The latest expansion brings in over 9,000 plants and increases the total number of vineyard acreage to 51.3.
New year, new vineyards.
At least, that’s the motto in the earliest months of 2020 at The Williamsburg Winery where more than eight acres of new vineyards are being planted on its 300-acre farm – Wessex Hundred.
The new vineyards will bring the total acreage of grapes at The Williamsburg Winery to 51.3 and will include four additional acres of Tannat, three additional acres of Petit Verdot and three-quarters of an acre each of two new varietals, Muscat Ottonell and Muscat Blanc.
“As we hoped 35 years ago when we planted our first Chardonnay vineyard, the Virginia Peninsula has proven to be a great micro-climate for grapes,” said Founder Patrick Duffeler. “Having more grapes on site and grown on our farm allows our viticulture team and winemaker to work more closely with the vines, which leads to a high-quality wine in the end. It’s a true craft – from vine to glass.”
The additional 8.5 acres of vineyards are expected to yield 1,500 cases of wine.
The Williamsburg Winery’s team prepared the land and installed the poles to support the vines in late December 2019 and into January 2020 and expect to place the over 9,100 plants between February and March.
What’s particularly exciting about the plants, said Winemaker Matthew Meyer, is that for the first time at The Williamsburg Winery, they will be planting “uber vines,” which are more mature vines expected to produce grapes worthy enough to make wine in as soon as two years. The normal time from planting to winemaking with a new vine is three to five years.
The two different Muscat varietals will be used to produce the winery’s popular dessert-style wine "Petite Fleur." Because Muscat is not widely planted in Virginia, sourcing it consistently has proven challenging. Having access to estate-grown Muscat will ensure the winery can utilize this aromatic grape in one of its most popular new wines.
Having two varietals of Muscat, Meyer said of the Muscat Ottonel and Muscat Blanc, will provide him an opportunity to experiment more with the dessert wine blend.
This new planting brings The Williamsburg Winery’s total estate-grown acreage of Petit Verdot up to 11.6 acres, making it one of the largest in the Commonwealth. Petit Verdot continues to be the star varietal of the Wessex Hundred vineyard, as it is in many vineyards throughout.
“If there were signature grapes of Virginia, Petit Verdot would most certainly be in the running,” Meyer said.
The new planting of Tannat, frequently referred to by skilled winemakers as one the most exciting and intriguing varietals, brings The Williamsburg Winery’s Tannat acreage up to 5.6 following a planting in the spring of 2019 of its first 1.6 acres.
“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come from that first Chardonnay planting in 1985,” said Duffeler, reflecting on 35 years.
During that first planting, Duffeler said, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
“And yet we, and our grapes, continued to prosper,” he said. “Thanks to the perseverance of those first plantings, and the growth of the winery, our latest expansion will increase our acreage of one of the most intriguing varietals, create one of the largest estate-grown Petit Verdot programs in the state, and give us even greater access to a particularly aromatic varietal used in one of our most popular dessert wines.”