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Bowers Harbor Vineyards

Alaina Dodds
 
May 29, 2018 | Alaina Dodds

Taste Wine, Eat Food, Taste Wine

The BHV team had an amazing experience recently! We were treated to a food and wine pairing event at Trattoria Stella’s, given by the general manager and sommelier, Alfiero Silveri! It was a private experience, a 5-course meal, where we learned about which foods paired best with Bowers Harbor Vineyards wines, and why. At this point, we all have gone to a lot of these types of events, had tons of training on flavor profiles, learned all about our wines, etc. and there is still SOOOO much to learn! It’s fascinating! Pairing wine with food has to be one of the greatest joys in life. I love wine, and I love food, and I double love them together.

Another thing I love, is to learn from passionate people. I’ll never forget the first time I learned how important it was to do work that you loved. I was in my senior year of college and I had a recreation management class where we toured different facilities and learned about what it takes to manage them, from the manager of the facility. The one that I will never forget about was the ice hockey rink where we learned about ice management from the Zamboni driver. He made ice management sound like the most interesting and technical process and his passion for it was literally radiating off of him. It sounds crazy, but I truly remember thinking, “Wow, I hope I love my job someday as much as he does!” And to this day, I firmly believe that people should ONLY do what they are passionate about. Life is simply too short not to. And the wine industry is no exception. It not only requires hard work and dedication, it requires PASSION.

It was such a treat learning about the food and wine pairings from Alfiero because of his…can you guess it? Yes, his passion! As Alfiero says, “Wine is one of the most prized commodities in the world and we get to work with it every day!"

So now that I’ve already written a novel, it’s time to get to the moral of the story…the WHY behind the pairings!

Taste wine, eat food and then taste wine again to get the full food/wine pairing effect.

Pairing Guidelines: Cheat Sheet
  • Acid + Acid
  • Sweet + Salty
  • Bitter + Fat
  • Acid + Fat
  • Alcohol + Fat
  • Alcohol + Spicy = NO
  • Bitter + Bitter = NO

And now for the menu:

White asparagus, toasted almonds, lemon butter & thyme

2017 Unwooded Chardonnay

Little gem lettuce, house pepperoncini, gorgonzola, herb vinaigrette

2017 Medium Sweet Riesling

Beets, duck leg confit, goat cheese, strawberry-honey vinaigrette

2016 Pinot Noir, Nicholas

Lamb spiedino, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, brodo

2013 2896, Langley 

Candied almond meringue, strawberry & pear compote, pickled black mission figs, orange zest, honey

2016 Riesling, Langley Late Harvest

You drooling yet? By looking at the cheat sheet, can you see why the chef paired these foods and wines together?

Wine enhances food and vice versa. To enjoy both to their fullest capacity we must explore and understand their relationship! Whether you’re new to wine, a sommelier, or somewhere in between, wine and food pairings should be fun and accessible. Great pairings truly take the dining experience to the next level. Tasting and smelling the different notes and nuances helps to train your palette, and you begin to notice small details. Once you get the experience of how wines work with different foods, you’ll take your dinner parties or Taco Tuesday nights to the next level!

It feels like wine and food pairing is a never-ending topic, which I know can seem overwhelming. Hopefully the pairing guidelines cheat sheet will help with future meal planning. I’m always here if you’d like any suggestions! Feel free to email me anytime at Alaina@bowersharbor.com.

I wrote another food pairing (wine and cheese) blog last Fall which also may help you for future cocktail parties, check it out here

Time Posted: May 29, 2018 at 12:13 PM
Alaina Dodds
 
March 19, 2018 | Alaina Dodds

Design the Vine

It's coming up on our favorite time of year here at BHV. Why, you ask? Pruning (yes, we really mean that!)!  We spent February snowshoeing around, rolling through the vineyards, and checking on our vines. This time in the vines allowed us to fully see the quality of vine management from the previous vintage and make any necessary adjustments. It gave us a moment to pause and direct our attention to any new techniques that we may want to apply in the vineyard. It is also an opportune time to evaluate the position of the vines' shoots and anticipate changes we may want to make for not only the current growing season but for productivity of future vintages. 

The Proof is in the Pruning

March is here, and for Michigan grape growers that means pruning is just around the corner. For us, grapevine pruning is an annual practice where nearly 90 percent of the previous year’s growth is removed. This is how we maintain the vine form and control the fruit and quality. 

