Sunday, September 25, 2011

What does..'Multiple Wine Pressings'..Mean?

With this Blog, we're going to address a question that keeps coming up.."Multiple Wine Pressings"!
Most people are totally confused by this topic and most wineries don't or won't address it. So, let's head into the Wine Cave and 'press out' the truth!
To help put this into perspective, we will explain how 'We' press our grapes, then, to show the contrast, we'll explain how many modern factory type wineries handle their pressings.
At Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery, after our grapes are finished fermenting (usually 10 to 14 days), we siphon off our 'young' wine from their fermenting bucket into a glass carboy. Remaining in the bottom of the fermenting bucket is an organic material called 'Must'. It is comprised of mostly grape skins and dead yeast cells. We take this 'Must' to our ratchet press and press out the remaing wine.

Manual Ratchet Press
Then, we add this pressed out wine to our glass carboy and move the glass carboy to our Wine Cave for long term storage (at least a year). Then, the mostly organic ' Must' material is composted on site. For us, this is a simple and straightforward process!
At many factory type wineries, this 'Must' material takes an entirely different path.
Instead of pressing the 'Must' once and sending it to be composted, it is diluted with water and pressed again. In some cases, it may have water added, again and pressed for the Third time. Then, their wine is "Filtered", flavors added (think Notes and Hints), bottled and sent to market. There is no requirement that you be told about these multiple pressings. Your best bet is to drop them a note and ask them how many times that their wine was pressed. Depending on their response, you can make an informed decision on whether to buy their wines.
So, now you know what is meant by 'Multiple Pressings'.
In our opinion, wines created through the use of Multiple Pressings are inferior and designed to inhance the wineries profits.
It is our heartfelt belief that world class wines are only pressed once and are 'never filtered'!

"Salute and Happy Days"!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Alternative Wine Sweeteners!

Any of you that have visited Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery have been  shown the "Secret of Creating the Perfect Glass of Wine"!


One question that we could not answer was "IF" alternative sweeteners could be used in place of cane sugar. We have asked several of our guests (who use alternative sweeteners) to try their sweeteners in their Bunker Hill wines. Their responses have been recorded and the answer is a resounding...'YES'! If you are using an alternative sweetener on a regular basis in other foods and beverages and you wish to enhance the sweetness of your glass of wine, your alternative sweetener should work just fine.

We wish to thank each of our fabulous friends and guests who participated in this volunteer research progam. From now on, we will share your findings with our new and future guests.

Thank You Very Much...Larry and Lenora

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Certified Wildlife Habitat"!

Last week, the land of Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery was certified as "Certified Wildlife Habitat" by the National Wildlife Federation! This was made possible because we provide and maintain all the basics for wildlife to thrive..."Water, Cover, Food, Quality Habitat and a place to Raise their young". As you enter our Wine Accessory building on your next visit, please look to your left. Positioned next to the sidewalk is a sign commemorating this honor (see photo).

Certified Wild Life Habitat sign in front of our  Farm Accessory Building.
As most of you know, we are a "Green" environmentally responsible vineyard and winery. We consider our resident wildlife an integral part of this environment. They live here freely and are never hunted nor harassed. We consider it a privilege to share our land with these animals. This same wildlife is represented on all of our wine labels (see photo).

Our wine labels represent the wild animals on Bunker Hill Vineyard's protected lands.
For the first time, we would like to share with you a small glimpse of our on-going concern for their welfare.

At various times throughout the year, assorted species of birds choose our vines as a safe and secure place to raise their young. When this happens, we consider that vine a restricted area. We run a "caution" tape around the chosen vine and suspend all maintence to that vine until the baby birds leave the nest. At this time, we do have an active nest of "Morning Doves" on one of our vines (see photos).

Caution tape protection.

Two baby Morning Doves.
 Although we're not absolutely certain, there appears to be 2 babies in the nest. Even though we are in our grape picking season, we will Not pick any grapes from this vine!

You are welcome to visit our vineyard/winery (Monday ~ Sunday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm) and take photos of this mother Dove and her babies, but all photos Must be taken from a safe distance.
Thank You for Your Support...Larry and Lenora

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to "Pear" Wines (pun intended)?!

With this Blog, we're going to discuss a topic that is totally confusing to me..."How to Pear Wines"!
OK, raise your hands if you are as confused as me. Yep, just as I thought, we are all in the same boat! Let's step into the Wine Cave and mull (pun intended) this one over. To help us out, I invited a "Wine Expert" (Billy).
It appears that the first step is to find out all that we can about "Pears", so we can determine what pears have to do with wines. Billy I recognise your raised hand but, please hold your questions and/or comments until the end of our discussion. Without a doubt, pears are yummy! Mostly, pears are yellow, but they, also, come in colors of 'green and red'. They are closely related to America's #1 fruit...Apples and rank as the #2 fruit. Today, there are more than 3,000 known varities of pears in the world. Most of the pear production in the U.S.A. comes from the states in the Northwest. Well, there's a lot more good stuff about pears out there, but you get the idea. Pears are a fabulous fruit and, as Homer said,..."the Gift of the Gods". Billy, there's no need to jump up and down, I'll address your question in just a moment.
Now that we've garnered all of these wonderful facts about pears, we need to figure out how this relates to our red and white wines. The "Experts" (like Billy) keep telling us that a red wine 'Pears" with this type of food and a white wine 'Pears' with another type of food. Personally, I see no reason why you can't enjoy 'Pears' with All wines. The color of the wine (or the pear) should make no difference.

Ok, Billy, I'm ready for your question. Billy, where are you? Has anyone seen our wine expert, Billy? Oh, darn it, Billy had to leave. He did, however, leave us a note. Let's read what Billy wrote..."A Pair of Pears is NOT a Pare"! Whoa, that's really deep! It's easy to understand why we need wine experts! I do wish, however, that Billy would have told us exactly which pears go best with which type of wine. Does a semi-ripe pear go best with a Rose' type wine? Maybe, next time, Billy will be able to stay a little longer. In the meantime, I guess that us (common folks) will just have to continue to enjoy our (unfiltered) wine with our usual (common folks) tastes and simple (common folks)..."GUSTO"!

"Salute and Happy Days"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

An American Hero and..."The Brass Ring"!

