with record rainfall and lack of sun at the worst possible time. But despite all of that, Stephen has done a great job, as always, and I’m looking forward to the finished product. This is what the finished footer looks like, it may not seem like much, but it’s a very important step to getting a building up.

Winery footer is now poured.

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All things Portuguese.

I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned this before, but I was born on the Portuguese island of Terceira. My parents moved back to Portugal a few years back, and Tracie and I go visit about every other year. I try to support all things Portuguese and as such, we checked out a new winery just up the road in Bealeton – Morais Vineyards. Its owner is Portuguese, their tanks came from Portugal, they have Portuguese dishes in the tasting room, and they’re making a couple of Portuguese style wines. The place is absolutely incredible, and well worth the trip.

Morais Vineyards.

To go along with the Portuguese theme, this week we made some Chourico, a mildly spicy pork sausage. We got together with some friends, and cut up about sixty pounds of pork, marinated it and then stuffed it into casing. My dad finished smoking it today and this is what it looked like while it was smoking.

Chourico smoking.

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A little Christmas Cheer.

It’s hard to believe it’s Christmas time already. This year has absolutely flown by. Tracie got the whole house decorated for Christmas, and now it’s time for a little Holiday drink.

Christmas Tree.A Christmas Drink.

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Construction and vineyard updates.

A lot has gotten done in the last couple of weeks. A couple of loads of stone were spread out over the driveway making it look like more of an entrance. I spent some time down at the Nelson County zoning and planning office and got my building permits for the Winery and the Vineyard storage buildings. Hopefully we’ll get some work done on those here in the next few weeks before it gets really cold. It will be nice when we actually get some buildings up, it will feel like real progress. I’m really looking forward to the winery building since we’re having the exterior walls build the same was as we’re going to have the house done, using Superior Walls. This will serve as our practice run so to speak since it’s not quite as big as the house. It’s a really cool product that we think will accomplish the look and feel we’re going after with the Inn and Winery.

New stone added to driveway.

On the Vineyard we’ve been quite busy as well. With my parents’ help, we’ve been able to install all of the wires that tie the ends pots down to the earth anchors. We tightened up all of the cordon wires and we also pruned all of the vines. As we pruned, we left the grow tubes on all of those that had to be pruned down to the bottom since there wasn’t enough growth last year to reach the wire (which unfortunately was almost all of them….. ok….. it was all of them but one, but who’s counting). We also tied the bamboo stakes that will help keep the vines and tubes straight to the cordon wire. In the next few weeks I’m having a tractor with a York rake go down each row to pick up the rocks and hopefully pull out all of the annoying thorny weeds so that next year I can actually mow between the rows. We also realized as we pruned that we had lost more vines than I anticipated from last year. So in the Spring I will be replanting a few hundred again. Anyway, not sure how will this picture will show it, but it’s the end pots with the wires tightened down to the earth anchors.

End posts tied down to earth anchors.

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