A fine wine is not an accident of nature. What you savor for your drinking pleasure is only achieved with premium quality grapes. The next important “ingredient” is sound winemaking processes (yes, at Virginia Mountain Vineyards this actually includes softly talking to the wine while it is in the barrel!). To achieve a premium product for you, we believe it is essential to grow and hand-tend our grapes personally. It is our commitment to you for maintaining the quality you expect year after year.
Winter Vine Pruning
In winter, while the vines are dormant, we carefully hand-prune the year’s growth. This important step minimizes spring growth to ensure each vine is productive for years to come. With more than 5,600 vines to tend, this means during those chilly winter months we are out in the vineyards making nearly a quarter million precise hand cuts to the vines.
Spring Vine, Cluster, and Leaf Pruning
While much of each vine is cut back in the winter, there remains a great deal of pruning and thinning to be done when spring arrives and the vines transform from lifeless-looking branches into a field of green. If you believe wine grapevines just naturally grow into nicely-trained vines, think again! Lazy vine pruning produces a field of fruitless “bushes.” Many passes of shoot pruning continues for a 4–8 week period. Later in the spring and summer, even more thinning of grape clusters and leaves is necessary to allow the right amount of sunshine to nurture the clusters.
Fall, as you might imagine, is our busiest and, of course, the most critical time of the year. Typically, our grape harvest begins in September and continues through mid-October. The length of the harvest itself will depend on the growing season’s weather. Generally, fewer grapes per plant result in better fruit and an earlier harvest. We grow more fruit than we need in order to have only the best selection for producing our premium wines. The high-quality grapes that we do not crush for our wines are sold to other vintners.
All Virginia Mountain Vineyards grapes are hand-picked when they are ripe and processed immediately. We begin the white grape processing by destemming and crushing and then gently pressing them in our modest-sized grape bladder press to extract the sweet juice. The juice is then pumped into large stainless steel fermenting tanks.
Red grapes are destemmed, crushed, and pumped directly to fermenting tanks without being pressed. As soon as primary fermentation is complete, the juice/skins/stems mixture, called “must,” is gently pressed. Some of the resulting liquid will make its way into oak barrels for final aging depending on the winemaker’s preferences. The winemaker can influence many variables throughout the vinting process to achieve a unique and well-balanced wine.
Part of the fun of operating a winery is interacting with our fellow wine lovers! We participate in wine festivals almost every weekend from spring through fall. The majority of Virginia Mountain Vineyard’s wine sales occur at our own Tasting Room, and at select weekend festivals in Virginia. Check our event schedule to join us at a festival near you, come up to the vineyards for our own events, or come by the Tasting Room when we are open any time from March to October to relax and enjoy wonderful views and great wine!