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On the Job: Douglas Flemer, Winemaker

Douglas Flemer is a winemaker and the owner of Ingleside Vineyards, one of the oldest and largest wineries in Virginia and part of a 3,000-acre estate that has been in the Flemer family since 1890. Doug studied horticulture at North Carolina State University before a trip through Europe sparked his interest in winemaking. He apprenticed under a professor of enology and turned his plantation’s dairy barns into a winery.

How did you become involved in winemaking?
My father had an interest in making wine and started planting grapes in the late 1970s, and I got interested in it through him and through traveling in Europe, where, of course, there’s a long tradition of winemaking. When we actually started our winery in 1980, there were only 8 wineries in the state of Virginia. And now there are close to 150. So it’s really been a booming industry, and we just happened to be in it in the early days.

What is a typical season like, from planting to harvesting and everything in between?
Well, grapes normally bud about the first of April. Then they’ll be harvested in, say, September.
And like any other deciduous tree, they go dormant after the hard frost in the fall, which is usually around the middle of November here until late March/early April. That’s when you’ll do your dormant pruning, when you cut off all of the growth from last year to get to the new wood.

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