South brook Vineyards

During spring break I decided to road trip to Canada with a few friends, there we decided to stop by Southbrook vineyards Canada’s first bio-dynamic winery. All of the information provided was answered by the tasting room personnel or found on their website at “” The winery and vineyard was located on the Niagara peninsula. They have a continental climate and the two lakes moderate the temperature by retaining heat. The soil they have is rich in minerals such as silt, limestone and shale, the land is located over a glacial lake.They specialized in wines with the grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Petit Verdoit. The red wine was fermented in Vosges French oak barrels while the white was fermented in stainless steel vessels. (

Southbrook vineyards are certified with by the VQA which stands for the Vitners Quality Alliance, it sets the standards for the appellation and ensures that the wine is made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes. ( They establish and monitor the sugar level, labeling and grapes for the appellation. There is also no set law for reserve; South brook’s reserve is under the brand Poetica.

South brook vineyards is organic and bio-dynamic and they don’t use synthetic pesticide, fungicide and herbicide. They infuse the soil with various items such as organic egg shells which are high in calcium, horse manure which stimulates beneficial soil life and encourages deeper root growth. They also have sheep which act as lawnmowers by chewing the grass and also use the manure as compost.

In the vinification process the grapes are hand picked and selected by hand and not machines. The vines are pruned mid April and picked late September/ early October. The Vidal grapes are especially picked for ice wine at negative eight degrees in accordance to the VQA law. There is no advertising on television or the radio; but it is part of Niagara on the lake.

The wine tasting they offered was ten dollars for four wines but it was offered free with the purchase of two wines. The wines I decide to try were the wild ferment chardonnay, estate 2013, ice wine Vidal 2014, ice wine Vidal  2006 and also the framboise fruit wine. The wild ferment was aged 20 months in the Vosges French oak with no cultured yeast added. It was not fine and filtered because there were noticeable sediments and the taste was oaky, with hints of apples and pears. The ice wine Vidal 2014 in comparison to 2006 was that the 2006 was sweeter and had stronger hints of peach and caramel, it also had a darker amber color and it was one of the wines I enjoyed so much I purchased it. The framboise fruit wine was very sweet with hints of raspberry and a high alcohol content.


Winery & Vineyard Assignment

So two months ago, in March I was in Orlando, Florida for my birthday weekend.  Despite all the fun I was having and school being the least important thing on my mind at this point, something told me to just look up vineyards to see if one was nearby where I was staying. I’m happy I did that because there was one just 28 miles from where I was staying.  So the next day, I dedicated my day to visiting this vineyard, so I won’t have to stress myself about going to one during spring break in New York. The name of the vineyard I visited is Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, which is located in Clermont, Florida.

Here at this vineyard they offer complimentary winery tours and wine tasting which was a big plus. On March 12th, 2016, my cousin and I took the 28 mile drive to Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards so that I can complete this assignment. We arrived at 10:40 am and the tour started at 11 am. The tour lasted about 50 – 55 minutes. It started with a 10 minute short video presentation, where Ben who was always my tour guide for the day spoke the growing of the grapes on this site, wine making process and the bottling and labeling of the wines made here.

After watching the video, we immediately headed outside to view the vineyards. The five grape varieties grown at this vineyard are: Blanc Du Bois, Stover and Suwannee which are hybrid grapes and Noble and Carlos (red) which are Muscadine grapes. Ben told us that Hybrid and muscadine grapes grown in Florida survive because of the disease resistance they have and adaptability to the warm, humid climate that Florida has to offer all year around. Next we went to the tasting room, where we tasted four wines that are produced and bottled at this location. The four wines are:

  • Lakeridge Chardonnay- this medium bodied white wine was very smooth and refreshing. It’s the first one on this list because it was my favorite wine I tried out of the other three we tried.
  • Southern Red- this is a light bodied red wine made from the Noble variety of Muscadine grape. This wine was very fruity, but had a bitter aftertaste that I did not enjoy at all.
  • Southern White- this is a white wine made from the Muscadine grapes that this site receives from local farmers. It was light bodied, crisp and ended with a fruity aftertaste. This wine kind of reminds me of Riesling.
  • Stover Reserve– this white wine is made from Stover grapes grown on site. It is medium bodied to me and dry. In the smell and taste of this wine all I got from it was green apples. This wine can only be tasted on tours giving on Saturdays because of the limitations of the production. I was very lucky to go on a Saturday and try this wine.

