What is the “More” in Ohio Wine and more….it is a lot of things, this time a brewery!


March 4

Tags:
Breweries
FunTSAR

When I started this blog we already knew what we did as a business, family farm, farm market, winery, pumpkin patch, corn maze etc. etc. was different. Wine gave so much talk about it took center stage for the title, the more was about the other things. It was about the parts when added up we hoped made us greater than their sum.

We are not greedy, if we were we would have left agriculture a long time ago. It is just when we see an opportunity that fits into our area of possibilities we take it. The state of Ohio recently created a new permit that allows us to manufacture and sell beer! Yea pretty cool. It will fill a gap we have in our product offerings. We hear from our lady guests often how they would come out more often or come at all but do not because their significant other like beer.

Todd and Michelle practicing with some recipes

Todd and Michelle practicing with some recipes

Today my wife Michelle and her brother Todd are working in our kitchen experimenting with a recipe for an American Pale Ale. A great deal of the the beer making process relates to making wine. That is not saying they are the same at all but rather it is sort of like getting familiar with a set of ideas and tools. When you learn to solve one set of problems a lot of that information transfers, or at least the process does.

The diffuser we rigged for the "boil" into the mash

The diffuser we rigged for the "boil" into the mash

So we are starting off very small and humble. In the next month or two we will install a one half barrel unit to get us started brewing beer for sale. We will see how to run it well and make what we plan on being “craft beers”.

Old original trailer

Old original trailer we started selling sweet corn out of in about 1997-ish


But after all we started selling sweet corn out of the back of a two wheel trailer I originally built to feed heifers with when we used to milk cows. So who knows how far this may take us?

Bra-Vo! We are fighting Back at Breast Cancer…please join us if you like.


February 26

Bra-Vo! but why? Our story behind fighting Breast Cancer.

We get numerous donation requests and we try to honor as many as possible. As a business we focus in on two charities because we have personal experience with them, Veterans and Breast Cancer.

My brother lost his wonderful wife Mary Ellen who helped us launch our pumpkin picking patch years ago, and it took a swipe at my Mother in Law Donna and my wife Michelle, they have survived. Now we fight back.

My Brother Tim, my Mom and Mary Ellen at my daughter's Cara Birthday

I remember the day I got the “news”, I had to run to New York to get some wine making supplies so I couldn’t go to the doctor with Chelle. I just got back, I was on the back dock, she called what we thought were calcium deposits were cancer….I dropped to my knees, the energy of my life instantly drained out of me, why didn’t I go with her today? She had to drive home herself, my Mom taught me to open doors for ladies, I vowed to never let her go to a Dr. appointment again.

Bra-Vo

The "Racks" behind our bar!

March 1st kicks off our Bra Decorating Contest called Bra-Vo that culminates in our PINK Party in May. It is how we Fight Back, last year we raised $7,000.00 in an emotionally charged, brightly decorated, sometimes loud, sometimes “pin drop” quiet evening. Bra-Vo helps get that started.

Opening ceremonies

Opening ceremonies

Chelle and I walked over 50 miles (sometimes in 100 degree heat, they closed the last 10 miles) last year as Susan G. Komen walkers in the twin cities. It is quite an event, it raises more than just money, it lifts souls.

At the end of day two

At the end of day two

We took every penny, nickle, dime and dollar and put it towards the cause. We paid our other expenses ourselves, just so you know if you came out last year.

I think this was Day Two about mile 10

I think this was Day Two about mile 10

If you, or someone you know, love or care about has been affected by Breast Cancer and you are looking for a way to fight back please consider joining us. If you feel compelled please share this with someone.

Cork Bras

Here is an idea for you!

Last year was the first year for the PINK Party….It is a ticketed event, to our surprise and delight it sold out! That was over 100 people! We will working at expanding our ability to hold more people while keeping the quality standards we strive for. Please look at our Face Book event page for details or visit our website calendar event page as well.

Ohio Wine and More… and Pigs???


