August 12, 2012

Cheers to Vineyards and Compost Piles

Winery Weekend
This weekend, I took a trip to North East, PA, and Chautauqua, NY- and all the spaces in between.

We tasted wines, heard interesting music, saw original crafts, and braved the rain for a *free* vineyard tour at Johnson Estate Winery.

Aside from seeing a real live camera-shy coyote pup down one of the vineyard rows, the other highlight for me on the tour was a giant compost pile.

I would have been even more excited if it was a vermicomposting pile, but sometimes you have to settle:
Johnson Estate Winery compost pile

I tried almost every type of grape they grew, and here are some closeups:
Johnson Estate Winery
Johnson Estate Winery
Did you know vineyards take about 10 years before they mature and are ready to produce grapes that are wine-worthy?

Now that's patience!

Questions were welcome during the tour, and I wanted to know which animals ate grapes and were a nuisance.

Our guide and the owner himself, Mr. Johnson, told us deer (a little), groundhogs (a lot, but a lot less since the coyotes came to town), and birds.

Although this was not an organic farm, he did share three organic ways they scare birds away:

     1. We kept hearing what we assumed to be gun shots going off.  These were actually timed airguns.

     2. There were odd bunches of balloons and some mylar streamers tied to the ends of some of the rows, so we thought maybe they had a special party going on- no, more bird frighteners.

     3. Little speakers throughout the vineyard broadcast three noises: a starling tweeting a warning call, a hawk shrieking as he sees a delicious starling, and the starling shrieking as he gets gobbled up by the hawk. Morbid, but effective!

I didn't find any organic wineries to sample in the region we visited...but did you know:

     -Wines labeled "organic" must be made from organically grown grapes with no added sulfites (to be specific, less than 20 parts per million). Sulfites are typically used as a preservative, and some people have a sensitivity or allergy to sulfites.

     -Wines labeled as "made with organic ingredients" must contain a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients and list the ingredients on the label. 

If you'd like to visit the Lake Erie region wineries, read up on it here or click here.


No comments: