We conclude our tour of Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards with Vineyard Manager, Brooks Hoover.
How do you save your vineyard from freezing temps?
Welcome to The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast; I'm your host, Forrest Kelly. From the seed to the glass, wine has a past. Our aim at The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast is to look for adventure at wineries around the globe. After all, grape minds think alike. Let's start the adventure. Our featured winery is: we conclude our interview with Dean Andrews of Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards in Virginia.
I think I would have you talk to Brooks because Brooks is actually an awesome story because he's one of the people I mentioned earlier. OK, let's bring Brooks into the conversation. Brooks, would you agree with that? Is it interesting? Interesting or long? That depends on the listener. I have definitely been here for pretty much the whole decade that we've been here. And I started in the kitchen. I then became a chef. So I worked on the code line helping prep, and worked weddings. And then I became a bartender, and then I became the senior bartender. And then I left to work with our winemaker. I came back, and then I became our vineyard manager. I operate more as our vineyard production manager now. So, Jack, of all trades, master of none, I guess.
In doing all of those different jobs and things, where does education, where does college come into the mix?
At the time, I wanted to add a degree, and I was going to get my degree and go back to grad school. So I went to the front of the house, and that's how I started studying chemistry, and that got me into one. So my degree was actually in psychology at the time. I was actually taking my degree and then go to grad school for, you know, potentially, you know, either like becoming a psychiatrist or a clinical counselor. But to get my brain back in school mode, I started taking chemistry. And that led to me thinking, well, fermentation science is pretty cool. I thought I was throwing around the idea of making beer, but I already worked at the winery at the time. So I was like, well, let's just see where this goes. And half a decade later, I'm running the production for an entire winery. You know, it's funny because I haven't actually gone to school for viticulture or winemaking. So if you can show it to me, you know, show me three times, you know, I'll try and get it right by their time. And especially when you're working in a vineyard, know you can read books about pruning techniques and how to deal with a vineyard. But until you actually do it, you know, it's a different story.
At the time, we're recording this. Just looking at your temperatures, the highs are in the upper 70s to the mid-70s, and yet the overnight lows are dipping into the 30s. What are you doing at this time of year when you see that kind of temperature?
We're still technically in what I call frost watch season. Frost can come and kill your entire crop. I've been basically on call for all of April. I consider myself on call until the end of May. So there's only really a couple of things you can do. One is just hope and pray that it doesn't get below 32 degrees. But we're looking for that freezing point, 32 degrees. And we're looking at the wind speeds because it's breezy, like about five miles per hour, six, seven, eight miles per hour. The wind isn't going to settle, and the wind is carrying water vapor. And so you also have to look at the dew point. If the dew point is getting close to the actual temperature. That means that the water droplets are going to settle, and they're going to crystallize and freeze. And that's going to necrotize your blood tissue, the blood tissue, necrotizing; then you're not going to get a flower to pollinate. So we have these wind machines that we can turn on, and they're amazing machines. And essentially, it's a helicopter blade fan that's attached to a tower, and it rotates like your normal house fan would. But in a 360-degree radius above us, there's this pocket of warm air about 100, 150 feet up. And the spinning of that fan creates a vortex that holds that warm air down and spreads it around the vineyard, and raises the ambient air temperature. So if it's sitting at 30 degrees, and that can raise the ambient air temperature by just three degrees Fahrenheit, I just saved my entire crop in one night. Will somebody answer that phone? It's time, boys and girls, for our listener voice mail. My name is Ricardo. I'm from Santa Cruz, Mexico. So I'm going to be interesting to tell you. The Mexican government charges a minimum of 40 percent taxes on all wine. Thank you for that, Ricardo. I did not know that. Well, despite Mexico's Spanish heritage, as you might guess, it is not a major wine-drinking country. Beer and Tequila are far more popular than wine. And, you know, the average wine consumption per capita is only two glasses a year. And because of that tax, it makes it difficult for wine to compete with beer and Tequila. However, wine consumption is increasing in Mexico. In 2006, there were less than twenty-five wineries in Mexico, and now there are over 100. Thank you for listening. I'm Forrest Kelly. This episode of The Best Five Minute Wine Podcast was produced by IHYSM. If you like the show, please tell your friends and pets and subscribe until next time, pour the wine, and ponder your next adventure.