Just trying to keep up

It’s hard to beat Spring time in Virginia, let alone when you work amongst the vines with the South West Mountains as a beautiful backdrop. Temperatures are manageable and the humidity has yet to arrive which makes working outside a pleasure at the moment.

a perfectly manicured row

Admittedly this is my most favorite time of the year, other than harvest of course.

As discussed in previous blogs, spring time is a fairly challenging time in the vineyard. The threat of frost needs to be monitored and with all the rain we have been having of late, I have already sprayed the vineyard twice to ensure we do not get any powdery or downy mildew. The weather forecast suggests some more rain in the next few days so more than likely, Ol Betsy [my tractor] and myself will be spending some good quality time together.

uniform growth throughout the block, a very good sign

The vineyard looks very good though, we did a bud and shoot count the other day and we worked out that we are hanging in the 5 ton range per acre which is great. The little clusters are easily visible and if we have some good weather during flowering and fruit set, we should be good to go.

A little Viognier Cluster

A great time to be working on some infra-structure projects, straightening up some end posts, fixing wires and taking care of the weeds in between the vines by spraying a pre-emergent herbicide. Trunks are being stripped and the shoots are gently being tucked into the catch wires [to ensure they grow vertically and do not flop over into the row]. I wasn’t kidding when I said shoots can grow up to one inch a day, that kind of growth is easily seen in our Chardonnay block, these are young vines that have a tendency to get off to a quick start in the spring.

2011 is off to a good start, we have consistent bud break and growth in the vineyard. Blocks that have struggled in the last few years have started to show incredible signs of improvement [Norton and Malbec] in particular; and the guys are working hard to ensure we stay ahead of the game. For now at least, we can enjoy an incredibly positive start to the 2011 growing season with a good glass of vino, {Keswick Vineyards wine of course}

Al teaching Stephen

This allows me to start focusing on the bottling scheduled for May 30th and 31st. Viognier and Touriga are being prepped and look good, everything you have come to expect from our wines. Luscious and full of character, and very expressive in the glass. Just exercise some patience as they might require a little bit of aging as they are massively structured wines.

Come on, you have to admit being a winemaker in Virginia has to be one of the coolest jobs on the planet.

Cheers to you and Virginia Wine



5 comments on “Just trying to keep up

  1. […] Stephen Barnard, Keswick’s winemaker, updates us on what’s going on in the vineyard […]

  2. Geri says:

    Wonderful update. Any chance we might have malbec this year by itself?

    • Stephen says:

      Malbec is the tricky grape for us. In the last 5 years we have kept the fruit once, to make a wine for the wine club. Honestly we are looking at planting more Cabernet Franc or Merlot but we are off to a good start and if the weather holds, we should be able to produce one. I will be sure to keep you updated

  3. Thanks for your comment Steve, but all credit to the vineyard guys for getting great fruit to the cellar, all I have to do is not mess it up
    Take care

  4. Steve Gaines says:

    Cheers to you Stephen. Thanks for continuing to make consistently excellent wines!

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