Writing about Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Chester County, is easy for several reasons.
One, because it’s accepted among wine writers and many others connected to the industry as one of the best not just in the region but in the country.
Two, because owner Anthony Vietri is always game to respond quickly to a phone call or email and find a way to mix in a bit of humor with his insights. Off the record, get him talking on the Phillies or Eagles and his responses will come with the same amount of depth.
As the growing season begins anew and wineries plan optimistically albeit cautiously for guests and events, here’s the first of what will be a number of check-ins with regional wineries.
Q, How did the 2020 vintage turn out to be, 5 or 6 months removed?
A. 2020 was a wonderful vintage, weather-wise. However, we unfortunately suffered a large loss due to late frosts in spring, and then we were hit with the worst bird predation we have ever seen that took almost all of the rest. What is left is quite lovely!
Q, And how did this winter treat you down on that farm compared to some recent ones?
A. This winter has been very good for us to date, but it is a marathon that we can’t really declare over until May 15. Not too bad on the cold or the snow front, so if you happen to be out pruning on your knees from vine to vine, these are very good things!
Q, When you decide what you are releasing this year … beyond your 3 or 4 regular wines? For all I know, that’s been announced already, but I missed it.
A, It is pretty simple here. We bottle on a certain schedule for each wine, and when it is getting to be their time we release them. Sometimes that has meant not in order of actual vintage. We announce new releases [when I remember to do that!] over the course of the year over social media, for those folks that are interested. We will release a Castana this year at some point, in addition to our four yearly wines.
Q, So many wineries tell me they aren’t planning much yet for summer too many variables. What’s your feeling there?
A, I can understand that. Well, we are just focused on what we’ve been doing for the past year, which is curbside pickup and backyard service. We look forward to opening indoors when it is safe for all to do so, but there are just so many factors out of our control in that regard that there seems no real point in continuing to stress over it. Glenn [Williams] and his trio will play, as they have for so many years, to a small group for the main holidays, if all goes well of course. Beyond that, we plan to just add dates as conditions allow.
Q, Plant anything new this year plant or replant?
A. Always! We plant new clones and varieties every year. That will likely take place in April/May.
Q, It feels like from out here in York that you’re one winery that didn’t have to change its distribution channels, that the biggest impact of the pandemic was strictly on visitors. If that is accurate, what have the last 12 months been like?
A, In regards to distribution channels, nothing really has changed for us, you are correct. Our vast international footprint remains intact! The volume of traffic has changed as you point out, but not the way that we do things. How have the past 12 months been? A battle I think, like for everyone else. But here we are: The days are warming and the vines are ready to break bud soon.
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