Archive for December, 2011

Going “Green” Really?? we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Friday, December 30th, 2011

I ran across this on face book, I grew up with parents that lived threw the great depression and a world war. As I read this I can recall many things my Mom and Dad did when I was growing up. Thanks Folks! ๐Ÿ™‚

My Mom and Dad on my bike.

Dad on bike in USMC uniform and Mom in Blue between us.

In line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained,

“We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.” The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.” He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?… Sometimes I think we were better off before the “Green Thing Happened”…

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Wine? What kinds of grapes are used for different types of wines? Part 1.

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

As part of R “Ask the Ohio Wine and More Blog” series. Amber from The Karcher Group (TKG, R web host) asked the title question for this blog post. What kinds of grapes are used for different types of wines?

Map of Midwest

Map of Midwest

This is a BIG question and I will attempt to answer it from a Mid West American winery perspective. Maize Valley is located in Northeastern Ohio in Marlboro township near the small town of Hartville, Ohio.

There are more or less three different “kinds of grapes” we deal with from a economic standpoint: 1. Native American, 2. French American Hybrid and 3. Vinifera.

I will address this in a limited fashion in regards to the economics I deal with and have a certain degree of familiarity. Yes I will miss many varieties, sorry I try and keep this blog brief and to the point as much as possible.

First let’s talk about Native American Grapes Vitis Labrusca.

Native American Grapes

Native American Grapes

As the term implies, they grow here, they grow very well but have certain characteristics that limit their acceptance in the wine world. The good news is they are very hearty as they should since they once grew wild in North America and were “domesticated” over time by people.

Probably the first was Muscadine. Mostly because it grew in what is now North Carolina where some of the first settlers arriving in the 1500’s tried to find some use for this plant that was growing all over the place. It is still grown in primarily in Southern states, mostly because it is one of the few varieties that can handle the heat and the soil types.

Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine Grapes

It took humans about 40 years to cultivate this grape into a “domesticated” variety that they could use for a variety of purposes.

In Ohio we are more or less limited to about three varieties that are popular today. Concord which usually makes a sweet red wine (Maize Valley Red Neck Red), Niagara a sweet white (MV Mad Cow) , and Catawba a blush (MV Hanky Panky).

Mad Cow

Mad Cow was named after one of our Holsteins from when we used to milk cows

Back at the end of the 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s huge plantings of Catawba dominated the Cincinnati area making Ohio the largest grape growing region in the United States prior to a disease breakout that impacted the grapes and prohibition that finished them off.

Catabwa grape

Catabwa grape

Sweet wines make up the vast majority of wines sold in the U.S. by far comprising over 70% of wine sales. Drys are increasing with the millineal generation starting with sweeter wines from the start and older wine drinkers transitioning to dryer wines as they get more experience. However many of the new wine drinkers tend to start with sweeter wines such as the three noted above.

Next post will talk about the Vinifera grape I already went too long here!

Wine? “Real” Cork or “plastic” Corks what’s the diff??

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

As part of our “Wine questions series” from our web Host The Karcher Group (TKG) Jen asked “What’s the difference between cork and plastic wine bottle closures?”

Cork tree

Cork tree

Making or growing “real” cork takes a LONG time! The cork grows in oak forests in Portugal. The cork actually comes from the bark and cannot be stripped until they are twenty-five years old.

Cork!

Cork!

The trees can only be stripped once every nine years after the first stripping, and it takes to the third stripping to get to wine cork quality! Demand for cork is increasing, the prices are rising. This is where the synthetic or what many people call “plastic” cork comes in.

Mad Cow cork

Synthetic Mad Cow cork

The synthetic cork appeared in 1993 and they cost about seven cents each while natural cork is 13 to 75 cents each. Natural cork seals better but can give way to “cork taint” or TCA. Synthetic corks are only being used on bottles that are to be consumed with five years or less.

TCA is trichloroanisole results from the interaction of of mold, chlorine and phenols in cork. These chemicals are found in all plants. TCA produces a dark and moldy smell with the flavor of cardboard. Wines that develop TCA are often called โ€œcorkedโ€ wines. About 5% of all wines develop TCA, you just never know.