February 14

Ok, If you are a “Hoytie-Toytie” wine snob….you are not going to like me or my blog. Save yourself some time and click on that little red “X” in the upper right hand corner. This is a story about how we ended up raising hogs (pigs, farmers call them hogs more than pigs) again, and how they end up in the hands of Chefs in and around the HOT emerging Cleveland local food scene.

Hi, Watcha' doin'?

Hi, Watcha' doin'?

I am a family farmer, winery owner and soon to be brewery owner along with my wife, brother-in-law and my in-law’s. Brace yourself we are incorporated so technically a “corporate farm” I guess, you have to be for liability concerns. I drive a 2000 F-350 with 194K+ miles on it, I bought my wife a “new car” last year it was a 2007. We don’t live large we work hard. We are a Winery with ADHD, basically I shoot pumpkins out of a cannon for a living and also build corn mazes.

Me, on the deck of our pumpkin cannon getting ready to fire.

Me, on the deck of our pumpkin cannon getting ready to fire.

I was scanning the web and stumbled across a article about a local Chef in Cleveland following his dream and opening a butcher shop behind the West Side Market. I thought cool, so I followed up and read about it. His name is Adam Lambert and is currently a chef at bar cento . He will open a butcher shop in the “Palace of Fermentation,” Sam McNulty’s multi-faceted project currently taking shape in the Culinary Arts Building behind the West Side Market. You can read the story here.

As I read the article I came to realize the hogs we raise end up with him via Fresh Fork Market ! But here is the story behind how we got back into raising Hogs…..

My brother in laws Steve and Todd getting ready to load some hogs.

My brother in laws Steve and Todd getting ready to load some hogs.

We used to farm “large” about 15 years ago. 3,000 acres, milked 150 head of cows, trucks, grain lots of equipment. We eventually got run out by houses and low commodity prices. We sold stuff off and tried to survive. We opened a farm market and started raising small vegetables. My wife’s family has lived here (Marlboro) since the 1800’s. Her family has done everything, sheep, hogs, cows, dairy, tanned leather, taught school etc. etc. But one thing they had never done was “Agri-tourism”, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, hayrides and such.

2013 LoCo Motion corn Maze

2013 LoCo Motion corn Maze

After a few years corn maze’s were just not enough we needed to add more things for people to see and do. So we heard about racing pigs and thought we know pigs lets give it a try. But we don’t just race pigs…..we do NASHOG! The finest in Flat track pig racing in Ohio! We even built them a new track this year without a “Sin Tax”!

NASHOG race track

NASHOG race track

Our pigs have lots of room to move, run and have fun. They mostly just like to eat and sleep however. To train them to race you need cookies! Pigs like to eat pretty much the same stuff humans do and they run for Oreo’s!

"Pig Pile" soaking up some rays

"Pig Pile" soaking up some rays

We do “NASHOG” races on fall weekends starting at about noon and going till dusk. We get enough pigs so no one has to run too much but still have enough time to get cookies. They get a BIG shot of grain at the end of the day. Even giving them full feed they still grow slower than their buddies back at the farm who don’t get the opportunity to run the flat track every day. Maybe the stress of “celebrity” holds them back too? They do have lots of fans.

A small crowd catching a pig race

A small crowd catching a pig race

But at the end of the Corn Maze, Pumpkin Picking Season what is there to do with a bunch of highly trained athletes that have a bit of ego and celebrity? At first we took them to auction and took an absolute beating not even getting back our costs. It is the wrong time of the year for people to want pigs to feed out. So we took them to the home farm and started feeding them out ourselves for our freezers. We had few people buy one here or there but not too much of a consistent market for them.

Feeding time, that's all the time really.

Feeding time, that's all the time really.

That’s where Fresh Fork market and the patrons of Cleveland area restaurants and other customers of Trevor and Fresh Fork came in. Trevor starting buying our “Surplus Racing Pigs” and soon more. We starting raising hogs again year round now. Some regular breeds some special breeds depending upon what is asked for.

