The ‘Mystery Berry’

Honeyberry plants, aka Lonicera caerulea (say that three times fast after a glass of wine!) are non-invasive relatives of the honeysuckle – don’t picture the vines wildly covering your grandmother’s hillside! These plants grow much like traditional blueberries in a bushy form.


So most importantly for our berry lovers – what do these oblong shaped blue guys taste like? Much like wine, that seems to depend on each person’s unique palate – they have been described as a ‘mystery berry’ flavor, reminding some of blackberry, cherry, grape, and even subtle kiwi. With a very thin skin, the zesty sweet-tart berries melt in your mouth when enjoyed fresh off the bush. They work well in any recipes calling for blueberries, adding a sweetness and unique depth of flavor. Jams, pies, muffins, let your imagination grow wild in your culinary ventures with these special berries.

Also called haskap berry (from the Japanese name for the plant), this relatively ‘new’ fruit has actually been cultivated in cooler regions for centuries, farmers in Asia and Eastern Europe knew them well and how to grow honeyberries. The plants are native to Russia and Siberia and have remarkable cold tolerance, surviving temperatures of -55 degrees Fahrenheit and blooms that can tolerate spring frosts with little damage. It typically takes a full year before the plants start to produce any noticeable quantity of fruit, but we hope to have a handful to taste for ourselves this season! New rows are planted!



A Rare Pear?

Museums nationwide are filled with relics, art, antiques, and archives that preserve the rich and diverse history of our country’s past…but in Massachusetts a good many natives know that on the rare occasion a piece of history might just be growing outside! Growing outside for over 380 years to be exact (a hell of a lot of birthday candles!), the sole surviving Endecott Pear Tree has been celebrated in history, art, and poetry, as well as illustrated in books, magazines, murals and postcards from as early as the 18th century. The Endecott certainly rivals our measly 25-30 year old orchards trees here on the farm!Endecott-3.jpg

“Since the 1630s, the singular, Endecott Pear Tree has resided here in present-day Danvers. The tree is the last survivor of many fruit trees planted here under the direction of the first Massachusetts Governor, English Puritan John Endecott (c1588-1665). Endecott was a thirty-nine year old zealous Puritan gentleman and member of what became the Massachusetts Bay Company. The company was established in England to profit from settlement in the New World and establish a commonwealth of likeminded inhabitants loyal to England, but steadfast in their Puritan religious beliefs.

Endecott is known to have extensively cultivated his farm, including the establishment of apple and pear orchards. Tradition has it that the surviving pear tree, most likely not part of the more extensive orchard area, was planted by the governor’s own hands or at least by his personal direction near his dwelling house. Dates for this planting are believed to be somewhere within the period of 1632 to 1640. Whether the tree was from nursery rootstock first planted at his Salem garden and transplanted here, or from an actual seed stone is lost to history.Endecott-print.jpg

Pears in England during the 16th and early 17th century were often used for the production of “perry,” an alcoholic drink made from fermented pears in a process similar to cider making. The fruit of many of the varieties used for making perry have a harsh, bitter taste. Unlike apple trees which have a fairly finite life expectancy, some pear trees are known to produce fruit for several hundred years. The pears from the Danvers tree have been known as “Endecott Pears” for several hundred years, and have also been identified with a variety of sugar pear known as “Bon Chrétien.”

Many writers have waxed poetic in describing the tree’s heritage. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of its longevity and President John Adams spoke of its significance. Written up in scores of periodicals, including being featured in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” this modest tree has become iconic. It has survived hurricanes, century snowstorms, neglect, soil stripping, industrial development and even a murderous attack of vandalism by teenagers in 1964.

The Endecott Pear Tree is the oldest surviving cultivated tree in America. It is an authentic living link between us of the 21st century and our pioneering founders of the early 1600s. An important symbol of heritage, strength and resilience, it is truly a national treasure.” Endecott-Pear-1923.jpg

Still bearing fruit to this day, this amazing tree continues its fascinating life as part of our unique and varied heritage. For a more in depth history of this special tree, pour a glass of Greendance Pear Wine and enjoy the full story on the archives website here:

The Busy Bees of Spring

Despite the freezing and almost freezing past few nights, our honey bees are flying about busy as ever during the sunny days. Their current focus is on our strawberry fields but its their hard work and honey from last season that we are enjoying–our first bottling of Greendance Mead!

Coming and going, and going and coming. The endless round trips to the hive. We have around 20 hives each season that work endlessly.

Mead has a longer history than our earliest civilizations, being produced some 30,000 years ago. Letting a fine wine age can be a great reward, but we would not recommend sampling any wine quite that old. Ancient man traveled out of Africa into the north and brought with them bees, their honey, and the key ingredient – yeast. There are theories that mead was first discovered in hollows of treats where hives would form and get filled with water during the rainy season. Add honey, water, and some native yeast – voilá the rough recipe for honey wine was born. Whatever its accidental origins, Mead making became a tradition across Europe, India, and China.

