Sunday, October 29, 2017

Pressing Apples

We were fortunate to get 2 bins of apples, including Gala and Yellow Delicious this past week.  This was a bit more than we had anticipated, about 75 bushels and luckily we had lots of helper this weekend!

We used our antique apple press  (literally over 100 years old, but upgraded with an electric motor) to shred the apples, which were captured in food grade, sanitized buckets. Though the old apple press can be used for pressing, the capacity is so small that it would have taken us days to get this done.

For pressing, we use our wine basket press instead.  And just as we would with grapes, we added rice hulls to the shredded apples, to increase the efficiency of juice extraction without the danger of pressing stems or seeds.It took all afternoon and late into evening before we had them all processed.

It made a lot of cider!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Mulch Spreader

Anja and Duff bought a brand new mulch spreader, from Millcreek Manufacturing, and it was delivered to the farm this morning.  We will be using it on all three vineyards, which are fortunately located within a half mile radius.  It took us two days to mulch six acres of grapevines.  And the mulch pile, which we had been amassing for two years, dwindled to nothing!

Here is a link to a video showing how it works.

Beautifully mulched grapevines!!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Planting more Grapevines

The last few weekends were spent planting more grapevines. We had prepared the ground already, but still  had to mark the rows, as well as each spot for the vines.  Then we dug out a deep enough hole for each rootcluster.    The first weekend, we planted 200 additional  Traminette vines at  Anja & Duff's ground, and last  weekend, we planted 150 Chambourcin vines (grafted, on rootstock 3309) at the Long Shot Farm.  Everyone helped and it did not take us that long at all!

Toben (7) helps to make holes for the vines

We must have made some math error because when we were all done, we still had space for another 50 or so vines.  Luckily, Double A Vineyard had sufficient grapes left over, and shipped them out  right away- so those stragglers got planted today.

After we had planted all the vines, we used our plastic layer, and covered them - then we had to go through and poke holes for each new vine to stick out.  We are hoping that this will help in case we run into another drought like last year.

Duff checks out his newly planted Traminettes

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Barn Remodel Week 5 and 6

We got the back side of the barn done!  Replaced the upper vent with a window and re-attached the rain spouting.  The only mishap was one nail out of the nail gun missed a board, went inside the barn, where it ricocheted off a wine barrel and shattered a window pane from the inside.  But we got it fixed and all looks good now.

Now we will work on taking the old silo down!

Sadly there will be a bit of break in the barn progress, as we are waiting for warmer weather to stain the remaining boards for the front of the barn. Hoping for May to get this done.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Barn Remodel Week 4 - Windows! (and Lower Side)

A lot of progress was made this week:  the entire lower side (above the crush pad) was covered in boards and battens, and we put in three large windows where the old hay doors used to be.  We also added a window next to the entrance door on the upper side and four large windows were framed in on the back side!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Barn Remodel Week 3 - Overhead Door

We finally got an overhead door for the lower level of the barn.  It had to be custom built to fit between the barn posts and the stone wall.  Installation was a bit tricky as well, because nothing in the old barn is actually level, nor plumb.  So kudos to the crew that managed to install the door and have it pretty much airtight.  It will be so helpful to move crates of grapes and empty tanks through this door come harvest season!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Barn Remodel Week 2 - Upper Driveway Side


Here is what the barn looked like on Tuesday morning, February 21:

And this is what it looked like this afternoon - just one week later:

Thanks Mike & Crew!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Upper Barn Remodel Week 1 - Concrete

With the warmer temperatures, we were able to do the basic concrete work that is literally the foundation of fixing the exterior wall on the back of the upper barn.  We needed to reinforce the section of the loading area, in front of the stone wall, so we can then install a new footer and frame in the barn doors.

The first step was building a "form", into which the concrete would be poured.  We used plywood, reinforced with 2x4's and metal posts.  We did this 2 weekends ago, which meant that the old barn doors could not be closed tightly, as the "form" stuck out too much.  We had to use old barn beams to prop the doors shut from the outside.  Luckily, this held the doors for a week.

On Saturday, we started mixing and pouring concrete - we all worked on this most of the day.  Zach brought over his electric cement mixer, and while he mixed the concrete, Lars would use the wheelbarrow to take the mixed concrete and pour it into the form, where Jens would poke it down and use an air driven drill with a blunted tip to "vibrate" the concrete by pushing the running drill on the outside of the form.  We used 70 bags of concrete on Saturday, and as we got near the end, one side of the form gave out under all the pressure - we lost about half our work :(

On Sunday, we got more concrete, fixed the form and reinforced it even more, and started the process over.  We did get it all done by the middle of the afternoon.

This evening, we "popped" the form off, and could admire the new outside wall of what will be the loading area for the upper barn.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Parking Lot Progress

A PennDOT crew arrived today to start reshaping the bank below our vineyard.  (Their backhoe had been parked in our field since before Christmas.)  The timing was perfect:  It was an unseasonably warm day, the ground was dry, and we had just finished roughing out the driveway and parking lot area.

They got half of the bank reshaped today - which totaled 12 dump truck loads of dirt, unloaded in our future parking lot.  Jeff used the tractor to spread the dirt as much as possible between the loads and by evening the are looked completely different already.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Food Establishment License

We received our official PA Department of Agriculture Food Establishment license, which is required for all food manufacturers (including winemaking)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Working on the Driveway

We started phase two of our driveway project in January, with a"backhoe expert" reshaping the bank on the back of the barn and re-positioning dirt to match the engineering drawings.  The driveway section up to the barn is pretty much done, but we need to get at least ten dump truck loads of dirt hauled in to finish shaping the parking lot to the required specifications.

Lucky for us, PennDOT asked if they could reshape the bank below the vineyard - to reduce water run-off.  And we get to keep all the dirt they have to move!! They plan to excavate sometime in February.

We bought two dump truck loads of shale to cover the driveway section up to the barn and built a wooden form for concrete to reinforce the section of the stone wall below the large barn doors.  Now we are waiting for a warm day to pour the concrete.