Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Openhouse Visitors

Blaise and Ben Nelson stopped by on their way to a formal event during our Christmas Openhouse, that was held December 4th and 5th.  Our openhouse, which kicked-off the holiday season, featured mulled wine, appetizers, and festive wine tastings for all.

The seasons celebrations continue with our Shenandoah Ruby Three-Bottle Special:  purchase three bottles of Shenandoah Ruby and recieve 10% off.  Includes gift box and and spice bag!

Holiday hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm seven days a week.  Closed Christmas Day and News Years Day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shenandoah Uncorked!

Shenandoah Vineyards is excited to be among the five local wineries featuring wine and other items at this year's Shenandoah Uncorked event. In addition to the wineries, other local businesses will have locally produced fresh farm produce, specialty foods and crafts on display and available for purchase. The event is held at Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns, Saturday, November 13, from 10 AM to 5 PM. For more details; See:
Here are a couple pictures of the picturesque Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns

Monday, November 8, 2010

Autumn Watch #5 - Moving It Indoors (Brrr...)

It's getting less fun outdoors with temperatures dropping. It was decided to put this post under "Autumn Watch" because it uses things previously listed in this category. And, there is the added benefit it is made in the cozy indoors.

The picture shows wild mushroom ragu paired with Shenandoah Ruby wine and pineapple chunks. Wild Meadow Mushrooms were picked from the vineyard and dried. (See: Autumn Watch#1) Recipe also uses red wine and file. We used 3/4 bottle Shenandoah Ruby for the red wine, and fresh, young, green sassafras leaves, dried and finely ground, to make the file. Click here for the wild mushroom ragu recipe.

We could've gone all out in preparing an Appalachian meal by using acorn flour to make homemade pasta, and local goat cheese as a topping, and maybe stewed local apples or persimmons as a side dish, but there's a limit to the amount of work needed to keep it regional and local. The ragu was delicious and rich. Too rich for some people's taste, and there are those who reject wild mushrooms in any shape or manner. The wine of course paired perfectly, as it was used as an ingredient in the ragu.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Autumn Watch #4 - At Least The Grass Is Still Green

This is where we are now. Many of the trees have lost their leaves, although the oaks are persistently  and courageously clinging to their foliage.  There is still abundant foliage on the oaks in the National Forest, but it is the more subdued shades of browns and tans, with some bright spots of orange-brown here and there.

At least the grass is still green in the vineyard. The verdant green of the ground cover is a vivid contrast to the tan and falling leaves of the vines. End-posts of the Riesling rows are a keyboard along the top of the hill, at the ready to play melodies sweet and ethereal. An Eastern Red Cedar is the focal point on the steep hill visible as you drive to and from the winery.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Autumn Watch #3 - We've Peaked

The autumn colors have peaked, and are marching to the more subdued tans, browns and rusts. There was a brief peak with its flourish of all-too-bright yellows, reds and oranges. But, after a couple of frosts its time for colors to begin resting. We'll try to post a few more Autumn Watch posts as the foliage deepens to siennas and coffees.

Early morning view across the front of the vineyard. Vineyard fruit is not limited to grapes, sweet scenes are tasty to the eye as well.

Picture is of Fort Valley Stables. Scenes as this are just a short drive from the vineyard. The hills and mountains are in the National Forest. Established trails are blazed and can be hiked or ridden on horseback.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn Watch #2 - Fence Row Along Block #2

Autumn is splashing color across the trees on the fencerow bordering block #2.

Both pictures show the flame-orange foliage of trees growing along the fence near block #2, Riesling, growing in front of the winery.  Pictures were taken on a misty-cloudy day, which gives colors the look of being in a museum. Vineyard workers have commented on the intense color of the trees, so we thought it worth a picture or two.  All grapes have been harvested, but the vines still display a verdant vitality as we haven't had a freeze yet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Watch #1 - Wild Mushrooms

The grapes have been harvested. We finished the day before heavy rains set in. Actually, the last of the grapes were harvested during scattered showers prefacing heavy rain the following day. Tropical storms and remnants of tropical storms are not unusual in Virginia. These usually coincide with harvest.

