Archive for the ‘Winery News’ Category

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.

 

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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.

Sweetness!

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

Silver

Sparkling Vidal Blanc 2010

 

Bronze

Sparkling Red Raspberry

Chambourcin 2011

Black Currant

Noiret 2008

Peach

“And above all, think chocolate!”

santa at greendance

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!

 

Donegal Store Opening!

Greendance has branched out with our third satellite store now open along Route 31 in Donegal, PA! The new store is located next to Rustic Lodge Furniture and across the street from the Country Pie Shoppe. We held a private grand-opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday evening for everyone at Greendance and our friends. Out of the Fire Café catered some great platters of hummus, fruits, cheeses, and bruschetta with perfectly thin crostini; while winery partner Amy made ceviche (which we will be serving in the Café this summer on our Friday late nights!).

The sunset filled the sky with spectacular reds and orange while we all got to relax, talk, and just enjoy the warm evening with one another.  The Zinfandel paired perfectly with the night. Debbie rang up Kathy Valkovic, who made the first purchase at the store that very night. A big thank-you to all our friends who came and celebrated with us, cheers to new sales!  Store hours are Monday, Thursday-Sunday 12-8pm, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Concord 2011 is bottled in time for the holiday weekend. Be sure to stop by the Winery Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day Monday for grilled burger platters (12-3pm), sandwiches, strawberry shortcake, and other delicious gourmet goodies. Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend!

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!