Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Hot Air

TC, winery sales manager and astute observer and organizer of winery activities, alerted the vineyard crew to the presence of a hot air balloon over the vineyard. It was a couple hundred feet up, and looked to be slowly descending. As it drew closer a vineyard worker ran to get his camera. The balloon continued to descend; a lapis lazuli pendant dropping in luxurious slow motion from a sky of white silk. Rows of vines like fingers, outstretched to catch a precious stone. Aloft passengers waved to earthbound admirers.

The balloon looked like it would touch down in the field adjacent to the vineyard to the south, behind some trees. The pilot asked if he could set down in one of the open fields on the vineyard property? Observers on the ground answered he was welcome to land anywhere he wanted.

The retrieval crew drove onto vineyard property in a van hauling a trailer. The balloon hovered over the trees, slowly approaching earth behind the winery; the pilot telling his ground crew exactly where he was going to land. He touched down on the gravel drive, and the ground crew guided the balloon basket to a spot where passengers could safely exit the basket, and the balloon to deflate onto the open grass. Here are some pictures:

Turns out the passengers had visited the winery the day before and told TC they were going on a balloon ride. They had no idea they would land at the same winery again the next day. TC wondered about the practicality of having a store of sparkling wine for future balloon landings.We hope balloonists can maneuver future landings in the merry old land of Shenandoah Vineyards.

Autumn Foliage Watch #5

Foliage is right about peak in the valley. The higher elevations in the National Forest are definitely post-peak having weathered several frosty mornings. The photograph shows the winery residence from the vineyard behind the winery. The end post of the vineyard block containing Cabernet Sauvignon gently leans in front of the potting shed. Maples are a rich golden-yellow. Black Walnuts are in siloutte, devoid of leaves. Vineyard in front of winery is partially visible beyond and behind the residence. Shrouded in mist, Massanutten Mountain attempts to punch through the low cloud ceiling.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumn Foliage Watch #4

This is a view of the GW National Forest and Fort Valley from the hiking trail closest to the winery, about a 10 minute drive to the trailhead, then a 20 minute hike to this spot. This is the section of the Massanutten Trail North that rounds the nose of Short Mountain visible from the winery. Cliffs are located just off the trail as you approach the ridge. As it was early evening, there wasn't much light, then it started raining... Still, you get a sense of the full palette of colors nature splashes in her wild autumn frenzy.

Specifically, you are looking east through Edinburg Gap, this is the mountain gap very prominent in the view from the front of the winery. Beyond the gap is Fort Valley, and Kennedy Peak juts skyward on the far side of the valley.

As this weekend is peak for autumn foliage color, pictures will be posted to capture a sense of the display. There is a natural beauty here beyond words and imagination, and fully worthy of respect and preservation. Here is a link to a panoramic image from near the same spot as the above picture. It was a clear afternoon, and shows the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains on the distant horizon; See:
Edinburg Gap panorama

Fall Celebration Progressive Dinner - Oct.24

Make plans to attend this year's Fall Celebration Progressive Dinner, Saturday October 24, 2009. Activities for this event begin with appetizers and wine at North Mountain Vineyard at 6:30 pm. The event progresses to dinner and wine at Shenandoah Vineyards at 8:00 pm. The progression finishes with dessert paired with wines from both North Mountain and Shenandoah Vineyards at Hockman Manor House B&B at 9:30 pm. Call 540-984-8699 for reservations and information. Autumn colors will be near peak for this event, so come early and make a day of it.


Appetizers - North Mountain Vineyard - 6:30 pm
Cheese Board w/Fresh Fruit
Rustic Rosemary Tart
Fig & Olive Tapenade on French Bread
Country Ham & Smoked Gouda in Phyllo Tartlets
Appetizers paired w/North Mountain Vineyard wines

Dinner - Shenandoah Vineyards - 8:00 pm
Salad - Frisee and Grape Salad w/Shallots, Blue Cheese & Herb Vinaigrette

Soup - French Onion Soup

Entree - Grilled Herb Rubbed Tuscan Pork Loin
served w/Cranberry and Carmelized Onion Sauce
Orzo w/ Lemon, Garlic, Parmigianino & Herbs
Green Beans w/Crispy Pancetta, Mushrooms & Shallots
Assorted Rolls & Butter
Dinner paired w/Shenandoah Vineyards wines

Dessert - Hockman Manor House - 9:15 pm
Custard Tart w/Wine Poached Grapes
Coffee-Toffee Pecan Pie
Coffee w/Dessert
Dessert paired w/North Mountain and Shenandoah Vineyards wines

Wild persimmons and sassafras leaves were gathered to give the viewer a feeling that we are experiencing autumn in all her glory. Nature paints herself in oranges, reds and browns of varying and infinite shades.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn Foliage Watch #3 - Oct. 21

The shade Maples in front of the winery owner's home are turning a yellow-orange. The Black Walnuts have lost most of their foliage and shed walnuts by the hundreds. All the grapes have been picked and crushed. We've had two mornings with frost helping to really bring color to the foliage. We are close to peak. Colors are approaching spectacular.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Last of the Summer Grapes

The vineyard crew gathers around Cabernet Sauvignon; each grape being the deep purple point of an exclamation marking the end of a good harvest. The proud vineyard workforce admiring their effort is from the left, Carl, Sonia, Justin and Ariel.

The end of the 2009 harvest marks both an end and a beginning. The fruit having been gathered, we can now concentrate on the work required of next year's and future harvests. All needs, wants, deficiencies and strengths of the vineyard can now receive more focus. There is no rest for the vineyard crew who must prune and do trellis maintenance throughout the winter season.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Autumn Foliage Watch #2

Autumn colors are developing nicely. While things are still predominately green around the vineyard, the nearby forest is beginning to show good color. The above photos are taken in the George Washington National Forest, only a very short drive from the winery. Massanutten Mountain, which appears on our label, is almost entirely in the National Forest. Indeed, when visiting our winery you are just a very short distance from the national heritage that is the National Forest.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn Foliage Watch #1

Autumn is the busiest season for the winery. Many of our customers are in the region to enjoy the colorful display of fall foliage. To facilitate your leaf-peeping desires, we will provide a window showing the progress of autumn color. As of Oct. 4, green still predominates. Virginia Creeper is turning red, and Black Walnut is beginning to turn yellow as seen in the picture. Golden-yellow early morning sun splashes gold across the foliage just beginning to change color. River mist blankets the base of Massanutten Mountain. Photograph is the vineyard from the sale's room deck. As with all the pictures in this blog, the photo enlarges when you click on it.

The nearby GW National Forest is a prime area to see glorious autumn colors. The Lee Ranger District has a webpage devoted to fall colors; See:
Why Leaves Change Color.

Harvest is in full swing. We have finished picking the white grapes and will begin picking reds this week. We'll finish the harvest after the Cabernet Sauvignon is picked within 2 weeks. Will try to snap a picture or two if I get the chance...