Thursday, January 28, 2010

Designing the interior

There's been a lot of activity at the winery this week. Richard can do pretty much anything, including build and install the countertops in the office which will serve as our desks. He also helped prepare the catering kitchen to meet health inspection standards and the potential needs of caterers.

And, painters are working in the tasting room! With the lights on, it's easy to imagine the room as a finished product. We expect to get the flooring in early February, and then it'll be ready to furnish.

We set up cold stabilization for the Concord. This entails lowering the temperature of the wine to just above freezing, about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The process is intended to prevent crystallization and spoilage in the bottle. We can tell that the refrigeration is working because there's an inch of frost on the outside of the tank!

Check back next week for pictures of our progress!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blending and Tasting!

Lots of good news to share this week!

We started the week on Sunday with a blending session. This is when we sample the wines and see how to bring out the best flavor of each wine. Our white wines, Vidal and Traminette, were delicious, but we added a little Niagara to the Traminette to bring out its frutiness. We'll make this into a semi-sweet wine, and the Vidal will be dry. The reds were good too, although we've been worried about the high acidity of the Chambourcin. We tasted it with a little Concord mixed in and it had a much more balanced flavor. Niagara is a wonderfully fragrant grape which makes it a perfect finishing touch for Joe's Cool Red, our sweet red wine.

The highlight of the afternoon was our Chambourcin blush, which we decided to leave as is. It has a delicate fruity flavor which, slightly sweetened, will be a highlight in our Tasting Room also. Plus we're proud to say that it's made from 100% Layton's Chance grapes, a true Estate wine for Dorchester County.

Other weekly updates: we sent out the first of our monthly newsletters (which you can view by clicking here). The electricians have adapted the wiring to fit the fixtures we picked out, and the countertops have been installed in the lab. We picked out most of our office equipment and will have that in soon. And we decided on the design of the bar for the tasting room, an elegant piece of red oak crafted by a local carpenter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dormant Pruning

The past few days have warmed things up here, melting the snow and giving us a chance to get into the vineyard to do more "slow" pruning. At the going rate, we've got about a month to go! The vines look pretty healthy though, and they'll be ready to put forth healthy bunches this spring.

We're still waiting on equipment for the office, but I've spent a lot of time talking to experts about Point-of-Sale systems and computers. There are many options available, but it's hard to know what will work best for us.

Cabinets in the Lab!

Cabinets were put in this week in the lab and we're ready to install desks and drawers in the office too. You can see the additions in our website's photo gallery: Winery Construction. The tasting room will be painted Soft Green, as soon as we've got all the electrical work sorted out. Our goal is to move in by February- so we can have space to move around and organize ourselves and so Jen can have her house back!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter Tasks

Welcome back! We took a good look at what needs to be done to be ready for a May opening and I'd say we've got our work cut out for us. This week found me in the office mostly, staying warm while I researching our hardware and software needs. We're hoping to start sending out a newsletter this month so if you haven't signed up for our mailing list yet, make sure that you do (see the link on our homepage)!

It's time for more pruning in the vineyard. Grapevines produce hundreds of viable buds and shoots, so we have to prune them while they're in a dormant state to keep things in balance. Too much growth can quickly compromise the quality of the fruit and hardiness of the vines. Regardless, it is an arduous task that takes a careful eye, so we will be working on this for the next couple months. Richard got started earlier this week but the fierce winds made it tough to stay long outside.

Laura and Joe met with Governor O'Malley in a meeting on Maryland small business development. They gave a positive report and were pleased to have the chance to talk about opening Layton's Chance with other regional businesses and economic development officers.