Chuck's Monthly Minutes (April '19)

We are preparing for the spring bottling of 2019.  We will be doing 10 wines now and a few later.  We are busy in the vineyard too, but attention is focused on the new releases.

On the dry, but lighter side we have a nice 2018 vintage Riesling.  It’s a well-balanced fruity aromatic wine, approachable for all wine drinkers.  The Grüner is also vintage 2018 with the expected dry fresh flavor and surprising tropical fruit notes.  The Bison Roots Orange is our first bottling of a Pinot Gris product with prolonged skin contact and early fermentation oxygen exposure.  It is a completely dry smooth wine with a little color.  Dry Pinot noir Rose is the still version of our versatile grape that we make in limited release for the summer season.  

Our red wines take a little longer to mature but are worth the wait.  Saperavi 2017 will not disappoint.  It has the signature Saperavi grape triad of dark color, soft pH and deep acidity for ageing.  The Estate Lemberger is a blend of multiple barrel aged vintages of just one grape variety. Our house blend, 1812 is back and better than ever.  We blend Pinot Noir with Lemberger and a touch of light oak barrel maturing for my favorite red blend yet. 

Sweet wine lovers get to see some old favorites return.  The Homestead Red is the next version of our Governor’s Cup winning Sweet Red.  I think it is better.  Blush is also back and better than ever made from a field blend of best ripening light varieties.  For dessert we have the new small bottle sweet red chocolate wine.  It is a sweet sipping flavor enhancer that can make any meal special.  

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (March '19) FIRST DAY OF SPRING!

At 5:58 PM today the earth’s axis of rotation moves closer to the sun for our latitude.  We are celebrating the new season with hope.  The vineyard is in dormant slumber for a little longer.  We will finish pruning before bud burst in May.  Winter was average, not too cold or wet.  We are wishing for a sunny, dry year without frost.

 

The vines are now entering their tenth season.  They have shown what they can produce in Pennsylvania’s wildly and wonderful weather.  We have some new younger vines that we will be put on trellis, Saperavi and Chardonnay.  There are about 13 producing acres with around 1,000 vines per acre.

 

The biggest risks operating a vineyard are number one economics, next are labor and disease, both tightly connected to economics.  After that comes weather.  I love having the flexibility and control of the grapes.  We have seen what wonderful tasting wines can be produced from Susquehanna River Valley grown fruit. 

 

Cheers, and Happy Spring

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (September '18)

Vintner’s Blog;

2018, the Hail Mary Season

It is September 9, 2018, usually we are harvesting by now. Today, I am taking a break from the preparations, writing this blog. We are in the middle of an extratropical rainfall of three-day duration, possibly over 4 inches, after the wettest summer on record. This is not what we want to see in a vineyard.

Wet seasons bring numerous problems to vineyards, like Downy Mildew on the leaves slowing ripening, Gray Mold on the fruit reducing our harvest. We have had tractors stuck in the mud, repeated spraying multiple times a week now, and either stifling heat or tropical downpours for our workers. If you want to grow wine grapes in the Mid-Atlantic, you need to be able to handle one disaster after another in a season like this. We still have grapes on the vines and leaves on the shoots. And that gives us some hope. If the weather breaks the vines should be able to provide us with fruit for this vintage.

The changes in the vineyard that help us get through this kind of season include; removing fruit clusters with rot, pulling leaves around the clusters to improve air flow, increased spraying with different target zones and pests, and much more labor in the field. Tomorrow we will be back in the field doing everything we can and hoping for dry weather not tropical storms. The motto for this year is “drop, spray and pray”. I say a Hail May every time I pass Mary’s corner of the vineyard.

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (August '18)

The Mid-Atlantic Monsoon

After a beautiful first three weeks of July, we were treated to a remarkable atmospheric river of moisture. The tropical air blew in from the south starting Saturday afternoon and steady rain fell for five straight days. We measured over an inch of rain at the vineyard each day for a total of 7.5 inches. On top of the hill our vines and soils can handle that much water, but the constant wetness is an open invitation to molds and mildew. We did everything we could before and after the rain to keep the canopy healthy. The color change, veraison, will start next week and that is the beginning of the ripening season. All varieties look in good shape. Wine grape growers worry about many weather events. We will have to add flooding monsoon summer rains to that list. I won’t mention the other weather disasters for good luck.

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (June'18)

The vineyard woke from its winter slumber and is back to green and growing! We finished shoot thinning and managing the vineyard floor to get ready for the season. The shoots are growing rapidly, already over a foot tall, and there are small clusters of grapes emerging.

Now that the vines are in their growing season, weather becomes critical! We hope for large amounts of sun, with just a little bit of rain, and temperatures that aren't too hot or humid. However, summer weather in central Pennsylvania doesn't always cooperate with us! Look for lots of flowering and fruit this month as the summer pruduces rapid growth. 

If you have any questions or comments for Chuck, leave them below and he will try to answer them in next months Minute. He loves the interaction despite being away from the day-to-day at Fero, and his monthly Minutes give him the chance to talk about his passion for growing premium grapes in the center of the state!

Chuck's Monthly Minutes (February'18)

The vines are dormant in anticipation of the 2018 season.  It has been a typical winter with our low temperature of -2 degrees one morning.  We should complete winter pruning sometime in March.  This will be the ninth winter for these vines and they have adjusted well to our climate.   

In the winery we are doing our big bottling run this month and are excited to say we have some new additions and more old favorites that seem to sell out every year.  The Dry Rosé was critically acclaimed last year, and I think this vintage is even better.  The Saperavi is back after 16 months of ageing.  In addition to our dry wines we have plenty of wines that sparkle or wines that satisfy your sweet tooth.  We have a new red wine, “Bison Roots Blue” commemorating this beautiful valley and our prestigious university.   

Look in the tasting room for the vintner’s barrel.  We will feature sale prices on some favorites each week.  You may find our best whites or Concord and Niagara or even our reds.  We are doing the finishing touches on our landscaping at our event pavilion and can’t wait for the season.