MONETA, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia’s wine industry has a nearly two billion dollar impact on the state’s economy, and it is still growing. That is according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
While the industry is growing, so is its acclaim. Virginia wines are receiving positive reviews in national media like Forbes, Wine Review Online, The Chicago Tribune, and Wine Enthusiast.
The Virginia wine board credits the success and ascendency of Virginia wines to what it calls a “combination of old-world grace and southern grit.”
Spring at a Virginia winery means tending the tender shoots, leaves, and fledgling grape blossoms. That means protecting them from the elements, parasites, and insects, and encouraging them to flourish. It is also a time of discovery and renewal.
“Out here we tend the vines, we want them to last us 20 or thirty years,” said Thomas Vandiver, owner, and winemaker at Ramulose Ridge Vineyards and Winery in Moneta, Virginia. Every winter when we prune it looks like a bunch of dead sticks out here. You’re like oh man, I hope they all lived, I hope they survived. Then in the spring, you see it; they all come to life, and as you can see behind me, they’re just so beautiful.”
At this time of year, if Vandiver is not outside tending the vines, he is inside testing the vintages aging in barrels.
“You want to make sure nothing’s gone crazy,” Vandiver said as he poured a sample from a cask to test it. “If the ph starts to drop that that could be indicative of a microbial activity that you don’t want, so you take corrective measures and then of course we test it with the old taste test.”
The testing will continue until the wines are ready to bottle.
Meanwhile, back outside, the grapes will not be ready for harvest until late summer or early fall. It will be at least a year after that before they are ready to drink wine. Every crop is different and can create different flavors and experiences depending on rain, sunlight, and soil chemistry.
Vandiver says that is where the skill of the winemaker comes into play: “It’s always something a little bit different that we have to work with. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes it philosophical. That’s what makes it magical, whatever word you want to use; that this exact same plant every year will give us something different to work with. As an artist, that’s exciting.”