With today's Blog, I'm going to tell you the story about the..."Brass Ring"!
Many years ago (more years than I would like to count) I had the privelige of knowing a marvelous old man. I was 22 years old, a medical corpsman stationed at a military hospital and my entire life lay before me. This gentleman was...100 years old ..., a military veteran and his life was nearly over. Physically, he was in very poor shape. He had suffered untold trials and tribulations defending America in many wars in many distant lands. In one of those wars, he had lost both of his legs. If there ever was an unsung hero, this old man would get my vote. As though a reward for his suffering and bravery, he was blessed, in his old age, with a mind unemcombered with senilty or disease. He was, truely, a page of living history! Each of my duty days, I would look forward to our conversations. I would sit on the chair next to his bed and listen to him tell me about the great moments of his (and America's) past. The history that I read about in school was alive and vibrant and laying serenly in a non-discript hospital bed just a couple of feet away. Day after day, he would turn page after page of his historic life and enhance my understanding of what it meant to be an American. This old soldier, in his youth, had stormed up San Juan Hill with 'Teddy Roosevelt". He had survived the mustard gas and the trenches of World War I. He had raised a family and buried each one. It seemed to me that he was the last survivor of a generation of Americans that bridged the 19th and 20th centuries.
One day, he told me the story about the "Brass Ring"! I have never forgot this story and have used it, as a guiding beacon, for my entire life! For the first time, I will share this story with you.
When he was a young child the old man went to a circus with his family. At this circus was a 'Merry-Go-Round'. As he and the other children would ride the merry-go-round horses, they would try and grab the..."Brass Ring" a post positioned next to the ride. If a child was lucky enough to grab the brass ring, that child would get a free ride on the merry-go-round. Most children tried and most children failed. It seemed that it was always just out of reach. It took daring and perserverence to succeed, but there was abiding danger for all who tried. Reach out too far and the child might fall off his merry-go-round horse and break his arm or his leg. On this day, at this circus, on this merry-go-round ride, in the distant past, a child with his eyes shut, reached far out for the brass ring. As though a dream, the child felt the cold brass metal against his hand. When he opened his eyes, he beheld his fingers firmly clutched around the prize! By reaching further, by perservering, by taking a huge chance, by risking everything, by dreaming the impossible, this child succeeded where the others had failed.
Without being told, I clearly understood the meaning of this story. What the old man was telling me was that it is possible to be anything and do anything with our lives..if we want it bad enough and are willing to...reach for the brass ring!
One day, I came on duty and was greeted with a sad surprise. This old man, this American war veteran and hero, was gone. According to the ward staff, he had gone to sleep and passed, peacefully in the night. I walked to his empty room and over to beside his empty bed. As I stood there, I recalled the words of another American Hero..."Old soldiers never die, they just fade away".

On this day, our Independence Day, it is proper that we stand beneath our unfurled American flag and salute ALL the hero's of our past and present. For it is them that have willed us our freedoms, our liberties, our independence, our futures and our opportunity to..."Reach for the Brass Ring"!

Salute and Happy Days!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"SULFITES", Friend or Foe?

Very few subjects elicit as much consternation as "Sulfites" in wine. If ever there was a need to separate fact from fiction, this is it!
So, let's head into the Wine Cave and uncover the 'Real' truth.

Firstly, "ALL " wines naturally contain sulfites. Yep, even your organic wine. To keep the playing field somewhat level, the Feds (BATF, USDA & the FDA) have laid out the rules and regulations concerning sulfites in wine. According to the rules, if a wine contains less than 10 parts per million of sulfites, they don't have to tell you...and most won't! The upper limit on sulfites in wine is 350ppm. Organic wines can go as high as 100ppm, but most are half that.
So, what's the purpose of sulfites in wine? The simple answer is to keep the villains (bacteria & fungus) at bay. In order to protect our health, Sulfites have been added to wines for hundreds of years. It is NOT a new thing.
Is there an alternative to adding sulfites to wines? Sure, but you wouldn't like it. We could use "UHT" (ultra high temp). This would knockout the villains, but would, also...destroy the wines color, alcohol, taste, flavor and bouquet. Today, sulfites are still our best option.
When I drink a glass of wine, I get a headache. Am I allergic or sensitive to the sulfites in the wine?
That's a great question, but difficult to answer. I would need to know everything that you ate or drank in the last 12 hours, their sulfite levels and if you are asthmatic. Many common foods and drinks contain levels of sulfites far higher than wine. Some of these foods are cheeses, fruit drinks, baked goods and dried fruits and run as high as 5000 ~ 6000ppm. About 5% of asthmatics are allergic or sensitive to sulfites. Over 99% of everyone else...ARE NOT! Chances are, your headache is NOT caused by the sulfites in your glass of wine, but rather the other foods or drinks that you've consumed.
So, is "SULFITE" a Friend or a Foe?? When looking at the facts, it appears that sulfite is a pretty good friend. There will always be people that will try and frighten you and discourage you from enjoying your glass of wine. Made the right way (Unfiltered), wine is a fabulous adult drink that should be a vital part of our lives. So, the next time that someone disparages your wine because it contains some sulfites, just 'Smile' and offer them some more..."Cheese"! The less wine that they drink...the MORE there is for us!!

"Salute and Happy Days"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For Everything There is a Season!

Today's Blog is inspired by the words..."For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven"...Ecclesiastes 3:1!
Throughout most of our lives, we tend to miss the big picture of our living. We dwell too much on the details and too little on the 'seasons'. So, you ask, what does this have to do with growing grapes and making beautiful wines? Well, as I have a tendency to do, I will draw the connection, but in an unexpected way.
Most of us work and live in cities. We have lost our connection with the earth beneath our feet. Asphalt and concrete has replaced the 'fields of waving grains'. The rich black earth on our hands has, long ago, been washed away. We take for granted our bounty and forget our praise. Yet, those that still till the earth and tend the crops have not wavered. The farmer and the herder are still bound to the 'seasons'. We, at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery, are deeply tied to the earth.

 In the "Spring", we watch the green buds of the vines reappear throughout the vineyard. These buds of green become more lush as the Spring fades into "Summer". As the heat of Summer cools into "Fall", the grape leaves become golden and the ripe grapes become harvest. When the Fall days become "Winter" the golden leaves fall away and life becomes silent. These, my friends, are the cycles and Seasons of all life on earth.
Our lives parallel these 'seasons'. When we are born, it is our Spring. When we reach our youth, it is our Summer. When we become old, it is our Fall. When we die, we have reached our Winter.
The grape harvest of 'our' lives depends upon the good deeds that we have done and the love that we have shared.
As with the grapevine, until we reach our Winter, it is never too late to increase our harvest!

'Salute and Happy Days'

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Spider and the Wasp!

Today's Blog is going to be a little different. I'm going to tell you a story. This story is a true story about a...'Spider and a Wasp'.
I know, you're wondering what this 'story' has to do with growing grapes and making fabulous wines. I promise you, that by the end of this story, you will understand.
The other day, on the way to the vineyard, my attention was drawn to a commotion near the base of an ancient oak tree. On closer observation, the cause of this commotion was revealed. A spider and a wasp were in mortal combat. They were rolling and tumbling on the ground. Each was trying to get the upper hand. Throughout history, no two adversaries were more evenly matched. With a bite from the spiders fangs the wasp would die! With a sting from the wasp and the spider would perish. I stood, silently, watching this real-life melodrama unfold. There could only be one victor from this battle. The winner would live...the loser would not. Finally, the commotion ceased. Everything became quiet. Then, there was movement. The winner moved around and around the losers still body. Was it a victory dance? Entranced with what I had just seen, I watched as the "WASP" grasped the limp body of the spider. Yes, the WASP had prevailed. Temporarily, my life was put on hold. I had to follow this story to the last scene of the last act. The wasp proceeded to drag the spider up the trunk of the old oak tree. After a couple of drops and false starts, he, finally, managed to reach a height of about 3 feet off the ground. With his wings in full motion and the spider in his clutches, the wasp took to flight. After a mere 3 or 4 feet, the wasp and the spider dropped back to the ground. Undeterred, the wasp, again, began dragging his spoils up the truck of a nearby maple tree. Over and over again, the wasp would 'climb, fly, drop, drag...climb, fly, drop, drag,' but...he never gave up! Why was the wasp so driven? Then, the picture became clear. He was taking his hard won quarry back to his home and the hungry mouths of his offspring. Hanging from the main vine of the Magnolia grapevine was his nest.
Because we're a "Green, environmentally responsible vineyard and winery", we understand and appreciate the subtle rhythms of nature. The Wasp is a predator. Not only does he take an occasional spider, but, most often, his prey are the aphids, leaf hoppers and the worms that attack our grapevines. By learning to share our world with the wasp, we are able to appreciate and understand the benefits of sustainable agriculture. So, the next time that you enjoy a glass of our beautiful 'Red or White' wine, please remember, it is brought to you with the help of our friend...the "WASP"!  