     

 .   

Spencer recently took me on a pruning lesson and it was so interesting to see what happens to, and how much labor goes into, each vine during pruning. If you take a look at the photos above you can see what the vine looked like before it was pruned, the middle stage and after it was finished. I threw the fourth photo in there just to show you what the vine looked like the very next day. One day it was a beautiful, bluebird day, and then the next, a complete whiteout...which is exactly why we start pruning early here! Shoot thinning early in the season is one way to overcome the crowding in these areas.

Size Matters

When pruning, we are trimming the vines to select our best two canes that we will then tie down on the weight-bearing wire, and count out to eight buds (ideal vine). We are looking for a pencil-sized diameter for the canes, not the bigger ones, sometimes referred to as bull wood. We want the pencil-size diameter because it has more vigor and the buds are tighter together.

With over 25 years experience, it's safe to say that Spencer is a fast pruner but just pruning one vine took about 20 minutes! It's pretty incredible to think that this happens by hand every year, on each and every one of our 18,000+ vines! 

Stay tuned for the next edition of Designing the Vine!

 

Time Posted: Mar 19, 2018 at 7:55 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
February 15, 2018 | Alaina Dodds

Riesling: The Diamond of Grapes

Riesling is what I would consider to be the heart of our wine country. It is such a dynamic grape with an astonishing diversity of styles, pure fruit flavors and aromatic qualities. The biggest misconception about Riesling is that Rieslings are always sweet. Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Here at Bowers Harbor Vineyards we have FIVE different Riesling wines, and they range from crisp and dry to dessert-sweet.

Fun Fact:

Did you know that acid is a crucial component in a well-balanced Riesling?

Riesling is immediately pleasing, even to new wine drinkers. It’s ALL about the fresh fruit, with no oak or heavy tannins. Michigan wine country has been exploding year after year, and more wine lovers are not only visiting us, but finding out about our wines. While we have a lot of other wines to offer them in addition to Riesling, Riesling is what originally put us on the map. Some of the best Rieslings in the entire world come from our very own backyard.

Fun Fact:

Spencer Stegenga, Proprietor of Bowers Harbor Vineyards, was the first in the state of Michigan to grow and bottle single-vineyard Rieslings. A single-vineyard Riesling is a limited bottling of a Riesling harvested from only one distinct vineyard plot, rather than combining grapes harvested from a variety of locations. The beauty of a single-vineyard Riesling is its ability to reflect the characteristics of its unique terroir (the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate).

We did a Riesling staff training last week and I learned SO much! It was fascinating listening to our winemaker talk about the different techniques that went into the wines that he made. It was also very interesting to try wines from all over the world and taste the vast differences between them. Flavor profiles were all across the board, from petrol and ripe fruit to spicy and earthy.

Fun Fact:

Our winemaker, Bryan Ulbrich, was voted as one of the Top 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers by IntoWine.com, which is a website that offers expert wine recommendations, wine and food pairings and other industry-specific information from around the world.

What makes Rieslings taste different from each other?

The fact that we have five different Rieslings on our tasting menu, and that every other winery around also has at least one on their menu, and that they ALL taste different from the next, is (in my opinion) the coolest thing about this grape. Not only that, but Michigan Rieslings will taste completely different than Rieslings from California, Washington, Australia, Germany... you get the idea.

Every growing region has its own style and taste due to many localized factors such as: the climate, terroir, micro-climates of the vineyard, farming methods, cultural tastes and of course, the techniques of the individual winemakers. Even vineyards a few miles apart can have striking differences in style.

BHV Rieslings

Block II:

The 2016 Block II was the highest rated wine in a recent James Suckling report, at 93 points. This wine is very dry and really showcases what a single vineyard Riesling from our region can provide: acidity, minerality and spice. I love to serve Block II with buttery scallops or a sharp cheddar cheese.

Smokey Hollow:

2016 Smokey Hollow just took home Best of Class at the San Francisco Chronicle, which is the biggest wine competition for American wines. Hints of red apple and grapefruit on the nose while the palate mellows to suggest golden delicious apple and citrus zest. Smokey Hollow pairs perfectly with grilled salmon or lemon pepper chicken.

Medium Dry:

Hand-harvested and lovingly vinified, the grapes for our Medium Dry Riesling are sourced from some of the finest vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula. Each vineyard, with its own unique terroir, offers something a bit different – some yielding tropical notes, some bursting with bright stone fruit aromas, some supplying gorgeous minerality and complex floral and stone aromatics. All those beautiful berries combine to make benchmark Old Mission Riesling.

