Wednesday, November 5, 2014
“Farm to Table” Wines!
Why these Wines Deserve a Place at Your Table!
America consumes about 350 million cases of wine every year. Most of these wines are consumed with food and with friends and family. Most of these wines are produced by huge wineries with names that are familiar to most of us. Surely, these wines are ‘Farm to Table’ wines and deserve a place at our table, right? Well,….maybe.
To answer that question, we’ve got to understand what makes a ‘Farm to Table’ wine.
‘Farm to Table’ wines are wines that come from wineries that do it all. They will have three or four of the following words clearly embossed on their labels. Those words are…”GROWN, PRODUCED, VINTED and BOTTLED” or “PRODUCED, VINTED and BOTTLED”!
No other wine can or should be considered a ‘Farm to Table’ wine! Most are “UNFILTERED” and are made from “WHOLE FRESH FRUITS and Vegetables”!
Wineries creating these wines are as important to our local communities as the local farmer who grows those fresh fruits and vegetables for our tables. Today, most of us understand how important it is to us to support our local farmers and growers. Local ‘Farm to Table’ wineries, however, have mostly slipped through the cracks. We go to great lengths to serve our friends and families fresh farm to table foods, but we seldom give a though to where our wines come from or how they are made.
Starting this holiday season and continuing throughout the coming years, please, seek out the local wineries in your community that are producing wines from the soils beneath your feet.
In the State of Florida, the best place to begin is with our “Certified Florida Farm Wineries”! As of this writing, there are approx. 25 within our state (Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery is one of these 25 Certified Florida Farm Wineries). You can find a complete list by contacting the ‘Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services’ website.
By Florida state law, a ‘Certified Florida Farm Winery’ must produce a minimum of 60% of their wines from Florida grown commodities. We at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery are at…97%!!
Thank You…”Salute & Happy Days”!
Monday, July 21, 2014
Will Your Favorite Wine Last…100 Years?
Have you ever wondered just how long your favorite unopened bottle of wine would last?
Yes, I know, wines are made to be enjoyed. Most of us finish off our favorite bottle of wine in a couple of days. What we’re talking about here is the potential that is built into your favorite wine. Did the winemaker that made your favorite wine turn on all the switches that would give it a 100 year life span? Or, did he/she leave a few critical switches in the off position?
With this Blog, we’re going to answer this question and, hopefully, convince you that a wines potential age really does matter.
We’ll begin our journey by stepping back into history to 100 years ago, to the year…”1914”! In that year, all wines were being made to be the best that they could be. A wine produced in 1914 had all the switches turned on. A 1914 vintage wine had the potential to last 100 years!
Unfortunately, most wines produced today do not have the potential to last 100 years. Most wines produced today have a life expectancy of only 2 to 4 years.
So, what has happened to our modern wine making process that has shortened our wines life expectancy to a puny 2 to 4 years?
The answer is…”the wine making Process’ has changed!
Most of our modern wines are…’Filtered’ wines.
Most of the wines produced for most of our history as human beings on earth (including 1914) were…’Unfiltered” wines.
Any winery in America or around the world that is producing “Unfiltered” wines will ‘Always’ tell you on their label that their wine is “Unfiltered”. They are proud of the wines that they produce and want you to know that they are ‘Unfiltered’!!
Any winery that produces a ‘Filtered’ wine will ‘Never’ tell you on their label that their wines have been filtered.
There are other indicators of a wine’s longevity. Take a look at ‘How’ your wine is sealed. A wine sealed with genuine ‘sealing wax’ implies that that wine will be around for a very long time. Sealing wax actually seals and bonds to the glass neck of the wine bottle. The wine content inside the wine bottle is protected from the world outside. A wine bottle that is topped with plastic or aluminum foil is designed to ‘look-like’ and to ‘simulate’ the real sealing wax.
The actual package that your wine comes in can be an indicator of your wines longevity. A glass wine bottle can last 1 million years and is inert and unaffected by the world around it. Many of our ‘factory wineries’ have begun packaging their wines in composite boxes and plastic containers. Their packaging is not designed to last 1 million years.
The cork used to seal your wine bottle is an excellent indicator of your wines longevity. For most of our history of wine making throughout the world, the finest wines were corked with ‘real’ and natural cork corks! A real and natural cork will protect the wine inside your wine bottle for, at least, 30 to 35 years. Today, many factory wineries have dumped the natural cork closures in favor of the far cheaper ‘plastic’ corks made from oil.