Now That's FAST FooD!

Now That's FAST FooD!

So thank you for supporting local folks doing cool new things and next time you sit down in Cleveland for a special dinner with friends, it may not be McDonalds…..But it still could be, “Fast Food”!

Snow Rollers something special, and the Polar Vortex


January 29

It has been said “life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what you are going to get”. We have been having quite a winter. It has been cold, really cold, a winter “like we use to have” you hear people say. A winter that has been cold and snowy, some happening at the same time even. But the other night something special happened, “Snow Rollers” formed across the countryside.

Snow Rollers

Snow Rollers for a limited time only!

I saw a few here or there, then more then I started noticing where they were and it dawned on me, I’ve been around snow my whole life and I’d never seen anything like this.
Often times you get clumps of ice that form as snow thaws and refreezes that form like “ice rocks” on the landscape. Or you have windblown fields and clumps of dirt shield snow from blowing away that form mini-mounds that can remain also. But these are different when you look more closely.

Snow Rollers delicate and cold

Snow Rollers delicate and cold

Little Snowman bellies dotted the fields, it looked like Mother Nature was working on the foundation for Clone Army of Snowmen.

An Army of white!

Now I’m not a conspiracy theorist but….

Mother Nature's Snowman Clone Army

Mother Nature's Snowman Clone Army

Ok, so they don’t have legs, but they are snowmen that didn’t stop Burl Ives! I bet if it was going to happen this is how it would start! Can you imagine the deafening roar of all of these “snow rollers” coming to life and saying “Happy Birthday” simultaneously! (For you younger folks, Google “Frosty the Snowman” putting on his hat, or click here to see.
So what is this Polar Vortex and how did it bring about this clone army?

Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex’s (on each pole both North and South) are basically Cold Core Low pressure areas, or persistent large scale Cyclones. You can learn more here
Occasionally they wander away from their home turf and we end up with some “unique” weather for our area. To be fair it was a brief warm up that allowed for the formation of these little guys. But without the extended weather provided by the P.V. I don’t think they would have come to life.

So what do these Snow Rollers look like in real time? I shot this video of one sleeping. I figured they are nocturnal since they formed at night and I have not seen them move since.

Bottom line is they are something special, we strive to be a special place that does special things that holds a special place in people’s lives. Thanks for stopping by.

2014 New Food, New Fun, New Friends, New Wines, New Events!


January 10

Wow here we go again a new year a year of new possibilities. The cool thing about farming and the winery is we really do get start all over again new each year. That is one huge reason many of us stay in the agriculture business. Each year brings a new chance to do better than years past. You can take lessons learned and apply them going forward. You read, surf the web, attend conferences, network with other growers. A new year is like Christmas morning with new gift of opportunity just waiting to be opened.

I love being out working when the sunrises!

I love being out working when the sunrises!

A Big part of what we do is a long list of special events on the farm. We can talk about farming and the joys and challenges that go with it but we also have to answer the question: what can we do for you? How can we bring you Hakuna Matata? Being authentic is very important to us. Out of these two ideas we try and develop things for people to come, see and do while visiting with us. Some things are grand some are simple, some are weekly, some are monthly some go on for weeks on end, some are seasonal. But we always want people to ask, “what is going on at Maize Valley?”

2013 LoCo Motion final 3

2013 LoCo Motion Corn Maze Adventure

Way back in the day we pretty much got started with our Corn Mazes and pumpkin picking. We still do this every year and it continues to grow each year. But we also do a wide variety of other events starting in January.

Here is a quick list of what we have on the books for 2014 with more to follow.

January 18th – The Island Doctor in the Winery

About now people are asking "Snow or Sand?"

About now people are asking "Snow or Sand?"

February 14th – Valentines Day dinner

March 6th – Locker Club Dinner
March 22nd – Winery Open House

Todd (my bro-in-law the wine maker) chatting up folks at Open House

Todd (my bro-in-law the wine maker) chatting up folks at Open House

April 19th – Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Who Da Bunny!