Medium Sweet:

I am so excited that this one is back in the tasting room!  The 2017 vintage was just released this past week! Our most prolific Riesling, the Medium Sweet strikes a stunning balance between mouth-watering acidity and soft sweetness. You’ll be amazed at the initial flood of sugar on your palate, but just a moment later, it is whisked off by quintessential Old Mission acidity. This wine will wow Riesling connoisseurs and convert the staunchest of dry wine drinkers! Our winemaker said “this is the best vintage yet!”

Langley Late Harvest:

Late harvest Rieslings are among the most beloved of sweet white wines. Our Langley Late Harvest is grown on a beautiful west-facing slope dipping down toward Bowers Harbor. Not harvested until Nov. 1st, 2016, these grapes absorbed all those beautiful, sunny Northern Michigan afternoons and evenings and translated it into an ethereal, sun-dappled dessert-style wine. Novice drinkers will be drawn in by the smooth, sweet fruit-forward character, while aficionados will appreciate the fine balance of sugar and acidity, as well as this wine’s lovely age-ability.

The Riesling wines in this blog are listed (and pictured) in tasting order, dry to sweet:

  • Block II: .3% residual sugar
  • Smokey Hollow: 1% residual sugar
  • Medium Dry: 1.5% residual sugar
  • Medium Sweet: 2.5% residual sugar 
  • Langley Late Harvest: 5.1% residual sugar
Drink Riesling from 1 to 100

There are even more reasons to love a Riesling. Because of its strong acid structure, Rieslings can age much longer than most other wines, white or red. Some of the best Rieslings can still be amazing after 100 years! That is longer than most people live! As the wine matures, the taste will drastically change. Young Rieslings are fruit-forward, very bright and fresh-tasting, but those characteristics soften and mellow after they’ve been bottled for 2-3 years. Then there can be a muted period for up to 10 years (the wine will still taste pleasant) before they gain even more complexity and depth. They become drier to the taste and develop a stronger expression of that inherent minerality, along with a unique petrol character.

Going forward, I’ll be thinking of Riesling as the diamond of grapes. It is so multi-faceted! At its simplest, Riesling is an easily accessible wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with food. But tasting a great Riesling can be extremely rewarding, both from a sensory and an intellectual perspective.

Time Posted: Feb 15, 2018 at 11:28 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
January 31, 2018 | Alaina Dodds

Super Bowl Foods Are For Wine Drinkers, Too

When I say Super Bowl, you think—what? Football? I think… comfort food, cool commercials, hanging out with friends and Justin Timberlake (halftime performance!). The snacks served on Super Bowl Sunday are typically comfort food on steroids. The flavors are spicy, salty, bold and vibrant.

While beer is the natural match for Super Bowl food, don’t discount the wine (I got you, wine lover!). The same qualities that make Super Bowl appetizers good with beer, also make the perfect pairing with fruit-forward, slightly sweet and bubbly wine. And since the food is easygoing, the wines should be, too. No need to break the bank supplying beverages for a crowd if you’re hosting.

Below are some of my favorite Super Bowl foods along with Bowers Harbor Vineyards wines that are guaranteed to make them taste even better.

Spicy Chicken Wings

Pair with 2016 Riesling, Medium Dry. The bright, green apple flavor and perfect acidity is a nice complement to the wings. And there is just enough sweetness to cut through the spiciness and cool the palate. Spicy wings would also be amazing with the 2017 Riesling, Medium Sweet, which we just bottled and will be available to purchase in the next couple of days! 

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Pair with our newly released 2017 Pinot Grigio. This is our #1 selling wine for a reason! We call it a crowd pleaser because it’s bright, tropical, citrus flavors pair well with just about any food (including all of the appetizers in this list). It is also the perfect pairing for this dip! Top Tip: avoid red wines with spinach dip since spinach can coax an unpleasant metallic note out of red win. 

Cheesy Nachos

Golden Delicious apple and pear flavors with the crisp finish of 2017 Unwooded Chardonnay cut through the richness of the ooey, gooey, mouth-watering cheese.

Meaty Chili

50/50 Merlot and Cab Franc blend, the 2016 Claret, Wind Whistle, pairs perfectly with chili. It’s aged in French Oak barrels and the black pepper spice and toast from the barrels is sure to compliment the heartiest of chilis!

