Cheers to the Oliver balloon

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!

Warren Smith

See the full photo album on Facebook.

Indiana Cheese-A Taste of Capriole Farms

Post by Amber Williams, Retail Manager

Located on 80 acres nestled in the rolling hills of Greenville, Indiana lays one of our favorite hidden gems. Capriole Farms is home to a herd of 500 goats, one lovable and adorable Corgi named Whitney and marvelous cheese maker Judy Schad. If you are not yet familiar with Capriole Farms Goat Cheese, let us be the first (but certainly not the last!) to sing their praise.

Judy and her family bought their farm in 1976 with the dream of living a more sustainable lifestyle. It was a 4-H project with her oldest son that led to their first goat, Banda, who would become the foundation for their herd. More than 20 years later, Judy and her ever growing herd have won countless awards not only across the United States, but also many at the International level as well.

Since spring has sprung, what better way to celebrate all of the flavors of the season than with fresh cheeses!  Goat cheese is wonderful paired with the crisp acidity of our Vidal Blanc Sparkling wine or Sauvignon Blanc, the fresh berry flavors of Shiraz or the delicate sweetness of Riesling.

Visit us in the month of April, and receive 25% off any of our Capriole Farms selections.  We carry a variety of options perfect for your next picnic at the winery, cheese plate at home or to top crisp salads the next time you have guests over. Our management team had the opportunity not so long ago to visit the farm, learn about the cheese and enjoy a wonderful lunch prepared by Judy herself!  This recipe for Pecan Crusted Goat Salad with Raspberry Dressing (below) is one she shared with us along with some of our favorite Oliver wines.

Whitney the Corgi, nose to nose with a friendly goat.

Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Dressing

Red or black raspberries work beautifully in this recipe. Serves 4

Raspberry-Poppy Seed dressing:

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. minced red onion
  • 1 tsp. french mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds


  • 2 rounds of 5oz. Capriole fresh goat cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tsp. butter, melted
  • 6 ounces mesclun mix (about 8 cups lightly packed)

Blend all the dressing ingredients, except ½ cup raspberries, the oil, and poppy seeds, in a food processor. With processor running, gradually add oil. Add poppy seeds and blend 5 seconds. Preheat oven to 350°F.  With dental floss split each round of cheese into 2 halves about ½ “ thick.  Whisk egg and 1 tablespoon water in small bowl to blend. Place flour in another small bowl. Place pecans in shallow dish. Roll goat cheese slices in flour, then dip into egg mixture, then roll in pecans to coat, pressing gently to adhere. Place cheese in glass baking dish; drizzle lightly with butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the pecans are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Divide mesclun among 4 plates. Top each with 2 warm cheese slices. Drizzle with dressing. Garnish each plate with the remaining ½ cup raspberries.

Canadice, Jupiter, Lakemont, Marquis, Reliance…

Post by Pam Bonin, Marketing Manager

Canadice, Jupiter, Lakemont, Marquis, Reliance….

No, these are not the top 5 baby names of 2011.  They are the names of the tasty table grapes from Creekbend Vineyard. This is the first year we have harvest these delicious grapes and they are now on sale in the tasting room.  These are the best table grapes I have ever tasted!  So fresh, so juicy and so flavorful.  They each have their own unique flavors and you can actually taste the difference.

These won’t last long!  We are expecting to have freshly-picked table grapes for sale on the weekends in the tasting room for the next few weeks.  Just ask a staff member to point you in the right direction!  Each variety is $3.50/lb.

If you are making a special trip out to the winery, just give us a call to make sure we still have some available for sale.

Spearheads at Creekbend-watch your step!

Post by Pam Bonin, Marketing Manager

We found one!

While filming our next segment for Creekbend in Bloom, Bernie, our Vineyard Manager, found an ancient artifact – a spearhead! It was just sitting on top of the dampened soil under a Catawba vine – clean and polished as can be. Of course, Casey, our graphic designer and I continued to search for more thinking they traveled in packs.