Monk drinking wine right out of the barrel Li Livres dou Santé by en Aldobrandino of Siena - France, late 13th century. British Library

Keeper of the Mead having a sample…or two.



Honey and Mead were prized in Europe and popular for many millennia until the introduction of sugar cane brought back by some famous world explorers. Honey took a back seat to the less expensive form of sugar and Mead became an art form kept alive by monks in their monasteries. There, hives were kept for beeswax–a necessity in ceremonial candle making–and provided a surplus of honey.



photo - Copy


So in honor of the great traditions of our ancient ancestors, we channeled our inner Scandinavian and produced a mead with great smoothness, light floral aromas, and flavors of pure local honey. So whether sailing to new worlds, conquering neighboring strongholds, or lording over your hall—fill your store rooms with Greendance Mead.


Spring Daffodil Dinner Details!

Daffodil Dinner

To attend please call, 724-547-6500   *Space is limited*

*Cost of attendance can be refunded up to 48 hours prior to event, after that time the cost is non-refundable. Thank you.



Amuse Bouche ~ Organic Truffled Eggs – Horseradish Fluff

Salmon Tataki ~ Seared Salmon – Spring Veggies – Watercress Sauce

Wild Mushroom Risotto – Organic Pork Belly ~ Arborio Rice – Forest Mushroom

Creme of Potato & Laurel Mountains Ramps ~ Somerset Potatoes – Stream Side Ramps – Beet Chips

Olive Oil Poached Asparagus ~ Fried Torn Bread – Prosciutto – Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Intermezzo ~ Artisan Cheese – Raw Honey – Raisins on Vine

Braised Boneless Short Rib ~ Tomato – Organic Beef Short Ribs – Spring Onion Potatoes

Sand Hill Berries Dessert

Spring Haircut

With the official start of spring only a week away, we got to work this week giving the apple orchards their annual pruning. Ramon has been hard at work and has all the trees surrounding the nectar garden, stage, and back side of the winery road all done…on to the back orchard!

We always get a few calls every year with all kinds of questions about care and pruning of apple. Many inherit an old tree on their property that has been neglected, so here’s a brief guide to keep you on track. Remember that apples will grow on wood produced the previous year, so always leave around 50% of the previous year’s growth–you can always go back and trim more off if necessary, but you can’t put a branch back on. Wise words right?

Before Pruning

Old neglected tree

Old neglected tree


Prune newly planted young trees immediately after planting. Cut off any side shoots and trim the tree to 24 to 30 inches tall in order to promote low-growing branches. Do most of the pruning for apple trees during the dormant season when the leaves have fallen off for the winter. We prune every mid to late March after the coldest winter days and before and new foliage begins to show.


In order to get fruit to grow abundantly on the lower branches, focus thinning out branches towards the top of the tree. Trimming towards the top of the tree allows sunlight to reach the lower branches, helping fruit production. It is also important to thin out the center, or scaffold, branches so that they are not overly crowded so sunlight and air penetrates the center of the tree. This allows foliage to dry and helps reduce disease pressure. It is also important to prune branches that cross and rub on each other.

Making Cuts and Removing Larger Branches

To prevent apple tree diseases, use sterilized tools to trim trees. A diluted bleach or alcohol solution will kill harmful fungal spores or bacteria. Make trimming cuts just above buds without leaving stubs behind, this will encourage the correct kind of future new growth. It is also important to avoid flesh cuts on remaining branches. When removing a branch or twig, leave the collar around the base of the branch rather than cutting into the branch or trunk from which it grows. Roughly a 1/4″ collar left where the branch connections to trunk will allow for a new branch to form.

Branches to Remove

Apple trees produce abundant fruit on new branches for several years, and they produce less fruit on old branches. Therefore, it is helpful to trim old branches once their fruit growth slows down. It is also helpful to remove diseased, damaged or dead branches. Ideally, branches grow at an upward 60-degree angle from the trunk. Prune branches that grow dramatically upwards or that hang down too much. These types of branches are often prone to splitting or breaking later on, especially in bad weather when laden with fruit.

After Pruning

Pruned and Rejuvenated

Pruned and Rejuvenated

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.


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.


govcup med640

‘Ello Govna! Something shiny showed up today. Our Diamond ’11 won the Governor’s Cup for Best of Show, double gold in Sweet Grape Wine, and was also chosen as the Best American Wine in the 2013 Pennsylvania Farm Show Wine Competition. Great thanks to our winemaker Walt, and our wine technicians Robert and John!

Here is our complete list of medals from the 2013 PA Farm Show:

Double Gold

 Diamond 2011


Sparkling Vidal Blanc 2010



Sparkling Red Raspberry

Chambourcin 2011

Black Currant

Noiret 2008


“And above all, think chocolate!”

santa at greendance

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!


  • 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!