In the early 1970’s our property became the first of its kind to be put under conservation easement in Central Virginia. Over the past five years we have established new soil and water conservation efforts, apiaries, gardens and other sustainability measures. Here is how we are making improvements towards sustainability on our estate.
With help from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation, over 600 acres of our estate were put under conservation easement in perpetuity in the 1970s. This restricts and protects the development of our land and keeps it green for generations to come. Today, visitors can enjoy our beautiful green rolling hills and expansive views of the mountain forests from our estate.
Protecting streams and tributaries that pass through our property from our cattle operation has been a priority for a number of years. Keeping cattle out of sensitive water areas has enabled us to better manage water, a precious resource. Over the years, the health of our beloved Chesapeake Bay has improved tremendously. Our efforts continue as we plan more extensive infrastructure to reduce cattle impact on our waterways.
In 2018 we will be placing twenty apiaries in two locations throughout the estate. We also plan to plant a generous variety of forage over seven acres of land. Being the primary pollinators for many plants, bees are crucial to the health of our land and provide a diverse ecosystem.
In the early 1980’s apple trees were planted on our property enabling the estate to produce cider and apple wines. In 2017 we started the long path towards resurrecting these apple trees. All of them were trimmed the old fashioned way, by hand and without powersaws. We decided not to apply any sprays to the trees, prefering to manage cedar rust and other diseases in a more sustainable way. In 2018 we will make our first apple wine.
Using cedar timber from our forests, in 2017 we built a new fence and raised beds for our new vegetable garden. Shortly after we planted our first vegetables using heirloom and other seeds. We use no sprays on any of the vegetables and/or surrounding areas. Food is fresh and used by residents of the estate, as well as our Simeon Store tenants who prepare Farm to Table cuisine with these delicacies.
Virginia’s wet humid climate makes it challenging to manage Vitis Vinifera grape varietals without applying sprays to protect vines. The best defense in minimizing sprays is a very active offense - visiting the vineyards regularly to catch issues before they become too big. We work diligently to provide good air flow and canopy management, ensuring fewer problems show up in our vineyards.
We do not use neonicotinoid’s, which are said to be linked with bee colony collapse disorder in North America. As much as possible, we use OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) products that are less harmful to the environment and insects. Overall our vineyards boast a healthy insect population.
Visible to all guests who visit our tasting room, our Border Gardens along our parking lot and Cottage Gardens in our patio, have been designed by an English horticulturalist to attract butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
These gardens bloom with flowers eight months of the year which provide plenty of nourishment to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. An area which our guests thoroughly enjoy.