In 1996, John and Susan Kiers purchased a 100 acre farm in the Shenandoah Valley for the purpose of growing wine grapes. The Shenandoah Valley drew their interest because of its relatively low rainfall, its cool climate, and its deep limestone soil. Of particular interest was the strong diurnal temperature shift — the difference between day and night temperatures that typifies most of the valley.
Diurnal shift is desirable during late summer and fall ripening as it allows sugars to rise without overly diminishing acidity. The site chosen is in Augusta County, near Staunton, Virginia. It has a top elevation of 1830 ft. with slopes that face east-southeast.
It was dubbed Ox-Eye after the ox-eye daisies that at times proliferate the landscape. The Kiers family planted their first two acres of grapevines in 1999, eventually covering 23 acres with vines. The site has proven to be an excellent one. The limestone base provides vital nutrients for healthy vines and fruit. The deep soil allows the vines to thrive without irrigation. Even during drought years there has been little to no drought stress. The constant breezes help control diseases and create good air drainage to combat frost. The diurnal shift helps ripen fruit with some of the highest sugars in Virginia without loss of acidity.
After selling grapes to area wineries for over a decade, the Kiers family built their own winery in 2010 and now bottle 100% Estate wines from fruit grown on their farm.
What is an Ox-Eye?
Ox-eye is the name of the common field daisy that grows like a weed on our farm. It has a yellow center and white petals.