'Salute and Happy Days'

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why You Should NEVER Store Your Wine!

With todays Blog, we're going to talk about..."Why You Should NEVER Store Your Wine"! The 'experts' have written countless articles about the proper home storage of wines.  Get ready for the 'experts' to start squeeling, because we intend to put that 'myth' to rest.
To begin, it's proper to ask, "why would you want to store wine"? Are you expecting that there is going to be a shortage of wine? Are you storing it for 'investment' purposes? Are you storing it because you believe that it's going to get better with age? Are you storing it because it's socially a cool thing to do? Well, let's step into the Wine Cave and mull this one over.
Firstly, we need to clarify our rolls. You, as a wine consumer, have ONLY one roll. That is to...consume and enjoy your wine! It is my/our roll as winemakers to worry about every thing else! Because we, as winemakers, are concerned about the 'long term' health of the wine, we do lots of things that you should not. As an example, we store our wine at between 52 ~ 57 degrees. Your refrigerator is, probably, much colder. So what? If you consume your wine like most peoples, it will be gone in two days. You won't need to be concerned about the temperature or the effects of oxygen on your wine.
As a point of fact, there will be NO shortage of cheap, filterd, blended wines (that's most of the wines on your grocery shelf). The "Unfiltered" wines that are "G,P,V & B" (grown, produced, vinted & bottled) by the worlds best winemakers, will ALWAYS be in short supply. These "unfiltered wines" are the wines of yesterday and are the ONLY wines that will get better with age. In any case, you should NEVER invest in wines. Remember, your job is to.."consume and enjoy your wines"! If you're storing wines because it's socially 'cool', you need to stop. Sharing a fabulous bottle of wine with a 'very special' someone, is much more cool! In fact, please grab us a couple of wine glasses. I've just popped the cork on an awesome 2009 vintage of "Foxy Red" dry red wine.

Wow, look at that color! Wow, smell that bouquet! Wow, taste the flavor of the grape! Yep, this is what it's all about!!
Until we meet again...."Salute and Happy Days"!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"G,P,V,B"...The KEY to Discovering the Worlds Best Wines!

With todays Blog, we're going to learn..."How to Discover the Worlds Best Wines...using the Magic Key"!
I know, there are tons of "wine experts" that have you convinced that this topic is 'rocket science'. Well, I'm here to tell you, that that ain't so! Before we step into our Wine Cave, I want you to remember four(4) simple letters..."G,P,V,B"! If you will remember these 4 letters, you will become "empowered", beyond your wildest dreams! Ok, it's time to repose into our Wine Cave and start building our dream team. Ready?...lets go!
Before discussing the first letter..."G", I want you to take a look at our "Foxy Red" wine label (see photo).

Do you see "G,P,V,B" on the label? No?, please take a closer look. See it now? Ah, now you see it! See, I told you that it wasn't rocket science! It's right there on every one of our wine labels. In fact, this 'key' (or parts of it) is on every wine label sold in the U.S.A. All we have to do, is take our template, G,P,V,B, and apply it to the wine labels! If their wine label perfectly matches our key "G,P,V,B", then you can add that wine to your list of the "Worlds Best Wines"! Isn't this exciting??
Ok, back to our first letter "G". The letter "G" stands for the word..GROWN. This means that the grapes used to make the wine was 'grown' by the winemaker. This winemaker has a solemn connection with his vines and grapes. He has toiled for years nurturing and protecting them from the cold of countless winters and the heat of countless summers. He has done all this, so that you and I can share a glass of his World Class wine! His love and passion is in every glass!
The letter "P" stands for the word...PRODUCED. This means that the wine was produced by the wine maker. To use an old proverb, this is where we start separating the "Wheat from the Chaft". That winemaker that grew all his own grapes will continue his personal touch. He will insure that only the ripest grapes are picked and only the best of those grapes will go into his wine. His love and passion is pervasive throughout every step of the wine creation process. His wine fermentation will continue until all the sugars are consumed by the yeast. He would never consider stopping the fermentation early. His supberb wine is, probably, "unfiltered"!
The 'other' winemakers are mostly concerned about making as much money as possible, as quickly as possible. You should expect some residual sugars in their wines. They will filter their wines for "clarity".
The letter "V" stands for the word...VINTED. This means that the wine was aged by the winemaker. Again, the winemaker that grows and produces his own wine, also ages his fabulous wines. He is in no hurry to sell his wine. He understands that great wines must rest for, at least, a year before bottling.
The 'other' winemaker is most concerned about getting his wine to market as quickly as possible. Because his wine is filtered, he will go from the vine to the shelf in 3 months.
Lastly, is our letter "B". It stands for the word..."BOTTLED". Our winemaker that grows, produces and vints his own beautiful wines, also bottles his own wine. Chances are that he uses '100% recycled wine bottles' and his wine will be sealed with only 'natural' corks.
The 'other' winemaker buys his 'new' wine bottles from China and uses the cheapest possible methods to seal his wine bottles. His wines will be easy to spot. They will be sealed with non-renewable 'plastic corks (think oil)' or aluminum screwtops. These will be wrapped with aluminum foils or plastics. The back of the label will talk about all the different "fruit, oak or other flavors" that he has added to his wine. Remember, his wine was filtered.
Ok, open the Wine Cave door and go out into world! You are now..."EMPOWERED".. to start your journey of selecting the 'Worlds Best Wines'! With your 'Magic Key' (Grown,Produced,Vinted & Bottled) in your hand, no one will ever again deceive you!

'Salute and Happy Days'

Monday, April 18, 2011

Celebrate "Earth Day"...become an "Environmental Custodian"!

Friday, April 22nd. is "Earth Day"! This is the day that we recognize our commonalities as peoples of the Earth. Yes, we are all different, but our mutual destiny is tied to the soil beneath our feet. Earth is the place where we all live, work, prosper and return. For this one day a year, we stop and ponder our planet Earth. We reflect upon the past year and how our Earth has held up under the weight of 7 billion peoples. With todays Blog we are going to celebrate 'Earth Day' by talking about something that we very seldom discuss. We believe that, too often, being green and Earth Day has become overly commercialized. Being green and Earth Day is NOT about selling stuff. It's a way of life, a lifestyle, a commitment to preserving our Earth and environment for all the future generations to come. With todays Blog, we will discuss what it means to be an..."Environmental Custodian"!
We, at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery, are so concerned about saving and preserving our environment that we've even emblazened "Environmental Custodian" on our company shirts (see photos).

