Posts Tagged ‘Family Farm’

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

Vineyard…Rounding 3rd headed 4 Home

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Farmer Bill back at the blog helm, kids busy back in school. Well the vineyard has come into its own. This is its 4th fall and it is cranking this year. What we picked in 1 day last year is now into its 5th day of picking in 2011 at Maize Valley.

Wow what a crop

Wow what a crop

Frontenac reflects the best characteristics of its parents, V. riparia 89 and the French hybrid Landot 4511. This vine has borne a full crop after temperatures as low as -33ºF when properly cared for. It’s very disease resistant, with near-immunity to downy mildew. Frontenac is a consistently heavy producer, with small, black berries in medium to large clusters.

Frontenac Grapes

Frontenac Grapes

Wine Profile

Frontenac’s deep garnet color complements its distinctive cherry aroma and inviting palate of blackberry, black currant, and plum. This versatile grape can be made into a variety of wine styles, including rosé, red, and port.

Todd plays with the new Crusher/Destemer

Todd plays with the new Crusher/Destemer

Crusher-destemmers are used for bulk processing of grapes during harvest in preparation for pressing or primary fermentation. The crushers utilize a set of aluminum rollers that crush and break the skins to release the juice and allow the breakdown of the remaining pulp. A screw feeder moves the grapes to the rollers to begin crushing, dropping the skins and pulp onto a perforated grid, while a shaft with paddles causes the stems to be separated from the grape clusters which are then expelled to the side of the crusher. The rollers should be adjusted to properly crush and break the skins while avoiding bruising or abrading the skins which would release phenols and excess tannin, thus adding astringency to the must and the final product. White grapes are crushed before pressing, while red grapes are crushed for immediate fermentation to maximize yield of tannins and flavors, then pressed after the skins and pulp are broken down by the fermentation process.

LaCrescent grapes going into the the Crusher/Destemmer

LaCrescent grapes going into the the Crusher/Destemmer

La Crescent combines St. Pepin and a Swenson selection from V. riparia x Muscat Hamburg. With this hardy heritage, trunks have survived a frigid -34°F when well cared for in good vineyard sites. Moderately disease resistant, leaves sometimes exhibit downy mildew, which can be controlled with a standard spray program. Proper conditions and care result in very productive harvests.

Just the stems Mamm, Just the stems

Just the stems Mamm, Just the stems

Wine Profile

La Crescent’s intense nose of apricot, peach, and citrus lends itself to superior quality off-dry or sweet white wines. Produced in a Germanic style, La Crescent wine is reminiscent of Vignoles or Riesling. The grape’s high acidity provides good structure for excellent dessert or late-harvest style wines.

Fall is sorta like a blur to us

Fall is sorta like a blur to us

Props for the info above from the University of Minnesota (http://www.grapes.umn.edu/lac/index.html)

Wagon Rides, Pumpkins and so much more! :-)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

This post is written by Bill Bakan, “Farmer Bill” the Fun TSAR at Maize Valley

Green Pumpkins!!

Green Pumpkins!!

Welcome to our pumpkin patch!! At Maize Valley we make a pretty decent claim at being Ohio’s most complete fall harvest destination. No we don’t have everything that everyone may have at other pumpkin patches or corn mazes but we have a pretty “complete mix”.

We are a diversified family farm that offers a monthly 5 course china plated, guided paired wine tasting dinner series called “Vintner Dinners” as well as wagon rides to the pumpkin patch for school groups and the general public.

Bridging the gap bewteen what could be seen as two completly seperate worlds is a whole host of other menu and activity options designed to take our guests through all the seasons and “Vintages” if you will, of their life.

"White" pumpkins early growth

"White" pumpkins early growth

Coming up is the fall harvest season, the end of a long year of work and joy. About 12 years ago I stepped into a corn field and killed the corn and thereby carving a design into the field in the shape of the Goodyear Blimp creating our first corn maze. There was no looking back but we did not stop there either.

Coming up this late summer and fall we have balloons lifting off, clam bakes, Pig races, coorporate group outings, car crushing metal dinasaours, a life flight helicopter landing, Motorcycle rally’s, car cruises, garlic festival and wine pours. The list is pretty extensive, It is just how we roll.

Farming about 700 acres and approx. 40-50 different crops helps to keep us “real” but at the same time keeps us flexible and diversified enough to not only survive but continue to grow over the past few years.

