Ankida began as a small family business and remains so to this day. The vineyard is small, our focus being on quality above all else. We each have our focus in this business, but we all share responsibilities to assist one another. Working together as a family was a dream of ours and we feel so fortunate to have been able to spend this last decade pursuing that dream.
Nathan Vrooman – Winemaker, Co-owner
Nathan, son of Christine and Dennis, left his position as a mutual fund compliance officer in Denver to join the family business in 2009. He would study wine-making with Matthieu Finot, who moved from France to Virginia to take on the challenge of making wine in this new, up and coming region of the world. Nathan adheres to a restrained approach in the cellar, allowing the fruit to express the beautiful place it was grown. He is one of those people who is talented in many areas, so this job of wine-making and a vineyard life is perfectly suited to him.
While studying with Matthieu, Nathan met another young and aspiring winemaker nearby studying with Matthieu, Rachel Stinson of Stinson Vineyards. As it turns out, they were a perfect pairing because in May of 2014 they were married and now have a beautiful baby girl, Wells Evelyn. They juggle the demands of their two wineries and partner up to help one another in the crafting of beautiful wines expressive of place.
Christine Vrooman – Co-owner, Vineyard Manager
Christine began spending most of her time in the vineyard after it was planted in 2008, splitting her time between Virginia Beach and Ankida. She first learned viticulture practices from their vineyard consultant, Lucie Morton, a renowned figure in the vineyard industry. Christine was passionate about keeping the vineyard as balanced with nature as possible and created her “army of helpers,’ the farm animals who were given a role to play in the vineyard’s sustainable practices. With the recent vineyard expansion, she has lightened her role in the vineyard, but still maintains a passion for its balance with nature, the animals and the vines that she raised.
Her earlier careers and passions included nursing, practice managing for their veterinary hospital in Virginia Beach, photography, writing and involvement in community affairs. She has been actively involved in the VA Vineyard Association, including serving on the Sustainable Workbook committee, and was president of the Jefferson Heritage Trail. She enjoys finding time for their six young grandchildren that their four grown children have given them, and of them she wonders which might be the third generation to join the family business.
Dennis Vrooman – Co-owner, Farm Manager
Dennis recently left his profession as a veterinarian after over 40 years in practice. The Vroomans recently sold their veterinary hospital in Virginia Beach, and Dr. Vrooman soon thereafter retired to his new, more grueling career living life up on a mountain, tending to a farm and vineyard. He was raised in a small rural farm community in southwestern New York. There he spent many summers on his grandfather’s farm picking up rocks to make the land tillable. To his delight and dismay, he has found himself right back where he said he never wanted to work again… in a field of rocks!
Dennis, a graduate of Cornell Veterinary School, keeps his hand in veterinary medicine by tending to Ankida’s flock of 29 sheep, three dogs, three cats and some chickens and a guinea hen, along with meeting the needs of their children’s families of pets. Once a veterinarian, always a veterinarian.
Tamara Lucas – Southeast Marketing Manager
The Vrooman’s daughter, Tamara, lives in Decatur, GA and has worked in the wine industry for many years. She is putting that experience to use by working as an ambassador for the family business in cities such as Atlanta, Savannah and Charleston. She has also created a small collective of Virginia wines to represent in the Southeast markets, The Commonwealth Collective. She carries with her a passion for the wine industry and for working with people.
She has two young sons, Kaegan and Curran, who now make frequent trips with her up to Virginia throughout the year where they get to play with their VA cousins, Owen, Quinn, Noel and now baby Wells Evelyn who all live in the Charlottesville area. It’s all in the family at Ankida! Time to start training the young ones on how to prune the vines!
Cindy Wells – Tasting Room guru
Cindy is sister to Christine, moving to the area from Cincinnati in 2013 to be a part of this family business. She has spent many years working the tasting room and is a familiar face to our guests. She is a trained massage therapist in her own private practice and enjoys pottery in her spare time. Her three grown children live in Brooklyn and LA. Her presence adds to the sense of family on this small farm and vineyard set high up on a mountain in Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge, where family and growing the finest of grapes is what it’s all about.