Our commitment is NOT skin deep, it wells up from deep inside our souls and core beliefs. We were green when "green' was just a color. According to Websters official definition, a  "Custodian" is a person that..."has the custody or care of something; a caretaker; keeper; a person responsible for the care and maintenance of a place; a janitor". Being "Environmental Custodians", we accept that definition and apply it to our environment.
Lest we forget, we are all just passing through. Four score and ten years may seem like a long time, but, in reality, our lifetime passes in a blink of an eye. We should strive to keep our footprint on our environment as small as possible. Future generations are depending on us...let's not let them down.
Every action that we take should be measured against its impact on our environment. Wines, like most goods and services, should be created as close as possible to the point of consumption. The shipping of wines and grape juices across countries, oceans and around the world makes NO environmental sense. The waste of fossil fuels and polution created by their transportation cannot be justified. Our children and grandchildren will pay the environmental bill.
Unlike most vineyard and wineries today, we at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery grow 100% of our own grapes. All of our wine labels proudly state..."Grown, Produced, Vinted and Bottled" by us! We generate NO environmental transportaion costs. Our carbon footprint is...Zero100% of our wine bottles are recycled and locally sourced. We encourage all vineyard/wineries to return to to their roots. Relearn how to grow and care for their own grapes and produce their wines in a manner that's environmentally sustainable. As informed and enlightened consumers, we should seek out and support our local vineyard and wineries that are practicing sustainable agriculture.
To become an "Environmental Custodian" is easy and painless. Simply acknowledging that we are "caretakers and keepers" of the environment is all that it takes. Together, we can help make this Earth Day and all future Earth Days the days of..."Wine and Roses"!

'Salute and Happy Days'

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recycled Wine Bottles...a Lesson from History!

With today's Blog we're going to address 'Wine Bottle Recycling" in a very different way. As we've done before, we're going to need to go into our wine cave and crank up our "Time Machine". Ready? Ok, let's go! With the door locked behind us and us securely belted into our time machine, set the dial to..."April 25, 1898, Tampa, Florida"!
In the blink of an eye and a burst of smoke, we've been transported back in time to a great moment in 'bottle recycling history'!
Before we get too wrapped up in our story, please remember that we're 'invisible'. We can see everything that's happening, but no one can see us and we can change nothing.
Stretched out before us is Tampa and the mouth of the great Hillsborough  River. Along its banks are countless campfires glowing in the early evening darkness. Milling around these campfires are soldiers awaiting to ship out the following day to a distant shore. We are witnessing the opening page of our 'forgotten war'. This is the first day of the shortest war in America's history (April 25, 1898 to August 12, 1898). A cavalry officer and future American president is here...'Teddy Roosevelt'. The words "Remember the Maine" are on every ones lips. A non-discript hill in Cuba will soon become famous..'San Juan Hill'. This is 'ground zero' for America's entry into the..."Spanish-American War"! It is, also, where our 'Wine Bottle Recycling' story begins!
Down among those tents of soldiers are recently dug trenches. Into these trenches are flung all kinds of refuse. Among this flung refuse is our...Wine Bottle (see photo).

Tomorrow, this trench will be covered over and forgotten. The soldiers will ship out. Some will never return. This forgotten war will slip into our history books. Tampa will grow and prosper and houses and streets will seal this trench and our wine bottle beneath our feet. For a hundred years, our wine bottle sleeps in the earth. All the organic refuse has long ago decomposed, but our wine bottle remains whole and pristine.
It's time to move into the future. Please turn the dial to the year..."2000". In another blink and puff of smoke, we are instantly transported to a modern Tampa. Those houses and streets that we saw being built are now being torn down. Debris is everywhere. Tampa is enduring...Urban Renewal.
For the first time in over a hundred years our long forgotten wine bottle is laying, exposed, to the warm Florida sunshine. A bulldozer has uncovered our forgotten trench and, miraculously, left our wine bottle unbroken. Look closely, that's me, picking up our wine bottle. Not a moment too soon. The bulldozer has returned and it's rolling over the exact spot where our wine bottle was, only seconds before, resting exposed. Dusting off the dirt and holding it up to the light, I notice that its unbroken. I'm amazed! It's a clear, "3-piece mold and corker type bottle".
Ok, it's time to return to our own time. With one last turn of the dial, we are back in the Wine Cave.
So, what does this history lesson have to do with 'Wine Bottle Recycling'? Well, just about everything!
But first, a bit of IMPORTANT wine bottle trivia. Even with all our modern community recycling programs, over 70% of our used glass wine bottles are 'still' going to our landfills (per the EPA)! This is totally unacceptable and a complete waste of a resource. Glass wine bottles are "Recyclable and Reusable"...forever!! They can be cleaned, sanitized, refilled, re-purposed, etc., for infinity. We, at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery use "ONLY" 100% recycled wine bottles!

They are locally sourced (from restaurants and individuals) and were, all, destined for our local landfill. At every opportunity, we ask that wine bottles be returned to us for recycling and reuse. Does your current winery use ONLY 100% recycled wine bottles? If they don't, you should suggest that they start immediately!
Walking over to our Wine Cave gondola, you will notice a beautiful wine bottle filled with our "Country Cat" rose' wine. Go ahead, pick up the bottle and look at it. Hold it up to the light. That gorgeous wine is our 2009 vintage. Please, look closely at the bottle. Do you see those bubbles in the glass? Did you notice that it was clear glass and made with a 3-piece mold? guessed it! It's that very same bottle that we saw being tossed into that trench in Tampa, over a century ago! Against all odds, it's sitting here, today, holding a beautiful Florida wine. After all these years, it is 'Still' perfectly functional! It's doing what wine bottles are intended to and age wines for us to enjoy!
So, why are we throwing 'today's modern wine bottles into our landfills?
For whatever the reasons, let's pledge, today, to 'bypass' the landfill and 'directly recycle' our modern wine bottles! Your Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery is committed to using "ONLY" 100% recycled wine bottles. With your help, we can insure that no more empty wine bottles enter the landfills in Manatee County Florida or in any other landfill in America!
Remember, change "NEVER" starts at the "ALWAYS" starts at the bottom...with..."You and Me"!
Comments and suggestions are "Always" welcome!

'Salute and Happy Days' 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Our Ghost Story!

It is with much apprehension that we attempt to relate our "Ghost Story" at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery. We understand that there are many people that are ardent skeptics and believe that ghosts are not real. For most of our lives, we, too, were skeptics. However, having experienced what we've experienced, our opinions have changed. By telling our Ghost Story, we are hopeful that someone can tell us 'WHY' it is happening and, that by telling our ghost story, we can empower others to tell theirs.

