Even in the dead of winter, there's plenty to see on Len Thompson's farm. His vineyard is a year-round labor of love.
"There are easier ways to make money, but you've got to like what you do," said Thompson.
For almost 14 years, he and his wife, Kay, have been building a business in Amherst County.
"Some days out here you are freezing and other days you are burning up," said Kay Thompson. "It's a lot of hard work."
It's a far cry from their old life. They moved to the mountains from Virginia Beach, when Len retired from the military.
"We traveled extensively while we were in the Navy and developed a fondness for wine," Len Thompson said.
They went from drinking wine to growing the grapes that produce it.
"When we first came up here, in the back of my mind I was envisioning Falcon Crest, but it didn't happen," said Kay Thompson. "It's farming, pure and simple."
They may not live in the Napa Valley, but that hasn't kept their product from getting widespread attention.
Their grapes are used by three different wineries and Len was recently named "Grower of the Year" by the Virginia Vineyards Association.
"For me it's tremendous to be named one of those people now," said Thompson.
It's a title he's earned through sweat and dedication. There's no staff to prune the vines. No heavy equipment to glean the grapes.
"Bottom line is that I do most of the work and my wife comes out and helps, too," Thompson said.
They're a two-person crew, making an impact on a fast-growing industry.
Virginia wine is getting popular and the Thompsons see a bright future for their chosen field.
"Virginia wine is becoming known all over the country and in Europe," said Thompson. "People have heard of Virginia wine now. Our production is still not as big as other places, but I think that's where we're headed."
The wine industry is said to be one of the fastest growing segments of Virginia agriculture.
In 1979, there were only six wineries in Virginia. Today there are more than 200 and most are in our region along the Blue Ridge.