Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oak Trial Results

The oak trials discussed in my previous post have been completed. Last week week we did aroma and taste testing to determine which oak would make the best wine from this grape variety (Chambourcin).  The bottles were rearranged in a random order and a blind tasting was done. We assembled a tasting panel and each person selected their 3 favorite wines ranking them in order. After comparing rankings the clear favorite turned out to be bottle number 3  which was the high mocha oak treatment.

Now we are awaiting the arrival of the bulk oak cubes so we can add them to the tank to begin the process of imparting the oak flavors into the wine. After gaining the desired level of oak the wine will be finished, bottled and the 2012 Sunset Red will be added to our tasting room fare!

As a side note, the wine we had left after our tasting panel finished their work was served at our Holiday Wine Dinner on December 8th. We had a lot of positive feedback on the wine and most can't wait for it to be available for purchase.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The wines from the 2012 harvest are coming along. We had 3 tons of Chambourcin grapes that we have split into 2 batches. One will produce a semi sweet red and the other will be a dry red. The dry red we will be oaking and tonight we put together an oak trial. We have 8 different styles of oak to choose from. The styles vary in the flavors they impart such as vanilla, mocha, or spice and how much "toast" they have. Each will impart a slightly different taste to the wine.You can see from the first picture they are "sticks" of oak known as staves. We filled up nine bottles with the dry Chambourcin and dropped a different set of staves in eight of the bottles. The ninth bottle acts as a control bottle. You can drop one or both of the staves that come with each flavor into a bottle depending on how much intensity you want.You can also vary the time the oak contacts the wine from one to two weeks.

We went ahead and have dropped both staves into the bottles and will keep them in there for a minimum of 2 weeks. This will impart the maximum flavoring and toast and we can then determine if we need to lighten it up for the actual wine.  After two or so weeks we will sample the 8 bottles and determine which one is best to move forward.

You may wonder why we are not using barrels for oaking. The simple answer is the cost and space. Barrels are a costly item for a new winery plus we wanted to make sure before we purchase them that we have our space planned out. Staves do a great job of imparting flavors like barrels do at a fraction of the cost. So this vintage we went with staves, but I am sure we will be investing in barrels in the near future as money allows.

So there you have a little insight into our winemaking process.We will keep you posted on our trials.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Amy and I have been through a lot of ups and downs while pursuing our winery dream. Some were momentary bumps in the road, some were a bit more monumental to overcome, but overcome we did. Recently we hit a bump that hurts a lot more and will me much tougher for us to get thru, the loss of our beloved Rocky. We know many of our customers enjoyed Rocky and didn't know exactly how to relay the news, but his story goes like this....

It was the Summer of 2009 we were finally living on our 20 acre site and we decided we should get a dog to help with deer control, provide a little security, and to just enjoy. That is when our Black Lab came into our lives. The minute we went to look at puppies we fell in love with him. He had a bit of an overbite so he wasn’t considered perfect. But we loved the small splotch of white on his upper chest and he was so full of energy.   We were barely on our way home when our son Erich came up with his name. Erich, a guitar player was studying the radio which was on a Sirius satellite station that showed up as “rock” in the radio display. ”We could call him Rocky” he said.  And so he was named.
In his kennel that first night he barked and barked finally knocking off after midnight, fortunately we don’t have close neighbors! After that first night it would be just about a year before he would ever bark again. We didn’t think he knew how to until one day he was barking at something we looked at each other and said “Is that Rocky”.  From that point on he would bark to try to scare off deer or other intruders. He wasn’t bold enough to go after them; he would just try and act tough with his bark. He would bark at strangers driving up our drive, but once they stopped and got out of their car he would be their best friend. That was our Rocky.

We didn’t let him run loose until he was a year old and then there was no stopping him.  He would go off to all corners. Once he discovered our pond and the neighbors pond you knew where he would be on a warm day, always coming back soaking wet from a cooling bath. Early on you would worry when it got dark and there was no sign of him, but he always came back. Amy taught him a few commands like sit and stay, but he was way too smart for us. If we didn’t have something for him he would look at you like “why should I sit, there’s nothing in it for me”.  But as soon as you brought his food for the night or had a treat, he would sit down without being asked and wait for the ok to eat.  He would come when you called him, if he didn’t have something better going on like discovering a new deer bone. It was amazing how many deer bones he would bring back, proudly looking at you almost saying “look what I found”. That was our Rocky
It was amazing how fast he grew from that little puppy to a 100 pound pooch that still acted like a puppy. His energy was endless. If I was throwing batting practice to Erich, Rocky was right there chasing the baseballs and taking them to the house with a laugh. If Amy or I would go for a run around the property he was always there ahead of us, showing us how fast he was and waiting for us when we were done. We would call him our race horse as he was always galloping and was so fast. He roamed the area always looking for a new adventure. He had his mischievous side and provided a lot of great stories like the time we saw him barking at the ground in the field next door only to find him barking at a turtle trying to get it to come out of its shell or when he stole one of the winery construction workers lunch and had a feast, or getting into the groceries in the car trunk, or trapping a baby skunk underneath Erich's car barking at it even after he got sprayed.  Over the last year he loved heading down to the two new houses being built and checking things out and even came home with a face full of drywall mud.That was our Rocky! 

