Volunteer sunflower in the garden Green Hill Farm “When we come upon beautiful things….they act like small tears in the surface of the world that pull us through to some vaster space.” ~Elaine Scarry We have had a lot of rain this summer. I’m talkin’ forty days, forty nights kinda rain. It’s rained so much that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see an ark in the garden. I mean, we’ve got grass growing where it doesn’t usually grow—in the driveway, in the mulch of the flower beds, in the chickens’ aviary. Plus, the grass in the sheep pasture is more lush and green than it was in the spring. The sheep are constantly wet; I even think their wool is starting to felt. It’s been a bit dreary, too. And, after a while, all that gray can really get to a girl. This time of year is usually my favorite. The heat and humidity have broken, and the sky is the most vibrant color of blue. The lilies and roses are still blooming, and the garden is a lovely place. But, not this year. Yesterday, I looked out the window, and the grayness covered the backyard and fields like a blanket. My garden, which is usually fairly neat and weed-free, resembled something more along the lines of a jungle. However; as I glanced across the overgrown expanse, something bright and cheerful caught my eye. It […]
Meadows of Dan, Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia. Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet. Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state. Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia. It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines. Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia. Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca. Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines. They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]
Double rainbow on Green Hill Farm “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson Enjoy your day!
The dream of a world class Virginia wine began with Thomas Jefferson. Although Jefferson knew that Virginia had the weather and terroir for grape growing and winemaking, he never saw his dream come to fruition. This is, in part, due to Phylloxera—an aphid-like insect that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines. However, Virginia grape growers now understand that to successfully grow European grapes, they must first graft the vine onto phylloxera resistant American rootstock. This was the first major hurdle to realizing the dream of a Virginia wine, the next, proving the viability of grape growing as an agricultural endeavor. Officially, the wine industry in Virginia began in 1976 with the Zonin family, one of Italy’s largest wine producers. They bought Barboursville in Orange, an area near Charlottesville, with the hopes of starting a vineyard. Underlying this decision was the belief that European grapes could thrive in the Commonwealth of Virginia. After the purchase of Barboursville, the Zonin family invited Gabriele Rausse, an Italian winemaker, who is currently the Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, to assist in making the dream of a Virginia wine a reality. Today, the Commonwealth boasts hundreds of successful wineries and vineyards, many producing award winning wines–including Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia’s first commercial winery. And, Gabriele Rausse is partially responsible, having consulted on 40 vineyards and 10 wineries in the Commonwealth, including his own. He is considered the father of modern […]
Sheep heading towards the barn as a storm brews on Green Hill Farm “You are never alone or helpless. The force that guides the stars guides you too.” ~Shrii Shrii Anandamurti; Indian philosopher Praying for all of those who are in the path of Hurricane Florence.
September is my birthday month, and thankfully, I’m turning another year older. I am now firmly into my fourth decade–or as Farmguy corrected–fifth decade, because you count 0 to 10 as your first decade…..okay—whatever! The bottom line….I am forty-something and well into the journey of my life. And, with this understanding, I started considering the passing years and what “age” means to me. As someone who’s interested in wine and recently completed the WSET Level III Award in Wines through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust this year, I started thinking about aging in wine and aging in life. I thought about the grapevine’s journey versus our own journeys. Young grapevines have vigor and brightness, but it’s the older vines that are the most sought after to make the best wines. This is partially because the vines take on the nuances of their environment: herbs, mushrooms, and flowers as well as the minerality of the soil; and, as vines age, they produce a delightful complexity and intensity in their fruit. These extra years are prized and celebrated, because in viticulture, time is allowed for character to express itself. It’s understood that many vintages will pass before a vineyard will start to show its magic. From the vineyard to the cellar, respect for the aging process continues. A particular set of environmental conditions is cultivated to help the wines age: dark cellars, correct humidity, constant and perfect temperature, and no excessive […]
Farmgirl with lambs, Truffle and Tino Green Hill Farm June 2018 Evening cocktails…or attitude adjustment hour with the woollies is our favorite way to end a long week. 😉 Enjoy your weekend!
Farmgirl in Saint Émilion (right bank of Bordeaux) November 2016 “You had me at hello.” A line made famous by Dorothy Boyd, the love interest in the film “Jerry Maguire.” However, if Dorothy had been a sommelier, she may have said, “You had me at Merlot.” And, with good reason. Merlot, French for little blackbird because of its very dark fruit, is naturally versatile, acclimating to different climate zones and soil compositions, which, over time and a lot of travel, have made it the second most planted red grape on the planet, behind its brother from Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot can be big and rich, but also fruity and soft, without being overly high in acids or tannins. These characteristics make Merlot an elegant and easy choice to drink as well as pair with food. If that doesn’t spark your interest in Merlot, maybe this will. You know all those famous red wines from Bordeaux? Wines that are considered some of the best in the world? Well, they’re all blended with Merlot. And, many are mostly Merlot—especially, on the right bank of the Gironde estuary in the Bordeaux appellation, where it’s the law that Merlot has to be the predominant grape. Of course, the most famous Merlot wine is undoubtedly Pétrus (100% Merlot) from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux. This highly collectable wine can fetch several thousand dollars, depending on its vintage. You may not be as familiar with Merlot’s positive […]