Our vineyard supplies grapes for our new winery, Elk Island Winery. Please visit our web site at elkislandwinery.com and like us on Facebook at Elk Island Winery. Stop in at our tasting room to taste our great Virginia wines. The tasting room is located at 5759 River Road West (Rt. 6) Goochland, VA . The tasting room phone is 804-627-3929. We are open the first weekend of every month from Noon until 6 pm and by appointment.
Our vineyard has been on the dream list since we bought the farm 14 years ago. Work began on layout of the vineyard in the Winter of 2008 and the first Norton vines were planted that Spring. We have 2 acres in Norton using a Geneva double curtain trellising. This past year we harvested nearly 8 tons of Norton grapes from our vineyard. It was a good year for growing grapes.
We have .5 acre of grapes in Sauvignon Blanc using a vertical shoot trellising system. We should have a small crop from these vines for the vintage of 2012 and expect a full harvest in 2013. We have 2 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the spring of 2009. We had a small harvest from these vines this year but should be in production with them for 2013.
The undisputed king of red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is grown throughout the winemaking world and
displays a certain family resemblance wherever it is made despite nuances that come from variations
in soil, climate, and other growing conditions. The wine's classic aromas and flavors are black currant
(sometimes called cassis), dark berry, plum, and black cherry. Cabernet Sauvignon can display herbaceous
qualities, sometimes dried herbs (anise and sage), sometimes green herbs (green olive and bell pepper),
along with mint and cedar; the oak barrels used for aging the wine can impart spice and vanilla notes as well.
Although Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the youngest grape varieties, first appearing in historical texts in the late 18th century, it is responsible for some of the world's most renowned fine red wine. The most transportable and adaptable of all of the classic grapes, it spread from its historical home in France to areas throughout the globe. Cabernet Sauvignon makes some of the world's finest red wine. Cabernet grapes have thick skins and large seeds, which add to its full, structured body. It is resistant to molds, disease, and pests and produces low yields. Cabernet wines often have high levels of phenolic compounds, leading to good tannin and structure. They tend to achieve the best balance when blended with the big fruit of Merlot, to create a wine with a smoother mouthfeel. Because it tends to ripen late, it is sometimes harvested before fully ripe, leading to wines with a 'greenness' to them..
Norton, a grape cultivar believed to be largely derived from Vitis aestivalis, is grown in the Midwest
and Mid-Atlantic States. Norton was first cultivated in Richmond, Virginia and is the official grape of
the State of Missouri. Although some believe that the Norton is a true native of North America, most
experts suspect that it is a hybrid of one or more native varieties and one Vitis vinifera grape. The fact
that it is self-fertile is seen as an indication of at least some Vitis vinifera in its background, and
there are hints of Vitis labrusca as well, though the variety is still overwhelmingly Vitis aestivalis in character.
It was introduced by Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton of Richmond, Virginia who selected it from among what he
believed were seedlings of a long forgotten grape variety called Bland, though there is some doubt as to
whether it was the actual source of the seed which yielded Norton. The male parent, presumably, was a wild
vine of Vitis aestivalis. Another cultivar, called Cynthiana, closely resembles Norton, but has
traditionally been considered a separate variety. Genetic studies, however, have shown the two to be
indistinguishable. Because there is some evidence indicating differences in wine quality and season of
ripening, Cynthiana may be a mutation of the original Norton.
This grape became available commercially in 1830 and very soon after that came to dominate wine production in the eastern and midwestern United States. Since this grape lacks most of the distinct flavors that are typical of native American grapes, it is quite suitable for making dry wine. At the 1873 Vienna World Exposition a Norton wine from Hermann, Missouri won a gold medal. Henry Vizetelly, a noted critic of the time, said that Norton from Missouri would one day rival the great wines of Europe in quality and quantity. Prohibition ended the wine industry in the United States for a period of time. Vineyards were pulled up and Concord grapes were planted in their place, for juice and jam. After prohibition the wine industry in the eastern half of North America never recovered to the same degree that California's wine industry did. Today, United States wineries along the east coast and throughout the midwest are re-cultivating and producing wines from Norton grapes. The largest single planting of Norton in the world is located at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia, which has 69 acres (28 ha) of the grape. A planting of 6.5 acres (2.6 ha) of Norton was introduced into the Texas Hill Country in 1999. With just the right amount of oak, the resulting wine is a brilliant deep purple, with a black currant or cherry nose and full-bodied complexity on the tongue, featuring that high tannin/fruit balance to a long finish.
The hallmark of Sauvignon Blanc is a pleasant grassiness or green herbaceousness, which may be quite subtle
or very pronounced, depending on the winemaker. This characteristic accents aromas and flavors ranging from
white melon, citrus, and subtle fig to white peach and mango. Sauvignon Blanc can be made as a lean, racy wine
with crisp acidity or as a barrel-fermented wine with another varietal, usually Semillon, blended in for a
richer palate. In the vineyard, it is late to bud, and its medium-sized berries ripen early. It does best in
cool but sunny climates with chalky, flinty and marl soils. Sauvignon Blanc doesn't take well to oak, and is
instead fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel. Emphasis is placed on preservation of youthful fruit,
and most Sauvignon Blancs are designed to be drunk young.
Our Sauvignon Blanc consists of 1/2 acre of vines which are now 2 years old. We hope to have a small harvest in 2011 but the vines should produce a harvest for the 2012 vintage.