After the wine tasting segment of the tour, Ben lead us to the gift shop and told us he had  a wonderful time with us and encouraged us to look around the gift shop. And that was the end of the tour.



On May 1, I visited the Benmarl Winery, located in 156 Highland Ave, Marlboro, NY, part of the Lake Erie AVA.  Unfortunately, it was a very rain day but this was an outing planned to included visitors from Antigua.  It took a longer than anticipated and it ended up being a day trip but despite the rain, we had a great time, including the 85 yr. old grandma, even though she didn’t taste any wine.

Benmarl Winery is a 37 acre estate that overlooks the historic Hudson River Valley, it is 37 acre estate.  It lays claim to being the oldest vineyard in America.  The winery also holds New York Farm Winery license No. 1.  It is one of the premier wineries in the region and is committed to quality and consistency.  Their focus is on hand crafting wine in small batches.  Victor Spaccarelli Jr., Proprietor says “we strive to allow our wines to speak of where they are from”.

In addition, to using our Riesling sourced on Seneca Lake, and Merlot from the north fork of Long Island grapes, Benmarl grows Baco Noir and Cabernet Franc grapes.

Baco Noir known as Baco, a red grape from Hudson Valley is a hybrid between French and American grape varieties.  It is a crossbreeding between the Folle Blanche, a cognac grape from Armagnac Province, France and “Vitis Riperia or “riverside/bank” grape usually found river banks in the eastern part of North America from Southern Canada to the Rocky Mountains.  It was bred in 1902 by Monsieur Baco and released commercially in 1910.  Baco has deep red tones and high acidity or dryness.  It has complex fruit flavors of black and choke cherries, blackberries, prunes, and plum fruit.  Further, it can have herbal notes of black pepper, licorice, cinnamon, and eucalyptus and robust and aromatic flavor elements such as cedar, tobacco, leather, toasty oak, and chocolate.  It ages very well to become becomes a complex, full-bodied wine.  Food pairings ae red meats, barbecued meats or other heavy dishes.  Baco makes a wide range of quality wines.  It can be made into wines as diverse as Burgundian Pinot Noirs, Bordeaux like Cabernet Sauvignons, In addition, when made into a slightly lighter style the fruit notes become raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and strawberry jam and lavender, black pepper, mint and licorice are added to the herbal notes.

They just planted 2,000 vines of Cabernet Franc, which is related to the varietal Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cabernet Franc originates from both Bordeaux and the Loire valley.  It ripens early and is known for vary tannic wines, with red fruits flavors and notes of purple flowers, green herbs and pencil shavings or fresh cut lumber.  They do not expect yields for another 8 years.

The soil at Benmarl is comprised mainly of loam and slate, which provides the perfect combination of fertility, nutrients, and irrigation.  The nearby Hudson River serves a dual purpose.  The flowing water keeps the climate temperate, and the valley serves as a conduit for maritime breezes from the south.  The gently sloping hills provide ideal sites for vineyards.  All of this makes a perfect environment for growing grapes for wine.

They prune the vines and cull leaves to protect the grapes.  Because they make various types of wines, the grapes are handpicked at different stages.  The first harvest is usually around September, and the last harvest used for their Ice Wine is around November.

I spoke to Matthew Spaccarelli, Winemaker and General Manager who also manages a vineyard in the Finger Lakes, and he said that with regards to agriculture, they are very focused on making the vineyard sustainable as part of the viticulture.  He said “quality and consistency, but also on progression as the environment is consistently changing and global warming is creating new challenges as well as opening doors to opportunities that were never there before.  One of the ways to combat weeds, they use Olde English “Babydoll” Southdown sheep, this breed of sheep, eats the weeds but are too short to reach the grapes.