Perhaps, the most important factor in determining your wines longevity is the wine itself! In America, by law, every winery must tell you how your wine was made. Look closely at your wines label. Does it read…”Grown, Produced, Vinted and Bottled”…or does it only read ‘Produced & Bottled’ or ‘Vinted & Bottled’? Only two words usually indicates that your wine was made from ‘juices’ and NOT “Whole Fresh Fruit”! If only two words are used, you should contact your winery and ask them where the juices came from that made your wine. If they become evasive or refuse to answer your question, you should seek another wine supplier.
So, where does your wine fall. Did your wine maker turn on all the switches, or, were a few critical switches left in the off position?
You are entitled to a perfect glass of wine every time! You are, also, entitled to a wine that is made to be the best that it can be! Potential longevity really does matter!! Choose wisely my friend!!
Until next time…”Salute and Happy Days”
The STORY of ROSE’ WINE!
We make four types of Rose’ wines at BHV. Three are natural Rose’s and one is subjective. I have always relished their soft colors and unique tastes and quiet fragrances. The truth is, I’d rather sip one of these Rose’s than any other fine wine! It seems to me the scent of the fruit is much closer to the surface in these Rose’ wines than in any other type of wine. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, there’s a perfect Rose’ wine for every season!
The story of Rose’ wine is as old as the history of wine making. Often, we consider Rose’ wines as a modern innovation…it’s NOT. From the very beginning, our ancestors were creating world-class Red, White and Rose’ wines. For most of our wine making history, these three wine types sat on the same pedestal as equals.
Just the other day, I was reminded how precious and unique that a Rose’ wine can be.
At a mid-week wine tasting, one of our frequent guests brought her father. This was his first visit. I sincerely hope we see him often. For you see, her father was…96 years old! His life has spanned nearly a century! When I asked him what was his favorite type of wine he answered, without hesitation …ROSE’!
Of course, the first wine that we sampled was our natural “Le Robber Rose’” wine. As he raised his wine glass to his lips and tasted this Rose’ wine for the first time, all eyes were fixed upon his face. Everyone was anxiously anticipating his reaction. Then, slowly lowering his wine glass he broke into a smile! Eventually and with deliberation he exclaimed….“This is the way that I remember Rose’ wines”!
If it has been a while since you’ve sipped a Rose’ wine, perhaps, it is time that you revisit this dear friend.
Until we meet again……
Thank You….”Salute & Happy Days”!
American Heritage Wines!
On a recent Florida Spring morning, a soft breeze drifted across the uncut grasses between the neat rows of grapevines. It was approaching 8:00 am and a brand new day was awaking. As the first sunbeams stretched out across this idyllic canvass, buds of bright yellow slowly appeared. Beginning as a tiny stream of color, a raging river of flowers soon washed the landscape. Unfolding before our eyes was this days harvest … the “Dandelion Flower”!
Long before you or I were born, our ancestors awaited this same moment with bountiful joy! Our ancestors considered this wonderful wildflower the grandest of the bloomers. The roots provided delicious teas and broths. The leaves were eaten raw in salads or cooked with other dishes. The bright yellow flowers, however, were the most treasured. These tiny petals were destined to become their most precious possession … “Dandelion Flower Petal Wine”!
What I have just described is a prime example of an…”American Heritage Wine”!
On another day, a whole passel of brownish-red tubers were gently dug up from the ground beneath our feet. Kind of long and roundish these gems were not potatoes. They were and are a part of the southern landscape of America. Again, our ancestors recognized and appreciated this grand tuber for what it was, a delicious feast when cooked and a fabulous adult beverage when fermented into…”Sweet Potato Wine”!
What I have just described is another prime example of an…”American Heritage Wine”!
As Spring evolves into Summer, another beautiful plant rises from the soils of the southeast United States. A member of the nightshade family, it soon bursts into countless clusters of white flowers. Under the warm southern sun, green fruits soon appear. Almost with the blink of an eye, these green fruits ripen into bright, luscious and plump red fruits. Today, they mostly garnish our fresh green garden salads. To our ancestors, however, these red fruits had a grander purpose. With visions of a spectacular and unique taste, our ancestors were able to transform this indigenous and delicious fruit into the most wonderful and golden colored…”Cherry Tomato Wine”!
