Getting Ready for Taste of Granville

This is our third year to participate in the Taste of Granville event at Bryn Du Mansion.   The event is hosted by the Granville Rotary Club and they use the proceeds to support many worthy projects.  Check out their website at http://www.granvillerotary.org/ if you’d like to learn more about the Rotary Club.

Preparing for the event starts much earlier than today.   For the 2017 event, the club contacted us and other prospective participants back in November 2016 to get commitments.  By March, decisions need to be made regarding the wines we will be offering, the cost for the wines and whether we need a volunteer to help us.

So why do they need to know the cost of the wines.  Aren’t we just donating the wine? That would be great; but it is also illegal.  The State of Ohio requires us to charge for wine even if it’s to a charitable organization. Many organizations have asked us to donate wine for different events but we just aren’t able to do it.  The Granville Rotary Club sets it up so that we can participate including having the required liquor permit for the event.   And they ask if we need a volunteer because we can’t legally pour the wine for the tasting either.

It’s time for me to get all the wine in cases, gather the tablecloths and business cards, etc. for our table.  I hope the rain finishes up this afternoon.  The event starts at 5 pm with doors opening at 4 pm for VIP ticket holders.  We’ll be in the Field House, so we won’t get wet.   But the event is across three buildings and the Food Trucks are outside, so they get a lot more people attending when it’s nice out!  If you plan to attend, please stop by and say hello!

Diana

Spring Flower Beds, Hornets & Wasps

We’re less than two weeks from opening and I’m working to get our flower beds in shape.  I love to work on the flower gardens and was very happy with them during the first few years we were here.  After we opened the winery, it became more and more challenging to do much at all with flowers with a full time job.  It got to the point that I only focused on the winery patio and the rest of the gardens were weeded and that’s about it.  Now, I am so excited to have the time to work more of the flower beds!  They won’t be exactly how I want them this year, but at least I can make some improvements.

Yesterday was the first day to start cleaning out the flower beds on the winery patio. The flower bed closest to the parking lot was first and it was the worst!   It’s full of day lilies,  irises, hostas and creeping phlox.  In between all of them were weeds, mostly grassy type weeds.  They were individual grasses that you had to pick from in between the plant leaves.  It took about two hours to clean that one flower bed.

While I was out there, I was constantly having to watch for wasps.  They have been out in force around here for the last week.  I learned a trick that’s targeted to keep away hornets, but tends to also reduce the number of wasps around, too.  It’s a simple trick using a paper bag.  Hornets build those big paper nests.  They are territorial, so if they see a nest, they’ll go elsewhere to build.  If you hang a filled paper bag in a tree or anywhere in plain site, hornets will stay away.  I filled mine with wine bottle corks.  The picture shows it tied up with a plastic bag, but I’ll replace the white bag with twine when I pick some up.  Some people fill the bag with plastic grocery bags.   Last year, the hornets kept building nests on the patio and we kept knocking them down.  Once we hung the bag out by the patio, they quit building nests.   I was amazed, but it makes sense.  I plan to try the same thing with burlap bags as soon as they get here from Amazon.

Enjoying Spring!

Introducing our New Website!!!

We’re a small winery, so we do as much as we can ourselves and that includes web design and publishing.  A few years ago, I heard there was new website development software that could change your site based on whether the user was on a desktop PC, a laptop, cell phone, etc.   Our Three Oaks Vineyard website didn’t do that.  It got really small when you tried to see it on your cell phone.  So back in 2014, I purchased some software to upgrade our site.  What I didn’t have was the time available to learn the new software.  Fast forward to 2017 and retirement.  Now I have time and now I need to get it done before we open.  Why?  Because once we open, I won’t have time.  🙂

Of course, you can imagine, the software from 2014 just wasn’t going to do it.  So… time to upgrade.  I really have grown to love Coffeecup software and I went with their Responsive Site Designer.  Compared to other software, it’s low cost and the support is awesome!  I can ask a question at midnight and have an answer in a short period of time, sometimes a few minutes.

Our new site is much cleaner!  The menu is the same, so anyone who has used the site in the past should be able to easily navigate.   The page I like the most is our event page.  I struggled with it using my old VSD software.  There just wasn’t a good way to show the events.  This new software provides a number of ways to set up the page and organize information.

