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"!!!