It hasn’t been easy, but nothing worth having ever is! 🙂

Vineyard news! Loooooookin’ GooD!

Friday, August 19th, 2011

This post written by Bill Bakan the Fun TSAR from Maize Valley Farm Market and Winery.

Rounding Third and heading home

Rounding Third and heading home

Well it has been an interesting year down on the farm. Some good some bad. Bottom line we are still in there swinging! It was a long cold winter, I had to push way too much snow. That gave way to a cool wet spring with not many breaks to get and early field work done.

Vineyard views

Vineyard views

We grow about 40-50 different crops and so we just kept planting what we could when we could. Good news was the rain and cloud cover did keep the late frosts away that often threaten the grape buds towards the later part of May. I hate to have a clear night on that last full moon in May, that is what can give us trouble.

Long view

Long view

So now we are heading down the home stretch and just have to finish strong. We need to keep the birds from trying to destory our best crop yet. We also have to keep an eye out for late season pathogens sneaking in and trying to spoil the party at the end. The Japanese Beetles have not been too big an issue this year which we count as a good thing too.

We are about 2-3 weeks away from starting harvest with some varities as much as 4-6 weeks till they mature. Then we start the fun part of turning our harvest into a product. Yea that is a bit of work but I always laugh when some of our winery owner peers think growing grapes and running a winery is a lot of work.

I just smile and say….So you have never milked cows, have you? 🙂

From the Fields to the Table!

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Lunch Time!

Lunch time!


Lunch time for everyone! Hey everyone it’s Cara, I could have just made something out of the freezer but why do that when we have fresh produce from grandpa right out the back door!
So how did I do it? Well, the sweet corn was cooked in the oven! Yup, throw it in there husk and all! At about 350, let it cook for 35 to 40 minutes. It is the BEST and ONLY way to cook your sweet corn. However, be careful when it comes out, it’s going to be much hotter than you think, but the little silks come right off!
The potatoes were very easy as well, just cut them up! And then I threw in some shallots, green peppers, and yellow summer squash, then I added some olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper! Just let them cook untill they’re nice and brown.
It’s such a simple meal! And it’s made with all the fresh produce that Grandpa grows! Try it and enjoy!

Vintage Ohio… It’s time to get your wine on………!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Maize Valley Returns to Vintage Ohio for 2011!!

Maize Valley at Vintage Ohio

Maize Valley at Vintage Ohio

It’s time to get your wine on………! The Midwest’s largest and best known wine and food festival is just around the corner. Twenty five wineries from every corner of the state attend this gala event.

And the're off!!!

And the're off!!!

Exceptional food [note the menus from Cleveland’s own Gourmet Food Trucks], 3 stages of live music, Friday fireworks, a cooking stage and educational seminars by the American Wine society, all amid huge oak trees and the rolling grassy fields at the Lake Farmpark. Full details are listed at http://www.visitvintageohio.com/ So plan a little getaway.

Look for the "Circle MV"

Look for the "Circle MV"

Tell the boss that Friday August 5 you have ‘important’ plans — or forget mowing the grass on Saturday, August 6th. Hop in the car and spend a wonderful weekend with your friends from Maize Valley and all of their fellow winemakers. Order on line at http://www.visitvintageohio.com/or call 800-227-6972 to save by purchasing your tickets in advance. August 5th and 6th from 1 til 10 pm each day.

Michelle says Come on by!

Michelle says Come on by!

See you at Vintage Ohio!

Breanne, the second but “better” Daughter…

Sunday, July 24th, 2011
A leader on the field

A leader on the field

My Dad can be sort of tough on us kids, he keeps sayin’ “Life doesn’t grade on a curve” whatever that means. I get good grades, Mom and Dad are proud but they say that is not enough.

Last night I got to wash dishes till about 9:00. We do a “Wine’d Up Wednesdays” weekly event which is mostly a ladies thing at my families winery and I pulled dish duty. Not really “farming” I guess but work that needed done.

But growing up on a farm with a winery, vineyard and agritourism destination has meant

Dad out in a different field

Dad out in a different field

When I was eight years old and barely big enough to see over the wheel my Dad put me in Grandpa’s BIG 4 door diesel dually pickup and told me to “drive”! He was picking up round bales and didn’t want to have to move both the truck and loader by himself. He says I’ll remember that like a “Alan Jackson song”. Whatever all that means? But I do recall that day.

Basil

Seeding Basil