How much do YOU love Oliver?
Enter our photo contest for your chance to be featured on Oliver store displays across the country. We’re looking for the best photos of our fans enjoying Oliver Soft Red, Soft White and Soft Rosé. We want to see where you enjoy it, when you enjoy it, and how you enjoy it most. Be creative! Include yourself, your friends, your roommates, your parents, and of course a glass or bottle of your favorite Soft.
All entries must be received by 1:00 PM Monday, February 18, 2013. Up to 100 finalists will be selected over the course of the contest. We will announce contest winners March 1, 2013 at OliverWinery.com.
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Temperatures in the vineyard this morning teetered below 14 degrees. The forecast for Napa Valley, where many California wines are grown, was 72 degrees. We’re not complaining. Indiana winters give us amazing opportunities to be creative — both in winemaking, and in dress. The colder it is outside, the more we prepare ourselves for the eight hours of labor ahead. A blistering cold morning keeps us on our toes all day. And for some of us really creative types, it keeps our drinking water in a sock:
Of course we know about layers. We were born in ‘em. Carhartt? Yeah, we exchange Christmas cards every year. We all have overalls. Ross wears the arctic ones he bought out of desperation, and tucks them into his arctic boots that can sustain negative 30 degree temperatures, according to the box. That ought to do it out here.
A typical vineyard worker’s layers are as follows: 4-5 shirts, including thermals, vests and sweats; long johns under pants under overalls; vineyard boots, plus an extra pair of waterproof boots, similar to a mail carrier’s; hand and foot warmers sandwiched between two pairs of gloves and two pairs of socks; a hat; and usually something to cover the face.
One might assume we drink lots of locally grown, estate bottled wine to keep warm. Actually, just tea, mostly. Chai is our fav.
Oh, and we don’t get very good cell reception out here. Or Internet reception. Too cold. In fact, we’ve replaced all our smart phones with smart wool:
We had a couple birthdays at the winery this week, and a Creekbend cocktail sounded better than, say, a cupcake. This one is made with our Creekbend Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, white ginger syrup and a dash of club soda. It’s garnished with frozen grapes, because that’s the whole idea behind our Ice Wine.
Vidal grapes are harvested frozen in mid-winter from our Creekbend Vineyard here in Indiana. We wait until it’s really, really cold to pick these grapes. Temperatures need to be below 10 degrees for at least 24 hours to get the desired concentration. When this happens, much of the water in the berry becomes trapped in pure ice crystals, with the surrounding fluid containing the concentrated sugar, acidity and flavors. Much of the interesting flavors of a good Ice Wine come from the effect of the grapes hanging out in the elements through the fall and early winter. This particular Ice Wine was born from the incredible 2007 crop, the best growing season ever.
Ice Wine Ginger Pop:
3 ounces Vidal Blanc Ice Wine
1/2 tsp white ginger syrup
Stir together and pour over ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with frozen grapes.
Pruning at Creekbend is a winter-long project. With 54 acres to prune and only three of us in the vineyard, plus some assistance from the landscaping crew (including the lovely Sheila, above), we have quite enough to keep us busy until March. We will be working any day that it isn’t raining or blowing snow horizontally. Today, we’re pruning the Catawba field, just under 13 acres of vines.
Why do we prune? Pruning focuses the growth of the vine where we want it, and determines how much fruit a vine will produce. Grape variety, location, soil conditions and climate all play a role in how best to prune a vine.
We have 33,000 vines ranging from 2 to 18 years old. The younger vines require a lot more attention to ensure that the trunks and cordons are the best quality in order for them to last 25 or 30 years. This has been made even more difficult because of the severe freeze event we had last spring which caused a lot of tissue damage.
The older vines are more resilient, and have made it through the last two years of drought, though next year will be the telling year. We do spur pruning on all our vines, normally leaving two or three bud spurs. This regulates next year’s crop, but we still have to adjust some varieties due to their ability to produce very bountiful crops.
Last year we built a trailer that has greatly enhanced the pruning experience for the vineyard crew. As you can see in the pictures we ride on the back of the 15 foot trailer and adjust the height so the cordon is at a very comfortable level. This is not only more ergonomic, it has reduced the pruning time by more than 25 percent!
We threw many parties in our 40th anniversary year, which called for the making of many, many drinks. Here are five of our favorite signature cocktails of 2012, with recipes for mixing them at home. Just a small thank you to our wonderful fans and customers who made this year so special for us. Cheers to 2013 — may you only drink delicious wine, and discover new favorites along the way!
The Berry Zinful
4 ounces Oliver Zinfandel
6 ounces Orangina
1 ounce raspberry simple syrup
1/2 tsp mulling spices
Stir, pour over ice and serve.
3.5 oz Maximum Port
3.5 oz Orangina
1.5 oz lemon juice
1.5 oz club soda
Pinch of zest
2 tsp mulling spice
Stir and pour over ice. Garnish with an orange slice.
4.5 ounces Creekbend Chambourcin Rosé
4.5 ounces ginger ale
1 ounce Oliver Blackberry Wine
Pour over ice, stir, and garnish with fresh or frozen blackberries.
6 ounces Creekbend Vidal Blanc Sparkling
1 ounce Oliver Blackberry Wine
Garnish with one fresh blackberry and a sprig of mint.
St. Nick’s Crush
Combine ¾ tsp Clementine Brown Sugar mixer (below) with 1½ tsp Roasted Cranberry Clove mixer (below) and 6 oz Oliver Beanblossom Blush. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and fresh cranberries.
Clementine Brown Sugar Mixer: Heat ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup water over medium heat until dissolved. Steep the peel from one clementine in the brown sugar mixture for at least one hour. Strain, stir in 1 tsp of vanilla and the juice from ½ clementine.
Roasted Cranberry Clove Mixer: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread cranberries over a pan and sprinkle with 1 tsp of ground clove. Roast cranberries for 10 minutes. Heat ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water over medium heat until dissolved. Steep cranberries to sugar mixture for 2-4 hours. Strain, and refrigerate.
Some words about this weekend’s River Rocks Hot Air Balloon Festival from our pilot, Warren Smith:
Friday was a beautiful sunny fall afternoon. The wind was light and variable which presented our first problem. We were to fly out of Coolridge Park. The decision was made to reconvene in Coolidge Park to take a look at the winds. I met with our passengers from Sports Wine and Spirits. I told them we were to do a supplemental weather briefing at Coolidge Park and they opted to meet us there. Once we were all assembled again in Coolidge Park, the decision was made not to risk the flight but to do a glow instead. A good crowd was on hand. It was a beautiful evening.
By 6:15 AM Saturday the phone rang and the flight was canceled due to rain. Some rain was out to the west of us so the decision was made to go ahead and do the glow. We were the headliner and were placed close to the bridge where the Wine over Water event was being held.
Another good crowd was on hand for Sunday evening’s event. Sunday morning the pilot briefing was at 6:45 AM. Our passengers for this morning’s flight were from Hamilton liquors. A good flight was had by all. We landed in a hay field about six miles from the launch site. This balloon is one of the prettiest designs that anyone has ever seen. It is a crowd favorite. I am very proud and fortunate to be a part of the Oliver Winery balloon team. Thank you for another great year. I look forward to flying for the Winery again in 2013!
See the full photo album on Facebook.