Learn a bit about them, what they’ve learned so far, and how they're bringing their own unique spin to the age-old craft of wine-making. You may be surprised by what they have to say ... I know I was! I didn't even ask them to collaborate on their answers to the last question.
What brought you to Rocklands Farm?
Katrina: I graduated with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Virginia Tech. I took an extra year after graduating to take more classes and explore my newfound interest in food science. I took a few classes on brewing beer, which led me to an interest in wine-making. I met winemaker TJ Fleming at a Virginia Tech information session about Rocklands' winery internship, and I signed up to interview the next day. I was really interested in learning about the wine-making process! TJ called me a month or so later and offered me the opportunity.
Tim: I graduated from Furman University with a bachelor's degree in sustainability science in May. The major was great, and I learned that the concept of sustainability can be applied to almost anything. I was especially interested in how farming could be made more sustainable for the land and for the farmer. TJ went to Furman University as well; we actually had the same adviser! He passed along the internship description to Furman's environmental science department, which is where I heard about the opportunity.
What is the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about wine since working here?
Katrina: That no human pathogen can survive in wine! It really speaks to why wine has been such a big part of human culture through the ages; it's a pretty safe choice of drink.
Tim: That the hole of the oak barrels is referred to as the bung hole. The bung is the cap you plug the hole with to prevent oxygen from turning wine into vinegar.
Katrina: So far it's Honey Blossom, but that may just be the sweet tooth talking!
Tim: I love Ancestry. I love the way that TJ and Adam made it. They did a second fermentation in the bottle by adding yeast to each bottle. It's awesome to see the spiral of yeast when you turn the bottle upside down. It reminds me of kombucha and incense. It has great carbonation that is both fun and refreshing.
What truths have you gleaned so far about wines, vines, and farm life in general?
Katrina: I've learned so much new terminology and gotten to see just how complicated running a winery and farm can be. It's impressive how well everyone here keeps things running so smoothly. I've learned a lot about how to keep grape vines happy and how to make sure you are getting the best possible fruit.
Tim: Oh man, there's a bunch. Maryland isn't a typical wine-growing region due to the precipitation, but there are things that we do to make it work. Vineyards are placed on hills to catch cool breezes, which minimizes fog and water on the grapes. We grow hybrids because they tend to be more resistant to disease, kind of like mutts. We pull some of the east-facing leaves to expose the grapes to morning sun to evaporate dew. You clean a stainless steel tank by climbing into it. “Teamwork makes the dream work” (according to assistant winemaker Adam Drici). Public libraries are amazing when you don't have Wi-Fi on the farm.
What’s something surprising about you?
Katrina: I'm really into ballroom dancing. I've been dancing since I was in 7th grade!
Tim: When I eat or drink something good, I dance. The dance is different depending on the flavor vibes I get. The Silo Sundown, for example, has a groovy flavor that reminds me of funk music, like Earth, Wind & Fire. My Rocklands co-workers have suggested that I post dance videos for each of the wines on Facebook. There might be something in the works.
Look out for these friendly new faces and say hi when you’re next at the farm! If they're not too busy, maybe you can even ask them for a dance.