Posts Tagged ‘Ohio Vineyard’

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”.

Wine? “Real” Cork or “plastic” Corks what’s the diff??

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

As part of our “Wine questions series” from our web Host The Karcher Group (TKG) Jen asked “What’s the difference between cork and plastic wine bottle closures?”

Cork tree

Cork tree

Making or growing “real” cork takes a LONG time! The cork grows in oak forests in Portugal. The cork actually comes from the bark and cannot be stripped until they are twenty-five years old.

Cork!

Cork!

The trees can only be stripped once every nine years after the first stripping, and it takes to the third stripping to get to wine cork quality! Demand for cork is increasing, the prices are rising. This is where the synthetic or what many people call “plastic” cork comes in.

Mad Cow cork

Synthetic Mad Cow cork

The synthetic cork appeared in 1993 and they cost about seven cents each while natural cork is 13 to 75 cents each. Natural cork seals better but can give way to “cork taint” or TCA. Synthetic corks are only being used on bottles that are to be consumed with five years or less.

TCA is trichloroanisole results from the interaction of of mold, chlorine and phenols in cork. These chemicals are found in all plants. TCA produces a dark and moldy smell with the flavor of cardboard. Wines that develop TCA are often called “corked” wines. About 5% of all wines develop TCA, you just never know.

Chemical structure of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), the compound primarily responsible for cork taint

Chemical structure of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), the compound primarily responsible for cork taint

The screw cap is another option. The screw cap is fitted on to bottles and is quickly gaining popularity as it prevents TCA and air completely. Some people don’t like the caps because unscrewing the top takes away from the experience of drinking a bottle of wine. But they really seem to work. The machinery to use screw caps is pretty expensive for smaller wineries to implement also.

Screw cap wine cap

Screw cap wine cap

We use both kinds of corks at Maize Valley. On our dry reds and some of our dry whites we use real cork. Our fast sellers all get synthetic, our “Mad Cow” cork is highly sought after at events and in the winery.

Bottom line is if you don’t plan on keeping a wine long do not worry about synthetic corks.

If the appearance of cork when serving the wine is important it’s cool, just be aware you do stand a greater chance for that wine to be tainted. We will probably switch to screw caps as soon as we can justify the investment, that’s what I would buy no matter what the end use of the wine.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Remember you can always go back and get more wine but you can never go back and make more time!

Japanese Beatles Attack!

Sunday, July 5th, 2009
Looking down the rows

Looking down the rows

Japanese Beatles are Attacking

Japanese Beatles are Attacking

Well here we go again our annual battle the dreaded Japanese beatles. Like many of you who have these nasty pests invade your yard we get them in spades in the vineyard. They really like grapes, really really well.

This is the Traminette vineyard from earlier posts when Thad has been uncovering the vines, and pruning and training. Now we have to defend his work and the plants themselves from this annual pest.

Here are a few videos showing how we deal with them, I need to edit the first two to flow together better but till I do just watch the first two together as one to make sense. Thanks for stopping by.

Close up view of Japanese Beatles

A close up look at the sprayer itself and how it works

Vineyard Update, #Farm, #Ohio Wines,

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
LaCrescent vines 5 weeks after frost/freeze

LaCrescent vines 5 weeks after frost/freeze

Up-close look of our Reisling on VSP

Up-close look of our Reisling on VSP

Todd Vaughan training vines

Todd Vaughan training vines

For this vineyard update we are rushing along trying to bring the vineyards to some sort of balance right now. Currently we are still recovering from the frost/freeze event on May 18th and 19th. Most of these videos and post are related to that as that has pretty much set the tone for the vines this season.

A lot of the work we are doing now is in response to dealing with a regrowth and re-set of fruit on the vines, not so much managing a normal crop, if there is such a thing. One thing will be interesting to see is if any of this fruit has enough growing season left to produce a quality product. Another issue is while a great deal these plants were flowering we had just a general rain and we are not sure how much pollination was successful.

We are seeing huge rapid regrowth which we think is a result of a new bacterial agent low input fertilizer product we are trying this year. Another fruit grower has used it on his apple trees with great success. It basically uses soil bacteria to break down nutrients in the soil and make them more avaliable to the plant.

This allows us to better balance what the plant wants at the same time using fewer inputs. It is also supposed to improve the sugar content of the plant which in turn gives you more bricks in the fruit and hopefully better winter hardiness. We hope so as all this growth could be a recipie for disaster going into the winter.

Reisling Vineyard update

LaCrescent French American vines about 5 weeks after killing freeze/frost.