Wine is Made in the Vineyard?

There is a saying that I hear all the time, “Wine is made in the vineyard.” I know of the hard work winemakers put in at a winery. Having experienced some of the fun as well as more mundane tasks at wineries has given me an appreciation for the efforts that winemakers put forth. Then today happened. This was the third day Kathy and I spent in a vineyard working. Today we were alone and had to plant a row of Petite Manseng. After three days I can say that farming is also hard work. Fortunately the holes were pre-dug but that didn’t stop us from making rookie errors.

We had to lug the equipment and most importantly the water to the vineyard. We hopped into a 1985 Ford truck. I never managed to get past first gear on this manual transmission truck. The ride to the vineyard was in stark contrast to the ride we had last week through a Mendocino, California vineyard in a Mercedes. I was so glad we made it to the vineyard that I stopped the truck, turned it around and then figured that I had to push a knob to take the key out. Of course the truck was at the end of the row we were to plant. That wasn’t a problem. The error was that we started planting vines closest to the truck rather than furthest from the truck. Two hours later we were tired and had to lug water from the container on the truck to the end of the row. Although we only planted 24 vines, I can imagine the hours that vineyard workers put in.

We decided to plant Petite Manseng for a variety of reasons. Since we already have red wine aging in barrels, it seemed like a good idea to plant a white. Then last month at the Drink Local Wine Conference in Virginia, a panel of winemakers listed Petite Manseng a good varietal grape for Virginia. We aren’t that far away from Virginia and since this is an experimental vineyard, it made sense to plant that grape. Petite Manseng can be harvested and made into a dry wine, or left on the vine and harvested late for a sweet wine. This versatility is something I like so it made sense to go with the thick skinned Petite Manseng.

Now it is time to wait and see. We plan to how the row every other week and keep a watchful eye on the vines. But producing wine with the grapes is something that will have to wait a few years.

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