For a week, the Mid-Atlantic states have been struck by ferocious winds and pounded by fearsome rains. For four long days, the threat of hurricane landfall dampened the already flood-vulnerable spirits of Virginians... But by Bradamant's beard, WHAT ABOUT THE WINE? To uncover the story of horror and hope in our small corner of Virginia's wine world, read on...
7:00am Sunday, September 27. Somehow, the icy breath of winter has seduced with glee the horrifying humidity of summer, offering its overlong handshake of ominous clouds alongside the sweet whispers of whipping winds to the bog of eternal august heat. These sadistic lovers have aroused a sense of dread in the clammy air weighed down with the avenging promise of rain.
That's too bad, because I have things to do; bottling day looms in the back of my mind, and there are wines to filter, so today I shake my fist at the sky's gray mask and plead for just a little more time. The sky, ever-kind, obliges.
Monday, September 28. The day passes without so much as the rising of the sun; instead the world sits impassive beneath a ceiling of chill malevolence, a shroud bearing down in ill-concealed spite.
All that matters to me today is that Halloween is on the way. I spend the day in the company of good friends, pushing off the imminence of the oncoming disaster. We travel the markets searching for terrifying inspiration in preparation for our carnival of horrors.
Later, I run through the start of a drizzle to open the door to my home, looking forward to a dinner of gnocchi with pumpkin, squash, and sage pesto. Before I can reach the kitchen, however, my hopeful ignorance is interrupted by a message, white, marked with the red of a mind in panic: URGENT.
It can wait a moment.
I pull the pot of pasta and sauce from my refrigerator and place it on the stovetop on low heat, shrugging off my raincoat in the process, before I finally turn back to the message. Slipping the envelope open, I find that my calm expectation for the coming days has been unraveled; there is more wine to filter, and the threat of torrential cloud-break is upon us.
Well, that is a worry for tomorrow. Tonight, all I can do is enjoy my dinner and pour myself a glass of wine. This is the finest preparation for an unavoidable confrontation with discomfort.
4:52am Tuesday, September 29. I awake with worry. The unseasonable cold has drifted into my dreams, and a memory surfaces: "You could smell the salt in the air. You could see it, white, coating the ground. You could taste it in the grapes..." From an interview I had heard, regarding the striking of a category 4 hurricane on the north-east coast, many years ago.
At Notaviva, I reference my most recent sampling venture; going out into the vineyard, taking a random sample of each varietal and then essentially performing a very small individual crushing scenario in order to measure the sugar and acid concentration in the grapes. My goal is to track these numbers as they fluctuate, with the hope of projecting an accurate harvest date. Up until now, these grapes have been maturing splendidly, but with the sudden downturn in weather, it is time to make another measurement.
Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, and then Blaufrankisch...
If only I could build one; then maybe these flood conditions would not be flooding my grapes with water, decreasing concentrations and slowing down maturation; essentially, pushing harvest further into the cold of Autumn.
5:00pm, same day. We get started on our last wine, and with a lasting cackle of vindication, the sky opens its doors to the unabashed cataclysm of rain that has been, apparently, waiting for the very worst moment to begin its effusive effluvium.
Proudly, I can state with defiance that we completed our endeavor without incidence, and at last all of the wines were prepared for the final move to their glass homes.
Wednesday, September 30. Today was a day of whispers. Rumors of hope and dread compounded and fought to gain control of minds and grounds. Some claimed that the rain was supposed to pause today. Some muttered that the rain was already coming down; never again would we experience the joy of simple sunshine. Some warned, eyes downcast and shoulders slumped in defensive dejection, that the harvest was going to have to be pushed to the impossible cold of November. All thought the same word, the same name... but none could gather the strength to pull that tremor into the actuality of speech, and risk bringing even a shadow of that portent into the auspices of reality.
I heard a terrible joke today: "They're going to call the next one Phoenix, right? Because of the actor?"
Friday, October 2. Today the latest and best in a long line of hand-knitted hats has proved itself. Thanks be to Alice, my lil sis.
Saturday, October 3. News arrives on the white wings of the dove of peace. While it is true that the southern isles have been blighted by this weather-ly wastrel, those of us on the eastern shore can appreciate the recent attention of luck that has sent this Hurricane off on the only safe path out of the apparently thousands of projections made by the National Weather Oracle.
Still, we have the torrents of rain to contend with, so I have created my own forecast for the upcoming harvest:
Worst Case Scenario: Hurricane Joaquin makes a not only sudden but perhaps even malicious turnaround and makes landfall directly on top of Notaviva Vineyards. All of our vines are destroyed and, in a further display of omnipotence, Joaquin rends the very earth from our site and leaves only a scar in the ground that travels to the very depths of Earth's core.
Best Case Scenario: Far from inundating the remaining grapes with an overflow of water, the rains imbue our reds with the potential of everlasting youth; wine made at Notaviva Vineyards offers the imbiber wisdom, joy, and love, and we usher the world and all humankind into a new era of discovery and wonder that eventually leads to intergalactic travel. You are welcome.
Most Likely Scenario: The rain dissipates and although the weather makes a turn for the cool, the sun allows the grapes to intensify to an appropriate and flavorful degree. Harvest is postponed to mid- or late-October, but is completed and the world is just a little bit better due to the inclusion of some more good wine.
Epilogue, 3:30 pm, Monday October 5. This day dawned cold, but bright. The few clouds that still jealously guarded the sun's rays this morning have scattered to the wind and a wondrous blue sky washes this glorious Autumn day with its fine light. I have gathered more samples from the vineyard, and can attest to the truth that we suffered very little from this near-apocalypse. In fact, with the heat of the sun and the remaining tempestuous winds helping to clear out the moisture that gathered over this week, we can expect to harvest our Cabernet Franc and our Blaufrankisch as soon as this Wednesday. What excitement!
Check us out
Check us out
Check us out
on Reverb Nation!
Virginia Tourism page!
Notaviva Vineyards, LLC
13274 Sagle Rd
Purcellville, VA 20132
Tel: (540) 668-6756
Copyright © 2007-2011 Notaviva Vineyards, LLC
NOTAVIVA® and WINE PAIRED WITH MUSIC. POUR. LISTEN. BELIEVE.®
are registered trademarks of Notaviva Vineyards LLC.
Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.
Learn more about doing business
in Loudoun County, Virginia