Straight from the Vine
Private vintners will soon be drinking up the rewards of a great grape crop in hunt country
BY VICKEY MOON
As summer slowly slipped away, grapes on area arbors were positively, perfectly ripe. The drought had been a double-edged sword for area agriculture aficionados. While the farmers were doing rain dances for taller corn, the vintners were jumping for joy.
"It's a very intense time of year," said John Todhunter, who owns Three Fox vineyards along with his wife, Holli Todhunter. As harvest time draws near, a deluge of rain could cause the grapes to swell with water, diluting the sugar content or possibly popping the delicate fruit open - all of which makes the difference between a good year and disaster. The long hot dry summer was an advantage for grape production. "You only have a small window of opportunity to create a wine with character," John remarked.
Holli and John and others with small vineyards in the countryside celebrate the end of the growing season in different ways. fifty members of Three Fox Vineyards' Vintners Circle, whose membership entitles them to discounts and harvesting privileges, gathered with harvest shears in hand.
The Todhunters spent 20 years traveling out from the city to the Middleburg area and looking at land before they purchased fifty acres in Delaplane in 2002. "It has always been our dream to have a vineyard," Holli said.
There are ten and a half acres of vines planted at Three Fox Vineyards with Viognier, Pinot Grigio, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc expected to produce 3,000 cases this season. (Their 2006 Alouette Cabernet Franc recently took a silver in the Vinifera Wine Growers Mid-Atlantic competition.) The vineyard is open for tastings, and the views while sitting and sipping are magnificent.
Over near the village of Rectortown, Vicki and Bill Edmands were preparing to swing open the gates (by appointment only) for the debut of their boutique vineyard, Vintage Ridge. "We want to provide something more than the typical tasting room experience. Guests will be able to enjoy a flight of wines with delicious bites at a seated tasting within the working winery," Vicki said.
Friends, family and some additional hands helped with picking their seven acres of vines, which will eventually produce Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Mourvedre, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Vidal Blanc wines.