Harvest 2019 is officially in the books, just in time for our first substantial snowfall!
Because of the weather, harvest started a little late this year. Which can mean one of two things, it will last longer than normal, or it will be compressed into a smaller harvest window. This year the latter was the case. We started with Baco Noir on September 13th and Cabernet Sauvignon came in on Halloween.
This is my fifth harvest up on the Hill. Over the last two harvests, which were really large, we really stretched the capacity of the facility. With a smaller harvest this year, tonnage wise, we are able to try some new things that some years we don’t have time for. A good portion of these projects revolve around estate grown fruit.
For the first time since my arrival in 2015, we are going to make a barrel fermented, Ingle Vineyard Chardonnay. It will be in 50% new French oak and 50% 3-year-old America, French and Hungarian barrels as well. Part of the lot was on skins for 6 hours in the press to pull out more Chardonnay character from the skins.
My assistant Sam and I are also doing side by side yeast trials with two tanks of Ingle Vineyard Riesling. Will one win out over the other or will they be better blended? Stay tuned...
We are experimenting with the Keuka Lake Estate Riesling crop out in front of the winery and fermenting in flex tanks and neutral oaks.
So what is a flex tank? A flex tank allows one to control the amount of oak put in the wine. It also has the same porosity of a two-year-old barrel. This will be done to give a different structure and mouthfeel to our reserve wine.
Lastly, we will be making a Late Harvest Riesling this year from Ingle Vineyard fruit that was picked on Monday, November 11th. We try this as not to be at the mercy of mother nature but hopefully to make a product like the 2017 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc that many loved, that is now sold out.
Even though we didn't have to press any grapes in the wind driven snow like we did last year, we did end the year with a very long Saturday of pressing the grapes that were left so we could get it done before the first expected snowfall that hit the region this week. This would be a great time to take a few days off and catch up on some sleep, but we have 2018 wines to be bottled and 2019 wines to be made. There's no rest for the wicked when you're a winemaker.
Walking out of the vineyard with sticky fingers and a purple mouth, it's shaping up to be a fantastic 2019 vintage. We had setbacks early on with some rot from the rain in the Pinot Noir. We dropped almost a ton of grapes into buckets to be added to compost, then made some beautiful juice from the remainder. Shortly after, we picked what was left of Pinot Noiron September 30th. It was a smaller quantity but the numbers look great.
The other varieties are looking absolutely beautiful. A little over 10 tons of Chardonnay grapes were bright gold and came in at 21.7° brix at harvest on October 10th and 11th. We picked about 1.5 tons of Merlot on Saturday the 12th followed by Blaufrankisch on Monday and Tuesday. The Blaufrankisch grape bunches were a beautiful deep purple and the crop was of good size and great quality. We worked hard to pick them so we could get them off the vine before the expected rain.
We picked Cabernet Sauvignon Friday morning and we still have Cabernet Franc and Riesling hanging and those will be picked within the week. We plan to leave some rows of Riesling to hang on the vines a bit longer to make a late harvest this year, which is always a great addition to our lineup of Rieslings.
The Blue Heron Café opens for the 2019 season the weekend of May 18th. We are excited to welcome our new chef, Susan Milovich. Originally a New York native, she has held many culinary positions while living in Florida and Virginia. Her and her husband are planting some roots here in the Finger Lakes – a perfect landscape to continue her culinary career.
Over the years, she has developed a keen sense of pairing food and wine via participation in a number of wine clubs particularly in New York, California and Virginia where she and her husband Matt led tastings for award winning wine maker Steve Bottelier at the AmRhein’s wine cellars. She now looks forward to bringing this mélange of experience into her own creations at Heron Hill.
Susan can't wait to share her love for food and wine, and is ready to make her mark in the Finger Lakes culinary scene with a new and inspring menu for the Blue Heron Café!
Her first gig was for the Keuka Lake Wine Trail's Wine and Herb weekend. Our herb was thyme - and she utilized it so well! We had 2 different sample dishes, one savory, and one sweet. Susan prepared a Mushroom Bouchée and a Butter and Thyme Tart square.
We were really loving the earthiness of the mushroom and thyme, and the creaminess of the goat cheese from local dairy and cheese producer, Lively Run, so we decided to share the recipe with you!
Mushroom Bouchée makes a wonderful small bite at your next gathering and a delicious compliment to a crisp, white wine or lighter bodied red wine. We were loving it with our Lady of the Lakes Bubbly Riesling. See the recipe below + if you like it - share it!
