Posts Tagged ‘Family Farm’

Winery Open house and Anniversary!

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Newest winery construction summer 2012

Newest winery construction summer 2012

Well nine years in the wine business has flown by oh so fast! Thank you to everyone who has visited with us in person or who has supported us by picking up our some of our wine at your local wine store. The winery may have just saved our family farm market, it sure has at least changed it a great deal.

Progress on the Winery....soon to be Brewery!

Progress on the Winery....soon to be Brewery!

In 2012 we built the biggest addition yet pictured above. To that point we had been “re-purposing” other old buildings or “farmer building” structures. We originally began producing wine in a renovated “potting shed”. That was the small poll barn we had attached to the greenhouse that we originally used to pot plants and baskets for the greenhouse business.

Original Potting shed

Original Potting shed

As we grew we built an addition off the East side of the Potting shed or “Head House”. We built this ourselves on a shoe string budget and it came out okay but didn’t last us too long.

Farmer pole barn addition

Farmer pole barn addition

A lot changed since we opened the winery in 2005. There were about 75 wineries in the state of Ohio that year. This year there are over 200 Ohio Wineries currently in operation. They range from growers/farmer style wineries that grow large quantities of grapes, to what are known as “kit wineries” that focus on just the wine making process separate from growing fruit. We are somewhere in the middle. We farm about 700-800 acres of cropland a year. We grow about 40-50 different types of crops from garlic to grapes, peppers to pumpkins.

Lettuce growing up in the "Hartville Swamps"

Lettuce growing up in the "Hartville Swamps"

We have a wide variety of soil types on the farm, and we are on the Southern edge of the Hartville Swamps a very special and unique growing area and soil.

Inside of new Winery/Brewery building

Inside of new Winery/Brewery building

The latest building will open. It will help us open the next chapter in Maize Valley’s history. It will house the new expansion of the brewery.

Newest outdoor patio seating area

Newest outdoor patio seating area

But don’t think we have just built a bunch of buildings. NEW this year we have expanded our outdoor seating area behind the “Gateway Pavilion” which is directly attached to the back of the winery/market building. The new area should seat between 40-60 people and we have also built some gentle walkways that take you up the hill to the Hill top party barn.

Walkways leading up the hill take the long and easy way up.

Walkways leading up the hill take the long and easy way up.

So soon the snow will stop falling and the sun will shine! This hill has a South face and we will put seating along the paths, a perfect place to relax with a nice glass of wine and enjoy the Ohio summer that is in store. Check out this link for details on our web page.

Corn Maze, yea we do that!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Ok, yea what does “Ohio Wine and More” have to do with an Ohio Corn Maze? We make great wine (and soon beer)….FUN! Agritourism, corn mazes, wagon rides, pumpkin picking and a whole bunch of other “Fall Harvest Activities” are a big part of what we do. We start planning and getting ready for a corn maze season soon after the last one is finished. We get a lot of questions that go something like how do you make a corn maze? This is a big subject to we will try and break it down into a few blog posts not to get too long.

2013 LoCo Motion Corn Maze

2013 LoCo Motion Corn Maze

Harvesting last years crop. As one season winds down we start looking to the next. While one maze is up and running we watch to see how it performs, how the design actually works for people. Are there paths that didn’t get used, if so why? Were there things that made this maze particularly good? Once we close the season we roll the combine as soon as possible.

John Deere Harvester or "Combine"

John Deere Harvester or "Combine"

Why is it called a “Combine” people ask. Because it does a combination of things. First of all it is self propelled. That may not seem like a big deal but did you know that self propelled harvesters were part of the War Effort in the 1940’s? There were self propelled machines before that but it took a war to get them mass produced.

Pull type combine

Pull type combine

Tractor and pull type combine

Tractor and pull type combine

Not to take the “way back machine” too far but pictured above is a combine that was pulled by a tractor. The real early ones had a separate gas engine on the combine itself and you had one on the tractor as well. During World War Two this was a big deal because if you could get that down to one engine you saved both raw materials and fuel. Learn more about the History Here.