Again, what I have just described is another prime example of an…”American Heritage Wine”!
Our ancestors settled all across our country. They were a hardworking and industrious lot! Most were farmers and knew how to grow things. Most had the knowledge to make wines. If wild Native American grapes ( muscadines, catawba’s, concords, fox grapes, etc.) grew where they settled, they were certain to use them to make fabulous grape wines. Grapes, however, were not their only choice. Many other wines were made from local fruits and vegetables.
As you visit wineries in America, today, we encourage you to ask them about those “American Heritage Wines” that they produce. It’s time that we celebrate our collective heritage. It’s time that American wineries reach back into their regions past and bring forward to us the great American wines of yesterday!
Until next time….”Salute and Happy Days”!
“Florida Fruit Wines”
What would you think if I told you that ‘Florida Fruits’ are the best in the world?
What would you think if I told you that wines made from ‘Florida fruits’ are the best in the world?
Well, the answer to both of these statements is…TRUE!
From the small Florida Family Farm to the large corporate grower, Florida’s farmers are committed to coaxing the best fruits from the soils of Florida!
As you’re reading this Blog, Florida growers are tending and harvesting the most succulent strawberries, oranges, tangerines, red grapefruits, guavas, key limes, bananas and much more! Thousands of acres of tomatoes (beef steak, cherry, grape, roma’s, etc.) are being planted for the Spring/Summer harvest! As our northern states are locked in snow and ice, a virtual convoy of trucks and railcars are moving Florida’s fresh fruits northward.
As our winter changes into late Spring and early Summer, fresh Florida Blueberries and Peaches ripen in Florida’s warm sunshine.
As late Summer deepens and Fall arrives, Florida’s fresh grape harvest fills the grape buckets to the brim!
At the peak of each of these Florida fruit harvests, some of these delicious fruits make their way into the care of Florida’s premier vintners. All the goodness of these fresh Florida fruits is transformed into beautiful “Florida Fruit Wines”.
Made properly (Unfiltered), these gorgeous Florida Fruit Wines will retain all the unique tastes of the tree ripened fruit for decades to come!
For way too long, we have relegated our fruit wines to a backseat status. Believe me, it’s time to move these gems to the head of the line! If you want a real treat for your taste buds, sally up to the wine tasting table and sip a sample of Florida ‘Orange’ wine, Florida ‘Red Grapefruit ‘ wine, Florida ‘Cherry Tomato’ wine or, perhaps, Florida ‘Strawberry’ wine!
Whatever the season (Spring/Summer/Fall or Winter) you can count of Florida’s premier vineyard/wineries to produce the best fruit wines in the world! For, you see, it’s rather easy when you’re in Florida and the best fruits are grown at your backdoor!!
Until next time…”Salute & Happy Days”!
The “Muscadine Grape”….100% American!
Did you know that Florida and the southeastern United States are home to one of the world’s finest grapes, the… Muscadine Grape?
Did you know that the Muscadine Grape is an “American Original”? Its stock is 100% American!
Did you know that the Muscadine Grape makes “World Class Wines” including ‘Reds, Whites and Rose’?
It is the only grape that thrives and prospers in Florida’s hot and humid climate. It produces bountiful grape harvests laden with sweet and delicious grapes. At BHV, we grow seven different varieties. The colors range from gold to black and sizes from ¼ inches across to over 2 inches across. Aged over one year, the wines produced from our Muscadine grape easily competes on the world stage of fine wines!
For too long we have permitted our Muscadine Grape to remain in the shadows. With this Blog, we hope to bring it into the light!
To begin our journey into the light, we will reach back into history and to one of the earliest pages of our country. In the year 1585, Governor Ralph Lane of Roanoke Island wrote a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh in England. In the letter he wrote…”We have discovered grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain nor Italy hath no greater”. The grape that Governor Lane was talking about was the…Muscadine Grape!
Between that long ago time and today, we have mostly forgotten our Native American grape heritage. Most of the grapes grown and the wines produced in our country today are from grape stock from Europe. Most of us have little or no knowledge about our fabulous Muscadine Grape.
For years, our doctors and health professionals have suggested that the antioxidants in a glass of red wine would benefit our health. Did you know, however, that the Muscadine Grape has…
· 40 times the Antioxidants of any red grape in the world!