If we're lucky, the fall rains will wait until after harvest. With rain comes mushrooms, and some particularly tasty ones can be found in the vineyard. We occasionally use a flail mower in the vineyard. This machine turns grass and vine cuttings into a fine mulch, and mixes it into the top layers of soil. Several types of mushrooms favor the mix of soil and decaying plant matter resulting from the use of a flail mower. The Meadow Mushroom, Agaricus campestris, and the Purple-Spored Puffball, Calvatia cyanthiformis, can be found in large numbers in the vineyard after a rain in the fall.

The following pictures show mushrooms picked from the vineyard and included in some quick, delicious breakfast dishes.

This is a basket of Meadow Mushrooms, Agaricus campestris, picked from the vineyard two days after finishing harvest and one day after about 3" of heavy rains. The bulk of these will be dried and used in a mushroom ragu recipe. The recipe calls for red wine, and the plan is to use Shenandoah Ruby as an ingredient in the ragu, and as an accompaniment to the meal.

These are puffballs, Calvatia cyanthiformis. They are found in the vineyard, sometimes growing alongside the Meadow Mushrooms pictured at the top. These should be picked while still young and very firm; potato-size is about right, although they will grow larger. Slice open and examine color. Use only if the inside is a uniform pure white.

Not patient enough to wait for the ragu, some fresh Meadow Mushrooms were sauteed in butter and used to top off a slice of toasted pumpernickel bread for breakfast. The dark color of the cooked mushrooms compliments the dark pumpernickel. Thin slivers of Swiss cheese were melted over the mushrooms to hold them in place.

This is a quick breakfast idea using a Puffball, Calvatia cyanthiformis. Puffballs should only be eaten if they are a uniform pure white inside as shown sliced by the knife. Thin slices are fried in butter over medium-low heat. (High heat will char them and ruin the flavor.) They become pliable and a beautiful light-brown. The slices were put on a toasted bagel, and Feta cheese flavored with tomato and basil was melted to hold the topping in place.


This breakfast again uses fried puffball, sliced very thin. The puffball on the right is shown to be a uniform pure white inside. This time the fried puffball slices were pressed into the top of a scrambled egg while still in the skillet and cooked into place. Egg and puffballs are served on top of a toasted bagel.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Harvest is Upon Us

In short, 2010 harvest yield is down but quality is as good as we've seen it in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There was some crop loss following spring frosts. Summer drought caused smaller berry weights than is normal. But, the fruit harvested was sweet, rich and ripe. The picture shows Cabernet Sauvignon ready to pick from the vineyard behind the winery. Yes, the berries are that blue. Breathtakingly blue.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

31st Annual Harvest Festival

Everyone is invited to join Shenandoah Vineyards for our 31st Annual Harvest Festival. We are now firmly into our 3rd decade among the longest established wineries in Virginia, and the oldest in Shenandoah Valley. The harvest festival is a long-held tradition where we open ourselves to participation with the people who've made us successful all these years. 

The festival is a day-long event from 11 am to 6 pm. Admission is $10 for drinking-age adults, and $5 for people under 21 and non-drinkers/designated drivers. Children 4 and under are admitted free. Attractions include winery tours and wine tasting, food and refreshments, live music, crafters and artists, activities for young people including pony rides and llamas. 

The winery and vineyard will be open inside and out for people to stroll about, ask questions and generally enjoy themselves. Call us for more information at 540-984-8699.

Mostly Local Breakfast

As the economy continues to dictate frugality, this is what we had for breakfast this Saturday morning at work. Coffee of course is mandatory. (It was a tad early for wine, but one can imagine adding Raspberry Serenade to lively-up a morning cup of coffee or tea.)

On the crackers we put pears, sliced thick with a wide groove, and crumbled cheese drizzled with honey. The pears were picked from a tree on the edge of the vineyard. Both the cheese and honey are produced locally.