Battle for bread

Battle for bread

It was about 1942 when they came up with the idea to mass produce self propelled combines. Steel was rationed and you had to get approval from the government to build things like this. The 1952 Massey pictured below is one we have on our farm. A neighbor sold it to us in the summer of 2013, it’s engine finally gave out he was heading to the field to combine some oats.

1952 Massey Harris

1952 Massey Harris

Ok, so these machine combine the tasks of cutting the crop with a cutter bar. Then elevate it up a feeder house into the machine where a rotor (modern machines) separator or a concave and screen (older machines) begin to remove the grain from the seed hull or cob. The material passes back through the machine where further separation and final cleaning takes place with the “trash” or chaff being expelled out the back and the grain moved up into a storage tank. This used to all be done by hand or animal back in the day and was very labor intensive as well as slow.

Corn head or cutter bar in this case.

Corn head or cutter bar in this case.

Corn head or cutter bar in this case. There are things called “snapper rolls” underneath that “snap” the ear off the stalk.

Tractor pulling a grain cart runs along side

Tractor pulling a grain cart runs along side

Tractor pulling a grain cart runs along side. This allows the combine to keep rolling and not have to take the time to stop to unload the grain tank on the combine. This saves time and weight the machine needs to carry. When a single machine can cost between $300,000.00 to $500,000.00 you need to keep them rolling every second you can.

Semi trucks on the fields edge waiting to take away the harvest.

Semi trucks on the fields edge waiting to take away the harvest.

Semi trucks on the fields edge waiting to take away the harvest. You try and never drive on a field more than necessary or when the field is too wet. You stay off not to compact the soil. And this field is done for the 2013 harvest season! Look for our next blog post about the steps we take in making a corn maze. Thanks for stopping by!

Ohio Wine and More… and Pigs???

Friday, February 14th, 2014

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”!

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

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

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.

Let it SNOW! Some views from around the Farm

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

My wife Michelle and I live in the house her Grandfather was born in. He passed away almost 20 years ago in his late 80’s. His parents were not the first generation to live in this house. In fact my wife’s family were the third family to settle in Marlboro twp. Ohio in the 1800’s. They have been farmers, school teachers, leather tanners and most recently we make wine.

Our House covered in snow.

Our House covered in snow.

I needed to go out and plow snow off the parking lot at the market and winery so folks could come and get their Thanksgiving shopping needs done. Our new Winter wine is a big hit and our Cranberry a holiday favorite.

Market in snow

Market in snow

Farms have lots of all kinds of cool stuff for snow to blanket.

Massy Combine in snow

Massy Combine in snow

That machine above is a 1952 Massy Harris Combine. It just came to us this year. A neighbor used it up untill it’s engine gave out on the way to the field to harvest Oats this past summer. Now it is just a “prop” for our guests who visit the farm to look at and enjoy. I may try and fix the engine yet this winter if I can find parts.

Snow covered vines

Snow covered vines

Our vineyard is sleeping now. Our crop was lost this past year (2013) due to a late freeze on May 28th, and 29th. Days like that your remember. They year before (2012) we had a record crop. Life averages out.

Moore's Tree Farm

Moore's Tree Farm

Our neighbors to our East own and operate a Christmas Tree Farm. It is called Moore’s Christmas Tree and Day Lilly farm. As the name implies they do Christmas trees and in the spring and summer Lillies. They are really nice folks, they don’t mind a bit when I land pumpkins on there farm during the fall pumpkin cannon season. It is about a half a mile as the crow (or pumpkin) flys.

Come on out get a tree and stop in the Winery for some great menu options ranging from soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Please note we are closed on Sundays, Moore’s are open. More about breakfast with Santa soon.

Breakfast with Santa at the Winery part 2

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Over the years this event has evolved into more than just “Breakfast”. It sells out because we limit the seatings and the number of guests so that while you are there you have enjoyable holiday experience. It isn’t just about seeing that you little loved ones get parked on Santa’s lap for a photo opp. It is about taking time to connect a bit during what can be a stressful time of year.

