Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

Trimmin’ Traminette

Duff and Leif set about getting their field north of Possum Lake ready for summer. They have several rows of Traminette vines that were planted last year, but due to a bad case of downy mildew at the end of last summer (which had a never ending monsoon of rain, great for fungal diseases!), the vines had lost almost all growth.

Beyond the mildew, one must also contend with the voracious appetites of the Cumberland County white-tail. One would think that with the fields of oats, wheat, soybeans, hay, and sweet corn that cover Cumberland County, plus the odd manicured lawn, the deer would not have much use for grape vines. But as Duff’s father would say, that’s what you get for thinking. Deer will try and eat whatever is before them, even if they don’t like it, out of sheer boredom it seems.

This year is going to be different!

First Duff taught Leif how to trim back the vine to three or four healthy buds.  As it is early spring, the interior of the cane where it is still alive is green. Often there would be up to 6ft of dead vine from the downy mildew before one started finding green stem. After Leif got the hang of finding the living part of the vine, he would count three or four buds up from the roots, and prune the rest off. This was so the plant would focus its energy in making those few buds into long canes, not making 10 or 20 short little ones.

Meanwhile, Duff played John Henry, pounding oak stakes next to all the vines. This is for deer. Well, not so much for the deer, but rather to spite the deer. Tree tubes are placed next to the stakes and around the vines. The top of the tube is zip-tied to the oak stake. The base of the tube is buried mulch, and the vine after being trimmed is at the bottom.

Leif was a real trooper, and due to exercising at 7000ft regularly, thought running the oak stakes and tree tubes up and down the rows was easy work, even with the hard winds coming off the mountain. Enough light can still get through the blue tubes for the plant to grow.

So far, the deer have not taken to eating plastic tree tubes, which will protect the poor vines up until at least mid-summer, when the vine should poke out the top. When coupled with a bit more judicious spraying and a bit less rain, the vines should do well.

 

Posted by Anja Weyant

Andrew and Amanda’s Wedding

Although the rest of the barn is not ready for the Winery to use yet, it has come along way in the last month. It was just enough space for a 45 person wedding. It’s amazing what you can do with fabric and twinkle lights! Eventually it will be a perfect size for private events at the Winery like bridal showers or painting events.

 

But for the Winery to use it we would need the proper inspections first.

Posted by Samantha Weyant Shaffer and Anja Weyant

What’s in the rest of the barn?

Zach and his friends have been working hard on the center section of the barn.  They are preparing for a small wedding this weekend.  Zach leveled and secured the floor with insulation and plywood.  They also drywalled and primed several sections of wall.

For the wedding twinkle lights and fabric will be hung to cover the unfinished areas.  This will be a great practice run for when the Winery holds events in the future.  It will also serve as extra space when the weather is too poor to use the deck.

There is still a lot of work to be done before it is ready to use by the Winery but the progress is exciting.

Posted by Anja Weyant and Samantha Weyant Shaffer

Why We Use Cork in Our Winery

Cork is a sustainably harvested product that is natural, renewable and recyclable.  Cork forests support high levels of biodiversity and prevent desertification in the Mediterranean region , where most of these forests are found. Additionally, cork oak trees store carbon in order to regenerate their bark.  According to WWF, a harvested cork oak tree absorbs up to five times more carbon than one that is not, and cork forests absorb millions of tons of CO2 each year.  With a global decline in the natural cork use for wine, cork trees are being lost and countries are experiencing desertification, which also threatens the habitats of some critically endangered species, like the Iberian Lynx in Portugal.

Let’s start with a brief summary of the types of wine bottle closures:

Natural Corks
Natural cork has several advantages, it is a natural product, it is porous and traditionalists will say that cork creates the perfect oxygen/wine ratio for cellar aging. The oxygen transfer rate of natural cork is approximately 0.0179 mg/L or between 3.00 and 6.83 micrograms of O2/day. Cork is also recyclable and cork forests contribute to biodiversity and prevent desertification of the Mediterranean region. A high quality cork offers long term aging potential, though with very high end wines it is recommended to re-cork after 25 years, as the cork will start to fail at that time.