In addition, to weeds, Benmarl often encounter botrytis, powdery mildew, and the Grape Berry Moth.  They checked their crop constantly and use organic fungicides and pesticides when need.  He stated, “It was very important to know your crop and when to use fungicides and not just to spray for spraying sake.”  The Grape Berry Moth is their most problematic insect as it affects the entire cycle of the grape.  According to, adult moths emerge in mid to late May, mate, and lay eggs on or near grape flower clusters.  Then Larvae hatch from eggs in 4-8 days and emergence of the overwintering generation peaks in mid-June and continues to mid-July.  Larvae that hatch in June make up the first generation.  Larvae feed on tender stems, blossom buds, and berries.  Some larvae pupate in the fruit cluster where they have fed.  First generation adults begin to fly in late July, and the flight peaks in early August, however, adult moths continue to emerge until early September.  Second generation larvae usually enter where the berries touch each other or where the berry joins the stem, and tunnel directly into the green berries and feed internally.  Conspicuous red spots develop on the berries at the point of larval entry, and are referred to as “stung” berries.  Larvae of the second generation complete their development in late September and pupate in fallen leaves.  In addition, larvae can be a contaminant or act as an entry point for diseases.  Injured berries ripen prematurely, split open and shrivel.  Webbing produced by larvae prevents the berries from dropping.  When grape clusters are ready to be picked, severely infested clusters may contain several larvae Berry Moth.

In the tasting room, Katherine greeted us.  At that, the room was empty and she came to us right away.  I told her, why I was there, and she directed me to Ted as she was only there three weeks at that time.  Ted, however, had worked in the vineyard, and in the processing of grapes for over 17 years.  He was able to give me a lot of information about the harvest and the vines planted and where they got their other grapes.  In the tasting area, you had a choice of 6 wines from 12 wines, however, the room quickly filled up and Ted had to divide his time, which allowed me to explain wine, and how the different fruit scents were not added fruit but from the type of grape and how the wine was made.  Overhearing, Ted brought out the staff tasting notes, which lists, how the percentage of named grape, the fermentation period, the aging period and where it was aged (oak) or on lees and the percentage of Malolactic Fermentation.  For example, the Chardonnay is 50% FO barrel; 50% Tank and 100% MF and ten months On Lees.  He advised me to speak with Matthew and then he could give us a tour of the cellar.

Benmarl uses oak in part of their vinification process, mainly French and Hungarian Oak when aging wine.  Benmarl also uses Musk Steel Tanks and Stainless steel tanks for their fermentation, in addition to Malolactic Fermentation to lower the acidity in some of their wines.  MFA is done after primary fermentation is completed; you inoculate your wine with the lactic acid bacteria.  It is important to prevent oxygen from coming into contact with your wine during this process as the bacteria only produce desirable results when they work anaerobically (without oxygen).  This reason for this is to have stability, if not done before it could happen in the bottle and it reduces acidity.  Although they do use some corks in their bottling they are transitioning to screw caps as it is proven cork does not affect the taste or quality of the wine.  The press was located outside but it was too foggy to get a clear picture of the press.

Unlike some other places, most of the wines contained a 100% of the named grape.  It may not however be from their vineyard but definitely from the area.  Benmarl has received various prizes for their wines and in addition, there is a bed and breakfast and they do weddings.

I would visit this vineyard again, which I was unable to do because it was raining so heavily and cold, so I did not experience the entire tour, but I came away with a few bottles of their Ice Wine that I plan to consume as soon as I graduate.


Winery and Vineyard Blog

The winery and vineyard that I visited with my fellow classmate Gabriel Harris is Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, New York. Upon arriving to the vineyard and passing the gates we were greeted by a row of grape vines near the parking lot. The were dormenting still so there weren’t any grapes growing just yet. The employees were very welcoming and the tour group was very intimate; about 10 people. The tour guide mostly spoke about he history of the location and the original owners who are from Chile. The tour guide explained that their style of producing wine comes from there and it is also used in their other Vineyards in California.

Before going under ground to the cellar, he points out to the bottling factory where all of their wine are being processed and bottled. Across from that building there is a small patch of land with about 8 rows of vines that are used for experimental purposes. Their actual Vineyard is actually 2 hours north of their current location and they have about 40 acres.

In the cellar we were greeted by old corkers and champagne corkers from the late 1800’s.  Further in, we ended up into a different rooms where they had huge wooden barrels where the fermentation process took place. Another room that was for aging had had hundreds or barrels marked with Merlot and Pinot Nior that have been down there since 2007. One thing I noticed was that the air was humid compared the dry air outside.

