Winery

Not unlike a major motion picture, our wine has been three years in the making -- from planting our vines to harvesting the first fruit to fermenting, aging and filtering the wine and, finally, bottling our first wines!  Last week, with the help of friends, we bottled 930 cases of Meritage, Merlot, Cycle 76 (aka Pinot Gris), Rivanna Red, Rose, and Viognier wine.

I want to start at the end and say thanks to our friends, Gary, Pam, Rick, and Stephanie for showing up early in the morning and learning the process with us through the day.  Thanks also to Matthieu and Jason at King Family Vineyards and the guys from Hunter Bottling Company for being our guides.

Cunningham Creek first bottling

Hunter Bottling Co. truck

 

The Hunter Bottling Company truck is amazing.  It is a self-contained mini-factory that cleans, fills, corks or caps, and labels bottles at an amazing rate and then expels the filled cases down a conveyor belt.

 

Placing bottles on conveyor CCW bottling

As you probably guessed this doesn't happen without human assistance.  Pam, Stephanie, Bruce, and I were the ground crew while Gary, Rick P. and Rick H. manned stations on the truck.  The process begins and ends with cases on a pallet.

Job #1 is lifting each case of empty bottles off the pallet and setting it down upside down on the conveyor belt to begin the bottles journey. First thing, it's cleaned with a jet of nitrogen and then it goes to the filler.

 

The clean bottles are then filled with wine and either capped or corked, depending on whether or not the wine was fermented in oak.  The Rose and Cycle 76 (aka Pinot Gris) were fermented and aged in stainless and capped.  The Merlot, Rivanna Red, Meritage, and Viognier were fermented and aged in oak and corked.

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After filling and corking/capping, comes labeling.

IMG_1740 Cycle 76 Pinot Gris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wine on its way to the box

Once labeled, the bottles travel down the belt to humans again.  Two sets of nimble and careful hands place each bottle back in the case and the last machine tapes it closed.  As you can see in this video, Gary, Rick and Rick worked hard and as this picture shows, they also had fun.

Cunningham Creek wine freshly bottled

 

labeling the boxes

 

After being taped, the box travels down the conveyor belt to more sets of quick and nimble hands.  This time the task is to label the box and place it carefully back on the pallet.

 

 

wrapping the loaded pallets

 

Finally, its wrapped in plastic and ready for transport.  It turned out that this job required special expertise and became the sole responsibility of Pam.

 

 

We sampled the Rose and Cycle 76 and gave it a thumbs up.  The reds go through a "bottle shock" period and need to "rest" for about a month before we taste them, so we are trying to be patient.   But, they will be ready for tasting along with our Strawberry Wine at our Strawberry Fest on May 21.  Hope to see you there!

Cunningham Creek corks

 

 

 

We are open. Please visit our new Cunningham Creek website for hours, directions and happenings!

Cunningham Creek Winery at Middle Fork Farm is under construction! (Can you hear the excitement in my voice)? The walls are up and, as I write this, the roof trusses are being set. With a lot of hard work and an equal amount of luck we’ll be open in June.

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We were hoping to complete construction before strawberry season but that’s looking a bit iffy—especially since spring seems to have already arrived and strawberries may be here earlier this year. It’s farming in Virginia (Translation: plan for the best and adapt as we go)!

So, we’ve adapted and adopted Plan B: Set up a tasting bar in the Pick Your Own Berries picnic Middle Fork Farm strawberriesarea. What could be better—fresh picked strawberries, a picnic by the creek, and your first taste of Cunningham Creek Wines? We’ll post on Facebook as soon as we have an opening day for Pick Your Own. In the meantime, mark your calendar for our inaugural Strawberry Fest on June 4.

Cunningham Creek Winery will have 4 sections: a tasting room, a community meeting room, a farm store, and of course, the winery operations.   The Tasting Room is Cunningham Creek Winery Merlotdesigned to provide plenty of room for sampling our wines, and once you’ve selected your favorites, there’s an open area with comfortable seating to linger, sip, and chat.   On a nice day, you can move outdoors to the patio or the lawn. In winter you can warm by the farmhouse-style fireplace.

The Community Room will be available for meetings and private parties. It’s a versatile room with a separate entrance that can be completely closed off from the Tasting Room.   We’ll do our tastings in here on Friday nights when we have live music in the Tasting Room!

 

Our Farm Store will sell our strawberries and strawberry spreads, and so much more: locally Middle Fork Farm Spreadsproduced and grown vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, honey, chocolates, breads, and other specialty items. From pasture-raised fresheggslocal chicken to creamy artisanal Virginia cheeses--we’ll have something for everyone!

 

The Winery barrel room will be visible from the tasting room and if you want to learn about the wine making process, you can sign up for a tour!  Throughout the year, we plan to host special events in the winery.

We’ll also be having regular events, including bringing live music to Fluvanna on Friday nights! LocalVocalsWe’re still working on our regular event calendar but for now we’re planning to have Yoga (outside when possible, inside when not), Lady’s Night, BYOBBQ, and a fall pumpkin festival with Middle Fork PumpkinFarm pumpkins.

As our opening gets closer, we’ll post dates and times. For now, please “like” our new Cunningham Creek Winery Facebook page.   Watch for updates and photos there as well as on our Middle Fork Farm Facebook page!