All Wined Up

Grapes Into Wine

Stinson Vineyards Tasting Room
Guest post by Rachel Stinson

Winemaking is a messy business. It’s sticky, dirty, repetitive . . . and involves lots of heavy lifting. It’s also dependent on the weather - something you have no control over. If only the end product didn’t make it all so worthwhile!

When my parents relocated from the DC area to White Hall, VA in August 2009, they were ready for a change. The property they found just happened to come with an old vineyard and a beautiful view of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. By January 2010 I had moved from NYC to Charlottesville to help start up Stinson Vineyards – our family’s boutique vineyard and winery.

Although already in our third harvest, the process of turning grapes into wine hasn’t lost its novelty. With the help of some amazing consultants – most notably Lucie Morton in the vineyard and Matthieu Finot in the winery - we’ve been able to focus on quality, small batch wines. This means we can use more experimental techniques while we figure out what does and doesn’t work for us.

Starting up a new enterprise in an unfamiliar industry hasn’t been easy. But the chance to go into business with my Dad and to learn something completely different from anything either of us had ever done before has been fun. We were very fortunate in 2010 (our first vintage) to have such a good harvest year. It made learning how to make wine relatively easy. 2011 was a different story, but it allowed us to start familiarizing ourselves with unfavorable harvest conditions. In 2012 we’ll produce 1500 cases, up from 600 in 2010.

Next year will be another big first as our replanted vineyard starts to produce fruit. I’m looking forward to working our own little piece of Virginia terroir into the wines.

Rachel Stinson is Co-Owner and Winemaker at Stinson Vineyards in White Hall, VA. The modern garage winery uses traditional winemaking techniques to craft award-winning, small-batch wines.