Introducing the Vines, Part II – Meet the Nelsons

August 19, 2011 | By | Reply More

It’s long past time to introduce the Nelson County vines, but before I start, let me once again acknowledge that it’s a bit of a stretch to refer to seven vines as a vineyard.  But hey, it’s a stretch I’m willing to make.  One is a vine, two or more is a vineyard, right?

“Nelson Mandela,” the tallest, noblest of our Cab Franc vines, named for one of the truly great figures of the 20th century.

The Nelson County property is the site for the real vineyard we plan to put in, and the seven vines we’ve planted fall into the category of experimental.  As my wife, the Vineyard Goddess, puts it, we want to make our mistakes on these vines, so that we’ll know what we’re doing when we plant the main vineyard.

The vineyard itself is a small plot, surrounded by a deer fence, with five Cab Franc vines and two Mammolo Toscanos. The Cab Franc were purchased from Double A Vineyards, a nursery in New York state.  They were ordered for delivery in the middle of April, a bit late in the season, but it took me a little time to get my arms around the idea that I could actually get everything done in time to plant vines this year.  We ordered 12 in all, and the other seven were planted at our Fairfax property, where I thought I could keep a close eye on them.

I had orginally planned to follow the Ozzie and Harriet “Nelsons” theme all the way through(Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky, and David Nelson; Ozzy and Sharon Ozbourne, etc.), in naming these vines, but I decided there were too many other Nelsons I wanted to include, particularly Nelson Mandela, pictured above.  So, meet the other Cab Franc vines, each named after one Nelson or another:

Thomas Nelson, the statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence for whom Nelson County is named.  (Seen here bowing to the Mammolo vines in the next row.)

Ricky Nelson, the runt of the litter, so to speak, represents the entire Ozzy and Harriet Nelson family. (Shot from the ground to add an inch of apparent height.












John Boy, not technically a Nelson, but one of the fictional Waltons , who were based on a real family that lived in Nelson County.


Horatio (Lord Nelson),the great British Naval officer, killed at the Battle of Trafalgar.









And now for the Mammolos, the vines that the Vineyard Goddess loves the most.  These are special to both of us, because they were gifts from Gabriele Rausse, the father of the Virginia Wine industry, after a class on grafting at Monticello.  The Mammolos are a somewhat obscure variety of Italian grapes, usually used in blending.  The association with Jefferson’s home on the “Little Mountain,” and with the great Gabriele Rausse, is what makes them to special to us, and I am pretty sure that if the property was threatened by a forest fire, the Vineyard Goddess would rush out to make sure the Mammolos were safe before worrying about the house.

While they are part of the Nelson vineyard, since they are Italian, VG decided they should have Italian names.  I know better than to argue.

Gina (Lollobrigida). Ain't she a beauty?

Sophia (Loren). We expect she'll add some spice to our wines.










These poor vines went something like five weeks without rain, yet held up magnificently.  We believe they will make great progress next year, and that, in their third year, they will bear fruit that we can harvest and use to make actual, honest-to-God wine.

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Category: All Posts, Viticulture

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