Winter Damage

 

 

Much of my childhood was spent growing up on my mother’s family farm just across the road from our house. Many of my relatives live nearby in houses built on land that was carved out of the original tract of land that my Grandfather began farming in the very early 1900′s.  The number one lesson I learned about the agriculture business was that no

Winter in The Vineyard

Winter in The Vineyard

matter how well prepared and thought out your plans were you are always at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Whether it is corn, wheat or grapes you will always have to be able to cope with constant change and overwhelming problems or you will not succeed.  The vintners in Southwestern and Northwestern Pennsylvania along with their counterparts in the Finger Lakes Region of New York are dealing with the effects of one of the coldest winters in recent memory.  The real damage in Pennsylvania occurred in the Northwest , especially the area around Lake Erie, while the Southwest corner of the state received above average but manageable damage.  I have talked with several winemakers about how this winter effected their vineyards and the following is a summary of what they told me. 

Rich Ripepi of Ripepi Winery in Monongahela, Pa said that they were leaving on extra buds when they pruned to be safe but should have gotten through in “relatively” good shape.   Ray the vineyard manager at Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill, Pa is still accessing his vines but signs are good that the damage isn’t too severe.  Ray told me of a study that he read that noted statistically a vineyard in the Northeast will be devastated on average once every ten years but he has been lucky to have been spared so far.  Tod Manspeaker of Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery in Bedford, Pa grows only vinifera vines in his vineyard.  Tod has observed that certain varieties have suffered more than others with the average bud loss in the 50% range.  To compensate for the loss Tod is leaving secondary and tertiary buds by pruning less and leaving four canes instead of two.  This makes more work this year and much more work next year to clean up but by doing this Tod is expecting a normal crop.  Paul Vezzetti from The Vineyard at Hershey in Middletown, Pa tells me that South Central Pennsylvania was on the border of the coldest weather this winter.  He attributes the many cultural practices implemented before their initial planting in 2009 for mitigating much of this years temperature issues.  By postponing pruning until after the worst winter weather had passed Paul was able to adjust his pruning plan to compensate for any winter damage found in the vineyard.  Paul also predicts that anyone that hasn’t been as fortunate as he was to experience only small losses can expect to face a substantial rise in cost when they have to buy grapes from another vineyard with whom they don’t already have an established relationship. 

Marti Macinski of Standing Stone Winery & Vineyard in Hector, NY tells me the Finger Lakes Region was hit very hard with many vineyards losing 100% of this years crop.  She is fortunate that her vineyard is on the southeastern shore of Seneca Lake and benefits from a temperature moderating effect that has led to the area being nicknamed the “Banana Belt”.  The Standing Stone Vineyard has received some damage but the damage can be offset by leaving extra buds to produce a nearly normal crop.  Marti has to wait until the growing season gets underway before she can tell if there is any vine damage. 

     Marti and all winemakers know that maintaining a vineyard can be a brutal and unforgiving undertaking but one that does come with great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when everything goes right.  I wish all the producers my very best and want them to know that I have the utmost respect for their perseverance and passion with which they pursue their craft.  

 

 

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Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery

 

Briar Valley Vineyard  Photo Courtesy: Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery

Briar Valley Vineyard Photo Courtesy: Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery

     I was very happy to hear from Tod & Jean Manspeaker, owners of Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery in historic Bedford, Pennsylvania.  I am grateful they took the time away from pruning the vines, work that was delayed due to the persistent winter weather, to let me know Briar Valley Winery will be releasing their 2013 Riesling within the next few weeks.  Riesling from this producer has won some very impressive awards in the recent past and I expect this latest release to be one that will bring home more medals for the winery.  Everyone at Briar Valley Winery are very proud of their involvement in community affairs but their efforts don’t stop there, they have joined with other local businesses to do fundraisers notably “Dinner in the Vineyard” which benefits Downtown Bedford Inc.  “First Friday Unwind at the Winery” is a monthly event that brings live musical entertainment to the Briar Valley tasting room in downtown Bedford.  The tasting room is housed in a restored building that was a café and soda shop in its former life.  The hardwood floors and ornate tin tile ceiling that remain from the early days only add to the charm of the tasting room experience.  This is a winery that has produced numerous award-winning wines and continues to do so with amazing consistency.  You may not be familiar with this excellent Pennsylvania winery but now that you know about it you shouldn’t miss the chance to try any of the wines produced by Jean and Tod at Briar Valley Winery.  For more information click, call or visit at http://www.briarvalleywinery.com    814-623-0900   107 E. Pitt St Bedford, Pa

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Westmoreland Co. Courthouse Wine Tasting

wagner-grapes.jpgWestmoreland Community Action will host their 12th Annual Wine Tasting Event on Friday, April 11, 2014 from 4:30-8:30pm at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg, Pa.  Click on the link to see the ad for this event. Wine Tasting Ticket 2014

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Hobbs & Selbach Partner in FLX

Finger Lakes Riesling

Finger Lakes Riesling

World-famous vintners Paul Hobbs of California and Johannes Selbach of the Mosel valley in Germany have recently announced their partnership in the acquisition of a 65-acre property in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York.  The new vineyards will be on the southeastern slopes of Seneca Lake overlooking Watkins Glen and will be producing Riesling, the signature grape and wine of the region.  The first vines are not expected to be planted until next year, which means that we will have to wait patiently to compare these winemakers style and quality to that of the established FLX producers.  I envision this venture providing only positive benefits for the region by drawing curious visitors to the lakes.  Once in the area the tourists will soon discover the abundance of world-class wineries that populate the shores of the Finger Lakes.  Just like the music fan that goes to a festival to see a star headliner only to find that they like the lesser-known artists even more, I believe this will shine a bright spotlight on these talented winemakers and showcase their exceptional wines.