Our first ghostly experience occurred about one year ago. Lenora was in our wine fermenting room, kneeling down on the floor checking out a carboy of wine when she was "tapped" on her shoulder. Thinking that it was me trying to get her attention, she responded..."yes, what do you want"? When she received no answer, she turned around and no one was there. I wasn't even in the building!
A week or so later, Lenora was in the wine press room washing some fermenting buckets, when she heard her name..."Lenora"... clearly and loudly addressed from outside the window. I was not in the area. In fact, I never address her by her first name. It's always in a term of endearment.
For about four months, everything seemed to return to normal. Then, one evening, during grape picking season, around August, the ghostly experiences returned.
Outside our wine processing room and along the edge of the woods, is a small spot where our daughter/ granddaughters cat was buried. Our granddaughter had made and placed a small, rectangular, cement tombstone over the burial spot (see photo).

 The cat had been buried since 2008. On this night, Lenora had walked outside of the processing room and was startled to see that the tombstone had moved approx. 10 feet. The ground under the tombstone was disturbed. Thinking that an animal might have moved it, she replaced the tombstone and went back inside the processing room and to work. I was working in the wine fermenting room and was unaware of all that had transpired. A few minutes later, Lenora went back outside and noticed that the cat's tombstone had moved, again. This time, she left everything alone and got me. Indeed, the tombstone was laying 10 feet from the burial spot. I replaced the tombstone. I suggested that we set up our wildlife camera and focus it at the tombstone. It was motion sensitive. Having set up the wildlife camera, we were confident that if it moved again, we would capture its movement. We went back inside the wine processing building and called our daughter. When we related what had happened, our daughter became very quiet. It seemed that, earlier that day, that our granddaughter had drawn some pictures of the cat with some text 'expressing how much that she missed the cat and wishing that she could see her, again'. That was...eerie!
After hanging up the phone, we went back outside and, Yep, you guessed it...the tombstone was moved and was 10 feet away. A cursory check of the camera showed that several photos were taken and our 'new' battery needed to be replaced. We took the disc inside the house and opened it on our computer. Every photo that was taken was a 'washed out white'. No details could be seen.
The next day, we replaced the battery in the wildlife camera. Nothing else happened...for a while.
Around our vineyard, we have numerous solar lights. At night, they beautifully highlight our drive and wine storage and wine accessory buildings. A few nights after the last occurrence of the tombstone moving, several of our solar lights were moved, tops unscrewed and missing. This went on for several nights, then stopped. The missing solar lights are still missing.
On the west side of our wine processing/wine fermenting rooms is our vineyard equipment storage area. Shortly after the missing solar lights, Lenora was inside that area looking for a piece of equipment when she heard a voice loudly call out to her..."WHERE ARE YOU"! She said that it appeared to be in my voice. When she looked, there was no one there. At the time, I was out in the wine storage building.
Up to this point most of the personal experiences were related to Lenora. About three months became my turn.
On the east side of the wine processing/wine fermenting rooms is our small workshop area. I had been working on a project for the vineyard using our electric (plug-in) drill. With the project unfinished for the day, I laid the drill on the workshop table and closed up. The next day, when I opened the shop to finish the project, the drill was...missing. The electric cord was still coiled and exactly where I had left it. Although I'm not prone to absent-mindedness, I looked all around the shop area. The drill was not there.
Lenora had been away, running a few necessary errands. When she returned, I asked her if she had seen or moved the drill. She had not. When we went back to the shop, the drill was neatly plugged into the electric cord and laying exactly as I had left it the previous evening.
A couple of months ago, one of our daughters dogs died. We buried it near the deceased cat. They had been good friends in life. Shortly after the dogs burial, both tombstones started moving. Our wildlife camera continued to take pictures of a 'washed out white'. Our batteries continued to drain of their charge. About a month ago, a friend of our daughters arrived from Costa Rica. When they came to visit our vineyard/winery, and her friend was told about the strange happenings, she cut and placed two pieces of bamboo next to each burial. Ever since, things have been quiet.

A couple of weeks ago, a fabulous lady visited our Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery. When we entered the wine processing room, she asked if we had had any strange things happen. After we related our experiences, she said that she felt the presence of an 80 year old man and that his name was Gerald, with a "G". She asked him to go to the light.
We're not sure if our Ghost Story has ended...or not. For now...all seems quiet.

************************Our Ghost Story..."UPDATE"*************************

Well, as so often happens, things may seem quiet, but it's only an illusion. Our Ghost Story has NOT ended. It continues to evolve and new chapters have been added. Below, are the latest experiences.
At the southeast corner of the Wine Fermenting building stands a large and beautiful maple tree. One recent warm and sunny afternoon, Lenora was standing under it's shade. Suddenly and unexpectedly she felt a gentle brush on the side of her left cheek as though by an unseen hand. There was no breeze or wind movement of any kind. It happened only once.
On another recent Sunday afternoon, we were sitting in our kitchen finishing up an early dinner. Off to the west side of the kitchen is the laundry room and the back porch door. Without warning, the screen door handle depressed and the door opened and though someone had either entered or exited the house. You can see the Wine Fermenting building from where we were sitting.
On two separate occasions, the Wine Cave door has locked itself...from the inside! On one occasion it happened in the middle of the day when we had guests. We had to excuse ourselves to get a door key. We now carry a spare key with us at all times.
Each evening, when we close up the Wine Fermenting building, we make sure that all the lights are turned out. It appears that someone would prefer that the lights be left on. It is not unusual for us to glimpse out our house window and see light coming from under the closed and locked Wine Fermenting building door.
A couple of nights ago, the outdoor floodlights on the Wine Accessory building inexplicably turned themselves on. These are not the type of lights that come on at dark. Their switch must be pushed up to the on position, to turn the lights on.
For now, that's the latest update to our Ghost Story. As info, we have still not found a Gerald (with a "G") connection to our buildings or property.,,but, we're still looking! Before going, we wish to thank all of our friends and guests for their interest, suggestions and sharing their own ghost stories with us.     

Larry and Lenora
'Salute and Happy Days'

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Makes a Wine Worth $50.00 (or More)?

