Posts Tagged ‘Winery’

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.

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!

Heavy Frost in the Vineyard Today

Monday, May 18th, 2009
Frost in the Vineyard

Frost in the Vineyard

This morning we got hit with a pretty heavy frost. Looks like most of the row crops are okay, but as if this afternoon the vines are not looking too good. I just have to ignore them now or I get too depressed and see how hard it was and how much damage we took.

Here are a couple of videos from first thing this morning. I was in better mood then, I guess ignorance is bliss!!

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