Taste Camp 2012: Walking the Vineyards with Virginia Winemaker Ben Renshaw in Tranquility Vineyards

Walking Tranquility Vineyards outside Purcellville with Ben Renshaw was an interesting Taste Camp discussion. We were literally in owners Al and Mary Taylor’s backyard. Planted in 1999, Ben has managed the five acre vineyard since 2005. His first season in the business was 2004. Tranquility supplies grapes for Ben’s 8 Chains North Winery as well as Tarara Winery, Willowcroft Winery, North Gate Vineyard and Otium Cellars, so Ben is managing not only what he wants from the vineyard but also what the other winemakers want. For example, Jordan Harris of Tarara Winery wants higher brix (sugar content) and darker fruit.

With Ben we talk disease, season and canopy. Tranquility is currently battling grapevine yellow disease so they had to pull out Pinot Gris grapes, the source of it, as the disease was creeping onto the Cabernet Sauvignon vines. 2012 is the earliest season he’s seen since his first year in 2004. He feels like so far we’re looking at  2007 or 2010 year but only the following months will tell. Of the growth we were seeing during our visit, two-thirds grew in the last few days. He loves this vineyard as it’s very balanced and the nutrients are spot on. Clearly other wineries like it too.

Ben manages 75 acres of vineyards across Loudoun County including 8 Chains North Vineyard at his winery in Waterford. You can follow his vineyard activities here.

When it comes to winemaking, Ben’s style is very old world. 2008 and 2009 Furnace Mountain Red Bordeaux blends he poured for us at Otium Cellars after the walk were great examples.

Our final walk, Jim Law of Linden Vineyards.