‘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:
Sparkling Vidal Blanc 2010
Sparkling Red Raspberry
Our 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!
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.
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