In today's Blog, we're going to try and answer that age old question..."Why is any bottle of wine worth $50.00 or more"? Let's head into the Wine Cave and 'mull' (no pun intended) this one around.
Ok, I think that I can offer some answers, but I'll have to answer it in my own way.
Many years ago, we traveled the highways and byways of Florida looking for those pioneer grape growers. No, not those well known and modern wineries of today. We were looking for the unsung heros. Those people who actually grew their own grapes and handcrafted their own wines. After much searching, we finally found this illusive, but profoundly special group of..."wine masters". They were located off the main highways and mostly in the backwoods of Florida. They were never quoted by any wine publication, nor was their advise ever sought by any wine expert. They had lived their entire lives mostly under the scope of the wine world. They had lived their lives, grown their grapes (mostly muscadines) and made their fabulous wines with unlimited measures of love and passion. These were the 'True' wine masters!
There was one gentleman that has always stood out in my mind and has been our inspiration. When we met him, he was "87 years old". He had been growing his muscadine grapes on his land for his entire life...since he was 21 years old! His single goal was to create the finest wines that he could and to see just how long and how well that they would age. On his property, he had converted an old 'refrigerated reefer trailer' to store his wines. His 'refrigerated reefer trailer' was covered by a pole type barn. Nothing fancy, but it worked just fine. With him as our guide, we were priviliged to have been granted permission to enter this secret sanctum. There were wooden, handcrafted shelves around all the walls. On these wooden shelves were glass and ceramic containers of all shapes and types. There were "glass mason jars, ceramic cider jugs, glass mayonnaise jars, glass carboys and many other assorted glass containers (no oak barrels)! To an uninformed outsider, this would have seemed like utter chaos. To him, everything was perfect order. Each container had hand written notes attached. These notes told the story of his life! Included, was the date that the wine was created, type of muscadine grape and how it looked and tasted.
Have you ever been offered a glass of "50 year Florida Muscadine (Noble) Red Wine"? Well, we have and its..."To Die For"!! As expected, the color had lightened over the years, but the taste, flavor and bouquet was 'warm, mellow and superb'! We were unable to suppress our joy and amazement and happily told him so!
After we returned from our 'cloud 9', we asked him if he would share, with us, his secret for creating such fantastic wine. He agreed, and even included his secret ingredient.
We happily share his recipe, below:
#1 Use Only the Grapes that you personally Grow (this keeps you in tune with the vines & grapes)
#2 Pick Only the Ripest Grapes (by hand, of course)
#3 "NEVER" Filter your wine (you want to retain the 'taste, flavor & bouquet of the grape)
#4 Age your Wine(never less than a Year. It will get better with age)
#5 "NEVER" mix or Blend your Grapes(You want to create only a pure wine product)
#6 Use Only Glass to age your wine( glass doesn't add or subtract anything to/from your wine)
Lastly (the secret ingredient):
#7 A part of your self must be in every bottle of wine that you make!
So, now, that I've taken you on this round about journey, I think that I'm ready to answer that age old question..."Why is a Bottle of Wine Worth $50.00 or more"?
If you ever find a wine that is made the way that this 87 year old gentleman, from Florida, made his wine, you should feel free to pay...$50.00 a bottle. If you ever find a wine that is made the way that this 87 year old gentleman, from Florida, made his wine's 50 years him anything he's PRICELESS!!

'Salute and Happy Days' 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Being "GREEN" is NOT about Selling Stuff!

With this Blog, we're going to tackle a subject that is dear to our hearts..."the Commercialization of the GREEN movement"!
Being GREEN is NOT about selling anything, it's all about...'Saving'!
Being GREEN has been effectively co-opted by many large and multinational corporations. It is time that WE understand what's going on and start voting with our dollars. Reducing the size of a plastic water bottle cap does not make the plastic bottle any less detrimental to our shared environment. If we look at the huge waste of fossil fuels in creating the plastic bottle and the plastic packaging and factor in the cost of oil extraction, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and disposal/recycling, the Green color fades away. Any time that you see a package that touts its GREEN nature, you should be wary of a sales pitch. A truly GREEN business conducts its business in a "Silent" GREEN way. No notoriety is sought or expected. Their motivation is subtle and sincere.
We at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery, are truly, a "GREEN environmentally responsible vineyard winery. Our motivation is to operate our vineyard/winery in a way that enables us to minimize our carbon footprint and to work with mother nature and the environment. Our fabulous wines are our reward for our faith and commitment to Living Green.
At BHV every GREEN step that we have taken has been done with NO expectation of any rewards or accolades. We have done them, solely, because...'it's the right thing to do'!
Before the first vine was planted or wild grape harvested, we had already decided to locally source 100% of our wine bottles. Every wine bottle that we use was/is 'Saved' from certain disposal in our local landfill. We clean and sanitize every reused/recycled wine bottle 'By Hand'. The use of fossil fueled electricity is used only out of absolute necessity. If we don't need to use it, we don't.

We encourage All of our customers to return their used wine bottles to us so they can be reused and recycled. Because we use only Natural Corks (not plastic corks) and seal our wine bottles with sealing wax (not plastic or aluminum foils) we, also, ask that these be returned to us for recycling and/or reuse.
All our used wine boxes are inverted and recycled/reused. Sometimes it becomes necessary to irrigate our vineyard. We only use water that is collected in our cistern (no water is pumped out of the earth) and distribute it to our vines using the current energy of the sun via 'Solar Panels' (no energy from the power grid). Our Wine processing and Storage buildings were selected because they are made from steel (U.S.A.). At the end of their lifespan in 50~60 years, they can be recycled. As a side note, we even used the pallets that our buildings were shipped on to support our 16' processing and wine sampling table.
Unlike most wineries, we use only glass carboys to age our wines. Because we create only a pure wine product (not mixed or blended) glass is the perfect choice. As you know, glass is 100% reusable (it will last forever) and is inert (it neither adds nor subtracts anything from our pure wine product).
There are many more things that we do that supports our Green commitment. This should, however, give you an idea of who we are and why we do things in a Green way. None of our wine packaging attempts to compromise or take advantage of our Green values. Being Green should spring from the heart. Being Green is about saving and preserving our environment for future generations to come. It is Not about selling stuff for all the wrong reasons.
Today, there are businesses that are genuinely Green at heart. They have seen the earth being spoiled and exploited and are dedicated to making a change. They are committed and concerned. Many are local and in your backyard. Seek them out and support them with your dollars. Share their story with the world! Please remember, change never starts at the top, it begins at the bottom. It begins with...You and Me"!
 'Salute and Happy Days'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

We Will Only Pass This Way But Once!

Today's Blog is going to be a little different. We're not going to go into the Wine Cave. We're going to sit outside on the concrete bench and relish the warm sunshine and talk about 'Roads'.  You know, there are all kinds of roads. There are concrete roads, asphalt roads, shell roads and dirt roads. There are long roads and short roads and narrow roads. Today, however, we're going to talk about a different kind of road. Our road has a definite beginning, but an 'uncertain' ending. Just like all those roads, above, our road has its share of potholes and detours. There are plenty of cross-roads and, sometimes, it's not very well marked or lit. As those other roads, we share our road with many different people. Our road is paved with "mistakes, good intentions, trials, tribulations, good deeds, hopes, failed dreams, heartache, passion, love and countless other pavers". It is our individual..."Road of Life"!
When we're near the beginning of our Road of Life, it seems that our road goes on forever. All that matters is what makes us happy and prosperous. As we move further along our Road of Life, we slowly become aware that there are countless other roads that parallel, intersect or diverge from our road. As we near its end, we tend to stop and ponder our Road of Life. Was it a good road? Was it a bad road? Is it too late to make repairs? Today, we're going to talk about making repairs to our Road of Life.
If we've treated each other badly, let's shake hands and apologize. If we have been thoughtless, let's become thoughtful of each other's feelings. If we have been dishonest with each other, let's pledge to always be honest and above board. If we have ignored those souls with less fortune, let's reach out our helping hand. If we have frowned too often, let's smile much more. If we have been an island unto ourselves, let's become a river for all mankind.
We must remember that we cannot go back over any part of our Road of Life. The part that we have already walked will always remain in our past. Our Road of Life could end at any time. Although "We Will Only Pass This Way But Once", it is 'Never' too late to make repairs.
I'm glad that the sun is shining. I've got a few repairs to make. How about you?