Please check out our new Three Oaks Vineyard website soon.  And go to the events page as you may see some events you’d like to attend.  Hope to see you in the near future!!

Diana

 

 

It’s time for some lab work

Yesterday, I headed downstairs to the lab to work for the first time since I retired in March.  I had already spent a day scrubbing down the floors, tabletop and shelves.  I inventoried the supplies, threw away any expired items and ordered anything requiring replacement.   So why do any lab work now and what are we doing?

It’s April, so Pete and I are starting to do some final steps for the wine that we started last fall.  We have limited space in our production room and only so much tank capacity. We will need all of our tanks to be empty when harvest season arrives, so we have a deadline for bottling the wine.  Given we have not elected to barrel age any of our wine, we can bottle now and still allow the wine to age.

Since we will be working with all of the wine over the next month, any prioritization is based on the wine left in inventory.  We are out of Concord wine (oh no!), so I’m starting there.    At this point in the process, we need to know the pH (acidity) of the wine, the TA (Total Acidity), residual sugar level, percent alcohol by volume and the total SO2 (sulfites).

Getting into the details  (Geek alert!)

Why pH?  We measure pH to understand the acidity of the wine and use the results to know the level of sulfur dioxide required.   Sulfur dioxide is used to reduce the risk of oxidation and as a preservative.  You see it mentioned on wine labels as sulfites.  The higher the pH (less acidic), the more sulfur dioxide required.

What about TA (Total Acidity)?  How is that different than pH?  Total Acidity measures the perception of acidity by the wine drinker.  It’s related to the tartness, sourness or crispness of a wine.  Based on the TA test results, the winemaker may want to work with the wine to get it to be within a certain range.

Residual sugar is a measure of the sweetness of the wine.  There are many ways for a winemaker to reach a desired level of residual sugar.   It starts with the level of sugar (Brix) when the grapes are harvested.  Next, the type of yeast used.  Yeast can only tolerate alcohol to a certain point.  Some yeast can tolerate more alcohol, some less.  The winemaker can use this to their advantage for alcohol levels and residual sugar.  Another method is called back sweetening wine and there are multiple ways to accomplish it.

We measure alcohol by volume for two reasons.  First, for you as the customer.  Many customers want to know how potent their wine is.  As alcohol levels change, the taste of the wine can be impacted.  Most winemakers have a target level based on a specific wine and will want to meet the level to get just the right taste.  Secondly, the State of Ohio wants to know.  We pay excise taxes on wine produced.  At a state level, it can change based on the percent alcohol by volume.

Last, and probably of highest importance, we measure SO2 (sulfur dioxide).  As long as the wine is in tanks, we need to maintain the right levels to protect the wine.  We also measure and adjust SO2 right before bottling to maintain the flavor and freshness.

Believe it or not, this is a fairly high level description.  You can do some google searches and find some very, very technical explanations.  I also only included the basic or generic version.   There are some standard practices, but I’ve learned that every winemaker works a little different.  It’s not a matter of wrong or right.  We all add our “fingerprint” to the wines we make.  That’s what makes it a craft and a joy!

 

Behind the scenes at a winery

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On March 10, 2017, I retired from my position as an IT Director at Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide is a wonderful place to work, the people are awesome, the work is challenging and it’s located in the beautiful city of Columbus, Ohio. I had been working in technical and leadership IT positions at large corporations for most of my career. The companies where I have worked include Firestone (which became Bridgestone/Firestone), SAIC and finally Nationwide. But it was time for me to take a big step and make a change.

My husband and I started a vineyard in 2006 and opened our winery in 2012. From 2012 on, we’ve been able to run the winery with Pete working full time and me working part time. Late in 2016, it become evident that we had to make a choice. If we wanted to continue the winery, I needed to go full time. So as of March 10, I retired from my career in the corporate world and here I am.

During my last week at work, I saw Brooke Ignet Hocker and commented on how much I enjoyed her informative Facebook posts and blog (not to mention her book and TED talk). She inspired me to post my first 30 days of retirement on Facebook. It sounded like fun, so I went with it. Each day that I wrote, I found that I actually enjoyed writing and my friends encouraged me to continue. Another friend, Kris Close, had the idea to write a blog about what we do “behind the scenes” at the winery.

And so, it begins. My plan is to inform and educate in an informal, hopefully fun and personal style. Enjoy!