Posts Tagged ‘Homegrown Produce’

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!

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!

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!

Takin what life throws at me Part 4

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Takin what life throws at me is part of Ohio Wine and More Because this family farm, market and winery has two breast cancer survivors amongts its owners. Donna Vaughan and her daughter Michelle Bakan, these posts are by Michelle’s husband Bill.

Bill on "Snarles"

Bill on "Snarles"

Life truly is a journey. How you get through this journey, much like any other trip you take, depends on the roads you choose and the things you encounter along the way. Some roads get you there fast, some not so fast. Some of the people and places you meet and visit are good, others maybe not so much. But “fast and or good” at least on the surface may look like the best route, can also deprive you of some really interesting experiences along the way. Some force you to look at and deal with things you don’t see in the “fast lane”.

My Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the cure "mates"

My Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the cure "mates"

Now don’t get me wrong, given the choice of not hearing those words over the phone from my wife Michelle “I have cancer” would have been my prefered choice. But after you hear them you have to say, “ok, what’s next?” And begin your journey down a path you would not have choosen to take. That path led us to the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the cure. This is a 60 mile 3 day experience that requires fund raising but is really about so much more.

Little Pink houses 4 U n me!

Little Pink houses 4 U n me!

2011 in Cleveland found Michelle walking with her brother in law Tim Bakan and Bill on Saftey Crew. If you are going to walk 60 miles in three days you MUST train or your body won’t do it. Trust me I know, I’ve seen it. SGK takes care of you if you can’t, but if you want to walk every step you need to prepare. And if you are a runner or “in good shape’ and think that will work, it might, but don’t necessarily count on it. It’s mostly about Feet. Feet, feet, feet, how many, many feet you meet. They need to be prepared, they need to have walked.

Aid station and pit stop

Aid station and pit stop

How do I know? As a member of the Safety Crew I had the priviledge of helping and seeing just about each and every one of the 950 walkers. We are different that most of the other 330 crew members in that respect, in that we see just about everybody sooner or later often multiple times. Each crew member and every they do job is important, we just got the “glory” job. Over three days you make friends, see struggles, and watch victories unfold.

"Crossing guards"

"Crossing guards"

We would leave out about a half hour before the first walker hits the road at about 6:30am, then we as a group escourted the last walker in the gate about 13 hours later. Our job is to keep them safe, but also so much more.

The long pink line

The long pink line

Over the next few blog posts I’ll lay out how these three days unfolded for me. Because you often hear about the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the cure but until you have lived it or had a very in depth explaination of what it is, you cannont begin to understand it. It starts with a promise, because everyone deserves a lifetime.