'Salute and Happy Days'

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Certified Florida Farm Winery"...Does the Florida Legislature Need to Update the Rules?

By far, the number one wine producing State in the U.S.A. is California. Close to 1 million people are employed directly by the California wine industry. Sales of California wines are somewhere in the 30 Billion dollar range. California has worked hard to build their wine industry and to position their State as a "Premier" Wine producing State. The California State Legislature and the people of California have consistently, throughout the years, supported the growth and prosperity of their vineyards and wineries. They have been able to compete successfully on the the World stage, in part, due to this hometown support.
Florida, however, has not earned a reputation as a "Premier" Wine producing State, even though Florida is the "Third" largest Wine Consuming State in the nation! Floridians should ask the question...WHY? Currently, Florida is suffering from one of the highest unemployment rates in the country...12% unemployment. A thriving wine industry in Florida could help put many Floridians back to work!
A cursory comparison between the two states, California and Florida, might be helpful. Both California and Florida grow many of the same crops, due to similar growing conditions. Just consider..."Oranges, Tomatoes, many Truck Crops, etc.". Grapes, however, are not even on the scope of most people. Does this mean that Florida doesn't have the ability to produce "World Class" wines?...Absolutely...NOT!
The Florida Legislature has been collecting taxes from wine sales for decades. Most of these taxes have been directed towards grape research and development at our major Florida universities. Some wonderful research has been done and our grape knowledge has been greatly enhanced. The fact still remains, however, that Florida is "NOT" recognized as a "Premier" Wine producing State! So, where do we go from here?
First, let's take a look at the rule book titled the..."Certified Florida Farm Winery" written, years ago, by the Florida Legislature.
For your convenience, I've copied it, below:

599.004 Florida Farm Winery Program; registration; logo; fees.--
(1) The Florida Farm Winery Program is established within the Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services. Under this program, a winery may qualify as a tourist attraction only if it is
registered with and certified by the department as a Florida Farm Winery. A winery may not
claim to be certified unless it has received written approval from the department.
(a) To qualify as a certified Florida Farm Winery, a winery shall meet the following standards:
1. Produce or sell less than 250,000 gallons of wine annually.
2. Maintain a minimum of 10 acres of owned or managed vineyards in Florida.
3. Be open to the public for tours, tastings, and sales at least 30 hours each week.
4. Make annual application to the department for recognition as a Florida Farm Winery, on
forms provided by the department.
5. Pay an annual application and registration fee of $100.
(b) To maintain certification and recognition as a Florida Farm Winery, a winery must comply
with the qualifications provided in this section. The Commissioner of Agriculture is authorized
to officially recognize a certified Florida Farm Winery as a state tourist attraction.
(2)(a) The department, in coordination with the Viticulture Advisory Council, shall develop and
designate by rule a Florida Farm Winery logo, emblem, and directional sign to guide the public
to certified Florida Farm Winery tourist attractions. The logo and emblem of certified Florida
Farm Winery signs shall be uniform.
(b) Upon the request of a certified Florida Farm Winery, the Department of Transportation shall
acquire and place Florida Farm Winery logo, emblem, and directional signs on the rights-of-way
of interstate highways and primary and secondary roads. All costs for placing each sign shall be
paid by the certified Florida Farm Winery requesting the sign. However, the cost of placing a
sign shall not exceed $250 and the annual permit fee shall not exceed $50.
(c) Each certified Florida Farm Winery shall pay to the Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services a licensing fee of $10 each year for each Florida Farm Winery logo, emblem,
and directional sign in place.
(3) All fees collected, except as otherwise provided by this section, shall be deposited into the
Viticulture Trust Fund and used to develop consumer information on the native characteristics
and proper use of wines.

Please note that I've highlighted #2 in red. This is the single rule that has done the most to prevent the growth of the Farm Wineries in Florida!
Florida wineries can come in all kinds of shapes (check out our own "Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery" ). Under the current rules, only grape wineries are recognized as Florida Farm Wineries and only those grape wineries with neatly plowed and cultivated rows. Any winery that produces wines from "fruits & vegetables" is discriminated against, as are those wineries that produce wines from their wild and freely growing grapes, old growth citrus and/or elderberries.
Here's the real killer. There is "NO" requirement that the current Florida Farm Wineries grow their own grapes or even produce their wines from "Only" Florida grown grapes. Many are "importing" juices from California and other places. This has nothing to do with promoting Florida grapes, Florida grape growing or growing the Florida wine industry. Their only requirement is that they plow up 10 acres and plant some grapes. Those "Other" wineries (check out our "Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery" ) are producing their grape wines "Only" from Florida grapes that they grow or harvest from their entire 23 acres. Yet, they cannot even apply for certification as a Florida Farm Winery. In the case of "Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery", we are a 'Green' environmentally responsible winery. We recycle 100% of our wine bottles, promote Florida wines, provide wine education and produce all of our wines in harmony with the Earth and Mother Nature. The backs of all our wine labels proudly display the "From Florida Logo"! Even the U.S.D.A. has recognized our uniqueness by including us in their 2011 Spring Soil & Conservation tours.
Yet, today, the old and obsolete rules still prevail.
To enable Florida to become a "Premier" wine producing State, every antiquated obstacle must be removed. The Florida Legislature must update the rule book to reflect the changes that have occurred in wine production in Florida. Producing Florida wines in a "Green" and sustainable way should not only be recognized, but encouraged! Those Florida wineries that produce wines from Florida grown Fruits and Vegetables should be welcomed into the Certified Florida Farm Wineries program with opened arms. Arbitrary rules regarding planted acreage should no longer be used to exclude any Florida winery.
Everything that we do should be about transforming Florida into a "Premier" wine producing State and putting our fellow Floridians back to work!

Salute & Happy Days!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wine Not Sweet Enough?..Add Some "SUGAR"!

File this blog under "Empowerment"! Another wine myth is about to come tumbling down, so lets head to the Wine Cave and have a frank discussion about the relationship between wine and sugar.
The first question that we have to ask is, what's the difference between "Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet and Sweet wines? Firstly, the term 'Dry' simply means the 'absence' of sugar. A wine that the winemaker calls dry, should contain ZERO sugar. If it was fermented properly, the wine yeast would have consumed 'all' the carbohydrates (sugars) and left the winemaker with a wine devoid of any sugars. Today, unfortunately, some mass produced wines contain "residual" amounts of sugars. If there's any doubt in your mind, ask them. The difference between the Dry wine and the Medium Dry, Medium Sweet and Sweet wines is (you guessed it)..."Sugar'! At some point, after the initial fermentation, the winemaker will "ADD" a set amount of 'Sugar' to his wine to create the other three wines.
Now, here comes the part that I like best...tearing down wine myths! From this day forward, you are "Empowered" to add SUGAR to your wine! If your wine's not quite sweet enough, sweeten it to your taste. Don't listen to any of those, so called, wine experts when they tell you that you can't do that! It's NOT about's about YOU! Sweetening wine is exactly like adding sugar to coffee, tea, etc. Every persons taste buds are special and unique. If the winemaker can add one lump of sugar and you need two...don't ask for his permission...just do it!!
Salute & Happy Days!!
Questions, comments or suggested topics are always welcome!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sparkling Wine...NOT just for Special Occasions!

