Posts Tagged ‘Grapes’

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

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

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.

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

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

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Tartaric crystals

Tartaric crystals

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.....