Harvest Nears

Early morning photograph at dawn shows the vineyard a week or so before harvest begins. Grapes are picked as they get ripe, so harvest doesn't happen all at once. Some grape varieties ripen earlier than others, and elevation and sun exposure due to ground slope and orientation can affect ripening.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Peaches in a Dream

Mid-summer is a time to dream. As days get filled with the sweet essence of ripe fruit, so this sweetness infuses our dreams. Pictured are peaches picked from a tree that volunteered along the fence-row bordering the gravel drive to the winery. Most of these will be baked into cobbler for dessert at our harvest festival supper. A lucky few will be sectioned to bathe and be savored in a Sauvignon Blanc, and appear on our blog to entice customers.

Levels of Enjoyment

Enjoyment of life needn't be vertically constrained. Take for instance the top photo; this shows our upper deck. The view from here is largely unobstructed and breathtaking. From this high vantage point most of the vineyard in front of the winery is visible. Visible as well is Massanutten Mountain, forming the majestic centerpiece of Shenandoah Valley.

The bottom photo shows our middle deck from where visitors enter our sales and tasting area. Visitors can feel a sense of privacy offered by the largest grapevine one is likely to see. Actually, there are two vines. Their large trunks can be seen at the base of the staircase leading up to the deck. The vines trellis and twist their way up and around the supports and railings of the deck. Foliage spills across the openings casting cool shade onto the seating area.

Sweet Serenade Released

Elegant simplicity is a noble goal. Music and taste are often synonymous. Tastes change. Austere times can be more richly fulfilling than times of wasteful excess. Case in point - the wine in the picture is our least expensive. Sweet Serenade is made from flavorful, aromatic hybrid grapes, finished sweet, with an aroma of tropical fruit cocktail. We bottled 443 cases on 7/24/10.

Music recorded on the mp3 player is downloaded free and legal from the Internet Archive. The powered speakers contain an internal amplifier, and need only house current and an input signal. Whether you groove to Tchaikovsky or techno, austerity can be crisp, fresh, tasty, and even sweet on occasion.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Country Cookout - Saturday, July 10, 2010

The evening was splendid. After a beautiful sunset faded eastward, stars pinned a black velvet sky above our dinner guests. The air was warm and dry, providing the perfect place-setting for outdoor dining and dancing. The band played late into the evening and kept the event hopping. Some guests were seen dancing on the barrels placed around the dancefloor. Chilled wine was served after dinner, which no doubt encouraged guests to dance "like spirits of the night (all night)."

Admission:  Adults $28.00     Children $13.00

Event sign in and wine tasting begin at 6:30 PM
Dinner 7:00
Music 8:00-11:00

Pork barbeque with seeded buns, hot slaw and pork sauce
Grilled chicken kabobs
Southwest potato salad
Tomato, avocado, black bean & corn salad
Summer squash casserole
Corn muffins
Sliced watermelon
Cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.
Ice tea

Additional wine is available for purchase by the glass and bottle.

Music by those foot stompin' virtuosos, NoDRAMA.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fiesta Released

Fiesta was bottled and released on May 27, 2010. 428 cases were bottled. Fiesta is our sweet blush wine expressing the familiar and refreshing aroma and taste of Concord grape. New release was just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and our customers were eager to find it on our tasting counter.

Wine is best experienced using all the senses. Of course, taste and smell are primary. However, sight is often the 1st introduction to a wine, and should also be enjoyed and not overlooked. The photograph shows the beautiful vibrant color and translucency of Fiesta in the glow of dawn's early light (a reference to Memorial Day). Next to the Fiesta are Blenko water carafes, available in our gift shop.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Spring Watch May 30, 2010 - Spring Edges Into Summer

This is likely the last of the Spring Watch series for 2010. In the nearby National Forest one is able to escape the mechanical noise and technological intrusions that hound and haunt modern life. Nature is a place of quiet sounds (rustling leaves and trickling water), fresh scents of wildflower and pine and dappled sunlight spilling and splashing through thick green canopies.

