We recently visited our good friends in Charlotte, N.C. who sadly moved there the end of last year. We still haven’t adjusted to life without them in Orlando. This visit was our first to see them in their new home. We decided to take one day and tour the Vineyards of Swan Creek, which is located about an hour north of Charlotte.
There are five vineyards in Swan Creek, but time only allowed for us to visit three. It was a beautiful day, and I was very excited. Since the theme of our blog is a vineyard, I’ve always had a deep desire to get up close to one, to learn from the process, and to experience all that is involved with harvesting the crop. It has always seemed so “romantic” to me. Shadow Springs Vineyard was our first stop.
It started to sprinkle as we got out of the car but nothing could dampen my excitement, not even the rain! We were greeted at the double doors by the owner – Chuck Johnson. His wife, Jamey, was working behind the counter ready to serve up our first tasting of the day. As we talked I asked how they came to own the vineyard. They shared their story, but the part that stood out to Tom and me was their answer to this question, “Is owning a vineyard what you had expected?”
Chuck didn’t answer at first. He just gave us a look. Then he simply said, “It’s harder than we ever imagined, and there is no time off.”
Shadow Creek offers a unique opportunity for people like us to take part in their vineyard from a distance. They offer an “Adopt A Vine” program where you can choose any vine in the vineyard and “sponsor” it for a year. They let you walk the vineyard to pick the one you want, either randomly or by row and vine number. They take your picture with it if you want, and then add your name to their list of partners. Throughout the year the partners get updates as to how the crop is coming along, as well as pictures of the vine right before they harvest the grapes. In the dormant winter months they’re even invited to come and prune their vine if they want. It sounded like the perfect way for me to experience life in the vineyard. We adopted two Merlot vines. The first one we picked row 2, vine 24, since our anniversary is on February 24th. The second one we picked row 11, vine 12 which is the anniversary date of The Romantic Vineyard. 🙂
The netting on the vines is to protect them from birds primarily. It’s also to help support the grapes as they are nearing harvest.
You’ll notice this vineyard uses what they call an open lyre trellis system. The “Y” shaped trellis enables them to split the vine in two producing 50% more grapes than the traditional trellis. It is a fascinating concept and a provides a great metaphor for marriage. One marriage made up of two individuals each having gifts we’ve been given by God to produce an abundance of fruit for His glory!
If you are interested in adopting a vine – they have 7,000 to choose from. Simply visit their website for more information.
Our next stop took us to Raffaldini Vineyards.
The grounds were unbelievably beautiful. The vineyard looks very much like an Italian estate, which was the goal of the owner, Joe, whom we met while walking through the garden. He invited us into the tasting room where he personally introduced us to each varietal they offered. When asked if owning a vineyard was what he expected, he replied, “I love the vineyard, but it takes hard work.” He divides his time between the vineyard and a full-time job in New York. Obviously, it takes many hands to make this vineyard run well, and from our perspective, they do an excellent job.
Our last vineyard was the Laural Gray Vineyard.
It, too, is family owned and operated. The name is comprised of the middle name of each of the owner’s two children, whom we were privileged to meet. In fact we met the whole family. They were all there to take part in what they call “Farm Fresh Fridays.” From May through September they host this event to showcase their produce and their wine. They prepare three appetizers made with ingredients grown on the farm. It is guaranteed fresh and delicious, and it was!
The vineyard was nearing harvest and the fruit was abundant. You’ll notice in the pictures below the pruners have been through recently as evidenced by the clipped clusters on the ground. I wanted to pick them up and have a taste, but Tom said there may be pesticides on the fruit. <sigh> You can’t taste the fruit until its ready to be tasted. Another great metaphor for marriage.
The evening began as the sun was setting low in the western sky. We sat at a table overlooking the vineyard while the food was served.
When we asked them if owning a vineyard was what they expected the owners offered a similar answer we had heard all day – “It’s really hard work, much harder than we expected.”
Three vineyards provided the same answer when asked about owning and operating a vineyard. What sounds so romantic to me, is really very hard work. It is tireless with no time to rest, that is if fruit is desired.
Compare this to your marriage.
What did you expect as you walked down the aisle to begin this journey together? Most likely, you anticipated the joy, the friendship, the shared memories, the dreams come true. We all did. But God knew as we were exchanging our wedding vows that there would be hard days, tireless days, days when we didn’t know if there would ever be fruit. There would be fruit, it just wouldn’t be as easy, as romantic as we had thought.
So if you’re not feeling very romantic in your relationship right now – it’s okay. You may at this time be covered with netting to protect you from the onslaught of danger. You may be experiencing pruning to produce even better fruit than you had ever hoped for. You may be watching the sun set on your dreams thinking the sun will never shine again – but it will. We simply must stay committed to do the hard work.
The best part is when you have one of those days where everything falls into place the way you planned, the way you hoped, and you both feel quite romantic about it all. You’ll enjoy that glass of wine more than anyone else as you thank God for all He has done.
Romance isn’t always romantic, but God is always faithful!
What ways has God been faithful to you in your Vineyard?