Potato Chips

And here is my favorite combo on the list: potato chips and sparkling wine! There is just something so satisfying about pairing an everyday food item, like potato chips, with a glass of sparkling wine, which screams celebration! The bubbles of Blanc de Blanc will cut through the saltiness of the potato chip and be a match made in heaven in your mouth! If you are getting fancy and serving something like truffle potato chips (to DIE for!) then try pairing them with 2014 Cuvee Evan Blanc de Blanc for it's rich and creamy characteristics. 

Bullet Point Summary 
  • Sweetness cools the palate
  • Bubbly cuts through salt
  • Red wine aged in barrels will pair well with chili spices
  • Pinot Grigio goes with just about everything

No matter who you’re rooting for this weekend and even if you’re only watching to see Justin Timberlake at halftime….these food and wine pairings are sure to make for a fun night! Try a few of them and let us know which one is your favorite! 

Time Posted: Jan 31, 2018 at 1:55 PM
Alaina Dodds
 
December 27, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Set Up the Ultimate Champagne Bar for Your New Year's Eve Celebration

Planning a New Year’s Eve celebration? The New Year can be such an exciting time, full of fresh starts and future plans. It makes sense to ring it in with your closest family and friends. Popping open a bottle of bubbly is a surefire way to get the party started. But keeping the party going is another story, you don’t want to have to pour bottle after bottle throughout the night. Setting up a self-serve champagne bar will not only stretch your bubbly supply with the addition of juices and liquors, it will also leave you free to hang with your guests and actually enjoy your own bash.

So put some bubbly on ice, stock up on aperitifs and fresh juices, and gather up some other garnishes. Here’s how to set up the ultimate bubbly bar:

Stock up on Bowers Harbor Vineyards Sparkling Wine

Skip the high-end vintage Champagne. Opt for a dry, domestic, sparkling wine. One bottle of bubbly is enough for about eight cocktails, so keep your RSVP list in mind when shopping. My personal favorites are:

 

2012 2896 Brut Rosé

  • 100% Pinot Noir and estate-grown
  • Strawberry fruit flavors with hints of white pepper
  • Great with smoked salmon, brie cheese and prosciutto, chocolate and raspberries

Blanc de Blanc

  • Explodes with bubbles
  • Always a crowd favorite
  • Bright green apple flavors
  • Delicious with stuffed mushrooms, buttered popcorn, shortbread cookies

2015 Pinot Secco

  • 100% Pinot Gris
  • Refreshing citrus flavors
  • Great with oysters, bacon-wrapped asparagus, almonds & antipasto
 
Stock Up on Booze

Experimentation is half the fun of a self-service Champagne bar, so make sure to gather up a wide range of liqueurs and spirits. Some of my favorites include:

  • Cognac
  • Gin
  • St-Germain
  • Bourbon
  • Crème de Cassis
 
Gather the Mixers

Dry Champagne works well with most juices, so encourage your guests to mix, match and try something they otherwise wouldn’t order at a bar. I suggest stocking up on the following:

  • Simple syrup
  • Sugar cubes
  • Bitters
  • Peach juice
  • Orange juice
  • Stout beer
  • Lemon juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Grapefruit juice
 
Garnish Your Bubbly Bar

Not only will a variety of garnishes make your bubbly cocktails look beautiful, booze-soaked fruit is always a treat to find at the bottom of your flute. Set up bowls of raspberries, strawberries and cranberries for guests to plop into their bubbly libations. Pre-cut lemon and grapefruit twists are also great flavor enhancers and a lot of fun.

 
Pop Those Bottles!

Now that your bubbly bar is all set up, it’s time to make the cocktails. Fill a large bucket with ice to keep a few opened bottles on hand. Store the extra bottles in the fridge for later use.

Label your booze, mixers and garnishes with note cards, mini chalkboards or simply line a table with butcher paper and write ingredient names directly on the surface. Set out Champagne flutes, jiggers and bar spoons.

While I say go ahead and experiment with new flavors and inventing unique cocktails, here are a few of my favorite classic combinations to get you started.

  • Champagne + orange juice = Mimosa
  • Champagne + crème de cassis = Kir Royale
  • Champagne + bitters + sugar cube + lemon twist = Champagne Cocktail
  • Champagne + peach juice = Bellini
  • Champagne + stout beer = Black Velvet
  • Champagne + gin + lemon juice + simple syrup = French 75 (my absolute FAVE!)

