Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stuffy head...

Ok, I will admit it, I have a cold and I have had a cold for about a week. It’s a sinus thing, I am not contagious (probably) and the only problem with the cold, other then the sniffing-wiping-coughing is, I cannot taste wine correctly.

Yep, when you have a cold you do not taste wine correctly or rather, as it really tastes because your olfactory sense is shut down or at least, inhibited. So here I am bottling wine and blending away without being able to get a fair idea what the wine tastes like.

So I call the wife out and say, “Taste this!” Now my wife prefers dry white wines, but has a good feel for what our customers will like, but she almost always says, “Not sweet enough!” So I adjust the sweetness and hand her another sample until we get it right and that’s what we did last night.

I was bottling another batch of a new wine for us, a blueberry we call STOCKDALE, and had a small batch of cherry wine I had not finished, which I did bottle called ROANN. Now these are still what I call in the “test phase” as I tweak the recipe for the new ’09 vintage, but we would appreciate your comments on both wines.

I have gotten two new wine labels approved, VAN BUREN and EEL RIVER follows our policy of using local names for our local wines. I do not know what each will be, but we got a few surprises coming we hope you will enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The next big event in our winery’s calendar is the Cheesecake Festival and as you might recall, it has been one of our biggest events year after year. BUT in 2010 we have had several events that have reached the popularity of this fun day of eating and sipping. The Spring Open House was a hit and I am sure many readers were present for the recent Chocolate Festival that found us swamped with customers.

As mentioned, the Cheesecake Festival will be held Saturday, September 18 from 1-6 pm at the winery. Amateur and professional cheesecake-makers (cheesecakes are not “baked” I have learned) are invited to submit their best creation for judging prior to that date during our regular business hours. The deadline for professional entries is 2 pm day-of and amateurs by 4 pm. The professional entries will be judged by the public, who will vote for their favorite. The amateurs will be judged by a panel from the Oak Hill Wine Club with the panel kept secret to avoid proffered bribes, frankly they are susceptible.

We are very busy in the wine “cellar” as the harvest progresses, getting things straightened up, barrels cleaned, tanks readied. I have been working on the new press, getting it ready for its first pressing. We have several new labels being printed, a few new wines in the works, and a couple of surprises yet to be announced (building suspense).

I was asked recently why I do not review other wines on my blog here and I replied “Its not a wine review blog!” Plus I want people to buy wine they like and I do mention wine I found and like; like ‘Tre Blanc’ from Casa Largo and ‘Twinkle’ from the NY meadery. So I do, kind’a, review some wines…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Late Summer Update

This is the busy time of year! Why? Because we face the oncoming CRUSH! Ok, that’s wine-speak for the harvest and this year is particularly interesting because the excessive heat has ripened the grapes better and faster than usual.

We like to get a load of Chardonnel grapes every year from southern Indiana and we often pick these up around Labor Day. My guy called me and said, “They’re ready, come get them this weekend!” Getting grapes WEEKS early then usual and with better sugar and acid than ever before is exciting for a winemaker.

We picked up a new wine press from another winery that was upgrading, so we can now process ¾ of a ton instead of 100lbs at a pressing. That will save time and allow us to buy more local fruit than ever before, although the press needs a little work, but we got a great deal on it!

Our business continues to grow, which surprises me a bit. I thought after seven years sales would level off, but we continue to see an uptick in the number of people through our doors, although since the economy crashed our sale-per-ticket is down. So we are attracting more new people to the winery but they buy less per visit than they did two years ago. Hummm…

One problem we are having is we are running out of the 2008 vintage before the 2009 is ready to bottle, oops! Our popular BUNKER HILL is almost gone and will not be back until probably November, along with its dry version, SEVEN PILLARS. This is due to us taking late delivery on some grape juice to allow us to process our new line of dry reds we got last September.

Our new vintage of Niagara wines is very different this year, the FAIRMOUNT has some interesting flavors I have never gotten before, overtones of honey and pear. Its good, but its nothing like its 2008 vintage. JALAPA is the dry version and I have not released the 2009 as we finish up the 2008 vintage. I would call this Michigan-grown grape much softer and less acidic then the last batch.

We are very excited about our 2009 dry Riesling, which has matured very nicely over the past few months. Our 2008 vintage IRON BRIDGE has been popular and one of my favorites, but I think the 2009 will stand up very well to it. We hope to have it in the shop in the next two weeks!

The Summer Wine Club (its full, sorry) bus tour is just around the corner and we are enthused to be visiting several new wineries most of us have never been to. River City Winery in New Albany is hosting us for a tasting and dinner on Saturday and Best Vineyards is one of the Sunday stops. Its always fun to visit new wineries and these are mostly those along the Ohio River, so we don’t get down there too often.

If you have a question about wine, winemaking, or the Oak Hill Winery in genral, write at and we'll try to answer it here!