Chemical structure of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), the compound primarily responsible for cork taint

Chemical structure of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), the compound primarily responsible for cork taint

The screw cap is another option. The screw cap is fitted on to bottles and is quickly gaining popularity as it prevents TCA and air completely. Some people don’t like the caps because unscrewing the top takes away from the experience of drinking a bottle of wine. But they really seem to work. The machinery to use screw caps is pretty expensive for smaller wineries to implement also.

Screw cap wine cap

Screw cap wine cap

We use both kinds of corks at Maize Valley. On our dry reds and some of our dry whites we use real cork. Our fast sellers all get synthetic, our “Mad Cow” cork is highly sought after at events and in the winery.

Bottom line is if you don’t plan on keeping a wine long do not worry about synthetic corks.

If the appearance of cork when serving the wine is important it’s cool, just be aware you do stand a greater chance for that wine to be tainted. We will probably switch to screw caps as soon as we can justify the investment, that’s what I would buy no matter what the end use of the wine.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Remember you can always go back and get more wine but you can never go back and make more time!

Wordless Wednesday, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
Maize Valley's Farmall Super "A"

Maize Valley's Farmall Super "A"

Merry Christmas!

Can you make wine from other things than grapes?

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Hey it’s getting cold outside and this farmer has more time to cozy up to the keyboard! But so what, cuz a common problem among some bloggers, (me included) is writers block, or just plain running out of interesting things to say/write.

Add in the fact that I didn’t want to just ramble on and mono-log just to hear myself talk and sound like some sort of egoistical, “all that and a bag of chips” author of cyber space I hatched a plan!

I work with a web developer that hosts our web site, helps me manage our web social media accounts and does SEO (search engine optimization) for us. I’m young at 48 but if ya believe that their office is like pre-school!

The Karcher Group

The Karcher Group

They have ping-pong tables, squishy “brain-balls” to squeeze,

Karcher Brain Bucket

Karcher Brain Bucket

bean bag chairs, cool night club lighting, just a very contemporary place to work. I asked my account manager (yes they do use official sounding terms like that) to get me 20 questions that this staff/posse’ would have about what we do on the farm/winery/vineyard and they delivered! So now and then we will roll them out and use them to help me get over the blog-humps! We hope ya’ll enjoy too! ๐Ÿ™‚

Ben asked: Can you make wine from other things than grapes?

YES you can! Is is just that juice from grapes is naturally suited for making wine and needs little adjustment before fermentation. Grapes supply enough sugar and the proper amount of acid to produce wines without adjusting them at all except fermenting. So what do you need to do if you want to make wine from something other than grapes?

Fruits other than grapes adjustments are almost always necessary but can be done. You need to know the following.
1) How much fruit needed per gallon.
2) How much available sugar there is and needs to be tested and adjusted.
3) What the juice’s acidity is and it needs to be tested and adjusted.
4) Yeast selection, you need to be sure the right food is there so it can do well during fermentation.

Strawberry Mulching

At Maize Valley our very 1st award winning wine was Strawberry. It was gold medal winner. But saying that we have not been able to replicate that since! It is HARD to do from berries (which we grow). The problem with many fruits is that their acids are too high or low, they don’t have enough sugar and often have lots of fiber and pulp compared to grapes. We can and still do carry a wide variety of fruit wines (our cranberry is to die for, and is one of the few fruit wines that is not overly sweet and pairs well with food) most of them tend to be on the sweeter side and have a less complex flavor profile comparability speaking.

Strawberries with blossoms

Strawberries with blossoms

Also cost is a BIG factor. Fruit production has been and continues to be geographically concentrated compared to years gone by. We also grow Raspberries on our farm at Maize Valley.

Add in recently discovered and widely publicized health benefits of take for instance Blueberry’s, and this fruit can cost significantly more than grapes and the market is more limited for fruit wines.

Blueberries

Blueberries

But I don’t ANYTHING beats the flavor of fresh Raspberries on a hot summer day!

An alternative to that is to make fruit (or other than grape wines) from juice concentrates. This can be done just fine. But this tends to make a product that is somewhat simple and lacks many of the characteristics many wine consumers seek out when selecting wine as their beverage of choice for whatever the occasion may be. But is you enjoy it that is just fine!

The point is like craft beers and other high end spirits, I suggest that you use wine as a wonderful journey. There are things we do to live but there are things we do that make life worth living. Wine lends itself to the latter. So spend some time with it get to know it, discover that there is an entire world of wine to explore grape and otherwise.

But most of all remember you can always go back and get/make more wine, but you can never go back and make more time!