Every year, when Earth Day rolls around, it gives us a great opportunity to share our goals and vision for sustainable grape growing - but we strive to communicate our mission every day: to educate and inform customers who enjoy our wines about how and why our efforts make a difference.
This year, we are really able to bring this more full circle. In the beginning of the year, owners of Heron Hill and grape growers, John and Jo Ingle, were awarded Grape Grower of the Year by the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. This award is given out to a grower in New York State that should be recongized for their dedication and contributions to the New York grape industry.
John and Jo have been sustainably growing grapes on the Western Shores of Canandaigua and Keuka Lakes in the Finger Lakes since 1972, making them one of the original pioneers of the Finger Lakes wine business.
Though we are not certified organic, we pride ourselves on using sustainable practices in the vineyards that we cultivate on Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes. At Heron Hill and Ingle Vineyard we don’t use harsh fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides. (Due to our sometimes humid climate we maintain a fungicide spray program that only selects specific targets thus reducing the need to “blanket” spray.)
In May, we will cultivate the center rows which loosen up the soil, allowing moisture to seep into the ground, and we follow up with a cover crop that will grow and help prevent the errosion of the soil and soil compaction.
Ingle Vineyards, West side of Canandaigua Lake
When it comes to marketing and positioning our wines so that our customers know about our efforts in the vineyard to be sustainable, a lot of it starts in conversation in our tasting rooms. We feel it's important for a consumer to know where our products come from, how it was made or grown, that it's more healthful and that it's produced by caring, conscientious people.
If you've visited Heron Hill or have enjoyed a Heron Hill wine, you probably are familiar with the Ingle Vineyard series. Our Ingle Vineyard wines consist of Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, The Chosen Spot blend and coming soon, a Blaufränkisch. All of these wines are single-vineyard wines that are made with sustainably farmed grapes from John and Jo's vineyards. If you haven't yet enjoyed one of these wines - now you surely have a reason!
It's very important to us to farm sustainably so that all who enjoy Heron Hill wines form a trust in our brand. We strive to make an impact on all who consume our products while also helping make a difference in the world. We want to ensure our farms have a viable future for generations to come.
Learn more about our sustainable farming practices.
The holidays season, Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, also marks the most popular time of year for couples to get engaged. Once the rush of holiday parties passes, the newly betrothed embark on the journey of planning their most special day. Choosing a venue and announcing a wedding date are likely the first large tasks a couple faces together. With so many choices and questions to be considered, and family members opinions to manage, it can quickly turn into a season of stress and confusion for the newly engaged.
As the Wedding Coordinator at Heron Hill Winery, my ever-present goal is to assist couples to stay in a space of joy as they set out to choose where they will celebrate their dream wedding. If you or someone you love is newly engaged, I offer these tips to keep the focus on the love and joy that brought you to this point.
Images by LoveWell Weddings - a dynamite wedding photographer we would recommend to capture your day.
- Decide together what type of feel you want for your celebration before you start your venue search. Do you want a formal affair or relaxed summer party, or somewhere in between? What will match who you are as a couple and make it feel unique and personal to your love story? As you search for and tour venues, keep coming back to what you decided as a couple you want the day to feel like for your guests. Choose the venue that aligns with the vibe you envision the most and you will have less effort and costs overall in creating the atmosphere you want for your day.
- Determine the size of your wedding. Come up with an estimated guest count together before you tour venues that can not accommodate you. Remember to calculate that between 10 to 20 percent of your invited guest list will decline.
- Be flexible with your date and finding the perfect venue will be easier. Hold off on choosing and announcing a date until you have booked your venue.
- Know your budget and only tour venues that accommodate it. Being entranced by a setting you could never afford has you managing disappointment along with every other heightened emotion wedding planning can cause. Contact the venue and ask for a formal quote, and what is and what is not included, before booking a tour.
- Know how hands on you want to be. Every venue varies in what set up and clean up is included or not. A rustic barn may have you hanging lights and renting all the tables and chairs and setting them up yourselves. That likely means you will be tearing it all down yourself, as well. How do you want to spend your wedding day from start to finish? Hands on or doted upon? It is a very important decision to answer before you search for venues.
- Identify what you can and can’t control and then let go. Weather cannot be controlled. Fretting about the rain in June or the heat in August is a waste of precious energy that could be spent on joy. Focus on the details that you can plan together and let your day unfold happily without letting things you cannot control dampen your bliss.