Lou a local attorney a frequent customer with his wife with his grand kids

Lou a local attorney a frequent customer with his wife with his grand kids

We try and keep it relaxed with lots of things to do so people are not rushed and have time to spend with each other while they wait on the main event. This also helps with the line waiting for Santa. We limit the seating to a amount that allows for everyone to casually move from one thing to another so they can get everything done without stressing out.

Now that is FOCUS!

Now that is FOCUS! Future pastry chef?

Then of course……The MAIN event……LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!! We have a great guy who, well…..we have Santa!

One on One, getting it right, checking those eyes...twice

One on One, getting it right, checking those eyes...twice

Or bring the whole gang!

Memories held fast in time.

Memories held fast in time.

We do a total of three “seatings” now for this event capping each one at about 130-150 people depending upon a variety of reasons. But okay what about business or what about meeting peoples needs and also giving a bit of “Hakuna Matata” and solving some gift giving needs people have too? We’ll touch on that next post, I’ve already gone on too long here!

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

For information about 2013 Breakfast with Santa only.

A quick recap of the 2013 “Growing Season”

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

“Fall 2013” is just about done for us! It has been a long time since I sat down behind the keyboard to make a blog post. I left you back on March 8th 2012, a lot happened since then. That year we had a bumper grape crop and bust of a corn maze. In 2013 we had just the opposite. If you watch the video I posted from the last post those grape buds made it just fine, then the fears I had in 2012 hit us in 2013 and we lost over 95% of our grape crop. The good news is the corn maze had the best crop ever which made for an awesome maze and a overall great “Fall”!

I took this picture of a full moon rising over they vineyard Friday May 28th as I left the corn maze field after working ground to get ready to plant it the next day.

Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon Rising

That was not a welcome sight to me knowing what a sky can do like that when High pressure weather patterns arrive in late May. I figured we’d have a bad frost but no idea HOW bad. When my wife left the winery at 11:30pm that night there was already a light frost on the window of her vehicle.

Grape vines morning after a freeze

Grape vines morning after a freeze

The feeling a farmer gets when they look at a crop like in the one in the picture above is hard to describe. There are a lot easier ways to “make a living” but I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything. You just sorta learn things like this happen and you try and maintain a “long view” and find the positive. My father in law also lost 17 acres of sweet corn that night, but he took a gamble on trying to put some corn out in “low ground” that grows awesome crops and got burned.

Close up of "fried" grape vines

Close up of "fried" grape vines

The “Big Picture” you just keep telling yourself and keep on swimming as Dory would say (aka Finding Nemo). That same day I took the pictures of the fried grapes I loaded the corn planter and got busy planting the 2013 corn maze. We had already started getting fall campfire/corn maze reservations back in April and I needed to start getting ready.

Loading the Corn Planter

Loading the Corn Planter

I like to plant the corn a bit later than you normally would so that it stays green as long as possible into the fall season for purposes of the maze. This worked well this year and I will get back to that with future blog posts just on how we do the corn maze.

Looking over the hood while planting corn

Looking over the hood while planting corn

The corn maze growing season really had its ups and downs. I have done a lot of work to the corn maze field and it paid off this year. We fixed some drainage problems and have been on a steady annual program of applying cow manure to help with both fertility and organic matter.

But the sun came up each and every morning!

But the sun came up each and every morning!

But the sun came up each and every morning! One of the reasons I do what I do is this is my view from my “office”. People work all year to get to a “place like this”, I live it everyday. Besides all the “normal” stuff we do we also embarked on a other special projects designed to make our fall destination a one of kind place and over this winter I’ll try and review the year both in projects and all the special events we do.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy your trip to our farm as I cover some of the things we do.

Spring time in the Vineyard

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Greetings from farmer Bill at Maize Valley!  We are located in Northeast Ohio near the small town of Hartville, Ohio.  It has been a very mild winter and spring looks to be the same so far.

A rainy day in the vineyard

A rainy day in the vineyard

At Maize Valley we say we make great wine fun and have a vintage for all the seasons of your life. To get great Ohio Wine we have to grow the crop first and that starts early in the year. Our vineyard and grapes are a big part of the local fresh produce we grow on the farm.