· 6 times the Resveratrol of any red grape in the world!
· More Fiber than Oat Bran!
· The Only grape to have Ellagic Acid!
Yep, this is “Our” grape. It has thrived for millennia in our sandy soils of Florida. This is the grape that has waited patiently for us to recognize its greatness. If you’ve never enjoyed a glass of Muscadine grape wine, we strongly suggest that you enjoy one today! Very possibly, your taste buds will rejoice with the unique taste, flavor and crispness of this fabulous Muscadine wine.
So, until next time, we hold our glass of Muscadine grape wine before us in a toast and say, we wish you all the best and happiness throughout the upcoming ‘Holiday Season’!
Salute and Happy Days”!
Locally Grown Grape Wines!
We all know why “locally grown” foods are our preferred choice. Without question, they are fresher, tastier and more wholesome. We can easily visit the farm, talk with the grower and ask any questions about ‘How’ the crops are produced. Since they are grown in the U.S.A., we know that they are grown to the highest agricultural standards in the world. We know that the grower lives in our community, raises his family here and attends our local church. In every way our local farmer is tied to our community. The dollars that we spend with our local farmer stays in our community and help our community grow and prosper.
So, does this same logic apply to our wines? Does that local Vineyard/Winery deserve our support? The answer is……”Maybe”!
Please consider a few ‘wine facts’. First, most Vineyard/Wineries in America today are simply…”Factories”. They are sourcing most of their inventory in the form of juices & concentrates from off-site sources. Some of these off-site sources are in the U.S.A., but many are not. Sadly, only about 30% of the Vineyard/Wineries in America today are growing all their own fresh grapes and fruits.
Fortunately, it’s easy for us to determine which local Vineyard/Winery to support. By law, every Vineyard/Winery ‘MUST’ tell us on their wine labels “How” their wines are produced. Look for the words…”GROWN, PRODUCED, VINTED & BOTTLED”… on their wine label. Only local Vineyard/Wineries with those words are worth your support and patronage.
If you are lucky enough to have a local Vineyard/Winery in your community that is doing all the right things, please pay them a visit. Just like the local farmer, ask questions, learn about their operations and share this knowledge with all your friends and family. There’s nothing better than….”Locally Grown Grape Wines”!
Until next time…….”Salute and Happy Days”
Pairing of Wines…“ Do You Really Need an Expert”?
One of the most contested and confusing parts of enjoying wines is the alleged “Pairing of Wines” by the “Experts”!
As the premier winery in Manatee County, BHV is constantly asked about ‘How’ wines should be paired. With this Blog, we will attempt to answer this question.
The mystic surrounding wine has been with us for a very long time. Today, most of us are removed from the process of growing grapes and fruits and creating wines. We have lost our connection to our wine heritage. Our daily lives dictate that we rely upon a plethora of ‘Experts’ and ‘Consultants’ to help us function in our modern world. Wine purchasing and enjoyment seems to be a perfect candidate for this ‘Expert’ help.
Please understand, most of our ‘Wine Experts’ today, are involved in the distribution and sales of wines. They rely upon the information provided by mostly distant and factory wineries. Most of these ‘Experts’ have never made a single bottle of wine. Most cannot even tell us the basic difference between ‘Unfiltered’ and ‘Filtered’ wines. When we go to ‘Wine Festivals’ or nice Restaurants the wines most often ‘Paired’ are those wines being promoted by the factory wineries. So, what do we do?
Well, the answer is to ‘EMPOWER’…YOU!!
From this day forward, YOU are empowered to make 100% of all the decisions regarding your choices of wines! What really counts is YOUR…Taste. If YOU like the taste, flavor and bouquet of the wine, then that’s a perfect choice! If YOU choose to enjoy your wine at room temperature, refrigerated or even with an ice cube, then that’s a perfect choice! If YOU choose to enjoy a red wine with a fish dinner or a white wine with a steak dinner, then that’s a perfect choice! If YOU choose to add a little extra sugar or a cinnamon stick to your glass of wine, then that’s a perfect choice!
No matter where your wine experience takes you, if it’s your choice it will always be…a perfect choice!
If ever again a wine ‘Expert’ should question your decision in wine, here’s what I want you to say……”I’m sorry, but this is NOT about you, it’s about ME!!”
Thank You…”Salute and Happy Days”!