By John Ingle, Owner/Grapegrower
The end of the harvest season is a time of mixed emotions. There is the feeling of satisfaction and completeness as another vintage comes full cycle and all the work – pruning, tying, cultivating, picking, etc. yields the bounty of a successful harvest. There is the apprehension as to how the wine will turn out. Will the Rieslings and Chardonnays be crisp and bright, will the Pinot Noirs and Cabernets be rich and bold, will the dessert wines be tantalizing? As the baton is passed from grower to winemaker, there is a bond and a trust that is renewed and cemented every year.
Along with the completion of the vineyard harvest, there is also the grand finale of the garden growing season. The freezer is full of bags of peas, spinach, beans and all kinds of berry fruits. The root cellar is loaded up with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, cabbages, onions and brussels sprouts. The little freezer has sweet cider and grape juice, frozen so that it will be as fresh and delicious all winter as it was the day it was pressed. It all adds up to a lot of work that has been accomplished and the prospect of a long, cold winter enjoying the fruits and bounties of our labor. The cycle of life: plan-work-produce-enjoy-plan again.
By John Ingle, Winery Owner
Fall is my favorite season. I love the peace of winter, the promise of spring, the activity of summer, but the bounty of the harvest is what makes Autumn so rewarding. When you throw in the beautiful colors, the crisp air and all the food from the garden and it’s a soul-satisfying time of year. Right now we’re eating sweet, fragrant melons, plum cabbages, nutty winter squash, apples and seedless grapes.
All the planning last winter, the planting last spring, the hoeing and mulching this summer pays off in fruits and vegetables to freeze, store and eat fresh. Going into October we’re focused on the harvest in the vineyard as well. Slowly, day-by-day, the brix (sugar level) increases and we taste the berries for signs of maturation. It’s a waiting game, greatly influenced by Mother Nature, requiring patience and a positive attitude.
Right now it appears that Pinot Noir will be picked first – they look clean and ripe but need another week. The bees like Pinot Noir and cause more damage than one would imagine. Next will be Chardonnay, already turning gold and plump – a tougher grape that can take some rain or cold if need be. Later in the season, the Cabernet Franc which is very slow to turn blue and ripen this year will be picked and finally our beloved Riesling. It will probably be November before the Riesling is ready to go. We also have plans to make Icewine so this will be a long, busy, patient fall.
There’s some big news here at Heron Hill Winery. We are thrilled to be named as one of the 10 Most Spectacular Tasting Rooms in the World by Travel + Leisure Magazine! Only two were listed in the US: Heron Hill and Opus One in CA. This is a feather in the cap of the Finger Lakes region and an honor for all of us at the winery. I called the architect and builder and congratulated them on the big news this morning, Charles Warren of NYC was the architect and Chrisanntha Construction Coorporation was the contractor. Cheers to you both!
A big part of our vision for Heron Hill Winery is sunshine, music and being able to enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace. The sunshine we’re working on, the glass of wine we’ve got nailed and the music – that is a key ingredient to any and all Ingle activities. There is a lot going on with Heron Hill and music this summer. There's free, live music every Saturday for Tunes on the Terrace from 12:30 - 4:30. Some greats are playing like PJ Elliott, Brett Beardslee and Bill Brown.
Jo and I have both loved music all our lives, Jo is from Motown, need I say more? I love all kinds of music and have followed “Wilmer and the Dukes”, Rochester’s #1 soul music band through high school and college. We met at the University of Denver when we were youngsters and when I found out that Jo had heard of the Dukes, I knew I had found someone special.
In the past several years the winery has sponsored the Doobie Brothers, Susan Tedeschi, Bob Weir, The Rochester Jazz Festival, Rochester Summerfest and many other music extravaganzas. This year we’re proud to sponsor the music and entertainment tent at the 1st Finger Lakes Riesling Festival in Canandaigua this August 15th and 16th. Some of the bands that will be playing are Shama Lama, Blues Family Show Band, Wild Nik West, Campbell Brothers and Nik and the Nice Guys. We are also sponsoring the RPO ROCks beer and wine tasting event with the The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra this July 24th and 25th in Rochester, NY. The RPO is going to be playing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, my kind of music!
The highlight of every summer though, is relaxing in the afternoon sitting on the terrace in the sunshine, enjoying a glass of crisp, zestful Riesling and savoring the sounds of one of our great local bands. Be it rock, blues, country or jazz, it soothes the soul and puts a smile on your face. Take some time to visit our “spectacular tasting room” to taste some of our wines and enjoy our local musicians. It’s the simple things in life that please the most and I’ve found one or is that three or four?