As promised, the photos show Mountain Laurel, found growing along stream beds, and the ravines where water courses down the mountainsides. The ones pictured are the whiter shades, will add a shot of the pinker if I get the chance...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spring Watch May 25, 2010 - Rosey Welcome

The rose bushes near the vineyard entrance are in bloom. They are a showy welcome for our visitors. Occasionally, in late afternoon, among the long silhouettes cast by trees combing long shafts of golden sunlight, the setting sun smiles on a vibrant rose. Color bursts into flame for only a minute or two before retreating into the muted shadows.

The Mountain Laurel are blooming in the forest; clouds of the palest pink blush in the deep woods. I hope they will endure for a photograph. Maybe this weekend?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stoney Creek Planning

These photos, diagrams and comments are being posted to aid planning at our Stoney Creek Vineyard. Photographs can be enlarged by clicking on them. Removal of a section of vineyard with less-than-ideal soil and climate conditions is being considered.

In discussing end-post configuration, consideration is being given to setting end-posts at a 60 degree angle from the slope of the terrain. If the terrain has varying degrees of slope, this will result in posts having variable lean with respect to one another. The top diagram shows an exaggerated example of the phenomenon. A fixed degree of angle from vertical will correct the problem, e.g. 30 degrees from vertical. The bottom diagram shows end-posts set 0 degrees from vertical, the more traditional method of setting posts.

Line-posts to be removed and replaced by end-posts are marked with ribbon. This is looking across the rows. Area to be removed is about 3 acres, running from the marked line-posts, across the vineyard to roughly the edge of shadow, then left at row #32. Terrain topography is indicated by the relative difference in post elevation seen in the photograph. The shadowed area in the foreground is a frost pocket with relatively low-lying topography.

End-post and anchor-post have been pulled to show depth of burial (~3 ft.). Anchor-post is half a full post cut diagonally to allow additional height. One 8' post yields two anchor posts. Because of the diagonal cut, each anchor-post is approximately 4 1/2' in length.

Photo showing end-post configuration consisting of end-post, anchor-post and wiring. Plans are to move these posts uphill, shortening the rows and removing section of vineyard subject to frost damage.

This photo is taken from the top of row #32, last row to be shortened, looking down toward vineyard area to be removed. Slope in the foreground is very visible. Posts make visible topography of the terrain. Broad, low, flat area lying at the foot of the hill is a frost pocket, subject to spring frosts occurring after bud break. The low area also has poor drainage, with developing sinkholes and damp soil. Other areas of the vineyard have good slope, good air drainage and better soil conditions.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rebel Red Unleashed

Rebel Red was bottled and released May 8, 2010, just in time for Mother's Day. Number of cases bottled was 460. Customers were anxious to taste the new bottling, and did not hesitate to give grief to the winemaker during the couple weeks they were forced to go without the wine.

The photo shows a thank-you note and photograph from a much appreciative group. The out-of-town group visits the winery annually while staying the weekend in a cabin in Fort Valley. We are happy to be a part of their gathering while they make a ruckus on the top deck. The winemaker is wiping sweat off his brow, relieved to provide the necessary ingredient for the group's happiness.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day Wine Pairing, Sunday, May 9

Shenandoah Vineyards will host a wine and food pairing on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 9, 2010. We invite Mom and the rest of the family for a visit. Our wine will be paired with gourmet snack items. Come to the winery to mix and socialize over delicious wine and food. Spring is in full swing, so get out and soak up some sunshine (we have outdoor decks and picnic tables). Event lasts all day during our open hours (10 AM - 6 PM). A wonderful time is only $8/person. For more information call 540 984 8699.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

1958 Vintage Classic

We were visited by a classic of the rolling type on Monday.  The day was overcast and damp, with occasional thundershowers on and off throughout the day.  Every so often I'd poke my head out of the cellar to see what the weather brought.  On looking out something caught the corner of my eye; the glint of something classic and refined... It was a 1958 DeSoto. Owners of classic vehicles sometimes visit the winery, appearing out of the fog as if emerging from a time-machine, and we glimpse the art and engineering of a bygone era.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Watch April 25, 2010 - Wild Azaleas

