The conference will share with the world two unrecognized and most versatile grape varietals, Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah. These two varietals are represented in every major wine growing area of the world, however, Clarksburg is the only winegrowing region where they both flourish. [Read more…]
by Sally Colby
Visitors to Airfield Estates Winery may think they’ve taken a trip back in time to the 1940s, when Stearman bi-winged airplanes and trained airmen waited for orders to fly. The Prosser, WA property once served as training grounds for military pilots, but today the acreage is devoted to a thriving grape-growing and winery business for the Miller family.
The Miller’s farm is in the heart of the Yakima Valley Appellation, on the same latitude as the Bordeaux region of France. “We realized that we were in a good place,” said Miller, “but we couldn’t figure out if we should plant the vineyards and wait for the wineries come to us, or vice versa.”
“In 1978, we lost our sugar beet industry,” said Miller. “That was one of our key cash crops. We were looking for alternative crops, and had already been growing some grapes, so we signed a contract with Chateau Ste Michelle to grow 100 acres of grapes. That turned into about 850 acres.” [Read more…]
by Sally Colby
Like many vineyard owners, Richard Naylor was already making wine for himself when he purchased a farm in Stewartstown, PA. Although he didn’t have plans to create a vineyard and a winery, a friend suggested that Naylor plant grapes to sell to winemakers. Naylor agreed, and the first year he planted seven acres in seven grape varieties. “It was mostly labruscas for grape juice,” Naylor recalls. “We also planted Niagara, Worden, vinifera and Zinfandel, but the Zinfandel didn’t hold up in the winter weather.”
Today, Naylor Wine Cellars grows more than 30 grape varieties on the gently rolling hills of York County, surrounded by lush farmland yet easily accessible to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Naylor says that although he didn’t originally select the site with grape growing in mind, it turned out to be ideal for that purpose. “The whole area is one of the finest sites for east of the Rockies for growing grapes,” he said. “We’re at about 1,100 ft. and the soil is rock schist. When we drilled a well for the new building, we went down 15 ft. and hit sand.”
Although Naylor had accumulated knowledge about making wine as he made it for himself, he wanted to learn more. He traveled to Europe where he discovered Chambourcin, which he says is his favorite grape variety. “We have six acres in Chambourcin grapes,” said Naylor. “It’s disease-resistant and has good acidity. We make about six different wines with it.” After visiting with other growers, Naylor had a good idea of what he wanted to plant. He started planting vines in 1975 and had his first harvest in 1978. Naylor Wine Cellars currently has 22 acres in production with about 30 grape varieties. [Read more…]
by Bill and Mary Weaver
The establishment of a new industry, based on a plant not believed to be suited to the target area, requires a number of far-seeing people. This was certainly the case in the tenuous beginnings of the wine and wine grape industry in Minnesota and Wisconsin along the Upper Mississippi. Breeders at the University of Minnesota — going back to 1900 and the breeding work of Elmer Swenson, considered the “Godfather of Cold-Hardy Grape Breeders” — were a necessary part. But equally necessary was the role played by John Marshall who tested, grew, and disseminated the vines that convinced other potential growers this was possible.
Marshall first came to believe in the possibilities of a Minnesota grape industry in the 1970s, before the best new varieties had been developed. Back then growers routinely removed their vines from the trellises and buried them under soil or straw to protect them from Minnesota’s punishing winter cold. This, Marshall believed, was impractical. There had to be a better way.
As cold hardy varieties were found or bred, he planted them, developed expertise in working with them, and in many cases discovered they were every bit as cold hardy as he’d hoped. To encourage other growers to try these cold hardy varieties, he first tried selling these fully cold-hardy cuttings to nurseries, but no one was interested. “They didn’t seem to comprehend that there was a whole new industry in the making,” he commented ruefully. [Read more…]
by Karl H. Kazaks
Great wine isn’t the only thing that’s made in the vineyard. Sometimes, great winemaking careers are born in the vines, too.
Vinny Aliperti, owner and winemaker at Billsboro Winery and winemaker at Atwater Estate Vineyards — both situated near Seneca Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region — began his career in the wine industry working in the vineyards at Wölffer Estate, on Long Island.
“Originally I thought the vineyards is where I wanted to be,” Aliperti said. “But as it turns out the cellar won out.”
Aliperti spent three years apprenticing in the cellars at Wölffer, learning the fundamentals of winemaking from Roman Roth, Wölffer’s long-time winemaker.
“He got me off on the right foot,” Aliperti said. [Read more…]
by Kelly Gates
The Missouri River Valley is a fertile strip of land originally settled by the Germans in the 1800s. Similar to the Rhine River region in Europe, the Missouri River Valley boasts land rich with loamy soil and an average of over 60 inches of rainfall per year.
These elements make Missouri a prime spot for growing grapes, which is why approximately 120 wineries operate there today. One of them, Yellow Farmhouse Vineyard and Winery, was founded in 2005 by former attorney Dale Rollings.
“I had been making wine as a hobby in my basement for about 35 years so when it came time to retire, I decided to open a winery,” Rollings told Wine & Grape Grower. “I started searching for land in St. Charles County and found an abandoned bed and breakfast on the corner of Highway 94 and the main road that leads into the town of Defiance. It is one of the first things people see when they come into the area, so it was the perfect location for a winery.”
Along with a large yellow farmhouse that was once used as the B&B’s main facility, Rollings acquired four acres of land with his initial purchase. He then added nearly six more acres-all land that had been used for hogs and cattle for over 100 years. [Read more…]
by Karl H. Kazaks
As veteran pilots of the U.S. Air Force, Mark Beres, Marc Moeller and Tom Kitchens could aptly be called meticulous and far-seeing. Some might could call them savvy, even lucky. However you choose to look at it, it’s hard to discount the impact they are having on Arizona’s winemaking community.
These three founders of one of southern Arizona’s newest wineries — Flying Leap Vineyards — have hatched a well-crafted strategy to position their winery at the high-end of the market, aiming to sell (for now) exclusively to retail customers at a number of tasting rooms throughout the region.
With the acquisition earlier this year of Canelo Hills Vineyard and Winery in Elgin — a 10 acre vineyard and winery on the Sonoita Wine Trail (an easy drive south from Tucson) — Flying Leap Vineyards has been able to move forward its business plan by about five years. Purchasing the winery, said Beres, “was like a slingshot for our business.” [Read more…]
by Kelly Gates
For those who have never been to Texas Hill Country, it is a place for those who love the outdoors. For people who enjoy horseback riding. And camping. And very good wine.
The beauty and recreational appeal of the area was enticing enough to coax the Holmberg family to move there from Houston back in 1993. Once they settled in, the desire to do something useful with the 125-acre parcel of Comfort, TX land they purchased led the former urbanites to start a vineyard.
“My wife Julie and I always had a passion for wine, having visited wine regions in Europe, South Africa, Washington and California,” Dick Holmberg, founder of the winery, Singing Water Vineyards, told Wine & Grape Grower. “We talked to a local consultant about the possibility of having a vineyard here, knowing that Texas Hill Country is an American Viticutural Area, and we discovered that it is not only suitable, one area on the property is quite good for growing grapes.”
The couple, along with daughter Ann and son Dick Jr., had previously used their land for camping, as there was no dwelling on site. So when they decided to start growing grapes, they also chose to construct a home, making it a permanent move.
According to Holmberg, Julie busied herself with the contractors who built their new home while he oversaw the planting of their first vineyard. [Read more…]