Exploring VA Wines

Getting back to basics

By Doug Fabbioli

As much as I tend to get philosophical about the direction of the rural economy, the workforce or the next generation of leaders, I also need to get back to rolling up my sleeves and getting some work done, especially as we gear up for harvest. While I find it refreshing and invigorating to get the blood pumping and focus on accomplishing one task, there are so many projects and responsibilities that fall back on me that it can be more effective for me to stay out of the trenches and instead define work for my team and give them direction.

Just for fun, here are a few of the winemaking and production projects I’m directing right now:

Exploring VA Wines-Pear pics 436We are picking the pear bottles off of the tree. 24 bottles will go to Catoctin Creek Distillery for them to use.  We will pick and process pears for Una Pera, pear port-style and pear brandy next week. We need to get more rice hulls from Pennsylvania in order for that to work properly. We are picking raspberries every 3 days and processing weekly. The chiller for our wine tanks broke; fortunately it was just a blown fuse – but I was on the phone with the manufacturer for a good long while before the problem was diagnosed.Exploring VA Wines-pears2

The vineyards are ripening up quickly. The hot and dry weather along with lower yields have accelerated the maturing process. Our Viognier in California was picked yesterday and is being shipped as I write this. We will sample our Chardonnay and Chambourcin grapes this week, and expect to pick in 3 weeks. The estate fruit is thin but looks clean. We will sample the estate grapes next week.

I received our annual truckload of new and used barrels from California last week. Some of the barrels are for us, and the rest will go to other wineries, so those pickup and deliveries will need to be coordinated. One more thing…With the dry weather, I need to keep the irrigation up on the hops. We planted 2 acres this year and they are looking good. We hand harvested our 1/4 acre and sold some for wet hops along with drying some for later. The freezers are full leaving little room for raspberries and tasting room stuff. (Where is that additional freezer that I ordered? I need to track it down!) I better make sure that the raspberries get the water they need as well. They suck up a ton of water at this time and the forecast is for pretty dry weather still.

I did not want to complicate this article with the construction of the new tasting room as this is a whole other level of challenges, including landscaping, septic, permits, concrete, kitchen design, furniture, fixtures, trim work, and painting the ladies room a third time in the hopes that we finally got the right color.Exploring VA Wines-pears1

This is all part of the bigger picture that there may be many things that I want to do, but I need to make sure that I do the things that NEED to get done. That would be leadership and setting the right example. I am sure I will drop a few things along the way, but I hope they are small things that are easy enough to pick up. I am looking forward to slowing down someday.

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