But there are some major disadvantages, including problems with leakage as well as sources of off-odors. Leakages can be caused by structural imperfections of the cork itself, of it could be caused by wrongly aligning the cork and bottle during the corking process. Rapid temperature changes may also cause leakage. Another serious problem with cork is the possibility of off odors, including TCA (Trichloroanisole), as well as microbial growth from a variety of sources.

Concerns about structural imperfections of corks as well as cork taints have been the major reason for the development of alternative closures.

Synthetic Corks
Synthetic corks are inexpensive, they are consistent and they will never have the taint issues of real cork. They can also be used without the need for new bottling equipment. However, plastic allows the diffusion of oxygen at varying levels, ranging from 0.0052 cc/day to 0.0076 cc/day, while other evaluations of synthetic cork show diffusion from 5.7 to 13.99 micrograms of O2/day. Oxidation of wines under a synthetic cork can be observed as early as in a year, though ongoing research is addressing this issue. Plastics are not generally a renewable resource.

Screw Caps
Metal screwcaps are a major alternative to cork when it comes to closures. The metal cap itself is not the actual closure; rather the bottle is sealed with a plastic foam pad that is either lined with saran and a tin layer, or saranex only. A main advantage of these closures is that they are very consistent; they are great at retaining SO2 and they minimize oxidation. They are pilfer proof, and eliminate the need for a cork screw. There is no risk of TCA and the bottles do not need to lie on their sides.

There is some research suggesting that screw caps may lead to reduction in wine (the opposite of oxidation.) And there is still disagreement as to the aging potential of wine closed with a screw cap. Another disadvantage is the cost of investing in a capping machine, which starts around $8000. The various types of screw caps in the market are not standardized so a capping machine is specific to one type of screw cap only.

“Engineered” or “Technical” Corks
A technical or engineered cork is basically made of shredded natural cork that is then “glued” back together and molded into the traditional cork shape. This type of cork provides all the advantages of natural cork, but eliminates the problems of cork taint (from musty smells to TCA) and inconsistencies with oxygen permeation caused by technical imperfections. Different grades of cork are used in this process, which – just as with the natural cork – influences the number of years that the cork is guaranteed for. This typically ranges from 2, 3, 5 and 10 years.

Regarding overall market perceptions, cork closures are still the preferred method of closures in the US for all wines, but even in countries where alternative closures are well accepted, many wineries opt to use traditional cork closures.

When deciding about the best wine closure, the overall environmental impact should not be underestimated! Cork is a sustainably harvested product. It is produced primarily by the Cork Oak (Quercus suber), but the tree does not get cut down in order to harvest the cork. The cork oak is the only tree, where all the bark can be stripped without harming the trunk. Harvesting cork starts when a tree is around 30 years old, and is repeated every 10 years or so – for about 200 years per tree.

We know that by using natural cork, we are helping save cork trees in Portugal, across Europe, and in the Mediterranean region!

Here are some links where you can learn more about how corks are sustainably harvested and the importance of cork trees:

Cork Forest Conservation Alliance

“Save a Tree, Use Real Cork” The New York Times, 2013

Cork Quality Council

 

Posted by The Long Shot Farm

First Weekend Open

It’s beautiful out but it is windy.  The deck is ready, the tasting room is buzzing with anticipation and cars are in the parking lot at 4:51.  The Winery is finally opening to the public.

Friday evening started out beautiful but the weather became so cold and windy that is was impossible to enjoy a drink on the deck.  However, many guests enjoyed a brief peak at the view.  As a result everyone was inside.  There were not enough chairs so Tina brought her own dining room chairs over from the house.  People lined the hallways, the bar, and just stood around holding drinks and balancing their flights.

Speaking of flights…they weren’t something that we were originally going to pursue.  But by 6 o’clock someone had asked about them, and by 7 we were out of dishes.  Saturday morning a quick run to the restaurant store secured more flight boards and glasses. We are selling flights for $10 now and it’s a great way to taste 4 of our wines.

Rachel and Sam manned the bar while Tina and Jeff answered questions.

Lars was running around carrying cases of wine, restocking behind the bar and running the dishwasher.

No one was really sure what to expect.  Will people just stop in, buy something and leave? Will people want samples? Should we do free samples?  Will people hang out? Will anyone even come? But by Sunday the Weyants were relieved to learn that all of their hard work over the past decade had culminated in a successful opening weekend.

Posted by Anja Weyant