Glen Manor Vineyards officially began making wine at an 8,000- square-foot winery just last spring, but owner Jeff White already can count on a loyal following. That’s because the fourth-generation farmer has been growing grapes at his family’s 212-acre Front Royal estate since 1995. Thanks to a nice perk he got while working as an assistant winemaker at nearby Linden Vineyards, he has been selling wine under the Glen Manor label for 12 years.
“I’ve already had a number of customers walk through my doors who have been drinking my wines since 1996,” White states. “Sales is one of the most challenging aspects of the business, so to have people who have been waiting for me to open up and then coming out to visit the farm for the first time is extremely helpful.”
Glen Manor Vineyards originally had six acres in grape production but added another four acres this past spring and will add another five next year. That additional acreage will enable White to turn out 4,000 to 5,000 cases of wine annually. The winery, which is all family-run, now produces a Sauvignon Blanc and a Petit Verdot, but White is working on a signature wine that will be a blend of red Bordeaux varieties, including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Producing grapes at Glen Manor has advantages and disadvantages. Its mountainous terrain sits 1,100 feet above sea level, and the vineyards are planted on steep slopes. “The costs and the labor to farm land like this are more expensive,” says White, who had to import a special tractor with metal crawler tracks from Italy.
However, the soil is rocky and therefore extremely well-drained, and the climate is cooler than in the valley, a factor that allows the grapes to retain their acidity. All of these conditions are ideal for grape growing, according to White. “We’re basically stressing the vines, starving them a little bit for water, which means that the vines are smaller, the grapes are smaller and the resulting juices inside the grapes are very concentrated and just ideal for making a better wine.”
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