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'