01 February 2007

Virginia's Grayhaven releases Pinotage


Grayhaven Winery, in Central Virginia, USA, is about to release their first varietal Pinotage, but it hasn’t been easy, as Max Peple-Abrams told me.

"Our first Pinotage planting was in 2000," she says. " We lost every single plant - ouch. We scrambled and found another 30 vines and they all survived. We graft our own now and haven't had any problems....save for Japanese beetles and birds and drought and monsoons and all the lovely things mother nature throws our way in the great state of Virginia .... one can certainly understand why Thomas Jefferson didn't quit his day job!

We have less than 1/3 acre of Pinotage vines here and have to supplement with Pinotage grapes grown in California. We graft off our existing vines every year to increase our production - it's slow going. To meet the current demand for our Pinotage, we are looking to eventually have about 2000 vines. We thin our crops pretty well so the quality is high but our yield is less than 1/2 of what a large commercial vineyard would get from the same vine count.

Max's parents Charles and Lyn Peple founded Grayhaven in 1978, and Max fell in love with Pinotage after travelling in South Africa. She says “my husband is a native South African who grew up in Johannesburg & Cape Town. I spent several years trying to locate Pinotage nursery stock US when I found a few hundred in New York state. I think it's amusing that so many SA wineries are trying to distance themselves from Pinotage just when the rest of the world is getting a taste for it .... crazy people. Anyway, we hope you'll make it to Virginia some day and stop by for a visit. In addition to our 100% Pinotage, we'll be releasing an amazing 50/50 blend this year of Pinotage and Touriga.”

Grayhaven Winery’s location and details are on their website at www.grayhavenwinery.com

I’ve really enjoyed my times in Virginia and am looking forward to returning and tasting Virginia Pinotage – see also here

1 comment:

  1. Paul B.04:21

    Peter, I agree - it is ludicrous for SA wineries to be looking away from Pinotage just when that variety is their unique signature grape. I think the wine writers and press are chiefly to blame. You get a few types who keep repeating and repeating the anti-Pinotage line, and eventually due to their influence, it sticks - and wineries see that to make money, they have to go where the "gurus" are leading the "masses". It is as stupid as it is sad, but what can one do, but support the Pinotage producers!!

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