THE VINEYARDS PLIGHT AT INN AT MEANDER PLANTATION in Orange Virginia.
Thanks to our friend and neighbor Dean Gruenberg, who has his own Castle Gruen Vineyards and Winery just around the corner from our Virginia wine country bed and breakfast, we have about 2 acres of beautiful grapes growing here at Meander. The vineyard is about a half-acre each of Cabernet Franc (a staple Virginia varietal) and Petite Manseng (our favorite white varietal) at the top of the field to right of the driveway. We’ve had devastatingly (ok, don’t laugh!) bad luck the last two years with the harvest. Year before, the grapes were gorgeous and a herd of deer agreed and cleaned out the whole lot! If it weren’t so sad it would be funny.
Suz and I were returning from the tiny garden up the hill when we wondered when in the world Dean had picked the grapes. All was lost! Then last year we had 19 inches of rain before harvest so nothing could be done but drop the fruit due to the rot. WE hate spraying! In the field to the left of the drive is an acre of Crimson Cabernet, a brand new hybrid cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton. This is an extremely new hybrid and we are, to our knowledge, only the second vineyard in the state to plant this grape (Dennis Horton at Horton Vineyards and Winery is the other) that has the taste properties of Cab Sauv with the disease-resistance, hardiness of Virginia’s native grape, Norton.
For some reason this small planting just would not thrive! It just seemed to get nipped in the bud (pun intended) every time it showed a little progress. Turns out it was a large population of ground hogs just munching those tender shoots right to the ground! Dean cleaned out 27 groundhogs!
Please don’t send me any more recipes! Thanks to Dean for all his hard work of planting and maintaining the vines and thanks to Ron Kilby, our extraordinary gardener, for keeping the rows tidy. What a beautiful site as you approach The Inn to see grapes growing!