Posts Tagged ‘Agri-tourism’

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Maize Valley Vintner's dinner

Maize Valley Vintner's dinner

Wine? What kinds of grapes are used for different types of wines? Part 3 Final

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

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?

Amber Mullen

Amber Mullen w/TKG, C! These people DO exist I'm not making this up!

If you look back to Dec. 27th you can see the first post about Native American Grapes as post #1 the second on Vinifera and here in Part three the French American Hybrid. Amber asked a BIG question!

Before you just read this post please review the Dec. 27th post to understand the context I am answering this question in. I am trying to be brief and too the point. I took the following from Wikipedia, it says it very well.

Merzling grape

The hybrid grape Merzling created by a crossing Seyve-Villard 5276 with a cross Riesling x Pinot Gris.

During the first half of the 20th century, various breeding programs were developed in an attempt to deal with the consequences of the Phylloxera louse, which was responsible for the destruction of European vineyards from 1863 onwards. After extensive attempts, grafting European varieties onto North American rootstock proved to be the most successful method of dealing with the problem.

However, hybrid grape varieties were introduced as a solution to many of the viticultural problems of cooler and more humid wine regions, such as those in the northeast of North America. From the 1950s onwards, grape varieties such as De Chaunac, Baco noir, Marechal Foch, Vidal, etc. have been a staple of the wine industries in Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, etc. Only since the 1970s and 1980s have vinifera varieties begun to displace hybrid grapes in this area. Even in those areas where vitis vinifera now predominates, hybrid varieties still have “cult following” with some wine consumers. Furthermore, in some cases hybrid grapes are used to produce unique and exceptional products; for example, ice wine produced from Vidal blanc or Vignoles in Ontario and New York.

Round baling Hay

Round baling Hay

But you asked me the question so how does that effect us? At Maize Valley we farm about 800+ acres from Garlic to Green Beans and Alfalfa to Tomatoes about 50 different crops and grapes too. We have a multitude of different soil types and topographies.

"Organic" Muck soils

Our "Organic" Muck soils

We have messed around with a few varieties of grapes and currently have some Native American Concord and Catawba. Seen here below.

Catawbwa

Catabwa

But our work horses’ are turning out to be our La Crescent, Frontenac and Frontenac Gris all French American Hybrids developed in the Minnesota….eh!

La Crescent

Our La Crescent

This particular white grape makes a very bright clean fruit forward wine that has nice flora notes and a citrus like finish. We grow it on a sandy nob in one field just about 100 yards west of that picture of black soil above. You are welcome to go out and visit this field if you make a trip out to the winery. It is about 200 yards behind and about 400 yard to the East of the main building.

Replanting dead plants

Replanting dead plants

We also experimented with the Vinifera grape Riesling and Pino Gris without much success. We could get them to grow just fine throughout the summer but 2 yrs. in a row they died back to the snow line. We could keep trying but we are going to rip those plants out and plant another Hybrid because while we might sooner or later get a crop we can’t tie up valuable acreage and labor caring for a crop we might only get every three years and then not sure if it will be very good.

My lovely wife Michelle!

My lovely wife Michelle!

So there ya go Amber, Native American grapes mostly the sweeter wines, Vinifers’ can be sweet but lend themselves to dryer more full bodied wines but needed the root stock of the other to survive, and the Hybrids sort of fill in the middle and take up the slack and can flex a bit and survive best in a variety of locations.

B sure to enjoy it with friends!

B sure to enjoy it with friends!

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

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Tartaric crystals

Tartaric crystals

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 “corked” 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! 🙂

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!

So What’s New this Fall At Maize Valley?? Well ya better sit down, this is gonna take a bit!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

U Can Call me….FRANK!

U can call me Frank!

U can call me Frank!

Ok so if you havn’t seen the movie “Cars” you may not know who the i’ll tempered Combine “Frank” is that chases Lightning and Mater across the field protecting his flock of tractors from the “Tractor Tipping Duo”!

My father in law requested the tailings fan

My father in law requested the tailings fan

Now I guess I just “think” different than other people??

My Son Brett lending a helping hand

My Son Brett lending a helping hand

Ya see some of the doctors say Brett is mildly “Autistic”. My “therapy” for him is to immerse him in hands on experiences that teach him to think and use all his senses to forge new pathways and live a full life. Farmer Bill’s take on a condition.

Parts and pieces parts

Parts and pieces parts

We will save all this stuff and haul it to the scrap yard this winter.

Looks like a Future ball pit if ya axe me!

Looks like a Future ball pit if ya axe me!

Slide, slide, everywhere a slide blockin' out the.....

Slide, slide, everywhere a slide blockin' out the.....

Fall Harvest is here, We offer a “Vintage for all the seasons of your life”

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Can U guess my weight?

Can U guess my weight?

Well we have survived another wonderful summer here in Ohio and now it is time to harvest the fruits of our labor.

Opening weekend wagon rides

Opening weekend wagon rides

This past weekend was “Opening weekend” at Maize Valley. We sort of have a “soft opening” to say we don’t promote it too much. We like to get our new staff in and run them through the paces a bit so they can learn the ropes.

Many of them are returning veterans from years past, and many it is their first job ever!

New things for the NASHOG pig races

New things for the NASHOG pig races

This year I am handing the NASHOG Pig races over to a new staff member we call Kaw-Girl-Kelly. She is doing fine! But some days I’m not sure who is training whom, the pigs or her??!!

Great neighbors "Down Range"

Great neighbors "Down Range"

We are blessed with great neighbors “down range” from our pumpkin cannon. Yea they R a half mile away but I have reached out and touched a few of their Christmas trees over the years. This year they are daring me to “Target them”. C our pumpkin patch is right next to their trees this year and they should get lots of folks checking them out for their next ride to gather experiences with their families.

This Day found us still baling hay

This Day found us still baling hay

We are a working farm and we were working right up to the day we opened baleing hay and picking grapes all in the same day while giving wagon rides and shooting pumpkins!

Brett Says the Bale Crawl is READY!

Brett Says the Bale Crawl is READY!

And Don’t forget our big dog the Pumpkin Cannon and it Carnage!

What happens to a pumpkin after it flys about 1/3 of a mile

What happens to a pumpkin after it flys about 1/3 of a mile

As I looked around it all seemed so small this weekend but I know what is coming next. Thousands and Thousands of people who come to us to build memories to last a lifetime.

A Vintage for all the season of you life at Maize Valley

A Vintage for all the season of you life at Maize Valley