Hope this inspires you to set up your own version of bubbly bar, I know that I have never NOT had a good time at a party where there’s been a self-serve bar...

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all a safe and fun holiday! Cheers to 2018!

 

Time Posted: Dec 27, 2017 at 8:11 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
December 19, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Top 10 Gifting Ideas

1. Snowshoe Wine & Brew Tour

This is one of the most fun things to do in the winter. Who doesn’t like snowshoeing through the beautiful vineyards and wine tasting with a group of friends or as a fun day date? This tour starts at Jolly Pumpkin where the Brew Bus will pick you up and drop you off at Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery. From there you will snowshoe a marked trail to Bowers Harbor Vineyards, and then follow the interpretive trail back to Jolly Pumpkin. Enjoy 5 tastes and glass specials at each spot!

2. Spirit Cider Society Membership

Our brand new Spirit Cider Society is here! 

Join in December for only $125!
*Starting January 1st, $150 one-time joining fee

Membership Includes: 

  • Stainless Steel Growler
  • First Growler Fill Free
  • Spirit Cider Hat
  • Spirit Cider Decal Sticker
  • Pint Glass to Take Home
  • First Access to Newly Released Cider
  • 15% Off All Spirit Cider & Spirit Cider Merchandise
  • Free Birthday Pint
  • Special Activities & Events for Cider Club Members
3. Gift Basket

Delight your family and friends with a special gift basket created just for them! We've curated a few of our favorite gifts inside the basket for them to enjoy. A gift basket is a unique wedding, holiday or housewarming gift! We have a few different options available, just click on Gift Basket above to check them out! 

4. New Year's Eve Sparkling Wine 

Our Brut Rosé came out on top in a recent poll as to what people would prefer to get under their tree at Christmas and we think it’s a wonderful gift to give or get all year long. There’s just something about bubbles that screams “Celebrate!”

5. Gift Card

Gift cards are the perfect gift for someone who has everything! They can be used on wine and merchandise both. We have two different gift cards to serve every gifting need.

6. Cork Cage

There are some people who don’t think saving evidence of how many bottles of wine you drink is cool…but we aren’t one of them. We have a wide variety of decorative cork cages that you can use to save the corks from your favorite wines and remember the memories for years to come.

7. Wine Club Membership

Our wine club membership is amazing. It is one of the few wine club memberships that is customizable to your liking! We pick our favorites each quarter but if you’d rather have something different, then we will switch them out! We have three different clubs to choose from and offer a ton of fun in the form of wine club dinners and tasting room perks.

8. Holiday Date Night Wine Dinner

Everyone can use a date night, right? Wow your special someone with a special night, just for the two of you. Click on the link above to view the menu, it is sure to impress!

9. Mix & Match Case of Wine

There are few things I’d rather get as a gift than a case of wine….I mean WHO wouldn’t want that? Our mix & match options gives you the chance to choose your favorites, their favorites, some new ones AND a cider or two. All orders of a case of wine automatically get 15% off!

10. Dog Bandana

Because your pooch deserves it. 


Enjoy!

 

Time Posted: Dec 19, 2017 at 8:05 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
November 22, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Wine Pairing for Your Thanksgiving Feasts

Bowers Harbor Vineyards top choices for pairing wine with your Thanksgiving feasts

Time Posted: Nov 22, 2017 at 11:41 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
November 15, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Let’s Talk Deer, Hunting Apps and Recipes

Since it is Opening Day for (rifle) deer season, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recent episode of Michigan Out of Doors that Spencer Stegenga, Proprietor of Bowers Harbor Vineyards and Doug Koch, Owner of Boathouse Restaurant, were featured on. If you’re not familiar with the show, it airs all over Michigan and highlights all things outdoors from hunting and fishing, new gear and apps to recipes with local chefs. It’s a well-put-together show with charismatic and knowledgeable people in the forefront and behind the scenes.

Thundering Aspens Sportsman Club

The particular episode aired in October and covered Spencer and Doug hunting pheasants at the Thundering Aspens Sportsman Club, a private hunting club in Mesick, MI. They offer pheasant, grouse, quail, waterfowl, turkey, Hungarian partridge and woodcock. They have over 600 acres and are in their 30th year of business, opening in 1987. There are currently 220 members and they have a growing waiting list. Their personal goal is for the pheasants to make it through the winter and hatch out chicks in the spring, so they stop shooting hens in December. 300 – 400 are expected to make it through the winter and are native-hatched. Spencer said the hunt was a lot of fun, they got about 19 birds that morning, mostly roosters and a few hens.

