Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine
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 Mountain Laurel.
The day of the harvest presented us with perfect autumn weather—sunshine and clear, blue skies. After snipping grape clusters and filling yellow tubs many times, our industrious group of wine enthusiasts completed the picking for the allotted number of rows. Feeling a little tired, but satisfied, we all sat down to a lovely farm-to-table picnic in the vineyard. And, of course, enjoyed a glass of wine!