Who Da Bunny!

May 7th – “PINK” Party (Breast cancer fund raiser)

Pink Party ladies

Pink Party ladies

May 11th -Mothers Day Dinner
May 15th – 1st Cruse In of the Season

Metal Muscle Nights

Metal Muscle Nights

June 28th – 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf Memorial Day

July 19th – NEW EVENT! Food/Farm/Fun/Farmathalone, Kids Dream Day

Farmathalone gang

Farmathalone gang

July 26th – International Dance Day special event

August – We have no scheduled on farm events as we go into final approach for the Fall Harvest Season

Oh Boy Here comes Fall!

Oh Boy Here comes Fall!

September 13th – Corn Maze Opens ( This is a time of year where more things start to happen as we approach October)
September 27th – Balloon Lift; This also marks the beginning of expanded offerings centered around the corn maze and pick your own pumpkins

October 11th & 12th – Megasauras Days, Big event details on web site and will have its own blog post later.

Mega flaming car 2013

Mega flaming car 2013

November 28th & 29th – Christmas Tree Viewing Days

Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa


December 13th & 20th Breakfast with Santa

This is a listing of our “Core events”. Please keep in mind we will be also going off site to wine pours if you would like to join us.

Vintner's Dinner seating

Vintner's Dinner seating


Plus we have the monthly events such as our Vintner Dinners held the 3rd Thursday of each month, Wine’d up Wednesdays starting May and more. I’d keep going but you’re probably tired to scrolling already! In future blog post we will break down each event on its own, thank you for stopping by!

2013 a Quick Look over my shoulder


December 31

Tags:
Personal note
FunTSAR

Ohio Wine and More is about a family farm, market and winery who we are and what we do. We are a family first, we are a collection of generations working together that make up more than the sum of our parts. We lost one of those parts in 2013. Loretta Stawarski Bakan, Mother of the author of this blog, passed away on December 16th. My Mom turned 90 years old in August, she had a great life!

Loretta Bakan my Mom

Loretta Bakan my Mom

My Mom had a dry sense of humor and irony that is seldom seen today. She never wore her problems or discomforts on her sleeve, she always wore a smile. The last years of my Mom’s life were not that great. She started losing her sight about 15 years ago and it took its toll on her. My Dad was there by her side the whole time. He is a Marine of WWII vintage, and these years is where I really began to understand how tough a Marine could be.

I don’t write this post to make anyone feel sad about my Mom’s passing, it was time for her to go. She had used up her body and life here on this earth was no longer much fun for her. Yet the way she lived her last few years taught me more about life and living than the previous four plus decades I had the pleasure of her company. Mom along with Dad showed me what true courage was in the face of a body and mind that could no longer keep pace with the world around it. I hope I can live to be as good as an example for my children when my “time comes”.

So if you visit Maize Valley and you see something cool and creative, thank Loretta. She was the spark of creativity that I carry forward that creates the corn mazes, pumpkin cannons, pig races and so much more. Mom’s dry sense of humor and cutting wit, is the source of my ability to creatively look at things in such a way that I see opportunities where others may just see problems. Mom was very practical growing up in the Great Depression and having lived though a World War but she was ornery too.

It can be difficult for a child to understand but your parents were people too. Young people at one time, when they leave us they become ageless both the person you knew as well as the person they had to be over their years.

Mom is now that “person” spanning the ages, not bound by time. She is again that young attractive woman who caught the eye of that Marine, she is also the woman who taught this young boy how to ride a bicycle 23 years later, she is also a loving Grandma and Great Grandma to many young lives. If I have any tact, grace or elegance about me it is that of my mother showing through. I will endeavor to be a living example of those qualities so abundant in her person as I live the rest of my days on this earth. And I hope by doing so I make the world a better place for those who I am around.

Thank you Mom, take care and see you again.

How do you make a Snowman Blush?


December 18

It’s easy…..Give him a really cool “Package”! www.maizevalley.com

Every snowman should have a nice package!

