Ramble On

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wisteria: Our Vineyard Neighbors

For two years now, driving up Marksville Road on the way to Hawksbill Cabin, we’ve passed a charming white Victorian farmhouse with light purple decorations and a sign on the porch that says “Wisteria.” At times we could spot a few Romney sheep in the pastures and fields, and at some point, I noticed grape arbors.

Then, this spring, Moussa and Sue Ishak were featured in the local paper, which described their efforts to start a winemaking enterprise here – right here, in our little corner of the Shenandoah Valley. We began to anticipate how great having a small vineyard in the neighborhood was going to be, both for entertaining guests at Hawksbill Cabin, as well as for enjoying a local vintage with dinner when we grill or cook here on the weekends.

Officially, Wisteria opens on October 17, but we stopped by to check it out a few weeks ago, since we had heard that they were already open. Their brochure describes their winemaking style as minimalist, using sustainable practices to grow their own estate produced grapes, while procuring additional fruit locally. They’ve selected Carmine, Chardonnay, Norton, Pinot Gris, Seyval, and Traminette as the varietals to focus on here, as they seem to do best at our 1,100 feet elevation and the well-drained rocky soils in the Hawksbill Creek watershed that surrounds us.

Mary and I enjoyed a tasting and then took a walk around the farm. We checked out the sheep, the bunnies, and chickens, and were regaled with a couple of tales about the animals. The sheep were brought around to keep the grass clipped, but they’ve ended up bigger than expected, and can sometimes stray to eat the vine leaves. The bunnies were left behind by a previous owner of the property, and while a careful sorting out of the sexes was done, they had a few more litters before a full segregation was completed. The chickens range freely, and apparently there is an Amazon parrot to be found somewhere on the property.
After our walk, we took home a bottle each of three vintages, including two we had not encountered before: Norton (a red), Traminette (a white), and Seyval (a white). We are definitely looking forward to more visits and wish Moussa and Sue the best of luck with the upcoming opening!

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