Being engaged should be joyful and set the tone for not only your wedding day but the life you seek to build together. Take advantage of this time of year for your wedding planning, many venues and vendors offer specials knowing it is engagement season! At Heron Hill, from now through February, we are offering a free ceremony (value of $800) to couples who book their 2019 wedding date. If you dream of your day being set in the rustic elegance of FLX Wine Country, where your guests can enjoy a summer or early fall evening overlooking the vineyards that surround Keuka Lake, please give me a call or visit our wedding homepage for more details. I look forward to putting a glass of wine in your hand while we discuss your vision for your celebration and tour our beautiful grounds together.
Happy new year and happy engagement!
Love and Joy,
For decades, Heron Hill Winery has been commited to making superior cool-climate wines but also giving back to the local Finger Lakes and western New York community. Owners, John and Josephine Ingle are particularly passionate about programs and organizations that benefit conservation, arts, and family services. In 2016, the winery started a charity wine program that would benefit a local non-for-profit organization that they support. The Seneca White Deer Inc. was the receipent for last year's donations.
This is a perfect time to give you all a recap and update on the Seneca White Deer Inc. and how the $4,500 we were able to raise helped them out! The mission of the organization is to preserve the unique wildlife and military history of the former Seneca Army Depot through conservation, ecotourism and economic development. White deer and other wildlife occupy the land.
With the help of our charity wine program, as well as other many generous donors, the organization will begin to offer full-scale bus tours at the former Army Depot starting this fall as well as updating visitor facilities. The tours will feature the world’s largest herd of white, white-tail deer, other wildlife and military and historic artifacts. These tours will offer a unique experience for tourists and have potential to provide substantial economic benefits to the Seneca County community. Thank you to everyone who purchased the "Save the White Deer" Riesling-Chardonnay wine. The contribution will help in their fundraising and conservation efforts to continue to save the white deer, preserve the land and increase visitation to the area. To check out more information on Seneca White Deer or how you can help, visit senecawhitedeer.org.
This year, we're happy to announce that we are partnering with The EquiCenter in Honeoye Falls, NY.
Heron Hill Winery has been supporting the organization for several years starting when John Ingle installed raised beds to kickstart their gardening program. The EquiCenter is a 501(c)(3) organization that offers therapeutic equine programs for those with disabilities, veterans, at-risk youth and their families to help foster personal growth and achievement. They continue to expand their offerings to fit the needs of the people they serve such as canine-assisted activities, adaptive yoga and farm-to-table culinary classes. President and CEO at the Equicenter, Jonathan Friedlander, states that he is "so honored to be chosen for this year's charity for Heron Hill Winery. Our programs will benefit greatly from this partnership".
Pictured on the right: Eric Frarey, COO of Heron Hill Winery, John Ingle, Owner of Heron Hill Winery, Howie Jacobson, Board of Directors Member at EquiCenter and Jonathan Friedlander, President and CEO of EquiCenter
With each case sold of the wine, $24 will go directly to benefit The EquiCenter. The wine will be released in all three Heron Hill tasting rooms on Keuka, Seneca and Canandaigua Lake, some wine retailers within Ontario & Monroe County and online on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017. The bottle will retail for $19.99. For the release, each of the Heron Hill tasting rooms will have complimentary samples of the wine. A representative from the EquiCenter will be at the Keuka Lake Tasting Room from 2-6 pm, and our Summer Happy Hour and live music will follow at 5 pm.
Lastly, you're probably wondering what the wine tastes like! After we bottled the wine, our winemaker, Barry brought out the wine for us to try. The approachable, semi-dry wine consists of 70% Riesling and 30% Chardonnay, both varieties that truly show what we're all about here. On the nose, you might find notes of honeysuckle like I did. The wine boasts flavors of orange blossom and manderin with a zesty finish. About 200 cases were produced of this wine, and it's guarenteed to sell out fast. Visit any 3 of our tasting rooms to get your hands on this wine while supporting this great cause or purchase them here!
After three years of super cold winters, devastating spring frosts and greatly reduced grape yields, 2016 was a relatively benign winter with minimal frost incidents and, thankfully, a normal to above normal crop size. Throw in a hot, dry summer and we have a recipe for a superb harvest. The reds have deep color and robust flavors, the whites are full bodied and rich and our first dry rosés in over ten years are very intriguing. Great cause for excitement and celebration. Going into 2017, our fortieth vintage, we have great wines in the tanks and barrels and exciting plans for the new year including our first Grüner Veltliner wine, an anniversary celebration and two dry rosé offerings. As the winter progresses we will develop these projects in plan for a memorable 2017 for all.