When it was time for the ine tasting were were able to taste 6 wines, but there was a choice of 12 wines to choose from half were dry and the others were fruity and sweet. My favorite wine that i was able to try and also purchase after was the Carpe Diem. Its a traditonal method sparkling wine. The grape variety is a Moscato  Spumante. Over all I had an amazing time on the tour and being able to see and feel the tools that are used to create these wines helped with my study on wines.IMG_8825.IMG_8816IMG_8821IMG_8801IMG_8824IMG_8828

Bedell Cellars

I decided to go to Bedell Cellars vineyard and winery, it is located 36225 Main road, Cutchogue in North Fork of Long Island. It is a pioneers of family owned since 1980, they have an extension of 80 acres are planted with different varieties. This vineyard produces handcrafted wines that define their unique wines from North Fork maritime terroir. They have six red grapes, which are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Petit, Verdot for white grapes are Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignion Blanc, Albarino. This vineyard has been making wines for 36 years. In 2000, Bedell Cellars was sold to Michael Lynne successful Film Executive. Lynne is also esteemed contemporary art collector and trustee of New York Museum of Modern Art.

The employees were very friendly and welcoming, once we entered to the place they offered us the first glass of wine to start the tour. Our first stop was the area where they have oak barrels and stainless steel vats, the tour guide told us cooper oak barrels are large barrel which hold 55 gallons and offers more neural flavor with more fruit, when they fermented in stainless steel tanks is less contact with sediment and no oak flavor. He explained to us how they make the fermentation process, after the grapes harvest, they have a pressing machine where they get all the juice and let the juice to be fermented stainless steel tanks for 3 to 4 weeks in temperature up to 50 degrees. The juice is pumped from the bottom over the grapes skin twice a day, then is age in old barrels for at least 14 months once the process is completed, it goes directly to the bottle process, they use natural cork all labeling is done by machine from front and back and is ready for public consumption. Commercial yeast is not user in the fermentation process; they use 100% wild naturally occurring indigenous yeast. They fermented over 50 batches of wine each vintage is to highlight different aspects of their terroir.They practice the guidelines of the Long Island sustainable wine growing. The tour guide showed to us the vines, he explained to us that plants are given a little less water than needed so it competes to ripen the grape, which adds more complexity to the wine. They keep the over crop dense which prevents erosion and promotes the natural predators.

After the amazing tour, he brings us to taste room to taste their wines, he served three different kinds of cheese and crackers, honey, and dry fruits. It was quite nice to see the different celebrity artwork on their labels due to Michael Lynne’s passion for the art. We choose five wines to taste the first one was Chardonnay 2014, the color was clear with expressive fruit like green apple, citrus, with some honey medium body and creamy texture I love it. The second one was Sauvignon Blanc 2014 refreshing, citrus, with moderate alcohol acity. The third one was Cabernet Franc 2014 aged in older oak and stainless steel taste flowers very oaky. The four one was Malbec 2013 it is acidic, smells fruity dry cherries, and on the palette some vanilla dried fruit medium body I like it too. And the last one Musse 2013 this wine is blend 60% merlot and 30% cabernet sauvignion smells fruits, spice ,on the palette dry fruits with oak, very tannin.It was a great experience I really enjoyed and definitely like to come back, it was great to knew all the wine terminology and able to ask questions. Bedell Cellars harvest in October.I would like to visit again to see the grapes and the vines.


Red wines are fermented in oak barrels and stainless steel


The pressing machine to separate the juice from the skin


the life cycle of the vine


Front of the house with our tour guide



Mattebella Vineyard

My two friends and I had the pleasure of getting an insightful tour of Mattebella vineyard by John Roselli.

Tasting glasses with the "Mattebella Vineyard" logo

Tasting glasses with the “Mattebella Vineyard” logo

The outdoor tasting area

Mattebella is a small vineyard that practicesorganic and sustainable agriculture to maintain their vines. In 1996 – 1997 the layout of this vineyard was strategically created to produce the best possible quality of grapes. The first step to cultivating the perfect grapes for the creation of “elegant and stylish wines that would pair well with food” was creating the perfect soil conditions. All 15 acres of Mattebella’s vineyard was dug up in order to create the perfect balance of slate, gravel, sand, and clay 10 feet under the vineyard. The slate was added to the soil to help the ground retain heat, while the gravel was introduced to the soil combination to create a system of drainage, while minimizing the levels of acidity in the grapes. Similarly to gravel, sand is utilized for its drainage, clay on the other hand is used to offset the drainage characteristic of gravel and sand and to retain water. (Wikipedia 5/6/2016)

One of the houses on the vineyard property where some of the people who maintain the vineyard live

One of the houses on the vineyard property where some of the people who maintain the vineyard live

The next step to creating an ideal vineyard is creating the right position of the vines. At Mattebella vineyard their vines are planted using the European Style. This means that the vines are planted 3 feet by 6 feet away from each other. This helps to create a competitions ion between the roots of the vines for water. Also while creating the vineyard all American root stocks were grafted with the vines. In an attempt to maintain the work done about 20 years ago on this cultivated field, the vines are constantly being maintained throughout the year.

