Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday Nouveau 2013

Yesterday was “Black Friday” and for a number of years we have participated by opening early (11 am, I like to get my rest) and by having a few “doorbuster” sale items. We had a nice steady flow of customers and we sold a good bit of wine and a few of the doorbuster items. We had a Wine Nite as part of the evening festivities and a lot of folks came out for that.
One lady said she appreciated we were not packed with customers. True, business was steady all day, but we were never packed. We are packed on Chocolate and Cheesecake festivals; we are really busy on Open House days. But on Black Friday we had time to spend with customers, especially those buying gifts of wine for friends and family.

A common problem people have is which wine to buy for a person whose taste they do not know well. We tend to steer folks to the best sellers based on whether their recipient like sweet or dry wine. If that is unknown, we tend to suggest those in the middle, off-dry to semi-sweet.

A winner this year is our so-called “Nouveau” wine for 2013, STOCKDALE. This past September we were choosing what grapes we wanted to buy for this fall to make for 2014. On a whim, I bought a French-hybrid grape I had used in years past called “Baco Noir”, typically made into a dry red wine.

So I bought a small batch of the Baco, with the intent of trying to make a young, drinkable wine we could feature on Black Friday as our celebration of the 2013 vintage. We ferment our juice into wine at very cold temperatures, 60-65 degrees, so it can take 25-30 days for a full fermentation.  We started the process on October 21 and on November 18 I moved the wine (“racking” in wine-speak) into a clean barrel and let it set for five days to settle it a bit, then we bottled it. On Thursday (28th) we test-tasted it and declared it very good! We decided to not sweeten it at all, it was below ½ percent residual sugar and tasted best slightly chilled. So that’s what we got and happily, customers liked it well enough to buy it on its release the next day.

Of course, it could have been bitter and harsh, as many new wines are and not at all drinkable. My experience is an ingredient to making a great wine, but it all starts with the fruit and we got some dandy fruit in 2013. We hope you’ll stop in before 2014 and try some now, including our Nouveau…

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Surviving September, On to October!

Life in the winery is rarely boring. Looking back over the last few weeks, we survived the Cheesecake Festival crowds, and we move forward to the next big event, our Fall Open House. I am pleased at the response every spring and fall to our opening of the winemaking area and the 20 minute tours we offer, explaining our unique winemaking methods.

The Fall Open House also brings the release of our new sweet apple wine for 2013: KOKOMO CIDER. After making this wine for ten years, many of you already know how popular this wine is and the high demand it brings as we move in to the holiday seasons.  For all but last year, we have gotten our apple juice from the local Hainlen Orchard. The 2012 drought killed the apple crop, so we went north to Michigan and found some good apple juice. We expect the good apple crop will allow us to return to local apple for next year, but this 2012 vintage show good promise.

On Saturday, October 5, we will have Kokomo Cider for tasting and sale. But not just tasting as a cold, refreshing beverage, but also as a hot, spiced wine you can make to delight friends and (adult) family.  Right now, we have the dry INDIANA APPLE on the shelf, using the same juice, so stop in and try a taste, you will be surprised.
 Another new wine on the shelf is RED BRIDGE, a dry cranberry wine we bottled a small batch of to satisfy the demand of some of our wine club members. We had done some barrel tasting with the wine club and they kept saying “the dry cranberry was good, bottle it!” I never planned on making a dry cranberry, this is the next vintage of our Bordermen, a sweet cranberry. That wine is still in production, but we have Red Bridge right now.

Hope to see you ALL at the Fall Open House!

Friday, May 17, 2013

so summer is upon us...

Warm weather is finally upon us and the winery is amping up for a busy summer. May 18 isour Spring Open House and I always enjoy giving tours of our little facility.

Indiana wine news is all good. There was a late frost that may have caused some damage to the grapes in some hoosier vineyards, but most vines survived well. Several new vineyards statewide are coming into fruit for the first time and we look forward to that new crop

New hoosier wineries are opening every year. As we approach our tenth anniversary we recal when we opened we were one of few wineries north of Indianapolis. Now we have four within less then an hours drive of us.

EE winery near Huntington is hoping to open Memorial Day weekend and we look forward to it! The new "wine" wine trail is debuting this sumner. And Vintage Indian is coming soon!