By John Ingle, Winery Owner
May is Riesling month here in the Finger Lakes and we’re doing our part! We’re offering free shipping for six or more bottles of any of our nine styles of Riesling. This includes Dry, Semi-Dry, Semi-Sweet, Late Harvest, Icewine and Reserves. Since it’s Riesling month, Heron Hill will be featuring a special Riesling tasting flight. $5 to taste Old Vines Riesling Reserve, Ingle Vineyard Riesling, Dry Riesling, Semi-Dry Riesling, Semi-Sweet Riesling and Late Harvest Riesling.
On the vineyard side of things, another cold and anxious night has passed in the Finger Lakes. That “hold your breath” silence is the plight of virtually every grape grower in the region as we collectively pay the price for several days into the 90’s almost two weeks ago. That surge of temperature has accelerated the progress of bud break into the danger zone. Once the vine wakes up and those little “grape nuts” begin to swell and open, they are very susceptible to frost. Each bud holds 2-3 bunches of grapes and if we get temperatures down into the 20’s then those buds and bunches will be damaged.
Last year it was 28 degrees on May 1st and there was damage in frost prone areas, this year all the buds are out and everyone is affected by the possibility of widespread damage. Keep your fingers crossed, watch the thermometer and think of your local grape (and apple) grower!
Posted by John Ingle 0 comments Labels: John, Winery Owner
WEDNESDAY, MAY 6, 2009
What my personal favorites are at the winery
By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager
Upon your visit to Heron Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes, you will find me inside our barrel-vaulted tasting hall. Starting now and continuing into the end of November, this is where I spend most of my time. I am the Tasting Hall Manager for Heron Hill Winery. I thrive on tasting, comparing and educating myself on Heron Hill’s award-winning wines. We have so much to offer in the way of different wines!
I prefer the fuller bodied dry reds and love to drink a crisp dry white in the summer time. Some of my personal favorites are our Eclipse Red and White. They are blends that suit almost everyone. Blends are wines that are made up of a variety of two or more different grapes. I feel that they are often greater than the sum of their parts. They can be smoother and better tasting with more balance than their varietal counterparts.
I think that the best bonus for the Eclipse bottles, besides tasting great, is that they are such beautiful bottles. Being an artist myself, I am intrigued by the way the consumers are so attracted to the bottles. I love watching the faces at the tasting bar as I present the Eclipse series. I have never seen so many faces light up, especially when I tell them that our retail store has Eclipse bottle oil decanters available to take home!!
I am very excited about the Riesling tasting flight that we are offering here at the winery for May is Riesling Month. You can try 6 Rieslings for only $5 per person. My favorite Riesling is the Old Vines Riesling. It is a must for the hot summer months that are soon to come (…hopefully!). I love to drink it when I am sitting on the dock at my grandparent’s cottage here on Keuka Lake. Pairing it with a crisp vinaigrette salad topped with grilled chicken is my absolute favorite. Just a note: We are currently on the last of the 2005 vintage of the Old Vines Riesling Reserve, but I have tasted the 2007 vintage and it is just as good…and maybe better even though it is a little younger.
Don’t forget to come and visit me at the winery, we are always here to answer all your questions. The laid back style of wine tasting that we offer here makes your tasting fun and relaxing. Remember my motto, “There are no dumb questions!”
It’s early March and Mother Nature is gradually loosening her icy grip over the long frozen lakes of western NY. It’s been a “real” winter with close to 100 inches of snow, 6 weeks of snow cover, lows near -10 and steady single digit temps. This cold weather makes you want to read some Robert Frost.
The first glimmer of spring is the 40 degree days that bring the thought of rising sap in the sugar bush trees. It’s the first chapter in the annual yearbook that we call our maple syrup “vintage”. The question is; will it be early, late, short or bountiful? Only time will tell but I do feel the rhythms of the season and do respond to that call. We don’t need to produce a lot of maple syrup, but plus or minus 10 gallons in the cupboard keeps our friends and grandchildren smiling.
In the course of producing a batch of maple syrup there are many hurdles to jump along the way. After all the trials of reducing maple sap from 40 gallons to 1 gallon of syrup, it’s very satisfying to just “get it in the jar”. This weekend I was finishing off a sweet batch of syrup. It was on the stove, boiling down from 150 gallons to about 4 gallons while I was finishing up the sports page in the other room. In the background I heard a noise like a waterfall – what’s that? The syrups boiling over! I leaped and ran in panic to the kitchen– the syrup was flowing all over the electric stovetop! I pulled it off the burner but there was smoke everywhere, filling the kitchen. The room filled as I opened windows to 20 degrees of cold weather to try and clear the smoke and stop the wailing smoke alarm. Fortunately there was only a little syrup lost and a little damage done but we’ve had a sticky floor and counter for a couple days.
I know this has little to do with the wine and grapes on our Heron Hill Winery blog, but people do ask – “what do you do all winter?” The answer is, prune vines then make some maple syrup. It will be an interesting year…