NY Wineries

July 31, 2012

With lots to keep us busy in the vineyard, winery, and tasting room we don’t often get the chance to visit other wineries – let alone other wine regions. Every year a few of my girlfriends from NYC trek out out to Montauk at the very end of the South Fork of Long Island for a long weekend. We pass a handful of very impressive looking vineyards on the way, but never have time to stop. This year we took advantage of a cold, rainy day to escape the beach and go tasting!

Channing Daughters Winery and Wölffer Estate Vineyard came highly recommended by Lenn Thompson of New York Cork Report and neither disappointed. Both boasted beautiful, perfectly maintained vineyards and some seriously tasty vino.

Barrel top displays at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, NY

The tasting room at Channing Daughters was cozy and intimate. Some unusual white varietals – Tocai Fruiliano (which I first fell in love with at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery in the Hudson Valley), Aligoté, and Pinot Bianco to name a few. Their 2008 Clones Chardonnay is a study in complexity. In addition to ten different Chardonnay clones it also contains 6% Tocai Fruliano, 1% Gewurtztraminer, 1% Aligoté, 1% Semillion, and 1% Viognier. No wonder it’s so good!

The patio and vineyard at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, NY

Wolffer had a great lineup of reds – not to mention a perfectly maintained vineyard. They claim “European elegance combined with the typicity of [the] Long Island terroir” and who can argue with that? We especially enjoyed the 2008 Fatalis Fatum a Merlot heavy Bordeaux-style blend with 64% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Grapes Gone Wild

June 5, 2012

The third year Petit Manseng vines have grown into a real vineyard in the past month! Of course this is completely normal, but we still weren’t expecting such a big difference between the 2nd and 3rd year (or “leaf”). They’re now cordon trained along wires and bearing so much fruit that we have to go through and cluster thin. Since Petit Manseng is a super vigorous grower, we’re leaf pulling the canopy a little bit to allow more air movement.

Here’s a look at the evolution of the past few months:

March 28th: Budbreak

May 9th: Flowers

May 23rd: Fruit Set

June 2nd: Leaf Pulling & Cluster Thinning

A Mockingbird has decided to nest in the canopy and is not too happy about her hiding spot being revealed..

Peony Madness in the Garden

May 15, 2012

Cora Stubbs, a raspberry pink Japanese form peony

You say Pee OH Nee, I say PEE Uh Nee – however you say it, Peonies are an early delight for the cutting garden. Answers.com says both pronunciations are correct and depend on which region you come from. “If you said pee un nee in the Southern United States you would get strange looks from the locals.” Oh – That’s why!

Scott’s favorite is Cora Stubbs. He planted six plants some years ago and we were quite smitten with them, the way they hold their color and the contrast of textures and colors. Of course, there isn’t a peony we don’t like. Bartzella is a rare yellow peony that Scott is also fond of.

The Bartzella, with lemony yellow blooms and small red flares

Peony Meadows northeast of Charlottesville in Keswick, VA has a huge peony garden, which owners Jim and Sandy graciously let you wander through. I dare you to walk through and not make plans to order some peonies in the fall! You must look at them soon though, as they are blooming right now. Last year Rachel, Scott, and I wrote down the names of the peonies we liked best (we like them all really) and in the fall Jim dug out the eyes and we picked them up. Jim doesn’t have Cora Stubbs though. Paradise Garden usually has them, but they are available in limited supply and have to be ordered early. Paradise Garden also has “Karen Gray”, which got rave reviews from guests in our tasting room this weekend.

Karen Gray, an unusual wine red Japanese flower with a creamy center

After peonies finish blooming the foliage is pretty. I cut off all blooms – either as cut flowers, when they finish blooming, or if it rains and they fall to the ground. That way, the bush keeps it shape and looks perky.


Back in the Vineyard

March 21, 2012

Vineyard Pomeranian Dallas helps rough prune

Late winter and early spring is a busy time in the vineyard. As the weather warms up, buds on the vines begin to swell and the race is on! It can be a challenge to have everything pruned and ready to go by bud break, especially in a warm year like this one. Our vines are still very young and aren’t much trouble.  The 2011 plantings were pruned down to two or three buds for the sake of uniformity.  These will be interspersed with new plantings in April, so we’ve still got a few years until our grapes really come into their own.

Front row of pruned vines with unpruned vines in the background

Our little test block of Petit Manseng, however, was planted in 2010 and lovingly hand watered all summer. This year its ready to be trained along the cordon wire. The new shoots will grow straight up towards the top (catch) wires, in the Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) trellis system.  

Diagram of Vertical Shoot Positioning via www.netlinenetting.com.au

Read the rest of this entry »

We ♥ Free Union Grass Farm Chicken

March 2, 2012

Happy Chicks at Free Union Grass Farm. Photo: www.freeuniongrassfarm.com

We’ve really enjoyed sharing local grass-fed, pastured beef and eggs from pastured chickens with our family and customers. It made us long for a local source of grass-fed, pastured chicken too. And now we are delighted to offer chickens from Free Union Grass Farm, right in our winery!

Erica Hellen and Joel Slezak, featured in Flavor Magazine. Photo: Molly McDonald Peterson

Owners Erica Hellen and Joel Slezak were featured in Flavor Magazine’s “Meet the Future of Farming” Issue. Self-described as “two farmer/foodies who decided to join passions and make a go of it”, Joel and Erica do a wonderful job raising the chickens humanely and healthily. We are happy to retail their whole chickens, legs and thighs, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tenders.

Here’s an easy, super savory, and tender chicken roast from Robert Clickner of Blue Ridge Oriental Medicine. It’s “très facile” to make and goes great with a bottle of our lightly oaked 2010 Chardonnay!

Chicken Adobo


4 – 6 chicken legs cut up (leave skin on or take off, optional)

2 Tbsp red wine (substitute rice wine or red wine vinegar)

¾ cup soy sauce

½ cup water

15 clove buds

15 peppercorns

2 bay leaves broken in half

3 cloves garlic chopped

Throw all the ingredients in a Dutch Oven. The liquid does not have to completely cover the chicken.

Bring to a light boil on stovetop under moderate heat. Cover and turn the heat down to a simmer. Occasionally stir so chicken on top gets submerged under the liquid.

Cook until the meat is darker from the liquid and loose on the bone. The minimum cooking time is 45 minutes.  Recommended cooking is at least 2 hours, up to 4 hours. If you plan to cook this long just keep the simmer very low. You’ll get much more flavor and nutrition this way.

Serve over rice.

*You can also marinade the meat in all of the ingredients overnight or for a few hours before making and then cook for more flavor.

Strain and save the sauce that is left over after you eat the meat. It is very tasty to make a pot of jasmine rice and pour the sauce over it for a light lunch.