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Narcisi Winery Hosts Regional Wine Dinner

Photo Courtesy: Narcisi Winery

Photo Courtesy: Narcisi Winery

     Narcisi Winery will host a Regional Wine Dinner featuring the wine and cuisine of the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy.  The event will be held at the winery at 4578 Gibsonia Rd. Gibsonia, Pa beginning at 6:30 pm on March 27, 2014. The cost is $55 per person and reservations can be made by calling 412-444-4744.  I have included the menu for the dinner, click the link to view.  TRENTINO+2+Main+Menu    www.narcisiwinery.com

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Paper Boy Winery & Paper Wine Bottles

Photo Courtsey: Paper Boy Winery

Photo Courtsey: Paper Boy Winery

     I read an interesting article in Wine Spectator about an alternative to iconic wine bottle.  Truett-Hurst of Healdsburg, California in partnership with Greenbottle, a United Kingdom-based company, has developed and introduced a bottle made from recycled cardboard.  The “Bottle” has a screw top and a plastic liner.  The packaging can be recycled by breaking the shell open and separating the individual components.  The paper bottle provides better insulation than glass and can withstand the cold water of an ice bucket for about one hour.  The paper bottle is 85% lighter than glass which equates to lower shipping costs that in turn reduces the carbon footprint of the entire operation. I have included a link to a Wine Spectator video about the Paper Boy Winery and their innovative paper wine bottle.  www.winespectator.com/video/paperbottle

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Western Pa Winery & Brewery Website Debut

Ripepi Vineyards

Ripepi Vineyards

I would like to invite you to view a website I started to promote the wineries and breweries of Western Pennsylvania.  The site has lists of wineries and breweries with their addresses and contact information.  I have also included event schedules for the next two months.  Other content includes pages dedicated to Finger Lake Wineries, wine & beer related news and galleries of local photos.  Please take a minute to look at this site and see what it has to offer.  If you find it helpful please mention it in your social media with a “Like” or a “Tweet”. Thanks!  Here is a link to the site  http://wpawinepirate.wix.com/wpawinepirateevents/#

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L.C.B. Discontinues Tableleaf Wines

     The Liquor Control Board of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday, February 19, 2014 that Tableleaf, their in-house brand of wine, will be discontinued.  The remaining stock will be sold at discounts of $2 to $3 per bottle.  Vinestone, another in-house brand was discontinued last year.  The L.C.B. developed seven other in-house brands but the fate of those labels has yet to be determined.

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Martha Macinski: Winemaker, Standing Stone Winery

Tom and Marti Macinski   Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Vineyards

Tom and Marti Macinski Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Vineyards

     I would like to congratulate the entire Standing Stone Winery family for being chosen to have their 2012 Riesling served at the 2014 Super Bowl Media Party.  Standing Stone Winery was also mentioned by James Molesworth in Wine Spectator Magazine this month as a Finger Lakes winery that should be sought out for their excellent Riesling.  Martha (Marti) Macinski has again provided me with a candid glimpse inside the winery from her unique perspective as both owner and winemaker.

     The winery is relatively calm this time of year but some structural work is being done in the vineyards on the posts and wires so there will be no delay when the time comes to prune and tie the vines.  Jess, the assistant winemaker, is planning the upcoming bottling runs along with monitoring the fermentation of the dessert wines.  The pressing of the frozen grapes is close to completion with only a small amount left unfinished.  Marti is excited about the 2013 vintage calling it “Truly spectacular with lovely ripe and rich flavors, near perfect fruit chemistry to make the winemaking work go smoothly.”  Her only problem was figuring out where to put this very abundant crop.  Assessment of the vines will be made next week when they will prune as needed to balance out any damage caused by the severe weather.  She isn’t expecting to find much of an issue because when the temperature dropped below zero the wind blew hard off the unfrozen lake circulating the “warm” air around the vineyards buffering them from the extreme cold. 

     I would like to thank Marti for taking the time and effort to keep me informed of the activities at Standing Stone Winery.  When you are in the Finger Lakes Region plan a stop at Standing Stone to taste their superb wines and say “Hello” to Marti.  www.standingstonewines.com

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Sunset Cafe Wine Tasting Dinner

Graphics Courtesy: Sunset Cafe

Noviello’s Sunset Café is at 302 South Urania Ave Greensburg, Pa 15601. 724-834-9903 www.sunsetcafe.com

 

 

 

 

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