HuntWise App

I also learned all about the HuntWise app during this episode, a sportsman tracker where hunting meets high technology. HuntWise developed the strongest hunt algorithm, HuntCast, which offers 14 different species to choose from and predicts the optimal kill time for each. It was designed to help hunters improve their success in the outdoors by utilizing advanced tracking and technology. It’s also helpful in “hunting down” (see what I did there…) the property lines and other land owner information so you can contact them to ask if you can hunt on their property. This app also connects hunters to a community of dedicated sportsman to seek and share advice. You can learn more and download the app here.

Venison Biscuits and Gravy Recipe

Looking for something different to do with the venison in your freezer? Try this delicious recipe by Chef Jim Wood from Antlers Fireside Grill, located just outside of Big Rapids, MI. We suggest pairing this meal with a bottle of Bowers Harbor Vineyard’s spicy and complex 2016 Claret, Wind Whistle, which is a 50/50 blend of Cab Franc and Merlot.

Venison cutlets with Biscuits and Gravy

Ingredients:

2 venison loin medallions cut half an inch thick

1 cup flour seasoned with 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder and ½ tsp mustard powder

3 tbsp butter

salt to taste

Steps:

1. Pound venison medallions until they are thin like a cutlet
2. Melt butter over medium high heat
3. Coat venison in seasoned flour and season with salt to taste
4. Once pan begins to barely smoke and all butter is melted add cutlets to pan and cook to desired doneness
5. Remove from heat and set aside

Sausage Gravy

Ingredients: 

4 tbsp butter

½ an onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

4 tbsp flour

1lb breakfast sausage

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup chicken stock

Salt to taste

Steps:

1. Over medium heat melt butter
2. Add onion, garlic and sausage
3. Break up sausage into small bits until completely cooked through
4. Add flour and whisk to incorporate
5. Slowly add cream and stock whisking vigorously
6. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
7. Simmer on low for 10 minutes
8. Add salt to taste

Assembly: 

1. Top with venison cutlet
2. Ladle sausage gravy over venison cutlet
3. Place top of biscuits over gravy
4. Ladle more sausage gravy over top of biscuits
5. Serve

Michigan has so much to offer! In just one episode we learned about salmon fishing on the Betsie River, bird hunting with Thundering Aspens Sportman Club, how the HuntWise app makes it easier for hunters to pursue their passions and learned a new way to cook venison to boot! Huge thanks to Michigan Out of Doors for sharing these experiences with us! 

Time Posted: Nov 15, 2017 at 9:14 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
October 4, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Through the Vines and Behind the Scenes: Part Two

Last Wednesday, Wine Specialist Tom took our tasting room staff on a brix tour. We were able to walk around the vineyards and test the brix levels in the fruit, and also learn about pH levels and acid content. It was AMAZING learning about how much goes into the testing and preparation of the vines and grapes (AKA berries). The timing of harvest is key and thus testing the berries on key metrics is vital: sugar, acid, pH and phenolics, the latter having few metrics. On top of everything that needs to be measured, all grape varietals need to be picked at different times and each have their own ripening schedule.

Bowers Harbor Vineyards Staff Brix Tour

Three Things to Measure to Test Ripeness of Grapes

1) Brix

Measuring the levels of brix in a berry is how you figure out the sugar content. The sugar level itself is measured with a refractometer. The juice is placed on the refractometer lens and light travels through the juice to refract on a degree scale. The thicker the juice the more it bends the light and the higher the brix that registers on the scale.

2) Acid content

Organic acids are responsible for the various levels of bitter tastes in the wine and have influence on the wine’s stability, color and pH. It is perhaps the most critical of the measured components. Don't forget...wine is an acidic beverage after all. 

3) Level of pH

pH is the measure of a balance of active acidity in the juice and wine, so acid and pH are directly related. Generally white grapes are harvested at pH level of 3.1 – 3.3 and red grapes at 3.3 – 3.5. A pH meter is used to measure pH. Before this is done the grower and the winemaker can taste the berry and get a feel for the sugar and pH ripeness. 