Heron Hill Winery presented a donation in the amount of $4,500 to Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD) at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection office on December 6, 2016 in Canandaigua, NY. In May 2016 Heron Hill Winery released a new Riesling-Chardonnay blend under the Save the White Deer label with proceeds from each bottle sold going directly back to SWD. Thanks to our fantastic customers for showing their support of the Seneca White Deer, the wine sold out in less than four months!
Since 2010 Heron Hill has partnered with SWD in an effort to raise awareness and funds to benefit SWD’s work preserving the unique and treasured animals and their habitat.
"Heron Hill Winery is not only intent on making superior wines but also in giving back to the community. We are very fortunate to have partnered with Heron Hill and we sincerely appreciate this wonderful donation which will be used to further our efforts to protect this unique resource for the world to be able to enjoy," says Dennis Money, president of SWD.
"A lifelong commitment to conservation and philanthropy from our founders John and Josephine Ingle remains an integral part of our business plan at Heron Hill", stated Eric Frarey, Chief Operating Officer. "The wine and donation program were truly embraced by consumers and our entire production was sold out in a short time," Frarey also noted.
To learn more about Seneca White Deer, Inc. visit their web site at senecawhitedeer.org or contact the president. Heron Hill Winery is celebrating 40 years of excellence in 2017. Through the decades, Heron Hill has been committed to supporting conservation in the Finger Lakes region.
This year the Keuka Lake Wine Trail's Keuka Holidays event weekends both sold out by early. We are very thankful that so many people have chosen to celebrate the beginning of their holiday season by visiting our wineries. Once again, the ornament you receive at Heron Hill Winery was made by a local craftsperson. I'm also very excited to share the Mushroom Burgundy Soup recipe below from Blue Heron Cafe because it's so easy and so flavorful!
6 cups of milk
3 cups chopped button mushrooms
1⁄2 diced red onion
1⁄2 bunch of diced green onions
1⁄2 cup chicken stock
1⁄2 cup of Eclipse Red
2 tablespoons of garlic
2 tsp of sage Day-old bread (any type)
1 cup Asiago cheese
In a medium-hot pan with olive oil, sauté the garlic until almost soft then add in the red and green onion. Sweat the onions then add in the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are tender add in the Eclipse Red wine to deglaze. Once the red wine reduces add in the chicken stock and cook for about 5-6 minutes and add milk, leaving on low simmering for about 20 minutes. Add in the sage, salt and pepper to your liking. Once the soup thickens turn off and wait about 10 minutes before serving to cool down the soup. Once cooled top with home style croutons.
TO MAKE HOMESTYLE CROUTONS:
Cut bread into small cubes and toast. Once toasted, toss in olive oil and toss with salt & pepper and top with shredded Asiago cheese.
Heron Hill's Classic Muscat is made with Valvin Muscat, a cross of Muscat Ottonel and Melon Muscat. It's very aromatic and slightly sweet with tropical fruit flavors. The current sale price on this wine makes it a great value for holiday entertaining. Here are two holiday recipes utilizing this wine.
Easy Wine Brine for Turkey
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 quart vegetable stock
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 bottle Heron Hill Muscat
Heat vegetable stock with brown sugar and salt until completely dissolved. Transfer to a shallow pan and chill for 10 minutes.
Mix all remaining ingredients in a very large stock pot or plastic bin (that will fit in your fridge). Place your turkey in the brine and submerge completely. Cover tightly and keep refrigerated for 48 hours, turning once every 12 hours. Remove turkey from brine and roast as you normally would. Discard any leftover brine.
Sweet & Spicy Ham Glaze
2 cups Heron Hill Muscat (this leaves enough for the cook to enjoy while making dinner)
1 pound of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of creole spice mix (such as Tony Chachere’s)
½ cup spicy brown mustard
Juice from one can of pineapple rings
Mix in a saucepan and heat on low stirring it every few minutes.
I use a spiral sliced ham to make carving easier but if you like big, rustic slices buy a ham that has not been pre-sliced.
Place pineapple rings on surface of your fully cooked ham and put a maraschino cherry in the center of each securing with a toothpick.
Pour glaze over entire ham and bake (covered) for 3 hours at 300 degrees.
Remove cover (foil or pan lid) and baste with glaze in the pan. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for an additional 25-30 minutes to brown nicely.