Heron HillBlog

Meet our bloggers and find out what's going on at Heron Hill Winery and our other two tasting rooms on Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes! Staff members are writing about the vineyards, what's happening in the cellar, fun events, wine pairings, new releases and more.

Christina Bowe
 
April 21, 2010 | Christina Bowe

On the road in Poughkeepsie

By Christina Bowe, Wholesale Sales Manager

Well, Heron Hill has sent me on another adventure to the Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie to be exact. This area is full of American History. Each time I visit, I learn some new interesting facts.

Poughkeepsie is about 60 miles north of NYC. It is situated on the eastern shores of the Hudson River. To get here you must cross over at the New Paltz exit off the Route 87 (which runs between NYC and Montreal). The Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge was built in the 1930’s and was named after then Governor Roosevelt. This is the sixth largest suspension bridge in the world. I have always wanted to stop on the bridge and take pictures because it has the most amazing view. Unfortunately, my workday ran too late, and I was unable to get to the footbridge that opened last year. However, I will be making a point to do it on my next trip back. 


The Poughkeepsie Bridge (sometimes known as the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, the High Bridge, or since October 3, 2009, the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park) is a steel cantilever bridge spanning the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie, New York on the east bank and Highland, New York on the west bank. Built as a double-track railroad bridge, it was completed on January 1, 1889, and went out of service on May 8, 1974. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It was opened to the public on October 3, 2009, as a pedestrian and cyclist bridge and New York State Park. The weather was beautiful and the bridge was packed with mothers with strollers, lunch break walkers and kids riding bikes. It was awesome.

The accounts I visited today were great! I started out a Milanese Italian Restaurant. This is a family-owned restaurant, it smelled like grandma’s house. Aldo, who now runs the restaurant, was great. They will be pouring Heron Hill Semi-Sweet Riesling as a feature to see how it goes.

Our next stop was Hobnobbin Pub. Merrick and his wife Eileen were great. Pub food and a very relaxed atmosphere. It reminded me of the old television show Cheers where everyone new each other, young and old. They both liked the Dry Riesling and Chardonnay.

Babycakes, located near Vassar College, owners Susan & Jarek Wysocki were familiar with the Eclipse series. I tasted him on the whole lineup and he really liked the Eclipse White for his summer menu, as well as the Unoaked Chardonnay. You will also find the Eclipse Red on the wine menu. This funky European-style eatery offers quality, made-from-scratch food in a casual setting. We ate lunch there and it was fantastic. This is a full-service bar, and Gary mixed us up a Vinotini (1 oz vodka, 1 oz Vidal Blanc and a splash of cranberry). If you are a vodka lover, he has a wide selection of specialty vodkas, not to mention the incredible desserts. I should have eaten dessert first!

Our last stop was called CRAVE. Ed Kowalski (chef/owner) and his staff tasted thru the wines and found a spot for the Unoaked Chardonnay on their list. The menu was a “foodies” dream. The ambiance was quaint and tastefully decorated. I enjoyed my visit and the staff was amazing.

So as you see, my travels have brought me to yet another jewel in our beautiful state, full of history, excellent restaurants and more importantly, fabulous people. Thank you Poughkeepsie, you will be seeing me soon! 

Bernard Cannac
 
April 14, 2010 | Bernard Cannac

What wines at Heron Hill Winery are vegan?

Upon my previous blog about stabilizing the wines prior to bottling, another aspect of preparing a wine for bottling has emerged: what about fining agents used in wine? The fining agents dictate if a wine can be considered vegan or not. Fining agents are used for clarification and stabilization of the wine, but also to smooth out the mouthfeel if necessary, or fix the color on a prematurely oxidized wine. So, technically, bentonite is a fining agent. Remember, we use bentonite to react with proteins and make the wine “heat stable”. Bentonite is a clay of volcanic origin, and is discarded after it settles down to the bottom of the tank.

Tannins are part of a class of compounds called polyphenols. Depending on the growing conditions of a particular vintage, the phenols can vary in quantity and variety. For example, an unripe grape will have very harsh and aggressive tannins which will not age well, or grapes affected by mildew or sour rot will have undesirable compounds in the juice. The remedy is fining. Some tannins also come from the aging in a oak barrel. Sometimes these tannins can be too harsh and fining agents are used to eliminate the undesirable tannins, making the wine taste smoother and less aggressive on the palate.

Fining agents can have different origins: bentonite is a volcanic clay, casein comes from milk, gelatin from animal’s bones or sturgeon’s bladder, albumin from eggs (in the past some fining products were made out of albumin extracted from animal’s blood, but it has been outlawed). Others are synthetic, like PVPP (or PolyVinylPolyPyrolidone. I know it makes me look smart when I drop this word, but since I don’t use this compound, I don’t have many occasions to mention it!).

My understanding is that the use of fining agent of animal origin has made some people feeling uneasy. I’m a meat eater myself, but know that the use of these agents in wine would render it non-vegan. All of the white wines at Heron Hill Winery are treated with bentonite, the volcanic clay. The red wines don’t need to be treated since the barrel aging tends to stabilize them. Pinot Gris is a varietal used in the Eclipse White blend. The Pinot Gris portion is actually treated before the fermentation even starts with a mix of bentonite and casein, to prevent any “pinking” from this varietal. Pinot Blanc is white, Pinot Noir is red, and Pinot Gris (“grey” in French) is in between. Sometimes the fresh juice from Pinot Gris can have a pinkish hue, which can be a problem if it has to be part of a white wine blend. The other wines we treat with this mix are all the Late Harvest and Icewines because they are made from grapes that can be botrytised (“Noble Rot”).

I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I must point out that all these compounds end up at the bottom of the tank after they reacted with the wine. They form big molecules that become too heavy to stay in suspension and drop down. That is why casein, gelatin, and albumin based fining agents are always used in conjunction with bentonite. Bentonite (reacts with proteins) will take care of any excess of protein based fining agent by attaching itself to it and dropping to the bottom of the tank.

So, to clarify for our vegan friends, all of our wines are vegan except for the Eclipse White, Icewine and Late Harvests. If you have any questions, just comment below and I’ll be sure to follow up!

Time Posted: Apr 14, 2010 at 11:11 AM
John Ingle
 
April 8, 2010 | John Ingle

8,000 vines to be planted this spring

By John Ingle, Owner/Grapegrower

Here I go, I’m doing it again – somebody stop me. For almost forty years I’ve had a passion to plant things, especially grapevines. It was 1971 when I first noticed this proclivity. My wife, Joey, and I were recent college grads and were picking up a few bucks helping our neighbor harvest his grapes. We fell in love with the whole experience and cleared some twenty acres of land in preparation to plant grapevines. It was like jumping out of a window without looking. We weren’t farmers and the learning curve was steep. Since then we’ve ripped out vineyards and replanted them – over and over. We’ve also had large gardens every year since our 1971 start. I just love to plant, love to grow, love to harvest. So, this year we are planning a new plantation of vines at Heron Hill on Keuka Lake.

I’ve had some of the oldest vines in the East planted in 1968 but old age and bad weather led to the demise of some 7-8 acres. The last two years we’ve been plowing and preparing the soil and this May in will go over 8,000 vines. The project will include Riesling, Muscat and Vidal varieties in several different clones. There also will be two acres, one each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon at our Canandaigua Vineyard. It will be a big job but we’re very excited about the wines that will be produced at Heron Hill. At least this time I have some 40 years of farming experience to help me with my “growing” pains!
 

Blog Archives
Our Writers