As promised in the preceding post, photographs of the wild azaleas can now be shown. These azaleas (presumably Rhododendron periclymenoides) are found in the George Washington National Forest, most frequently along streams and wet areas.  They are just beginning to bloom. The colors range from a very pale pink-almost white, to the deep rose pink shades in the photographs. These were found along Passage Creek, near the Elizabeth Furnace area in Fort Valley. Flower buds are forming on the Mountain Laurel, but haven't yet bloomed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Watch April 13, 2010 - More Redbuds

The weather turned cool and drizzly today. Cloudy, damp weather accentuates the colors of the forest, so the redbuds demanded more pictures be taken. Again, all of these were taken in Fort Valley, once called a "gem within a gem" because of its location within Shenandoah Valley.

"The Fort" as it's known is easily accessible by following Rt. 675 east from very near the vineyard. The Fort is a mountain valley surrounded by Massanutten Mountain and the George Washington National Forest. Mountain Laurel and native Azaleas are abundant in the forest too, but bloom later. We'll take pictures when they begin to show. To repeat the previous post, the Fort is a living, breathing Impressionist painting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Watch April 12, 2010

The Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are blooming in a most magnificent display of color. Most often seen growing wild along roadsides and fence rows, in spring they blossom with splashes and sprays of magenta that would make Monet proud. An Impressionist masterpiece awaits around every turn down a country road. The two photos above are from the nearby Fort Valley in late afternoon as the sun drops behind a mountain ridge.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Watch April 8, 2010

With several very warm days approaching 90° the pace of spring is dizzying. Trees blossom and shower windborne flower petals in the space of a couple days. Leaves appear almost overnight. The mountain is covered by a thickening blanket of green.

Photo shows a crabapple tree on the front lawn. Behind it are large white oaks with leaves not yet full, and behind them the green pastures of the sheep farm next door. Most of the vines are budding out now; perilously early as they are susceptible to frost injury.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cabernet Franc 2007 Released

The 2007 Cabernet Franc is now available. 281 cases were bottled on January 21, 2010. It is showing good color with an aroma of blueberries and a hint of American oak. The photo shows it paired with Goot Essa Mountain Valley Sharp Cheddar Cheese. The idea to pair the Cab Franc with this cheese must have been divinely inspired as we have rarely tasted two things that go together so well.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Watch March 24, 2010

We've begun a watch for spring to alert people to the progress of the season as it awakens across the vineyard and region. The most visible sign so far is the grass becoming noticeably green, with flocks of robins very frequent. Sap is flowing from cuts where vines have been pruned. The National Forest is showing extra color, the result of bud swell in several different tree species. Will be sure to photograph the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) when they show good color in the forest, but it still a little early.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Watch March 15, 2010

Although a few more days must be endured 'til the arrival of spring, there are some early signs. Pictured are the spring lambs on the farm next door to the winery. Many people stop at the entrance to the vineyard to take pictures of them. (We wish more of these people would continue onto the winery, but I guess we can't match baby lambs for cuteness.)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Wine and Cheese Weekends in March

Rumor has it winter relinquishes its cold grip and spring renews hope for warmth in the world. Supposedly, this happens sometime in March. The prospect of warmer weather intrigues us, and we encourage everyone to make spring a reality. For our part we offer wine and cheese pairings every weekend in the month of March. Wine & Cheese Weekends is our springtime ritual to get our customers to stretch their legs and get the blood moving again.

For $8 each customer gets a souvenir glass to taste the full variety of Shenandoah Vineyards wine, and pair these with gourmet dips and cheeses. Our sales staff will help guide you to make pairings that are memorable and delicious. Please join us in developing warm weather habits for the coming season. Of course in addition to our Wine & Cheese Weekends feature we continue to provide free tours and tasting as always.