Every snowman should have a nice package!

Who doesn’t love snowmen?!? And can you imagine anything more fun than a whole bunch of snowmen drinking wine? If you haven’t been to Maize Valley, then you probably haven’t seen one of our newest wines called “Winter Wine”.

He needs to be priced right too!

He needs to be priced right too!

The wine is a sweet blush that is very similar to Hanky Panky. But what sets this wine apart, and makes it such a GREAT gift is the label. The label is completely covered in snowmen. . . drinking wine, sled riding, celebrating, and having fun. Winter Wine is currently on special at only $5.99 per bottle – and if you are looking for stocking stuffers, or co-worker gifts, that equates to only $64.69 per case of 12! Wow – what a fantastic, fun gift to both give and receive!

A nice "stocking stuffer"!

A nice "stocking stuffer"!

Don’t worry if you miss this before Christmas we should have some left in stock for the rest of “Snowman season”! The price may change after this special holiday offer.

Award Winning wines, sometimes it is about the bottle itself.


December 11

We recently won one of 2013 Glass Packaging Institutes (GPI) Clear Choice Awards. The prestigious industry awards are given to products packaged in glass that demonstrate strong consumer appeal, shelf impact and commercial success.
What is under a label? Hard to tell because if the package doesn’t compel you enough to pick it up, let alone buy it you never know.

The sun was setting on the way we used to farm.

The sun was setting on the way we used to farm.

We started out with some pretty artistic and sophisticated labels, telling the story we were farmers on the label. They were very nice and we still use them today on certain wines for a certain markets. These labels while doing a good job when we had the time to tell our story were not the best for standing alone in a crowded market place.

Original artwork bottle label

Original artwork bottle label

We then started to look around at what other beverage companies were up and we got some ideas. What if we applied some of those practices combined with our story? Because we have a real story that spans generations. We had cows that had generations all living at the same time. We had pictures of cows of multiple generations all living at the same time.

Plenty of authentic Dairy was in our blood.

Plenty of authentic Dairy was in our blood.

Pictured below is a cow named “Edith” on the left My mother in law Donna is holding her. In the middle is my wife Michelle with one of Edith’s daughters and my sister in law Deb on right with one of Edith’s granddaughters.

We actually used to Have COWS!

We actually used to Have COWS!

Edith was not a “Happy Cow” getting her “gussied-up” for this picture was tough. She liked to be milked, eat and sleep that was pretty much it. She had a special stall next to the walkway out of the bar. It had a cool breeze in the summer, and was far enough in the barn it was warm in winter. Pictured below is what is left of her stall 15 plus years after she lived here over 13 years since we last milked cows. We have removed most of the “furnishings” that were in the barn.

Edith's old stall minus the mat, water bowl and name tag.

Edith's old stall minus the mat, water bowl and name tag.

On the wine side what was “our story” we asked ourselves. Of course, cows came up. But what name would catch your ear, and what picture would make you stop and pick up that bottle?

Mad cow reached out and grabbed us.

Mad cow reached out and grabbed us.

Mad cow is a sweet white table wine. It is easy drinking for the new wine drinker and a wine for light summer fun and good times. It is not a wine you want to spend too much time analyzing, breaking down and over thinking it. It still needs to be made quality and free from faults but it is not a wine you are going to want to age and wait for that special moment, just drink it.

And finally the winning effort

And finally the winning effort

And finally the winning effort, we didn’t set out to make an award winning label. We set out to create a package that people would want to pick up, own and give as a gift. It is a bottle that has a plastic sleeve covering the entire outside surface of the bottle. We think it is prettty cool, other must too as we beat out some pretty heavy weight competition.

Come Ski with Us….And we’ll bring the Ohio Wines!


December 5

At Maize Valley….We Make Great Wine….FUN! Many trips around the sun ago my wife Michelle and I learned to ski with friends. Later her “little brother” Todd, now our wine maker learned as well. Our daughter’s Cara and Breanne and now our “special” son Brett joined us. I ended up as a “chaperon” for our schools ski club and Scott our main man in the market/winery straps on the sticks as well. So why not take a gang over to Western New York and play in the snow?

