Posts Tagged ‘winery’

5 Year Itch – Our Label Re-design!

After celebrating our five year anniversary this past fall, we thought it was time to go back to the drawing board and create a new label design to feature on all future vintages—not a simple task but a process we entered with enthusiasm! Blowing the dust off of some old verbiage we had from way back in 2006 and 2007, we created a new format for the back label to feature the name of the wine and a few descriptive lines unique to that wine and vintage year so our customers have some tasting notes or brief back history of the grape/fruit. We have our Riesling 2011 to thank for this project. We wanted to start fresh this new year with all the wines bottled from January on to have the new label, and Riesling ‘11 will be the first wine all dressed up in the new design (bottling tomorrow!) We also re-wrote new “mission statements” if you will, to highlight our goals as a winery and show our passion and dedication in crafting each bottle at Greendance.

           New Label on Riesling

Here’s a good time to give some pointers about what the words on a wine label actually mean. Surprisingly some words and characteristics do not always mean what you may think. Wine label wording is a messy and complicated endeavor to stay within regulations and to make sure the right key words are used so the consumer is not deceived. Books are written on wine label analysis, but I promise to keep it brief here.

 Front Label Info.

Vintage

The vintage, or year, stated on the label tells you when the grapes for the wine were picked. In order to state a vintage, 95% of the grapes in the bottle had to come from that stated year. There are often opinions about some years being better than others, but if you’re at Greendance, you won’t have to worry too much.

Alcohol content

Alcohol content is required to be on the label. Typically wines will stay in a certain range (about 12.5% – 15%) This can be mistaken as some measure of quality, false. Most dry European wines are between 12 percent and 13.5 percent alcohol, rarely higher. Sweet wines (such as German Rieslings) may have alcohol levels as low as 7 or 8 percent, because a lot of sugar is left unfermented. In America, higher alcohol levels have been trending upwards in the past few years.

 Back Label Jargon

 The back label can contain a wealth of information in just a select few words. The back label tells you a lot about the journey of the wine in the bottle—which winery actually made/produced the wine (it might not always be the winery name listed on the front!), where it was made (on site at the winery versus some other location), who bottled it, and how much of the wine in the bottle was actually made at the winery.

The very first thing you want to know is who made the wine. For domestic wine, turn to the back label on the bottle. If it says “Produced and Bottle by” it means that by law 75% or more of the wine in that bottle must be made by the producer listed. If the wine bottle says “Made and Bottled” it means at least 10% of the wine is made by the winery or company listed. If the bottle indicates “Vinted and Bottled” it means the winery on the label may have had little to do with the making of this wine—in fact the wine itself may have been purchased ready already ready, in which case the story of the grape to glass can be lost. “Estate Wine” can also be found on either front or back (usually the front for prominence) and means that 100% of the grapes used to make the wine were grown by the winery on their own property. We have three estate wines here at Greendance – Frontenac, Frontenac Gris and Muscat.

Fall Apple Cider Cups!

Inspired by a chance Google search today, these DIY apple cups are the perfect addition to your fall tablescape–even better when paired with Greendance Apple Jack Cider! Our Apple Jack is made from fresh pressed autumn apple cider, our dry red Merlot wine, and mulling spices!

Ingredients:

  • Large apples
  • Lemon juice
  • Greendance Apple Jack Cider – Sand Hill Berries Raspberry Cider – Or our plain Cider
  • Cinnamon sticks and star anise as garnish

Apple Prep:

On a cutting board, use a small paring knife to cut off the top of the apple (set aside for later to use as a lid or have yourself a quick snack).  Then take the knife and carefully outline where you’d like the rim of your apple cup to be. Your rim should be at least 1/4″ wide to give the apple cup enough strength. Use a spoon or small fruit scoop to carefully begin removing the center of your apple until you have a nice hollow cup. After scooping, take a narrow pastry brush and cover the inside flesh of the apple with lemon juice to help keep its color until serving. Fill with warm Apple Jack Cider, garnish with a cinnamon stick and star anise and enjoy!

Easy Tips!

Make sure your apples sit level, if not cut some thin slices off the bottom. Be careful when hollowing out the center to not make the walls too thin or punch through the bottom and sides.

 

 

A Greendance Wedding

 

Our friends next door have been baking pies non-stop for years, but Greendance is proud to say we had a wedding cake made right in our Winery Lab! On any given Saturday and Sunday it would not be surprising to see mountains of cookies, linens, boxes of reserved wines, even the occasional bride and bride’s maid doing a quick change in the back Lab of the winery. However, one recent Friday a new wedding surprised awaited us. The sound of a mixer whipping up icing carried through the tasting room as a wedding cake was being made from scratch–a surprising first for a Greendance wedding!  Baking enthusiast and close friend to the bride and groom, Alison Skaggs traveled from Virginia for her friends’ wedding and crafted the cake for her dearest friends right on site.

Royal blue ribbon and fresh-cut wild flowers adorned the strawberry cream cake, an elegant design. The cake was prominently displayed on the winery counter for all guests to see during the reception…so to answer the question we are sure you have had lingering on your mind the whole time, yes the cake was delicious!

 

Tank Talk

ImageOur new baby is a 2,250 gallon Italian tank named Big Bella! Coming in at 14 ft tall she is our largest single tank to date bringing our total output between 19,000 – 20,000 gallons at any one time. Thanks to winery tech Robert’s diligence and excitement, she is already filled with 2,153 gallons of the 2012 vintage of Isabella. All past vintages of Isabella were divided into numerous batches and in all sizes of tanks, just whatever was empty and available for use. Now, one single batch can be made in the large tank, thus freeing up smaller size tanks and making calculations less of a hassle for our wine techs, but the large capacity of the tank is only one benefit. Big Bella is our only tank that now features a special door near the lower front side that seals from the inside-out allowing more observation throughout the fermentation process—instead of the usual doors/valves that seal from the outside-in. She is also designed with a more advanced rope crane with a guide channel that prevents the rope from rubbing against the outside of the tank when removing the massive lid.

One drawback to using larger and larger tanks is the difficulty of fixing an anomaly that could occur during fermentation. Larger batches are thus more risky if something would go wrong. “It’s like having a large family and one of the kids gets the measles, just wait a few days and the rest will have it,” as winery tech John put it. This is why it is so important for early detection of any issues, and where the new observation door becomes crucial. For a little perspective on the range of tank sizes in the wine world, John also pointed out that Ernest & Gallo winery in California has a single tank that is able to hold more wine than the entire state of Pennsylvania produces in a year. John and Robert are content to managing their new 2,250 gallon tank.

From Big Bella to the smallest 25 gallon tanks, there is a hefty price tag for the extra effort and care that is put into the craftsmanship of each. The food-grade stainless steel shells are painstakingly welded with precision, then hand finished inside to eliminate any tiny crevasses where bacteria could grow and make them perfectly seamless. Only after all this can they be shipped to us and used to make exquisite local wines here at Greendance!

Dog Days Already

Unofficial guard dog Dandy is taking a  vacation from his ground-hog hunting to greet our guests on the front porch today.  It’s only early May and the weather in south-western PA feels like the middle of summer. Light breezes and sun rays dance through the gardens and vineyard. Our strawberries are plentiful and flaunting their victory over the frosts that barely fazed them! (although I think we really have Ramon and Bob to thank for their hard work covering and uncovering the fields day after day).

To our sweet wine drinkers, Bella Rosé is back! The 2011 vintage has a sweet floral nose and a taste that may give Isabella a run for its money. We were all a bit sleepy so bottling dragged on more than usual. Little did we know an after lunch problem was waiting to wake us up a bit. We ate and returned to the cellar to finish. Filled bottles were passed down the line only to have our corking machine start pushing corks down so far that they became stuck below the neck of the bottle. Problem! Robert, Leslie, Barb, Linda and myself, armed with cork screws, and had a few laughs opening all the mistakes. A perfect Monday to take a moment and enjoy the simple things.

This past weekend was beautiful. It was such a welcome sight to see the Tasting Room packed on Sunday and all our staff enjoying every moment of it–to us summer has begun as early as our blossoms.

Strawberries vs. The Robins

Patience has paid off, today we picked 2 overflowing flats of strawberries!! We had hoped to pick the first strawberry flat of the season on Monday, but it seems Mother Nature decided to take a break from spring, and go back to winter. Anticipating the snow, we were able to get all the strawberries covered and the garden plants inside the greenhouse. Snow actually provides good insulation for the berries so our worries were minimal at first, but the heavy wet snow today draws concerns over too much weight pushing down on the delicate blossoms.  It is still too early to judge how much the recent weather will affect the coming crop—till then we just have to sit back and enjoy a story from Ramon with a glass of strawberry wine and few (or more!) of the juicy-sweet berries.

Ramon, our chief berry picker, stopped in to share a humorous story about covering the fields the day before. If you have ever seen the rare sight that is Ramon laughing, you know it is something special. For the past few days, he was getting increasingly irritated at the Robins hopping up and down the field taking little pecks at the almost ripe strawberries. Having enough of their antics, he scared the birds away and decided to cover the berries early on Sunday afternoon. Checking on the fields a few hours later, the Robins were back, naturally, but the covered rows caught them completely off guard. They were hopping and bobbing around trying as hard as they could to figure out where the berries had gone—the wind blowing waves through the covers sending Robins tumbling. We gave the birds a little credit for determination, but could not help laughing! Ramon – 1, Robins – 0.

Picking - The First Phase of Wine

Spring Pruning

What is the best way to describe spring grape pruning? With a graphic.

For those people unfamiliar with horticulture, it may come as a surprise that TONS of grapes result from vines that have essentially no growth from the previous year in the early spring of the year. Over the next few week we will be removing the spent canes from last year and any evidence of excess growth from the previous year. We will allow only one cane per spur each with two buds. (An emergency cane will be allowed to grow, however.)

First we will go though the rows with hedge trimmers removing long cumbersome growth from 2011. Then we will selectively prune the healthiest cane growing closest to the training wire down to two buds. Then following that a person armed with loppers will remove excess dead wood so that no new canes can possibly emerge. With painstaking effort we will move from the drawing at the bottom right to the drawing at the top left!

The four stages of the vine

The four stages of The Vine

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