Featured Wine Events

Saturday, June 26th, 2010:

Spanish Whites for Seafood…and Paella! – The Party Source – 1:00-3:00 PM

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    • World Cup stars, Bordeaux and other fun wine news on Uncorked Cincinnati. http://bit.ly/9VS415 1 week ago
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    • Wine terminology: Staves - the slats of wood that make up the sides of a wine barrel. 1 week ago
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  • June 3rd, 2010

    Ah the Romance – A Bottle of Wine and….Burning Hay???

    This post is written by Uncorked Cincinnati contributing writer Aaron Fetters.  Aaron is a local wine connoisseur and wine maker who is extremely active in the Greater Cincinnati wine community.

    So much about wine speaks a romantic language to us: from its history dating back thousands of years, to the beauty of the vineyards from which the fruit is borne, to the careful artistic process the winemaker goes through to produce it.

    Photo by Rdesai

    Photo by Rdesai

    Add to those facts the traditional nuances of the drinking experience such as the distinct “pop” of a cork, the swirl of a glass, the pleasant aromatics, the fulfilling taste and wine becomes a downright peacemaker…if not full fledged aphrodisiac. However, how many times do we pause to consider the FULL story?

    A few weeks back those of us in Southern Ohio experienced something not all that rare for this part of the globe…a May frost. Now to most of us scurrying from home to job these mornings were nothing more than a chilly reminder that winter had not quite given up her grip just yet. However, for the local vineyards and winemakers, a May frost can be a taxing, and potentially very costly, headache. Typically the grapevines which produce wine variety grapes begin to bloom in our area around the middle of April. This is good as it means they will have five to six months of “growing season” to produce and ripen the year’s grape crop. However, it also leaves the vines with a risk of a late frost bite – one that would drastically reduce the total production of the vineyard and leave a winery with very little to work with come fall.

    On May 8th I went out to visit Harmony Hill Vineyards who were having a special open date for the Bethel Arts and Crafts day. While chatting with the owners I asked about the frosty nights, and if they had lost any of the crop. They explained to me that during the brisk nights Bill, the owner, would come out to the vineyard around 3:00 AM and begin burning hay bales! Bill would check the direction of the wind then setup burning hay bales so the warm smoke would drift over the vines, keeping them just warm enough to ward off the frost biting all around them. So how romantic does a 3:00 AM jaunt into the vineyard to setup some hay fires sound? Not much right?

    I guess you could say frost prevention is just one of the messy parts of the wine lifestyle. I’ve made a few batches of my own over the years, as well as spending time at Harmony Hill during harvest season.  And I must say – it’s not all romance. One of the first things that comes to my mind is bees – lots of bees! When you’re in the middle of crushing literally tons of grapes the bees find the resulting sweet juice to be something of a mecca. As you dump baskets full of grapes into a crushing machine you feel a bit like a honeymaker collecting the honey, only without the bee suit. Another thought is “oh my aching back.” Harvesting grapes from a small scale vineyard (where they are harvested the best way – by hand) includes plenty of time stooped over to pluck the clusters off the vines. By the end of the day your back really reminds you how romantic wine is!

    And finally I think of the incessant cleaning…and cleaning, and cleaning and…you get the picture. If cleanliness truly is next to Godliness, then wine is not only romantic but certainly very holy! Everything about the winemaking process must remain impeccably clean, which means loads of time spent with water and cleansing solution going over everything from baskets to tanks to piping to even bottles. By the time you’re done you feel like shaving your head, putting on an all white outfit and sticking in an earring (had to work in a Mr. Clean reference there somehow).

    So with all this said, here’s a request: the next time you and someone special sit down to dinner or just to unwind for the evening, and you pop the cork, sip some wine and start to feel all warm and fuzzy inside…take a moment to think of the wonderful folks who brought that wine to life…and of the burning hay bales that may have actually made that moment possible. Here’s to you all, and hoping you always Enjoy the First Miracle!

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