Hamlet Vineyards Kayaking Adventures
A Virginia Vineyard by Virginia Natives with an old Virginia House and a farm hand named Virginia. First we grow the grapes. When we think the grapes are good, we'll make some wine. When we think our wine is good, we'll let you try it!
Located in the heart of Bassett, Virginia.
- A Virginia Vineyard by Virginia Natives with an old Virginia House and a farm hand named Virginia.
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- Wedding Facilities:
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- Dog Friendly:
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- Wine Tasting:
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Unlike most wine drinkers, the spring of 2010 found Virginia and her husband, Butch, planting vines on the grounds of their home, Eltham Manor.
In a way, the new turn in their lives surprised Virginia, an architect, and Butch, a businessman and racecar driver.
Getting started. . .
It began when Virginia read a story in the newspaper about a subject that piqued her interest: winemaking. She signed up for classes taught by Robert Wurz, a winemaker in nearby North Carolina who began making wine in his parents' basement in California's Napa Valley and later earned a PhD in wine chemistry from the University of California-Davis. Inspired, Virginia began thinking about growing grapes herself.
There were some 300-plus acres outside her back door. And the Hamlets live in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, where the soils and warm climate have proved hospitable to growing grapes. In the 1970s, vineyards began to blossom around the state, echoing earlier efforts by native sons George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. These days, there are some 250 Virginia wineries and more than 300 plus vineyards.
To Virginia and Butch, it began to make sense to put their own land to a natural, productive use. There was even a red-roofed barn capped by a weathervane, with plenty of space inside for farming equipment.
And there was Butch. As a racecar driver and pilot, he had an affinity for all things mechanical. He was a natural with the heavy equipment they would need. Consequently, mornings found him on the seat of a tractor, preparing the soil or spraying to keep the fledgling vines free from pests and fungi.
The boys joined in the effort. The 19-year-old twins, Lee and Mitchell, have just about done it all, from laying out rows to "harvesting" rocks that popped up when the soil was turned. After the family cleared an extra parcel of land to plant more vines, Lee and Mitchell sat vigil most of the night as their father burned the debris left from the clearing.
Their big brother, Harrison, helps when he can with pruning, shoot-positioning, mowing, installing bird netting and many other tasks. Kevin and Yesid, who moved in with the Hamlet clan in 2012, have also learned about the vineyard and its many tasks and are welcome additions to the crew.
Before and after they planted, Virginia and Butch studied, and asked lots and lots and lots of questions. They attended conferences and visited other vineyards. They wanted to adopt the best industry practices so they could grow the highest quality, old-world grapes. They wanted to pay careful attention to detail while trying to minimize human interference in order to let nature work its magic.
The family had established Hamlet Vineyards, a truly Virginia vineyard. One day, plump grapes will hang from branches on vines that now crisscross the gently rolling hillside leading up to Eltham Manor.
Butch is first and foremost a businessman, but one with an unusual hobby: professional race car driving. With 20-plus years on track, he has raced everything from formula cars to prototype sports cars to NASCAR late model stock cars.
He also is a private pilot with more than 4,000 hours in the cockpit.
As the Hamlet most at home behind a wheel, Butch handles most of the things in the vineyard that involve heavy equipment. He prepares the soil and does all of the spraying to protect tender vines.
When not driving or farming, he has been known to orchestrate the sale of NASCAR apparel and die cast collectibles. He was president for 19 years of SouthPrint Inc., and since its sale has stayed on as a consultant with the company.
He also has served and continues to serve on a number of boards, often those involved with economic development, such as the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Martinsville/Henry County Economic Development Corporation.
Butch earned an undergraduate degree in engineering at East Tennessee State University, then an MBA from Duke University.
Mother to lots of boys and about 3,500 vines
Virginia earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the University of Virginia, an architectural gem in and of itself created by another architect and vintner, Thomas Jefferson.
Many hours of Virginia's days are now devoted to vines, one way or another. During the season, she nurtures them. She plants vines, trains them, pulls their leaves, inspects them for progress and pests, and tends to their daily needs. Off-season, she makes a study of viticulture, as well as visiting wineries and other vineyards. And through it all, she blogs about the experience on the Hamlet Vineyards Facebook page.
A community volunteer for many years, she now serves on the boards of the Harvest Foundation, Averett University, and Carlisle School.
She enjoys tennis, entertaining, great restaurants, visits to the mountains and learning everything about wine.
She and Butch often complete their vineyard work by raising a glass or two.
Harrison, 25, is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College. A need for adventure led him to trek through Patagonia for a semester and lead campers on hiking and rock-climbing adventures in Colorado. The avid golfer is also a talented writer, working as the Sports Editor for the Martinsvlle Bulletin. Harrison has paid his dues in the vineyard during summers at home and is the bird-netting specialist. His dog Enzo is the vineyard's mascot.
Lee, 19, graduated from Christ School in Asheville, NC. He and his twin Mitchell have played a big part in helping create Hamlet Vineyards. When Lee is not helping in the vineyard, you may find him lifting weights or practicing his marksmanship. He is an avid camper, and an Eagle Scout. Lee attends Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, VA.
Mitchell, 19, has done everything in the vineyard from marking rows to "harvesting" rocks that emerged when soil was turned. He and Lee have planted vines, pruned vines and, probably cursed vines along the way. Mitchell loves soccer, basketball, and tennis and is a whiz on the computer. He graduated from Carlisle School in Martinsville, VA and attends the University of Virginia where he is the manager of the men's varstiy soccer team
Kevin Cuesta Penata:
Kevin, 19, is from Cartagena, Colombia and lived with the Hamlet family for 2 years. Kevin graduated from Carlisle School in Martinsville, VA where he played soccer and basketball. He attends engineering school in Colombia. Kevin has become an excellent pruner and bird-netting installer.
Yesid Mosquera Perea:
Yesid, 18, is from Quibdo, Colombia and has lived with the Hamlet family for 3 years. He is a student at Carlisle School and is an outstanding basketball player. He plays AAU basketball for Team Felton in Greensboro, NC. Yesid has learned many vineyard tasks including pruning, crop estimating, and harvesting.