|Lake Anna Winery owners, Jeff (left)
and Eric Heidig.
The story of Lake Anna Winery began on a business trip to France
in 1981. While traveling through the French countryside, Bill Heidig
noticed that the climate and soil conditions of certain grape-growing
regions were similar to those on his Spotsylvania farm, and an
idea began to take root. Upon his return, he presented the notion
of planting grapes to his wife, Ann. After a great deal of thought,
the two decided to plant a vineyard and launch a family business.
They hired a consultant and started taking seminars on grape growing
In 1983, two years after Bill’s initial interest, the Heidigs
planted more than 2,000 Seyval Blanc and 250 Cabernet Sauvignon
vines. Three weeks later, on an extremely hot weekend, they planted
1,000 Chardonnay vines.
Bill and Ann soon learned first-hand how much care grape vines
require. Each vine has to be trained to grow straight up a stake.
As only a single shoot can be allowed to grow, laterals must be
pruned constantly, and the vine’s initial fruit clusters
have to be removed as they form. When the vines finally reached
the first wire of the trellis, the Heidigs celebrated trading the
painstaking work low to the ground for painstaking work they could
do standing up.
The first commercial sale came after the 1984 harvest when the
Heidigs sold one-half ton of Seyval Blanc grapes to a Virginia
winery. With the vines’ cooperation the yields rose steadily
while Bill and Ann continued to expand the vineyard. In 1984 and
1985, they planted additional Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon,
and in 1988, after the memories of planting and nurturing had faded,
they planted 1,000 Merlot vines. By 1988, over 28 tons of grapes
from over 10 acres were being picked for delivery to several Virginia
wineries—that were turning their grapes into award-winning
wines. The Heidigs decided the time was ripe to make Lake Anna
Winery a reality.
The winery is housed in an old barn located on the Heidig farm.
Built for dairy cows in the 1940s, adapting this structure for
a winery proved to be a real challenge. The original floor was
not strong enough to support the weight of the tanks, the ceiling
was too low to accommodate the height of the tanks, and the roof
leaked. The renovation began in earnest when the old cement floor
was broken up and removed and replaced with reinforced concrete.
The roof traded the old tin for new shingles, and four holes were
cut into the loft floor to accommodate the taller fermenting tanks.
Remodeling the interior was the next task. To cut costs, the Heidigs
did as much of the work as they could, stretching the forbearance
of family and friends to the limit. Two neighbors, Elmo Proffitt
and Charley Gentry, were of tremendous help. They spent many weekends
constructing the large front door, framing all the doors and windows,
and serving as advisors, telling Bill and Ann that certain jobs
were not as easy as they thought, and then showing them the right
way to do it. In the spring of 1990 the winery was completed.
The Next Phase
Upon the dawning of a new millenium, Bill, who ran the vineyard
and had been sharing the winemaking duties with Ann, decided it
was time to turn back the chronological progression of the winery.
He felt they could either scale back to just growing grapes and
selling them primarily to other wineries as in the 80s, or see
if any of the four children had any interest in taking over the
business. Two sons, Jeff and Eric were thrilled with the idea,
and Bill recognized that for them to come on board, a commitment
to expand the facility would need to be made. So in 2000, a major
undertaking started with the concurrent building of a new, open,
multi-use tasting room, a climate-controlled case-goods warehouse
and a new tank room/crush pad that would more than double the present
production area capacity. After a year of construction, work was
finished, and the new tasting room opened in the spring of 2001.
About the same time, the well-respected winemaking consultant,
Brad McCarthy, had been hired to oversee cellar operations and
in the spring of 2001 suggested that the hiring of a winemaker
would give Ann and Bill time to pursue their own interests and
allow them to step back a bit from the day-to-day operations. In
May of 2001, Graham Bell was brought on board and in late 2002,
the winery business was sold to the two brothers. Bill continues to manage the vineyard, with Jeff and Eric owning and operating the winery business.
The goal for future expansion is to further expand production
to 8-10,000 cases per year in order to be able to have Jeff involved
full-time. In 2002, production grew to 4,000 cases, and 2003 production
reached 5,500 cases.
The Heidig family’s time and effort over the years have
made lake Anna Winery a reality, ready to produce the finest wines
that only excellent grapes, the right growing conditions, and a
caring vintner can offer.