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!

 

Greendance Memories Contest!

Do you have fond memories of visiting Greendance Winery?  Perhaps you were married at the winery, or you celebrated an anniversary here, or just kicked back and enjoyed a bottle of wine on a sunny, summer afternoon?  Share your story in 250-words or less as a comment here on our blog or on our Facebook page – we’ll read your entry, and three winners will be selected.  Contest will run through to the end of July! Here’s what you’ll win:

First Place Winner:

  • A wine and cheese basket from Greendance Winery, featuring 3 of our award-winning wines and gourmet delights
  • Dinner for two at Nino’s Restaurant in the beautiful Laurel Highlands
  • A complimentary Thursday night stay at Holiday Inn Express in Mt. Pleasant

 Second Place Winner:

  • A wine and cheese basket from Greendance Winery, featuring 2 of our award-winning wines and gourmet delights
  • A personal tour of Greendance and Sand Hill Berries, and a complimentary fruit pie made right on our farm

 Third Place Winner:

  • A wine and cheese basket from Greendance Winery, featuring a bottle of our award-winning wine and gourmet delights

Rhubarb

A Salmon Faverolle hen at Collingwood Children...

A Salmon Faverolle hen at Collingwood Children’s Farm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are not talking about the fruit today; Rhubarb is the newest addition to the winery atmosphere here. He is a majestic Salmon Faverolle rooster who has as new home at Greendance and a flock of new Guinea friends. Rhubarb’s previous residence was a tree-lined street in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Sewickley—where his owners had to give him up after more than a few complaints. He was a bit shy upon arrival, but quickly warmed up and his crowing continues to fill the air. Rhubarb provided some entertainment for the gathering groomsmen—luckily, the rest of the wedding today did not mind his calls.

Salmon Faverolle roosters are large and magnificent, parading around with a virtual rainbow of colors—iridescent black, burnished with bronze on their backs and wings, while their hackles and saddles are the color of pale straw. These roosters are particularly calm and dignified, and make great roosters for the home flock since they are not as aggressive as some other breeds. Hens are more subdued in their colors with snowy breasts and fluffy white faces, their backs are a lovely honeyed salmon color with white lacing.

With our new rooster, it seems a fitting time to crow that Rhubarb Wine will be returning! After a long hiatus, the delicate rhubarb flavor of this great wine is currently in production with a bottling date set for the end of June.

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!

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.