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Vineyard has record year despite rainy season

By Jim Conrad
Published On: Nov 04 2013 04:38:02 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 03 2013 11:00:00 PM CST

This year's wet growing season had some vineyards working a lot harder even before harvest time which just ended, but it paid off -- as we discovered, one of our region's vineyards had its best year ever.

WISE COUNTY, Va. -

Virginia set an all-time record in sales for the state's wines last year.

This year's wet growing season had some vineyards working a lot harder even before harvest time which just ended, but it paid off -- as we discovered, one of our region's vineyards had its best year ever.

The reason -- the rains cleared out just in time for the harvest.

The vineyard at Mountain Rose Vineyards in Wise County, Virginia looks a little bare these cold November days. But the vines planted on a former surface mine site have consistently produced award-winning wines.

The winery, like so many agricultural businesses, is totally dependent on the weather. This year it rained and rained, and rained some more. "We had more rain, more rains causes us to have more growth, more growth causes us to have more pruning, pruning causes us to have more workers. Then we had to run the tractor and spray more often and got more compaction," says Suzanne Lawson with the vineyard.

But now the harvest is in, literally in the vats and barrels of the winery. Even extra barrels had to be bought because of the record harvest -- 31 tons of grapes. "We had much better weather, that was the only summer we've had is September and October because it dried out and let it have a break at harvest time to get our fruit ripe," she said.

It's a lot of fruit, but it's the content of those grapes that makes the wines. "We knew we would have a lot fruit because when you have a lot of rain it's not unusual to get more poundage, but you don't always have good numbers. You’re lucky to have high levels of sugar and perfect balance with acidity," she added.

And this year was excellent, but the proof will be in the wine itself that may be ready in two or three years. 

This vineyard is used to proving critics wrong -- before they opened critics said they wouldn't be able to grow wine-making grapes on reclaimed coalfield land.