Virginia Winery: News from the Field
By Henri, a French intern – Here’s an update on what’s been going on in, an award-wining Virginia winery located in DC’s Wine Country, where I’m working this summer. At this point, the hand work is almost finished until the harvest, which should start as early as August. These Virginia vines just need to be protected against two principal attackers.
First is disease. At Doukénie, we don’t have a lot of diseases. The invasion of Japanese beetles has been controlled. A little bit of downy mildew is present on the Chardonnay. But we treated the vines against this last week.
The second issue is the animals. We check the batteries of the electric fences frequently. Then, we have to protect the vines against the birds. Indeed, they peck the grapes and could bring additional rot. We installed different equipment: 2 cannons that make a big explosion every 20 minutes to scare off the birds. Three speakers were installed and they make a “cry” sound to scare the birds. Then we have a weathercock that moves and makes sound, and different pieces of metallic tape that reflect the sun protect the grapes.
Actually, the Véraison is nearly complete. Véraison is a viticulture (grape-growing) term meaning “the onset of ripening”. It is originally French, but has been adopted into English use. The official definition of veraison is “change of color of the grapes.” We started to take grape samples to test the level of sugar. To measure the right level of sugar, the grapes need to be a consistent color, up and down the grapes. With a spectrophotometer, we can see the level of sugar, expressed in Brix. The spectrophotometer deviates the sun when it goes through the juice of the crushed berries. The vines that are nearly ready are the Riesling and the Sauvignon Blanc.
Finally, the harvest will start in two or three weeks. And this year, we will have a lot of grapes to pick! See you next week for more news of the Virginia Winery, Doukenie Winery! – Henri