Friday, April 30, 2010

New signs!

It's past five on Friday and we are all still running around. Only one week left before our family preview event. Laura and I have been riding around the county picking up furniture and decorations for the tasting room. Some things need to be dusted off a little bit but with a little creativity we'll put together some nice displays.

Landscaping is almost finished, and it looks awesome! Plus, we've put up our new signs, so now there's no excuse for not being able to find us!

Our point of sale system arrived this week too. I ran the first credit card sale through this afternoon and everything seems to be working smoothly!

Joe continued to plant corn most of the week, although a reporter brought him inside for a bit this morning. He has run Lazy Day Farms for more than 35 years, so even the excitement of the winery won't distract him from his duties there.

Thanks to Janet and Nellie for taking care of the grapes- they have been in the vineyard pruning all week and the vines are looking healthy and strong.

We received 1100 gallons of juice on Monday which we'll start fermentation on soon. It would be terrible to run out of wine in the middle of the summer, plus we don't want the tanks to sit empty for long!

I'm surely forgetting something but we'll have to wait til next week. Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Getting closer

Fortunately the rain held off early in the week to give us some time to finish planting grapes. William and Joe planted all weekend and by Wednesday morning we completed the last few rows. It is completely satisfying to look out over what used to be a clear green field and see hundreds of little grape vines. We saved a few rows for our View of the Vineyard planting event in May (sign up here!), so others can experience the pleasure of planting.

Richard has his work cut out for him in the old vineyard, now that the planting is done. He did a full walk through on Thursday and is now following up with replacing dead vines, fixing the irrigation, mending the deer fence, and cursory pruning. The grapes are looking good and just yesterday put out the tiny buds which will soon become blossoms.

Laura and I had a wonderful meeting with a jewelry maker from Salisbury. She brought many samples of her craft and it was challenging to select a few pieces for our tasting room. We also sorted through t-shirt and polo shirt samples to be sure everyone's looking pretty on opening day.

We haven't seen much of Joe or Chuck this week as they've been out planting corn. William too, although he is still keeping a close eye on the winery. In fact, he's ready to start making more wine and we've got a new delivery of juice coming next week!

The winery passed its final building inspection yesterday and will soon be ready to welcome guests. We are waiting for the fire marshal to give us an occupancy permit, but all other permits have been successfully granted.

Stay connected with our website- we'll be updating it weekly to let you know what activities are happening at the winery!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Planting grapes

I've had the pleasure of sitting in our cool office for a few hours this afternoon wrapping up things for the week but I'll soon be going back to the vineyard to join the rest of the family and crew. We have had the auger running nonstop since Wednesday with almost nonstop planters coming behind it. Fortunately the weather is cooperating- none of the rain that was expected has arrived and the cool breeze keeps everyone from overheating (although today's sun is pretty intense!). Everyone has helped tremendously; Joe drills holes, with Chuck or William to give him a rest sometimes, and everyone else plants or puts together growth tubes to protect our baby vines. Janet comes out for a few hours each day and even Laura has set aside her many tasks to help plant. Richard misses driving posts but we'll need to put the end posts in soon so he will have another chance.

Laura has been communicating with a sign printer and we expect to have the sign for the end of our lane by next week. It's almost as exciting as getting our mailbox put up! We are also waiting for directional signs, which will be put up to direct traffic from Rt. 50.

The tasting room bar is fully installed and has a Layton's Chance leaf etched into the surface. Mark Hubbard did a great job designing and building it and we're really excited for it to be put to use!

I almost forgot to mention our successful bottling day. We had the whole crew out here again to help bottle our three remaining wines. It was a long day but we got all 971 cases done on Tuesday and now everything is ready to go for our May 21st opening. Can't wait!

Friday, April 9, 2010


While all of us were running around this week- getting the fields ready, driving posts in the vineyard, ordering signs and merchandise, and preparing invitations- the April sunshine was busy too. With its steady warmth, the sun persuaded our young buds to open up and start sending out new leaves!

Jen scored a major coup for us by booking Randy Lee Ashcraft to play during Grand Opening Weekend! She invited him via Facebook and he enthusiastically agreed to play from 5-8 on May 29th. We'll also have a Latin jazz duo earlier that day, from 1-4pm, and on Sunday we'll have a couple named Second Time Around playing from 2-5pm. It is going to be so much fun!

Work in the tasting room has also moved forward. The bar is being finished today and has a beautiful Layton's Chance leaf etched in the center. We had to repair some buckling in the floor but it looks (and feels) like that is taken care of. Our catering kitchen is waiting for a new refrigerator and needs to be straightened up a bit. And we finally hung our beautiful driftwood mirrors in the bathrooms. We are so pleased to use beautiful local crafts to decorate our winery.

Richard spent some solid days working in the new vineyard and we're happy to see only twelve rows left to drive posts in. Out of 68 rows, that's pretty impressive! Chuck does a great job of getting the tractor right where it needs to be, and the two make a good team. William or I covered for Chuck when he was needed to disk the cornfields, but I still need some practice on the tractor.

Upcoming Events:
-Artist Presentation Day is this Sunday, so come on by from 12-4 and show us your goods!
-Second Bottling Line will run Tuesday and Wednesday so come learn how it works from Mark Emon of St. Michael's

We've got 5 acres of Traminette and Vidal Blanc grapes to plant next week too- time to get our hands dirty!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bottling and more

Monday morning started off with a bang with Landwirt Bottling. They brought a tractor trailer with the complete bottling line set-up inside. The owner, Gary Summers, showed us each step of the process, from rinsing out the bottles to filling them with wine, corking, adding capsules, and labeling. Family and friends like Barbara Bailey (left) and Janet Nichols (right) came out to help and William set up an efficient assembly line. Joe provided cases of empty bottles so that Laura's brother John could send them down the line. Barb and I (Chloe) received the bottles as they came off the line, checking for errors and filling cases. At a rate of 52 bottles per minute, our eyes were rarely off the bottles. We sent those cases down to Laura and Janet (a friend and retired teacher who also works in the vineyard) who taped and labeled each case. Finally Chuck and Richard stacked finished cases and moved them out of the way. William helped at different points and kept things running smoothly. And Mr. Summers and his assistant stayed inside the trailer making sure that nothing went wrong on the line. In the meantime, Jen offered her full moral support from Salisbury.

Overall, it was an extremely efficient process and we were all surprised to finish bottling two wines in one day. Granted, we greatly appreciated our lunch break and by the end of the day everyone was beat, but the thrill of successfully completing our first bottling line was unsurpassed. Check out the full photo gallery on our facebook page or our website.

The rest of the week was spent catching up on various tasks around the winery as we waited for the fields to dry out. We filtered the remaining wines so they are ready to be bottled on April 12th. Laura and I have been picking out merchandise for our tasting room. We've made contact with a potter and a basket-maker who may bring their work here to sell. And we're still looking so send your artist friends our way on April 11th!

Stephen and Alison hung out for a few days over their spring break and helped with cleaning the winery. Alison was a natural with our new mop and bucket, and Stephen showed no fear up on the catwalk, helping rinse out empty tanks. It'll be fun having them here this summer!

The forecast is 70 degrees and sunny next week, so if you're looking for us we'll be in the vineyard!