Here comes the sun!
It is about time that this warmer season finally decided to show up. It is still too early to see how this winter affected the vines. I know that there is plenty of water in the soil for the hay growers and for the new vines that we- and many others- will be planting this spring. We are all hoping that once our little green buds have broken open in the vineyard, the killer frosts stay away until November. Last years frost hurt many vineyards in the industry and we all are looking for a strong and productive vintage.
One thing is for sure, there will be more customers visiting more wineries this spring. There are even more wineries in Virginia than at this time last year and many of them are growing in volume. It was announced at the Virginia Governor’s Cup gala that Virginia wineries 530,000 cases of wine last year is a record number. The reality check is that the winery I worked at in California, it was not Gallo, made 400,000 cases in 1995. Also the figure holds strong that of all the wine purchased in Virginia, about 4% is Virginia wine. We have a great potential ahead of us. We may be tied with Texas within the U.S., but we have a growing reputation for quality well beyond our borders. Our continued growth will be dependent not on our marketing at this time, but on our farming and weather.
There really is nothing much that we can do about the weather, just find new ways to protect our vines. That goes back to the farmer. As we are expanding our vineyard here on the estate, we purchased another Shurfarm frost protection machine. When we use it, this will remove the cold air from our vineyard on those cold, vulnerable nights. We also need to be ready for very dry periods, wet and disease filled years, high winds and hail. I have a feeling that Mother Nature may come up with some new weather phenomena to challenge us with. We will face that one too.
I was fortunate enough to be chosen by the Governor to sit on the Virginia Wine Board. One of our tasks is to keep the success of our wine industry moving forward. This goal fits right in with what I have been talking about. We will need more vines planted and more people to plant them. As we grow I am always concerned about having enough people to do the work needed in the field and in the tasting room. We have been fortunate to address the challenges as we need to, but now I need to think about these challenges on a state level. Well, I guess we are talking about repeatable models. I am looking forward to working with others in the industry to address the challenges and growing pains that are upon us. It is an honor to be chosen. I guess this means that the wine neighborhood that I helped to build is getting a little bigger.
Written by: Doug Fabiolli