Thursday, May 27, 2010

summer, Vintage Indiana and a bus tour

Summer does seem to be here, although technically its still spring. 80+ degree days says summer to me and the rain + sun = grass growing like mad. Well we have made a few changes at the winery, although not as many as I had hoped. There are a few chores that are dragging into the summer that were supposed to be winter jobs, but nothing too serious.

We did start putting in a new “welcome” garden at the winery, regular rain has kept us from finishing it up, but I think we will get done pretty soon. It’s a modest little patch but it is in great spot to greet customers and catch a lot of sun. Our staffer Christine has been planning this for several months and I’m looking forward to seeing the result. Of course, any new garden needs a season to really show its stuff, so we’ll be patient, but its one less little piece of lawn I have to mow!

Vintage Indiana 2010 is just a little over a week away at Military Park in Indianapolis. This is a great chance to try a lot of INDIANA wine in one place. If you have not been there before, check out for all the details, It’s a food and wine “orgy” so you might need a room afterwards  -- There are 26 Indiana wineries scheduled to attend and no, we are not one of them. I see there are 11 food vendors and a whole bunch of art vendors. What more can you ask then local wine, local food, and local art all in one place. It runs from 11am-7pm on June 5, so it’s about time to plan your visit. Allow at least three hours for your visit, there will be lines for tasting and you’ll want to talk to other wine junkies you’ll meet there. We were hoping to go as tasters, but something came up ---sigh-!, so you’ll see us in the winery that day instead of indulging in Indy. I hate to miss the entertainment as much as the wine, check it out!

Ok, let’s talk WINE-TASTING BUS TOUR; I have recently been talked to, arm twisted, and beat up a bit that we have not jumped back into the bus tour business since the recession of ‘08/’09. One reason is we wanted to get past the worst of the worst and it may be that we have. But I need to know, are there 22 couples out there who would like to visit eight wineries in Southern Indiana as part of a bus tour, food/motel included, for this coming August 28/29? Send us an email at with BUS TOUR in the subject line if you’re interested, not ready to commit, but interested. Cost run $200-$300 per couple all inclusive. Talk to me!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Time, Grape News, and Bread?

Can you believe its almost summer? When someone starts talking about how times flies, they are almost always over 40. When we are young time seems to drag, but as we age and minutes/days/hours become a smaller part of our life experience, time seems to speed up. As far as the winery goes, time is about going back to our seven-day-a-week schedule, beginning June 1. From then until December 31, we will only be closed national holidays, no longer do we have be closed on Election Day due to a recent change in the law.

A bit of good/bad news from a nearby winery, the New Day Meadery has closed their Elwood tasting room, with plans to open a downtown Indianapolis tasting room in the very near future. Apparently they will keep the Elwood location as a production facility, but not offer tasting their. I think this is a good move for Brett & Tia, their honey-based wines (mead) are very good and deserve a wider customer base that will appreciate the craftsmanship they bring to their products.

While the early warming trend this year has made a lot of people very happy to shed their winter clothes, the early bud-break on the grape vines around the state have led to some frost damage that will affect the available crop in the fall. The good news is the damage in most vineyards is not massive, but many lost some fruit. One vineyard in the northern part of the state reported a majority of their vines damaged, while southern vines were less hurt. This is not a surprise, but I thought the vineyard owner’s comment that, “…this was the worst damage in 17 years…” was worth noting. Hopefully the damage will not impact fruit prices too badly!

We are pleased to announce the annual Bread Baking Contest will be held Saturday, June 12 from 1-6 PM at the winery. This is a fun event that allows both professional and amateur bread-makers to showcase their skills. The professionally made breads will be taste tasted by everyone who visits the winery that day and the winner will be chosen by popular vote. The amateur bakers’ loaves will be judged by a panel of “expert” bread tasters who will chose the winner. Its fun, its free, and watch this spot for more information about more fun & free events at the Oak Hill Winery!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


So as the winery’s business has increased, we have starting having some very busy weekends. Now most of the time, that’s not a problem because both myself and my wife are around to back up the person working in the winery. But as we look at the upcoming summer months, we see some problems coming. We have vacations for both us and the staff; we have some special off-site events we are attending; we have three solid staffers who do not want to work too many weekends!

So we need to hire another person to help cover weekends, someone who would work at least two weekend-days and no more then four weekend-days a month. That is going to be a hard person to find, well, at least hard to find a GOOD person who can/will do that.

First, its not about the money. No one gets rich owning, so by extension, no gets rich working at a winery ten to twenty hours a month. Second, its as much about the person’s ability to interact with the customer as prior experience. How many times I have heard a customer say about another winery, “The wine was pretty good, but the guy pouring the samples was so colorless we did not enjoy the experience.” So we need someone who us colorful? Oh boy…

Its important to find the right person, because we pay for the bartenders license, we have to train the person- takes about three to four days of job shadowing to get the procedures figured out- so there is an investment there.

Plus this person IS THE WINERY when people visit; what he/she says or does is the basis for the opinion of our business and this person can literally make-or-break us. Scary huh?

So now it begins, the hunt for a “Weekender” to work at the winery, helping the staff and covering vacations, illness, and other openings. Do you know anyone who might want to work at a small winery for just a pittance and a tyrannical master (me)? Tell them to stop in and fill out an application…

Oh, and do not forget this weekend is the “Greatest Spectacle in Tasting” at Kokomo! See the Kokomo Tribune website for more details:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thanks for the support!

As a business, you put a lot of time and money into special events and when one is a big success, its gratifying. Such was our Open House we held last Saturday, it was a big success from a business stand point and we hope from our customers’ perspective too.

While our biggest event is the September Cheesecake Festival, this little party came close to catching up. We had a lot of people visit, tour, and taste. I did not get out of the winemaking room for almost four hours and every tour (10) was well- attended with two overflowing into the stage area.

And we sold a lot of wine. This means I am back at work, bottling every evening and ordering supplies that are running short. I got a little surprise when I found we were out of “Sweetser” labels. So I am working up an order of labels so we can get some more wine out there. Any
more wine-name suggestions?

As we move into Summer, I realize we are just a few weeks from going back to our seven-day schedule until December 31. I was reading about voter reaction that liquor can now be sold during lections and primary days. I really think that’s a law that’s well put away, I doubt too many people who are drunk can be counted on to show up to vote and if they do, do we want them voting? I am not sure it would matter one way or another, that’s why I stay out of politics and put my faith in God instead.

In June we’ll be holding our seventh annual Bread Baking Contest for amateurs and professional bakers alike. Watch here for more dates and information to come!