The other day, I was having a very pleasant conversation with a middle aged and professional lady about her favorite wines. When I asked her about Sparkling Wine, she responded that she only drinks Sparkling Wine on special occasions (weddings, graduations, holidays, etc.). When I asked her why, she responded that, well..."that's what I was always told". When I asked her if she liked Sparkling Wine, she responded, "yes,  but only the sweet kind, not the dry". Her honest and sincere responses inspired me to write this blog.
It occured to me that, probably, there were many other people that thought about Sparkling Wine in exactly the same way. So, if you are thirsting for some knowledge on Sparkling Wine, lend me your ear. I promise you a dose of education and empowerment.
To begin, a "True" Sparkling Wine can "Only" be made "Dry". A 'Sweet" Sparkling Wine is a fake! Here's why. To create a "True" Sparkling Wine, it must be fermented "Twice". First, it must go through the primary fermentation, just like any other wine, then, it "must" be fermented the second time..."in the bottle"! The winemaker, will add a small amount of sugar and yeast to the wine in the bottle and seal the bottle. By sealing the bottle, he insures that the natural carbonation ( carbon dioxide) created by the yeast eating the sugar, will be trapped in the bottle. You guessed it, a sweet (fake) Sparkling Wine could Not have had any yeast added, because the yeast would have eaten the sugar. That winemaker creating the 'fake' Sparkling Wine simply used the dry wine from the primary fermentation and added sugar to it and pumped it up with CO2 from a pressurized CO2 tank. His process is quick and cheap and totally fake!
That "True" Sparkling Wine will read 'FERMENTED IN THIS BOTTLE' somewhere on the label. If that's missing...Don't Buy it!
Now that we understand that a 'True' Sparkling Wine can 'Only' be made in a "Dry (not sweet)" state, here's how you can create your perfect glass of 'Sweet' Sparkling Wine. Take a teaspoon and add sugar to taste! Yep, that's all there is to it!
Finally, should Sparkling Wine only be enjoyed on special occasions? Nope, no way, nodda!! You should feel free to enjoy your favorite Sparkling Wine as freely and as often as you like. Sparkling Wine is always a special wine drink! If you wish, drink it every day! Salute and Happy Days!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why is Your Wine Filtered?

Does anyone know why most commercially produced wines are 'Filtered'? I've looked over countless wine labels, fronts and backs and from all over the world and not one tells me why their wine is filtered. Is it a secret? Are they hoping that no one will ask? Not one label suggests that I should buy their wine because it's filtered. OK, I understand that the TTB doesn't require them to tell me, but that's a flimsy excuse. They talk about other unintelligent things like 'Racy Acidity' and 'Hints of Floral', so why their wine is filtered isn't an unreasonable question. When a wine maker creates an "Unfiltered Wine", he puts it right on the label for all the world to see. Could it be that the 'Filtered' wine isn't as great as it should be? Is that why they add all those 'hints & tastes & whiffs & bells & whistles' to their wines?? Are they trying to make a less than stellar wine product..palatable?
You are Empowered to ask your wine maker 'If' his wines are 'Filtered' and 'If' they are filtered, 'Why' doesn't he tell you on his label. Depending on his answer, you'll be in a much better position to vote with your wine dollars.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Unfiltered Wine" the Wine of Yesterday, Today!

For this post, we're going to go into the 'Wine Cave', shut and lock the large steel doors behind us and hop on board our 'wine time machine'. We're going on a secret mission to discover how the finest wines in the world were made long before the corporate wine machines took over. Before we start our mission, we must be clear on our purpose. We must promise to keep an open mind, share our findings with as many people as possible and to add as much as possible to our wine knowledge and sense of 'empowerment'. OK, ready? Set the year to 1956, turn the key to 'back in time', pull back the lever and we're off to my childhood home. We're going there to watch a segment of one the most popular TV shows of the day...the "I Love Lucy Show (the Grape Stomping episode)". Oh, by the way, as we travel, no one can see us...we're invisible. Ah, there it is, that old Raytheon B&W TV. Look what's on, there's Lucy and  Ethel stomping around in a large vat of grapes. They're in Italy. There's lots of laughter as Lucy and Ethel fall into and get covered in grape juice. It's easy to see why this show was so popular. Comedy like this is timeless.
 So, what's the purpose of this lighthearted diversion? Well, quite simply, to show us that wine should be fun, exciting, memorable and made the way that Lucy and Ethel were making it. You say, what! What do you mean the way that they were making it? What I mean is, great wine should be created in a handcrafted and hands-on fashion. For hundreds of years, wine was made exactly as Lucy and Ethel were making it. To get at the vitality of the grape, all manner of means were utilized, including crushing the grapes with their bare feet. By our standards of today, creating these wines of yesterday took a lot of work. To them, however, it was simply a full measure of 'Love and Passion'. That my friends is what's missing in most wine making today. Oh yes, there are still wine makers in Italy making wines with this same love and passion of yesterday. However, they are getting fewer with each passing year.
What I'm about to say next are, two words, that will change your life. So, please, write them down, etch them into your memory and cherish them forever. These two words are..."UNFILTERED WINE"!!
For, at least, the last 30~40 years most commercially produced wines have been...'Filtered, Blended, Mass Produced and created with Corporate Profit Motives (not Love & Passion) as the incentive. The wine created from the grapes that Lucy and Ethel were stomping in that vat, would have been an "UNFILTERED WINE. It would have been naturally gravity filtered for a very long time, perhaps years. That wine of yesterday would have retained the 'Flavor, Taste and Bouquet' of the grape. Unlike the commercially filtered wines of today, there was no need to add a bunch of weird external flavors and tastes to their wine. Its taste would have stood on its own two feet.
From now on, our goal will be to seek out and relish only 'Unfiltered Wines'. It's not going to be easy. Most of these wine artisans have disappeared. You'll know when you've found a precious gem when your taste buds do hand springs. If you find a wine maker that answers 'Yes' to the following questions, give him/her all your business forever & ever and get all your friends (and strangers too) to carry their banner. Firstly, is the wine ' Unfiltered'? Second, is the wine fermented 'With the Skins' for the entire fermentation process? Third, is the wine 'Aged (in glass), at least, One Year' before bottling? Fourth, is the wine 'Unblended"? Lastly, and probably the highest bar to meet, do they grow 'All their Own Grapes'. Any wine maker that meets these standards should be considered...a 'National Treasure'!!
So, back to the future we go. With 1956 just a memory, we touch down in our own present, in our own 'Wine Cave'. Unlocking the Wine Cave door, we venture back out into the sunshine. This time, however, we're like a bird dog on a scent. We're out to rediscover the wines of yesterday. Those rarest of all wines! Those "UNFILTERED WINES" to die for!!