Viticulture

Viticulture Northampton County VA

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a federally-recognized American Viticultural Area. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau “If a wine is designated with the name of an American Viticultural Area (AVA), federal regulations require that 85 percent or more of the wine is derived from grapes grown within the boundaries of that TTB-established AVA and that the wine is fully finished within the state or one of the states in which the AVA is located.” Wines produced in certain geographic regions can possess distinctive characteristics.

The soil, topography, and climate of a particular area contributes to the expression of place or terrior. Northampton County has a moderate maritime climate, sandy loam soil and ancient shells that were fragmented 35 million years ago when a bolide crashed into this area and created the Chesapeake Bay in an event known as the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater.

There are two vineyards in Northampton County; Chatham Vineyards at Church Creek established in 1999 and Puppy Drum Vineyards established in 2017.




Chatham Vineyards 

Open Daily
Photos by Jean E. Flynn

Chatham Vineyards on Church Creek
9232 Chatham Road | Machipongo, VA 23405
757-678-5588
Website;https://www.chathamvineyards.net/ 
Owners: Jon and Mills Wehner

Tasting Room Hours
Open Daily 10 am - 5 pm Apr - Dec.
Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays Jan - Mar.
Closed for major holidays.

About Chatham Vineyards

Merlot Harvest

Chatham Vineyards is owned and operated by the Wehner family at historic Chatham Farm which has been a working farm for four centuries.

Jon Wehner is a second-generation winegrower on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He learned about grape growing from his parents who operated Great Falls Vineyard in Great Falls, Virginia for over thirty years. He and his wife, Mills, and their three children own and operate the vineyard and winery.

Hand PickedThe grapes are hand-picked and sorted before pressing to ensure the highest quality of the juice. Grapes not vinified at the winery are sold to other wineries in Virginia.

Chatham uses sustainable practices in their vineyards including using organic fertilizers, mechanical cultivation, dry farming and installing blue bird boxes. Eastern Bluebirds eat insects that can be harmful to grape vines. In addition, Chatham Farm has been recognized by the VA Forestry Department for its forestry efforts-- planting hundreds of new trees, as well as continually nourishing this huge natural habitat for Eastern Shore animals, birds, and plants. Chatham Farm and Chatham Vineyards are protected in perpetuity under an easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. This includes more than 250 acres of land including the vineyards, more than a mile of waterfront on Church Creek, and the winery grounds. 

Along with wine tastings, the Merroir/Terroir Extravaganza, summer musical events, a beautiful wedding venue or a place to gather for private parties and business retreats, there is also a popular Paddle Your Glass Off kayak tour offered in conjunction through SouthEast Expeditions.

 







Virginia Wine
Published on Mar 14, 2013


Jon & Mills Wehner give a guided tour of the winemaking process at Chatham Vineyards on Virginia's Eastern Shore

 






Take a 9 second ride through the vineyard on the back of the wagon during the merlot harvest! 

 




A little History about Chatham and Bridgetown

Chatham Vineyards at Church Creek is located in Northampton County at 9232 Chatham Road, Machipongo, VA in the area once known as Bridgetown. “Set at the head of Hungars Creek, Bridgetown, near the Northampton County town of Machipongo, is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in America, with people living here continuously since the early 1600s — around the time English settlers established Jamestown, ” according to The Bridgetown Files.

Historic ChathamFrom the Chatham Vineyards website we learn, “The land at Chatham, which overlooks Church Creek, was patented in 1640. The Federal-period brick house, Chatham, was built in 1818 by Major Scarborough Pitts and named for William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham and friend of the American Revolution. The historic outbuildings, barns and two early 1900s homes on the property have been renovated in recent years. Chatham Farm has been a working farm for four centuries.”

The vineyard sits on land between Church Creek and Hungars Creek. Both creeks get their name from Hungars Church, one of the oldest churches on the Eastern Shore, located north of Eastville on Bayside Road. Hungars Church makes a good landmark for visitors seeking the winery on Church Neck Rd.

The historically and culturally important work, Ye Kingdome of Accawmacke, Or, The Eastern Shore of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century by Jennings Cropper Wise describes Hungars Church as, “Surrounded and concealed by a body of sweet-scented pines, in the midst of a picturesque grove of Sycamores, about seven miles north of Eastville stands this ancient house of worship, near the site of its rustic predecessor. This church as it now exists at the head of navigation on Hungar’s Creek near Bridgetown, is one of the oldest churches in Virginia.”  Hungars Church
In 1741 a silver communion set was given to Hungars Church by John Custis of Williamsburg and Arlington (father-in-law of Martha Dandridge Custis, she later married George Washington)."  
 

 






Crystal Palate
Published on Feb 22, 2015 

A second generation winemaker is turning historic land into world class wine along Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore. Sommelier Crystal Cameron, owner of Crystal Palate introduces you to the Wehner family and invites you to take a detour off Highway 13 and experience this hidden gem for yourself.
Video Courtesy: Norvell Rose

 




Puppy Drum Vineyards

Puppy Drum Vineyards

Puppy Drum Vineyards, LLC
6026 Occohannock Neck Road
Exmore, Virginia (Jamesville) 
(757) 442-3675
Website: https://puppydrum.net/ 
Owners: Cal and Lisa Hagan 

About Puppy Drum Vineyards

Lisa and Cal Hagan are the owners of Northampton County's newest vineyard which was established in 2018. "A crazy mix of vineyard, market and bistro activities," Puppy Drum Vineyards is a pair of intertwined businesses. Veteran owned (vineyard) and woman owned (market/bistro), the business is located on Virginia’s beautiful Eastern Shore in Exmore,  near the sleepy village of Silver Beach. 

The couple met at the Cape Charles Air Force Station in Kiptopeke and after a long military and government career, they returned to the Eastern Shore to retire. They named their vineyard Puppy Drum after the first fish they caught in the creek behind their property.  Baby grape leaf"We hold in high regard the value of the ecology and health of all our surroundings here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (ESVA), most especially the Chesapeake Bay. We hold these values foremost in how we approach our entire operation." 

Eco-Tours are also in their business model. Cal is a Certified Eco Tour Guide. "Kayak tours are being planned for Nassawadox Creek and Occohannock Creek. We are also planning a walking tour of our vineyard. On these tours you will have a chance to see protected wildlife species, such as eagles, ospreys, and many others in their natural habitat. All tours start and end at the Puppy Drum Market in Jamesville. Picnic lunches may be purchased from the Bistro."

It will be some time before the vineyard produces enough grapes for wine but the Hagans do offer an unique blend of eco-tours, kayaks for rent, good food and other local wines, honey and seafood. 

Riesling vines "For the wine aficionado, we offer a working, growing vineyard. As we grow we will offer vineyard tours and tastings. Although small, we have three varietals: Norton, Chardonnay, and Riesling."

Puppy Drum Market and restaurant bistro are now open.  

For the hours of operation, photos, information about eco-tours and menu items please visit their website at:
https://puppydrum.net/.  

Vineyard
Photos courtesy of Puppy Drum Vineyards



Wine Making Process
Please click on the image for a larger view and ADA Accessible version.



vineyard