Posts Tagged ‘Buy Local’

What are the best regions for growing wine in Ohio?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

As part of our our “ask the Ohio Wine and More Blog” from folks this question comes from Josh Gordon with the Karcher Group.

Josh Gordon w/TKG

Josh Gordon w/TKG

Ohio is very diverse state in many respects from manufacturing to agriculture. Within the Agriculture portion wine grape production ranges dramatically.

Ohio Rivers Map

Ohio Rivers Map

At one point in time the Cincinnati region was the largest grape growing and wine producing area in the United States. The production was made up of primarily Native American Grape varieties with Catawba leading the way.

Ohio Wine Map

Ohio Wine Map

The Ohio River Valley AVA is the birthplace of American viticulture. Wine has been produced in Ohio since 1823 when Nicholas Longworth planted the first Alexander and Isabella grapes in the Ohio River Valley. In 1825, Longworth planted the first Catawba grapes in Ohio. Others soon planted Catawba in new vineyards throughout the state and by 1860, Catawba was the most important grape variety in Ohio. At this time, Ohio produced more wine than any other state in the country, and Cincinnati was the most important city in the national wine trade. Of the 570,000 gallons of wine that were produced each year in Ohio, 200,000 came from Brown county.

The area is mostly planted with hybrid grapes like Baco Noir, Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc and Vidal. Of the Vitis vinifera found in the area Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Petit Manseng and Riesling are the most commonly found. Cabernet Franc is probably one of the most consistant hybrids planted in the Southern part of the state.

Map of Ohio River Valley

Map of Ohio River Valley

The Grand River Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in portions of the Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties of northeastern Ohio. The wine appellation includes all the land that is contained within the larger, multi-state Lake Erie AVA that is also within 2 miles (3.2 km) of the Grand River or 14 miles (22.5 km) of the shoreline of Lake Erie.Like the Mosel, Bordeaux and the Sonoma/Russian River Valley, the gently rolling landscape of the Grand River Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) benefits from a climate moderated by the thermal effects of a large body of water, in this case, Lake Erie to the north.

Grand River Map

Grand River Map

The Grand River Valley AVA produces wines from Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Riesling, Pinot noir and Cabernet Franc grapes. White wines such as Riesling do best in the North.

In recent years with the resurgance of wine it has been motivation for development of
new grape varities that can be planted and thrive in areas other than the two regions mentioned above. For instance at Maize Valley we plant a French American Variety called La Crescent which makes a light crisp tropical fruit forward wine which we are having success growing and selling as finished wine.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
Fresh from our green house

Fresh from our green house

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

Wine? What kinds of grapes are used for different types of wines? Part 2

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Part 2 of a pretty substantial question:

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?

Part 1 sort “frames” my response if some of this seems not as complete as I could be.

Last post on this thread we took a pass at the Native American Grapes Vitis Labrusca. We then ended with mentioning the vinifera grape –

Vinifera

Vinifera

Common European grape cultivated in many varieties; chief source of Old World wine and table grapes. These grapes are what most people think of when they think “wine grapes”. This is so because most of these varieties originated in Greater Europe/Mediterranean regions.

Chardonnay grape leaf

Chardonnay grape leaf

They have a rich history dating back thousands of years compared to our “Native American” grapes. In fact many of the first European settler’s were quite excited to see the New World’s coast lines covered with grapes from the decks of their ships. But they were very disappointed when the came ashore only to find they were very different compared to what they were used to dealing with.

Cabernet Sauvignon  grape leaf

Cabernet Sauvignon grape leaf

Settlers from the “old country” were used to these types of grapes. Much of the wine industry and common practices involving grapes and wine that were in place at the time the United States were being formed primarily used these grapes as well.

Pinot grape leaf

Pinot grape leaf

But then things changed. A lot of what kept grape and wine production going over the centuries in Europe through it’s volatile history had a lot to do with religion and various groups who made it a priority or not. Monks had great influence increasing cultivation. Other religions in the Middle East set it back. The dark ages, The Renascence, the Roman Empire all these things came into play.

Merlot grape leaf

Merlot grape leaf

Each region developed it’s own identity and over time an “art” in making wine. This had to do with many factors such as soil type, topography, climate and other factors came together to form what is called “terroir”. Wines were defined by where they came from and you were only permitted to grow certain types in certain locations, which is still true today in some places.

Terroir

Terroir

As wine increasingly became more of a science and consumer demand had more influence on the marketplace, things changed. We now call wines more by what they are than who grew them or where they came from. This has given the United States and other countries an advantage compared to centuries past and has “democratized” the whole wine experience.

Beer, Food, Wine, Ammo sorta saz it all!

Beer, Food, Wine, Ammo sorta saz it all!

Vinifera grapes can be made sweet but in general lend themselves to make dry wines better than Native American grapes. But as national sales show most wines sold are sweet wines so there needs to be a balance when it come to staying in business as a winery. We make several award winning, awesome dry red wines made from Vinifera grapes but our number one selling wine is a sweet red made from the Concord Grape.

Red Neck Red

You have to also consider that laws dictate how wines can be made. For instance in California you are not permitted to add sugar to wine to make it sweeter. In certain countries they tell you what you can plant based on where you farm. Then the Vinifera were not native to America and pests and diseases had their say. Grape phylloxera is a little sap sucking bug that gets after the plant and works it over and allows other pathogens and such to destroy the plants. This got back to Europe and caused a whole world of hurt in the 19th century, but that is a whole other story.

Grape phylloxera

Grape phylloxera

You can grow Vinifera in very well in certain regions of the United States, mostly California and some other Western states. But the locations in Ohio are few and far between and even when everything goes right the quality is often times less than that of regions with a more suitable consistent climate. Riesling and a select few other grapes all mostly “white” are probably the exception. American’s do not like inconsistency, to a wine maker it is an “interesting challenge”, to the consumer it’s “not how I remember it”.

So I know that doesn’t cover all the bases here but a brief overview of two types of grapes used for wine production. Next post we will take a stab at what is called the “French American Hybrid”.

Wordless Wednesday 1/4/2012

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Haulin' Firewood for next falls campfires

Haulin' Firewood for next falls campfires

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!

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!