Manual Labor at Virginia Winery
By Henri, a French Intern – Starting today and every week that I’m here at Doukénie, one of Loudoun County’s oldest Virginia vineyards, I will post about the work that I am doing in the vineyard and fields. I really want you, our readers and fans, to stay informed of what is happening every day during harvest at this beautiful Virginia winery. The first step to produce good wine is based on what is created in the field.
Wineries in Virgiina have a difficult time during July. The fourth week of July is decisive. During this time, I worked with baby vines that are two years old. I had to cut the vine shoots from the base of the vine. We paid attention to the shortest vines, cleaning out the weeds and re-attaching the vines to the stakes for additional support.
Next I started working on the Riesling vines, which typically grow in a grapnel shape. With these vines, I needed to cut the vine shoot and branches that grown too low. When the branches touch the ground, the humidity gets trapped among the branches and disease begins quickly, like the downy mildew. The ivy that climbs on the vines and on the trellis post also need to be cut because they stifle the vines, making them die quickly. As you can see there is a lot of manual labor.
Next I cut leaves that were growing in front of the grapes. This allows the sun to reheat the grapes, keeping the humidity down. Virginia is very hot and humid and knowing how to counter this humidity is critical. With less humidity, the grapes get fewer diseases and still get enough sun to mature and develop wonderful flavors. Virginia wineries have climate and weather conditiions to deal with regularly.
I then moved to another field working with the tractor. This was some big machine with a huge engine. My job was to place the branches in between the two wires and to cut the branches that were sticking out of the wires. While the tractor was cutting the branches at the top and at the right, it was also cutting the grass.
Now the vines are ready and healthy to help the grapes mature. But we will continue to keep an eye on the evolution of the disease and parasites and on the overall health of the grapes.
See you next week with more news from the Virginia winery, Doukénie Winery! — Henri