But when you had a hard day he was always there jumping onto your lap and waiting to be scratched, petted, and loved. He would make a special happy growling noise when you would scratch behind his ears.  He loved playing Frisbee, finding that special deer bone, or enjoying a peanut butter filled kong. If Amy was out in the vineyard you knew he wouldn’t be far behind his mommy. I would often say he was the happiest & luckiest dog in the world playing in his vineyard. When you came out of the house he would always come charging toward you a hundred miles an hour for some love. That was our Rocky.
As we got closer to opening day at the winery we didn’t know what we would do with Rocky. We didn’t want to keep him in his kennel, but we didn’t know how he would react to customers as he did bark when cars would come. The first day we opened we intended to keep him in, but the allure the neighbors burning tree branches kept him out and about when we opened. Soon he came home and laid down in front of the winery doors. Customers would come, give him a friendly pet and he decided he loved all that attention. From that point on he was our official greeter. Often times he would greet a customer at their car and walk them to the door. He would even tour the back deck to find someone that would shower him with attention. Our customers loved him! One day when he was in his kennel a family came to the winery and asked if we could let him out so he could play with them.  He was everyone’s best friend. That was our Rocky. 
Ten days before Labor Day Rocky wasn’t himself. He wasn’t eating and was lethargic. Not the happy puppy we knew and loved. An emergency trip to the vet revealed that his kidneys weren’t working. A week went by, with constant monitoring at the vet we thought he was very slowly improving.  The Saturday before Labor Day he had the most energy we had seen from him. In fact on a walk with his mommy he saw some customers and had her walk over to them so he could do his favorite job, greeting the customers. Sadly Sunday night came and he got worse and on Labor Day Rocky took his last breaths, at home, in the arms of his beloved mom. Erich, Amy and I laid him to rest with his Frisbee and a bone near his favorite vineyard, where we can see him from our home and within site of the winery so he can watch for his customers.
I never thought one could get so attached to a dog, but although he was only with us for 3 short years, Rocky was one of a kind. A happy dog full of fun and love who could brighten up even the worst day. Wagging his tail as he approached you ready to share his love.  If you look out hard enough you can still him chasing after Erich’s baseball, working with Amy in the vineyard, or just going for a walk and searching for something fun. That was our Rocky.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Harvest is Complete

Well Harvest 2012 is basically behind us now. A lot of long days, some made even longer as both Amy and I work outside of the winery. Many nights of coming home from work and then spending until midnight working with the grapes, hopefully catching a quick dinner somewhere in there.  All in all we processed 13,400  lbs of grapes which will produce   a little over 1,000 gallons of wine.

The grapes all came in on either a Saturday or Sunday, starting with our own Brianna on August 4th and ending with 3 plus tons of Chambourcin coming in from one of our growers (Cambrian Ridge near Auburn) on September 8th. With this being the first fall we are open it presented quite a challenge to make sure we could cover the harvest, processing when the grapes came in, and staffing the tasting room.  The first few weeks of August were some of our busiest in the tasting room. Amy valiantly staffed the tasting room while Richard handled the arrival of the grapes in the cellar. We never could have done this without the help of many volunteers who assisted us along the way. Doing it all for the fun of the harvest, a good lunch, and a harvest crew t-shirt! Thank you to All!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Opening Weeks

We have been open 7 weeks now and it has been quite an experience. We have run the gamut of emotions. from if we are going to get busier to  not having a moment to rest for several hours. We have met a lot of wonderful people and it is always gratifying to hear that people enjoy our wine and the winery. Now that we are open it is hard to find enough time in the day to get everything done. We have had a lot of feedback on what people enjoy at a winery so we are now trying to determine what type of activities we are going to have: wine dinners, musical entertainment, or ??.  We may start doing tours of the vineyard and wine making facility on Saturdays and see if people want that "inside look" at things. We're always looking for suggestions either here or on our facebook page.With our limited staff of two and a half we can't stretch ourselves too thin!  Plus harvest is just around the corner.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Let the clean up Begin!

Construction is finally wrapping up. Just a few odds and ends left and re-inspections from the building inspector and the Fire Marshall and we can get our occupancy permit. .  Now we have to clean the place of construction dust, get some landscaping done,  and get it ready to open the doors and sell some wine! Also yesterday we had 5.8" of rain which caused considerable erosion so we can add that to our list of things to do.

Here are some of the latest pictures.

Stairway to deck completed:

Tasting Bar Complete:

Wood Floor uncovered and most of the construction items moved out:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting Close!

We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. On Tuesday the electrical inspector did the final inspection for that and we got his seal of approval. Next up is the Building Inspector and Fire Marshall. Only a few odds and ends left (mainly baseboard) and then it is on to cleaning the place up and getting ready to open!  Here are a couple of the latest photos. You can see the tasting bar is now covered - there is still some molding to go on it. The stairs are finally finished to the cellar and the molding is all up.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Latest Pictures

With the blog appearing on our brand new website - I thought it time to provide a photo update.