53rd Winery & VineyardIt has been two years since our purchase of Cooper Vineyards. A hectic two years with a lot of improvements though. We’ll start with the vineyard. We took out unproductive/diseased Albarino, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Norton vines and replaced them with Albarino, Chamborcin, Chardonel, Petit Verdot and Viognier. We have planted approximately 8,000 vines essentially doubling what was there before. We’ve added fencing around the vineyard to keep the grape loving deer out. In addition, we are changing our trellis system and replanting rows 8 foot wide by 3 foot vine spacing. This packs more to the acre and the vines compete more with each other; forcing root systems deeper into the ground. We are two years into a five-year project.

In the Winery, we added new equipment and finally broke ground on the new production building. The foundation is poured and the next stage of construction will start in two to three weeks. We expect completion by November. Graham Bell, our winemaker and Chelsey Blevins, our assistant winemaker have worked hard to improve our wines. This is evidenced by the number of awards our wines have won last year and early this year. Over 80% were gold or silver awards; although the real metric we use is customer feedback. It looks like we are on the right track!

We recently completed improvement work on our entrance to the winery. We widened the road and added a cedar fence along the driveway making the drive in more aesthetically pleasing.

In the Tasting Room and outside area we added new wine coolers, tables, picnic benches and have done a lot of training for our staff. We have been named a top ten tasting room in Virginia for five years in a row! Our thanks to you for voting us that award. We have also begun work on enclosing our Pavilion. Fact is, we have outgrown the tasting room particularly on weekends. It will be enclosed on three sides with sliding glass doors and the end facing the parking lot will be extended twenty feet to provide restrooms and a kitchen area. Completion is expected by late October.

We also had to make a few policy changes. Pets are always welcome but no longer allowed in the tasting room. Recent events have caused us to change this policy which seems to be the trend in the industry. We also do not allow outside food in the tasting room but it can be brought on our deck and certainly enjoyed using our picnic tables. Our website will soon include a Frequently Asked Questions section on policies at our Winery.

It looks are heading towards a good harvest but we are always concerned about the weather and insects. We have competed the tedious task of leaf pulling to help the grapes ripen and July’s big task is cluster thinning. By early August we will be netting the vines to protect against birds and deer. Amazing how they know when the sugars develop!

For our Wine Club members, the Third-Quarter pickup weekend is August 12/13th. Even though construction limits our space we do plan on a cheese pairing with the wines we have recently bottled for you to try. We hope to see you there.

Don’t forget that we will be at Lake Anna Winery Saturday, August 5th from 5 to 10pm for their Caribbean festival. This is a Heart of Virginia Wine Trail festival so all wineries will be there to pour their wine. It is a fun event so go to Hovawinetrail.com to purchase your tickets and get the early purchase discount and enjoy the great music, food and wine!

Lastly, you have noticed we have changed the labeling on many of our wines. We are rebranding our drier style wines as “53rd Winery and Vineyard” which is at the top of this letter. We were the 53rd licensed winery in Virginia in 1999 so we wanted to use that part of our history in our new brand and most likely, new name next year. Why change the name? Cooper was well known for its sweet wines, Sweet Louisa, Rhapsody and Noche. They are good wines enjoyed by many. What we realized is that the drier style wines were underappreciated, hence the new name to generate interest in them.

We are pleased with our progress so far and truly appreciate your support and feedback. Award-winning wines being made in Louisa County? You bet!
Cheers,
David and Susan