Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dimples

So this lady asked me why our wine corks have “dimples” and it took me a minute to understand what she was saying. When you get ready to open a bottle of our wine and remove the capsule top, you can see a small dimple in the top of our synthetic corks.

The dimple is where the corker pushes the cork down into the bottle. Keep in m ind we do everything by hand here, so if you have a bottle of our wine, its about a 95% chance I put the cork in it.

The corker squeezes the cork and then I pull a piston down the rams the cork into the bottle before it can fully expand again, sealing the bottle. I have been very, very pleased with the synthetic corks, they seem to seal better; they allow customers to store wine upright if they so choose, they seem easy to withdraw (no customer complaints); and they cost no more than regular low-end corks. The best part is we do not get the chipping when we put the cork in or when you take it out that we did with real corks.

I said I put in about 95% of the corks, I do occasionally have kind friends who offer to help out and a few crazy customers who want to assist. Due to cleanliness rules, we cannot let just anybody in the winery to help, you have to get cleaned up, a bit sanitized if you will, to help. Since I am doing the corking in the evenings, I do not get a lot of volunteers and since we do small batches I can handle a few hours corking fairly well. Maybe as I get older I will try a Tom Sawyer routine and tell everyone how much fun corking and bottling is, and everyone should drive a few thousand corks into a bottle for exercise!

For our 44 Winery Bus Tour participants, I’ll inject a little news: we have confirmed the Hampton Inn as our overnight stay and it has a pool, hot tub, and exercise room. We are still working on the Saturday dinner menu, but it looks like we will be wine tasting and eating at the new River City Winery in New Albany, your menu choices will come by email soon. Best Vineyards has signed on for a Sunday tasting slot, specializing in their semi-sweet estate wines. To get us home at a decent hour Sunday, we will have a buffet at a Ryans Steakhouse in the Indianapolis area, it’s the fastest way to feed 50 people!

Keep in mind our HOOSIER CHEESE DAYS celebration of Indiana-made cheese begins August 14 and lasts as long as ten pounds of cheese lasts…

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Parties and Blueberries

Wow! I know I have said it here before, but it is truly rewarding to hold a special event and have a bunch of people show up and enjoy it. The Chocolate & Wine Festival this past Saturday was a HUGE success, even to a fault, I was stuck in Peru in an unavoidable meeting for two hours and when I got to the winery about 3:30, the cars were parked all over and the tasting room was packed! Needless to say, my wife and single staffer were torn between “happy to see me” and killing me for “where have you been?”

So for the next two hours I met group after group, pouring wine, and offering sample of gourmet chocolate. I am afraid the crowds we had made it hard to give each visitor the time we prefer to spend with them, but we did or best to do what we could. I hope they will come back when we can give them more time.

Ok, the bus is full! If anyone out there would like to go, we will establish a waiting list. Occasionally we have someone who signs up run into a personal situation and they ask us to see if someone can take their place. So email us if you want on the list…

One of the surprises we dropped on the festival goers was a test batch of our blueberry wine. Honestly, I was not happy with it, but several serious wine drinkers told me they thought it was good. So I bottled a small batch and sent it out and people seem to like it! Well, they bought it, so it must be good. Even winemakers are not always on when balancing flavor, both to the good and the bad.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Last Chances? Yes and No...

We have openings for four couples left on the August 28-29 bus tour, so this is the last chance for you to join our merry band of wine tasters as we wander Indiana wineries. Once we fill this bus, that’s it! So call, stop, by, or email if you’d like to come along!

Coming up soon is the Chocolate & Wine Festival on Saturday, July 17 from 1-6 pm. We’ll have live music from 2-5 pm and special snacks, gourmet chocolates, and lots of fun. We hope you’ll join us for our seventh anniversary celebration while we mix and match J. Edwards Chocolates with our wines!

Do you have a special occasion you’d like to celebrate too? Consider a private party at the Winery! Two hours of fun and information begins at just $149 and we offer many options for you to choose from. Email us for more information!

Friday, July 2, 2010

New York, New York!

So what are the wineries in NY’s Finger Lakes like? Wow, as you might guess, they are as varied and wineries anywhere else. As mentioned in the last post, their buildings were a variety of shapes and sizes, but by far the most common were simple metal-sided buildings that the owners had often enhanced with a fancy entrance, a garden walk, a large fountain, or a bit of d├ęcor to add a bit of distinct character.

The interiors were pretty nice, for the most part. There were a few that were simple concrete floors with typical retail furniture and a tasting bar, but many had very attractive interiors with a theme even beyond just being a winery.

The wine was good, as with any full day of wine tasting we found a lot of good, some very good, and a few really great wines. We found some high priced wines and a few real bargains. We (four people) spent most of the week drinking a case of Casa Largo’s Tre Blanc, a semi-dry white made with 57% Muscat, 33% Traminette, 10% Gew├╝rztraminer, and paid $59 a case (not a typo) for it. Yes, that’s less then $5 a bottle and when I asked why, the staffer said it was an ’08 vintage and they wanted to clear it out because the ’09 was about to bottle. Wow, what a good wine at a great price.

We ran into something I did not expect, a meadery, along Seneca Lake. It was a division of another large winery that specialized in fruity honey wines, yet they also had some great off dry meads worth a taste. Their slightly sweet pear mead was good, but their sparkling mead, “Twinkle” was fabulous!

As I have said, the problem with this area is the short distance between the wineries allows no “recovery time” and without much trouble you start feeling the accumulated tastings quickly. So you have to research and pick and choose which wineries to visit in advance. Our tasting room staffer, Chris, had spent some time doing such and gave us six great wineries to stop at. Problem #2 is most of the wineries have extensive wines lists offering 20 or more wines. How to choose which to taste?

The wineries have developed a method for handling this problem, they charge for tastings (!) and they limit your tastings, typically to six. Now, you know from reading my earlier blogs I do not ‘believe’ in paid tastings. I think in these folks case, I agree with their thinking. This region is nationally famous, like Sonoma or Napa in California, and thousands come here to tour and taste weekly. There are people, the staffers told me, who do pay, taste, and leave; it’s what they do. I must admit I would not hesitate to leave without buying if nothing struck my fancy and paying allows me to leave without any guilt about their time or samples provided.

But here’s what won me over in the Finger Lakes, every winery we visited applied your tasting fees ($1-$5 per person) to your purchases. Several were “sloppy” about collecting these fees with us and most gave us more then the five or six taste limit. I still feel paid tastings are a bad idea for Indiana, but I think these people have the right idea for their situation.

BUS TOUR DEADLINE: a reminder that the all deposits for the August 28/29 southern Indiana bus tour must be in by July 10!