It was a good find by Bernie – he has sharp eyes! I rarely think to look down when I am at Creekbend because the beautiful vistas are mesmerizing. From now on I’ll be looking where I’m walking.

Keep an eye out for the next Creekbend in Bloom. We got some great video and photos of budbreak and the frost fans.

Spring is just around the corner!

Post by Marian Keith, Landscape Supervisor

In the midst of all the snow and ice we’ve been experiencing, it may seem hard to believe that spring is nearly within sight. But by the end of February, increasing daylight and warmer temperatures will begin to break up the monotonous cold and we will see stirrings of life and definite signs that winter is on its way out. As the earth warms and becomes active, the first green tips of spring bulbs will break through the surface of the soil. Birds will start singing their morning songs and insects will be seen humming sleepily about, waking up from their long winter’s nap.

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Blue Pearl’, blooms in late winter
Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) are a welcome sign of spring

At Oliver Winery, the first flowers to appear are always our parking lot island plantings of Crocus chrysanthus.  Opening as early as the last week in February if sunny weather permits, these small but bright sparks of purple, blue and gold are like healing medicine to my winter-weary spirit.  The crocus are accompanied by snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii), which bloom in drifts of fresh white above the thawing ground.

Daffodil ‘Jetfire’ is bright, beautiful and vigorous
Scilla siberica is the perfect complement to early daffodils

As March rolls around, waves of daffodils will begin to open in succession, led by ‘Jetfire’, a perky and vigorous favorite of mine with golden, swept-back petals and a long, bright orange cup.  These are gorgeous in combination with the electric blue blooms of Scilla siberica, a tough, easy and inexpensive little bulb that naturalizes freely here.  Next in line is miniature daffodil ‘Tete a Tete’, and then breezy ‘Barret Browning’, whose fresh white petals surround a small, vivid orange cup.  This last beauty makes a spectacular show beneath the lavender-flocked branches of our stand of eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis).

Tulip ‘Juan’ blooms brilliantly in late March

The first tulips start to flaunt their colors towards the very end of March.  Among the best and brightest is ‘Juan’, a variety I consistently use from year to year.  Its unbelievably brilliant red petals are glowing yellow at the base, and are set off by decorative, blue-green foliage that is mottled and striped with purple.  Like other Fosteriana tulips, ‘Juan’ will perennialize well if not eaten by critters (we have no such luck).  It is particularly smashing in combination with blue hyacinths.

Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades’ look great with everything!

One of my absolute favorite early spring bulbs is Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades’.  These cheerful, daisylike flowers form low, spreading pools of pale to deep blue among the feet of taller bulbs and emerging perennials.  Although beautiful anywhere, they look particularly amazing with orange and apricot-hued tulips such as ‘Orange Emperor’ or ‘Daydream’.  Let them to go to seed as I do, and they will eventually make breathtaking drifts.  White and pink varieties are also available, and these may cross with the blue ones if planted nearby, making for some fun new color surprises.

‘Daydream’ tulips glow against a scrim of lavender-flowered eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Oliver Winery is the perfect place to drink in the sights, smells and sounds of the first warm days of the year.  Come celebrate spring with us by enjoying a picnic by the pond and a stroll down our many winding, flower-lined paths.  On cooler days, our porch and patio heaters allow guests to sit outdoors comfortably while enjoying a glass of wine in the fresh air and sunshine.  We look forward to seeing you here!  It won’t be long now before everything bursts into life again.

Delightful Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Post by Pam Bonin, Marketing Manager

If you are looking to stay in this Valentine’s Day, we have a few recipes that will be great additions to your menu. Customers’ interest in dessert wines and sparkling wines always peak around this time of year. So we have included some great recipes using our Vidal Blanc Sparkling Wine, Maximum Port and Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. One of these recipes is surprisingly savory using our Maximum Port. We hope you enjoy. All of these recipes are staff-tested. Thank you Kandy and Kathy!

