We are a small vineyard north of Gainesville, FL specializing in dark Muscadine grapes and dedicated to U-Pick. Our main fresh fruit grape is the Supreme, a very large, thin skinned, very sweet grape. The other grape we grow, the Ison, is a self pollinating variety that produces a very sweet, slightly smaller berry that ripens early in the season. This grape also pollinates the Supreme vines which are female plants.
The Vineyard at Loftus Family Farm started in 2004 with just three rows being planted. Each year more rows were added until there are now 14 rows, three Ison rows and 11 Supreme rows. The idea was to get started while I was still working so the vineyard would be ready once I retired. A vine is not considered in full production until its fifth year, so I needed to start early. Since I was working full time, I decided to add a few rows each year to keep the work more manageable and that plan worked up to a point. By the time all the vines were planted, there was so much to keep track of that all other activities and hobbies were put on hold. Having the vineyard was like working two jobs. Every holiday, vacation, most weekends and even some time after work was spent pruning, weeding, fertilizing, irrigating, building trellises, pulling wire and fixing broken things. There were times when I thought I had taken on more than I could handle. I put some pan shots of the vineyard from the beginning until now on the “Photos” page of this web site. I have also kept something of a photographic record of my progress and you can see the archived photos here
It seemed like forever but at last I finally retired (as of July, 2010) and now I can devote more time to keeping the vineyard in top shape. I plan on replanting some vines that have died from freezing weather and even adding some of the golden muscadines that some people have asked about. There is also a new variety put out by the University of Florida called Souther Jewel that sounds very interesting. The grapes ripen as a bunch instead of individually and would making harvesting easier. With more time on my hands (well, at least I don’t have to go to a job anymore) I will be able to work in the vineyard in a more leisurely fashion and actually enjoy the sunshine, the clouds, the wind and, yes, even the heat and rain. Hope to see you out at the vineyard.