We have been working hard on some new wines and the old favorites are here as well.  We hope you'll stop in for a taste; a glass; or a bottle soon.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

December Midway

So its mid-December, its 40+ degrees, and we are back to concentrating on wine-making rather than parking!  It was quite a hit to lose 100% of our parking the first week of November and on through December 10, but it’s nice to know if you raise a lot of noise you can get some reaction.  Our state representatives and the Governor’s office all pressed INDOT to revisit their decision to remove ALL parking in front of the winery. Unfortunately, the Town Board recommended using the south side of the street for parking to INDOT, in consideration of a part-time funeral home east of us that has one to three services a month! We have hundreds of people every week, but they get parking on their side of the street.  But as mentioned, its time for us to move on and get back to making wine rather than fighting “city hall”.
We did a new bottling of our two Niagara grape wines, JALAPA and FAIRMOUNT, and feel these are much better wines then their prior batches. 2011 was the oddest batch of Niagara juice we have ever seen; it tasted fine, looked good scientifically, but turned out fair at best.  I worked on the barrels remaining and got them cleared up visually and tuned up, taste-wise.  See what you think next time in.

The Nouveau-style wine, EEL RIVER, is making lots of new friends. This off-dry red wine made with Indiana-grown 2012 Leon Millot grapes turned out much better than expected for is youth.  Our port-style, RIVERWALK, is also a great wine according to tasters.

We will be open every day except the 25th through the end of December, January 1 we go back to our winter-spring schedule of weekends only, 1-6 pm.  It still surprises me how many people do not know we can be open on Sundays and sell carry-out wine.  Please tell a friend, Sundays can be very slow in the depths of winter!

The only disappointments I have had this 2011 vintage ares the Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc wines have not been ready to make an appearance. I guess that will make their arrival in 2013 something to look forward to!

Please note our final 2012 Wine Nite will be December 22nd, 6-9 pm.  If you have not made a Wine Nite, they are full of fun, surprises and lots of people talking and drinking wine.  I suspect this one might be a bit quieter as it hits on a holiday weekend, so if you are free, come out and join us and we will have fun together!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Nouveau

I am excited!  I am too busy!  I am mad!  I am confused!  These few words sum up this time of year and you have seen me write the winery business is not about money, it’s about the lifestyle of being your own boss and making something people really like.
Yes, the parking situation is an irritant, but we have seen some movement in the form of more information and response from our state representatives. Thanks to all you who have written asking our politicians to help us solve this problem.  One comment was to the effect that one email represents 1000 peoples’ opinion, so your emails do carry weight.

The wines from 2011 are still coming on and we will roll out our 2012 “nouveau”  on Black Friday, this is our second Indiana-grown new vintage wine. Last Thursday was the international Nouveau Beaujolais release, the famous first release of the new vintage. Our grape is a French hybrid called Leon Millot and we were happy to find a small crop from a little vineyard north of Fort Wayne, near Leo.  We brought the totes home, ran the grapes through our new crusher-destemmer, and started a fermentation that ran almost six weeks. Then we drained off the fresh free-run wine and pressed the skins. We racked the wine twice and found it was clarifying nicely and (surprise) even tasted pretty good!

Traditionally, nouveau-style wines are served slightly chilled, are dry with no sweetness, and  taste just “OK”. I think our new wine tastes better then “OK”, but on Black Friday and as long as one barrel lasts, you can make your own determination!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Black Friday at the Winery

For the past few years we have enjoyed sleeping in on the Friday when many folks are getting up at very early hours and going shopping after stuffing themselves with turkey and the fixins. But we must not sleep all day...

So we decided this year we will open at 11.00 am and offer $1 cash rebates on every bottle of wine you buy until 1:00 pm.

We will release our 2011 vintage port-style wine RIVERWALK on this super shopping day. There will be very limited quantities available of this special release.

We hope to also offer you an Indiana grown and Indiana made special "Noveau-style" wine on this day, as well. That assumes the wine is ready and turns out good! (Pretty sure it will!)

This same day we will be open late, until 9:00 pm and be holding our November "WINE NITE"!! These extra special evenings include some special surprises so much fun even I do not know what all of them will be!

I would be not doing my job if I did not remind all of you we have some great GIFT BASKETS priced from $25-$50 on hand. On this Black Friday my lovely wife will be on hand to make any custom gift baskets needed, or adjustments to existing baskets, and offer advice on putting your own gift baskets together. This is a one-day special service, so let's keep her busy all day!!

Parking Eliminated in front of Winery!

On Wednesday, November 7, INDOT came into Converse and installed No Parking signs up and down SR 18. This includes right in front of the Winery, eliminating all of our parking within a two block radius. This will force our customers to walk quite a distance to get to our business.

We have received no response to our inquiries as to WHY this action was taken as of Friday. We have written the Govenor and our state representatives.

In the ten years we have been here, there have been only two property-damage accidents and NO personal injury accidents as a result of on-street parking at the winery.

We believe this action will cost us between 25% and 50% of our drop-in business over the next few months and more beyond.

Please email our state representative/senator at the following addresses and express your concern as to this unreasonable restriction on our business. Please cut-n-paste these email addresses into your email.
spacer (1K)Thanks for your continued support!