Peach & Sparkling Wine Sorbet
This light and fresh sorbet can be served as a palate cleanser in between courses or as a dessert after a rich, savory meal. Please note that this recipe requires an ice cream/sorbet maker. Makes 1 quart.

1 1/2 pounds peaches (Can substitute frozen, unsweetened peaches for fresh)
1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbs
3 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup Creekbend Vidal Blanc Sparkling Wine (substitute Muscat Canelli for a little extra sweetness)
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Put peaches in a large saucepan and cover them with boiling water. Cook 2 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water. Peel peaches; halve them and remove pits. Slice and transfer to food processor. Coarsely puree and pour into a bowl.

Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to boil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tsp lemon zest and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes. Strain syrup into peach puree and blend well. Add Vidal Blanc Sparkling Wine, lemon juice and remaining teaspoon of lemon zest. Stir well and refrigerate until well chilled. Transfer to ice cream/sorbet maker and freeze.

Ice Wine Berries with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

This is an easy topping for your favorite chocolate cake or pound cake. You can also serve it on its own for a light and delectable dessert. Don’t forget to pair it with a glass of Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. It is deliciously divine! Makes about 2 cups.

2/3 cup strawberries, rinsed, drained well, tops removed and quartered
2/3 cup each raspberries and blackberries, rinsed and drained well
2 Tbs Creekbend Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Gently toss berries with ice wine and let macerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream – Makes about 2 cups.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs vanilla infused sugar. You have to plan ahead to make this, but it is worth it and very easy. Follow this link to learn how to make your own.

Vigorously whisk cream and sugar together in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Serve immediately with your favorite flourless chocolate cake and ice wine berries.


Three-Mushroom Soup with Maximum Port & Tarragon
Maximum Port, a rich fortified dessert wine, adds depth to this savory soup. Mushroom lovers-this is the soup for you! Serves 6.

1 oz dried Porcini mushrooms
8 cups chicken stock
4 Tbs butter
2 shallots, minced
4 oz fresh Shiitake mushrooms, 1/4″ slice
12 oz white mushrooms, 1/4″ slice
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Oliver Winery Maximum Port
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
salt & pepper
Combine dried Porcini and broth in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes. Pour broth through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, reserving broth. Rinse mushrooms well and coarsely chop.
Add butter to saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring until softened, approximately 1 minute. Add shiitake and white mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have released their liquid, approximately 5-7 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle flour over mushrooms. Cook and stir well, scraping bottom of pan, for 1 minute. Gradually add broth and Maximum Port. Add the chopped porcini and tarragon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, partially covered for 20 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Serve soup garnished with creme fraiche or sour cream and a sprinkling of chives. So warm and filling on a cold day.

Port Wine Chocolate Cake
This classic chocolate is worth the effort. Your sweetie will appreciate its rich texture and lusciously rich flavor. Serves 14.

10 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup butter
5 egg yolks (save the whites)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Maximum Port Wine
1/2 cup flour
5 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 Tbs sugar
1 cup walnuts (optional, but yummy)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/2 Tbs corn syrup
1/2 cup Oliver Maximum Port
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a double broiler, melt unsweetened chocolate and 3/4 cup butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10-inch bundt or tube pan.

In large bowl, beat yolks and 3/4 cup sugar on high until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Gradually stir in the 3/4 cup of Maximum Port and flour. Fold into the cooled chocolate mixture.

In a clean bowl, whip egg whites & cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually whisk 3 T sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Quickly fold in walnuts, if using. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until tester just comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto serving plate and cool completely.

To make glaze: In a double broiler, combine chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted. Stir in remaining port wine and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Set aside to cool for about 30 minutes. Pour glaze over cooled cake and serve.

We hope you will enjoy these recipes. Please make them and let us know how they turned out in the comments section. We LOVE comments, almost as much as we love wine!