Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Hug for the Animals

Over the 5 years we've been a winery, some of the nicest collaborations we've been a part of have involved local charities.

Early on, when we realized that we weren't legally allowed to donate wine, we figured out innovative ways to give to charities without giving away wine. The most notable way was to produce a wine specifically for that cause, and then donate part of the proceeds of the sale of the wine directly to the nonprofit organization.

Our first venture was A Thousand Cranes, a blend of white wine and apple wine that benefited Hospice of Michigan. Next came CraneBerry to benefit the Michigan Audubon Society. We're currently working with the Washtenaw Land Trust on a wine that will benefit their land conservation efforts in the area of the Waterloo Recreation Area (we're perched right on the edge of it).

Those wines were (and are) limited edition wines. We make a certain number of cases and when they're gone, they're gone.

We've also developed an on-going donation -- 50 cents of the purchase of Blushing Crane is donated to our neighbors and fellow Crane lovers, the Haehnle Bird Sanctuary.

Now we're about to release a second wine that will provide an on-going donation to a local charity. A portion of the sale of Abrazo, a new off-dry red wine, will be donated to the Cascades Humane Society.

Abrazo, Spanish for "hug," is a soft red wine with just a touch of sweetness and a lovely full mouth feel. A gorgeous photo on the label, taken by local photographer Elizabeth Walker, features Rusty, Holly's wonderful puppy who was rescued from the county pound by the Humane Society on his last day.

Abrazo will be released on Sunday, September 28 at a release party. Stay tuned to the website for more details.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Setting Up Dexter

It's another year (it's amazing how fast the time flies) and time again to open the tasting room inside the Dexter Cider Mill. The tasting room is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays as long as the Cider Mill is open -- generally late August through early to mid-November.

This morning, my Dad, Angelo, and I loaded up the pick-up and my car with two cases of each of our wines and headed east to the mill.

I missed the smells. The Dexter Cider Mill is one of the nicest smelling places on earth. Apples, fresh donuts, oak, historic building. Ummmm.

We set up the store, placing the bottles of wine in the old apple crates on the walls. I'll be there on Friday to open it to the public for the first time this season.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

California - Day 4: UC Davis

It was an amazing day. At the end of it, our brains were tired, our taste buds were tired, and we'd learned about as much as we could in a single-day class.

This class was the reason we made the trip to California. Holly has always wanted to take sommelier training, and this was the closest we could find without a long-term commitment.

"Advanced Wine Tasting" is a course set up to train and certify judges for the California State Fair wine competition. Those students who wished to be certified, paid an additional fee and took a test that day on their wine tasting knowledge. We weren't particularly interested in the certification, we just wanted the training. There were about 80 students in the class and about one-half took the test.

It was a hands-on class. Over the day we tasted about 50 wines for various aspects such as acids, sugars, tannins, flaws, and varietal character. Essentially the day was one long test (some of us were graded, some were not) -- an interesting and useful teaching technique.