Bowers Harbor Vineyards Staff Testing Grapes Before Harvest

In addition to using the technical tools to measure the ripeness, you should also be tasting the fruit along the way.

Here are some things to look/taste for:

  • Soft berries - Berries dehydrate slightly, and the texture of the pulp softens when grapes ripen.
  • Brown seeds - The color of grape seeds changes from green to brown as the berries ripen. In most varieties, the pointed ends of the seeds (the “beaks”) are the last part to turn brown.
  • A clean pedicel - fully ripe grapes can be pulled off the berry easily and with little or no pulp attached

All in all we had a lot of fun as a group testing the brix levels and learning about each varietal and what to do look for. Interested to learn more about this topic yourself? We offer private and group vineyard tours! Click here to learn more about what we offer and to sign up for one, they are a blast!

Hope you enjoyed this edition of Through the Vines and Behind the Scenes! If you missed Part One, you can catch up here and stay tuned for Part Three!

Time Posted: Oct 4, 2017 at 11:53 AM
Alaina Dodds
 
September 26, 2017 | Alaina Dodds

Our Four Favorite Words: Six New Red Wines

Bowers Harbor Vineyards released five new red wines

2016 Claret, Wind Whistle

  • 293
  • 13% alc
  • Our Claret is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot grown in the Wind Whistle Vineyard. Wind Whistle Vineyard is situated less than a mile from Lake Michigan and boasts sandy soil and all day sun exposure. In addition to growing in the ideal location, these vines are meticulously manicured, hand hedged, leaf picked and hand harvested.
  • These sun ripened grapes produce flavors of black cherries and red raspberries. By aging our Claret in French Oak barrels, we enhance the natural spices of cinnamon and black pepper, creating balance and complexity. 

Shop Here

 

2016 Shiraz, JBS Reserve

  • 275 cases
  • 13 % alc
  • Our Shiraz is dedicated to the founder of Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Jack B. Stegenga, who first produced a Shiraz in 1992. Over two decades later his son, Spencer, with the same thirst for life and great wine, decided to produce our Shiraz once again. Jack had a passion for life, enjoying each and every moment. Family, friends and serving the community were of great importance to him. He was full of life and love for all people. He would want you to enjoy this wine with good food and great friends.
  • Dried cranberry, with hints toasted cedar (and I think smells like bacon 😊).

Shop Here

 

2016 Proprietors’ Reserve

  • 548 cases
  • 13% alc
  • Linda and Spencer Stegenga proudly bring you their Proprietors’ Reserve. This dynamic mother and son team have labored side by side, transforming what was a horse farm and simple stable into a thriving vineyard and tasting room. Twenty-six years of family history and “forced family fun,” has evolved into great passion to produce fine wine and  also to be stewards of the land.
  • Proprietors’ Reserve is a blend of Merlot and Syrah. Merlot offers its soft, lush, black cherry and plum nuances, while the bolder Syrah lends notes of blackberry, clove and tobacco.

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2014 JT Red

  • 110 cases
  • 12% alc
  • Full bodied red blend of Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. (Same red as Maggie)

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2016 Pinot Noir, Wind Whistle

(Available in our Tasting Room and Online Store very soon. Stay tuned!)

  • 133
  • 12% alc
  • Wind Whistle Vineyard is situated less than a mile from Lake Michigan and boasts sandy soil and all day sun exposure. Our Pinot Noir grapes are clones from the Dijon Region in France and flourish in our cooler climate. In addition to growing in the ideal location, these vines are meticulously manicured, hand hedged, leaf picked and hand harvested.
  • Enjoy the bright cherry and raspberry flavors balanced by toasted caramel contributed from our high quality French Oak barrels. 

 

2016 Pinot Noir, Nicholas 

(Available in our Tasting Room and Online Store very soon. Stay tuned!)

  • 245
  • 12% alc
  • Dedicated to his brother Nicholas, our grower and friend Chris Fifarek planted these vines with love. Our proprietary clone of Pinot Noir originated from the Old World and thrives in ideal growing conditions in our cool climate region on the 45th parallel. The Nicholas Vineyard, composed of clay and gravel, slopes towards the West. The long hours of sun exposure increases full physiological maturation of the Pinot Noir early in the season.
  • Aromas of blackberries and cherries emanate from our Pinot Noir, followed by a silky multi-flavored finish due to the distinction of our French Oak barrel selection.


 

Time Posted: Sep 26, 2017 at 7:47 AM
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