Todd, Scott and Michelle on a trip to Holiday Valley

Todd, Scott and Michelle on a trip to Holiday Valley

Valley to Valley…..few years back we put together an inclusive ski/wine/food package where our skier wine/buds-bums went with us over to Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville N.Y. (bout 4 hrs.). You prepay us we set up all the details, we leave MV at 7:00am Sunday Feb. 16th 2014 Depart 7:00 am SHARP! Return about Midnight, +/- a few minutes?

Holiday Valley outdoor "Chalet"

Holiday Valley outdoor "Chalet"

We handle transportation to and from Holiday Valley, lift tickets (8 hr.), Morning coffee and pastry, wine & non-alcoholic beverages and a lite supper for the return trip. You would be responsible for equipment and any food alcohol/beverages etc. while on the slopes.

Need a lift?

Need a lift?

Cost per person is $100.00 pre-paid reservations only. We will take reservations and payment, when count hits 50 it is a go and will notify all by order of reservation. If we don’t hit 50 by January 16th 2014 the trip will be canceled and we will refund your reservation fee in full. Please call market at 330-877-8344 to make reservations.

Todd carving an "S" & finishing his "C's"

Todd carving an "S" & finishing his "C's"

We handle all the details and you don’t have to drive home. After last trip everybody wanted us to do it again, we just had too much farm/winery stuff to get it all done.

Todd (our wine maker....sigh) with our Nephew, Scotty

Todd (our wine maker....sigh) with our Nephew, Scotty

YOU MUST CALL OR STOP IN THE WINERY/MARKET AND MAKE YOUR PRE-PAID RESERVATIONS TO SECURE A SEAT.

So let us know soon, if you would like to go

So let us know soon, if you would like to go


Date: 02/16/2014

Time: 7:00 am – 11:59 pm

Breakfast with Santa part 3, Ohio Wine gifts helping Mom out when she needs it the most!


December 2

This blog post is the last of three outlining how we do Breakfast with the “Big Guy”! We talked about how we took care of the kids and what we did for the family. But what about Mom (or Dad) looking to by that special local gift? We feature Ohio Wines made right on the farm.

Got gifts?

Got gifts?

And we don’t just have “wine only” gifts either we also carry a variety of other holiday related items to help fill in some gaps people may have. But have you ever had a Chocolate Covered wine bottle given to you as a gift? Hey, you got your chocolate in my wine, No your got your wine in my chocolate…….Do you see where I’m headed? Besides that we have other unique gifts including our Home made Fudge, cookies, pies, pie breads that warm the heart and soul.

Chocolate Bottles

Chocolate Bottles

So as I look back at all we do I am reminded our slogan “We have a Vintage for all the seasons of you life” is really true. We are not trying to be crafty or have some huge marketing plot behind what we do. We just try and make every lick count, and keep the ball rolling best we can from day to day, season to season, year to year, generation to generation. And now about the “General” behind this event. There really are two, of course “Santa” I give him props he really keeps us on our toes all year round, but also my wife Michelle.

The leader of the pack this day

The leader of the pack this day

But not just the leader of the pack this day, barely two weeks after a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. This picture was taken December 2009, we are now getting ready for the 2013 event and I’m thankful everyday to have her.

Michelle my wife and "survivor"

My wife Michelle and her Mom Donna (Center and right) both breast cancer survivors.

So yes we are about building memories to last a lifetime. We are about creating a place that is authentic and hopefully a meaningful place in people’s lives both in location and time. We are about a family farm who is discovering ways to take the resources we have and repurpose them in unique ways that make a difference in people’s lives. We don’t expect people to give us their business, but we hope we can earn it. No we plan on earning it.

Holiday cheer by the truckload

Holiday cheer by the truckload

If you would like to learn more about our special events please visit

For information about 2013 Breakfast with Santa only.


 
 

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