50 plus degrees, too warm for March 8th

50 plus degrees, too warm for March 8th

Back in the day we got started our Corn Maze, Pumpkin Picking, Hay rides and oh my has it grown. On March 17th we celebrate the 7th anniversary of our winery. But this year the temps are a bit warm for early March. We’ll keep you posted but temps are supposed to be in the 60’s next week as well and that is not good.

No SNOW 4 U!

No SNOW 4 U!

Now don’t get me wrong, I ain’t a big fan of snow unless I’m on a pair of ski’s, but it has been wet and not too cold this winter. If it stays this warm too long the grapes will wake up and we could get a early bud break. That is when the buds come out of their protective winter coverings in part of the vine cane and start to get ready to grow. Not so good if a frost comes along and freezes them off.

Canes waiting to be pruned

Canes waiting to be pruned

So for now we’ll keep an eye on them a not get in to big a hurry to prune in case we need more of the cane to keep more buds.

 

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
Winter time Field Drain Tile Work

Winter time Field Drain Tile Work

Don’t be left out in the cold!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
It can get lonely out there!

It can get lonely out there!

January is in the books! WoW this has been one of the most productive winter months we have had in years. Last winter I started pushing snow the first week in December and didn’t stop till March. This year I’ve only had the plow on my truck twice!!! 🙂 Woot-WoOt!

Giving the old Trac-hoe a "boost"!

Giving the old Trac-hoe a "boost"!

We are planning a new winery expansion so we are taking quotes. We need to have this building up by August to keep up with inventory and sales needs. But in the meantime we moved a old barn that was actually stradeling the property line. A old issue from way back when we bought the property the barn sat on that we were going to get too….some day. Well the house sold and it needed moved.

Moving the barn while we had a little frost in the ground

Moving the barn while we had a little frost in the ground

We put a 3 season enclosure around our “Gateway Pavilion” so we can get started with Corn Hole tournaments in the spring and extend our fall outdoor season as well. Raidient heating going in next! It should be a GREAT place to come out and play with a sweat shirt on even down into the 40’s!

Brad and Bruce Dickerhoof of Rainmain Const.

Brad and Bruce Dickerhoof of Rainmain Const.

Corn Hole, live tunes, ping-pong, just a place to come and play!

Getting our "game-face" on!

Getting our "game-face" on!

All the while we are still growing some really tasty stuff in the greenhouses for the farmers’ markets and our Vintner’s Dinner series. Boy this was a outstanding meal with spinach salad and green beans coming right from our own farm in January in Ohio!

Yo Popeye!

Yo Popeye!

Did I mention we are launching a new fitness program next spring and I am getting ready for it by going through the p90x fitness program?

Mouth watering!

Mouth watering!

We had a Red Solo Cup Nite in the Winery! OMG that ROCKED us like no other January “mini-event”. Way too much fun!

Red Solo Cup...I fill U up!

Red Solo Cup...I fill U up!

We had a Island Party too with who else but the Island Dr. of course….How low can U go?

p90x yoga, yea that helps!

p90x yoga, yea that helps!

Mom and Dad on their 65th!

Mom and Dad on their 65th!

Did I forget to mention that my Mom and Dad celebrated their 65th Wedding anniversary??

Display from the Indiana Young Farmer Conference

Display from the Indiana Young Farmer Conference

I even had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference. What a great group of young farmers! Reminded me of my wife and I bout 18 yrs ago!!!

Naw! This is the Keynote crowd!  I had much smaller room!

Naw! This is the Keynote crowd! I had much smaller room!

All in all a very good month and we got eleven more to go to make 2012 even better than 2011 and we are pumped!

p90x week 6!  Bring It!

p90x week 6! Bring It!

So stay tuned for more of what is coming up from down on the farm, market, and winery at Maize Valley. We have a vintage for all the seasons of your life!

R house is a very, very fine house!

R house is a very, very fine house!

Did forget to say I have a beautiful family?? 🙂

Yes, her date knows I carry a gun!

Yes, her date knows I carry a gun!