Vines that have been pruned

The budding grapes from vines that have been pruned

Pruning is usually done in February so that the vines are ready when August comes around and the grapes begin to veraison (Wikipedia 8/29/15). That is around the same time that support wires are reinforced to help vines grow up right. Rose bushes are planted in front of every few rows of vines because roses are more susceptible to anything that could potentially harm the vines. This helps the vineyard manager know what is going on with the vines without having to walk through every row.

A row of vines with a Rose bush in front.

A row of vines with a Rose bush in front.

There are 6 clones of Chardonnay grown at Mattebella vineyard, along with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which is the vineyards star grape variety. The drop fruit method for is used for all of Mattebella’s 49 rows of vines so that the waist high vines can concentrate all of its energy on injecting the most flavor into the few clusters that are still connected to the vines. More clusters of Chardonnay are left on the vine then for the Merlot. The vines are hand harvested by groups of 8 to 12 people using small containers called lugs that are designed to hold and maximum of 35 pounds of grapes without creating pressure on the grapes that could cause them to break.

A group wine tasting area with bocce courts

A group wine tasting area with bocce courts

During our tour we mainly spoke about the Vinification and Viticulture of the vineyard. Due to the size of the vineyard, the wines were not made onsite. Mattebella vineyard has a contract with a nearby vineyard that allows them to rent some of their tanks and barrels to produce their wines and Roses

Clearview Vineyard

I had the wonderful experience of visiting Clearview Vineyard located in 35 Clearview Lane, Warwick,New York 10990. The drive was about two hours long to upstate New York,but upon my arrival I met Frank and Karen Graessle, the Vintners who gave me the tour of their establishment. They have been opened for eight years,producing organic wine for seven years and in June their tasting room has been open for three years and have been selling to the people for six years.
Picture of wine bottles served in tasting room

Karen was serving me in the tasting room, which is very welcoming with a table for people to write their names on a cork, along with signing up to be apart of their wine club. I enjoyed the band playing music along with the food I had ordered in from the kitchen. Karen was very informative of the wines she was serving. She explained the different wines they had for tasting,I had the pleasure of tasting their sangria. I purchased a bottle and glass with logo on both, to bring back home.

Picture of vines

Frank gave us a tour of their vineyard, which is his backyard viewing the different grapes grown in their vineyard. They have nine different grape varieties grown; Seyval Blanc, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir, Noriet, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Franc, Cayuga white and Divinity. The most interesting grape variety that Frank has is the Divinity, it is called that because it has no name besides New York eighty one. This vinifera varieties, known as Divinity is an hybrid developed grape variety.
Frank practices cane pruning, as you can see in the picture the training of the veins and the buds that are beginning to grow about one inch. All the veins in the field are in the process of blooming.

Picture of Fertility

As shown in the picture their is gravel used in the soil.
Franks agriculture and vinification practices are ” as organic as possible”. He does not use fertilizers.However he does use small amounts of chemical stabilizers that are sprays used to control for mildew that grows throughout the year. Franks says “next week I will spray a little to protect my crops”. Everything they do during the Viticulture is manually. Frank is proud to say he tries to stay as organic as possible it was only last year that he started to spray due to his crops being destroyed from blackroot. That is not the only thing that destroys his grapes. Frank has wild turkeys and other birds and Deers that eat his grapes. To keep all animals away from eating grapes Frank uses CD’s, big balloons and has gates with white tape on it to prevent deer from jumping through his gates.
I did not get to view the wine making process but Frank tells me he crushes his grapes and uses stainless steel containers during fermentation .

I had a wonderful time visiting Franks vineyard I admire his dedication to staying as organic as possible and his lovely wife Karen.