Monday, September 22, 2014

Harvest 2014

    We have been working like mad to take advantage of the cool, dry weather we have been enjoying here in south central PA.  Th last two weekends have found us harvesting a bumper crop of Concord grapes.  Because of the cool, wet Summer, the sugar levels have risen very slowly.  The acid has slowly been falling and we have been patiently waiting for the perfect moment when sugar, acid and pH all come together.  Unfortunately, this year I don't think that time is ever going to come for the  Concords.  Not that the grapes won't make great wine it just looks like we are going to have to work a little harder to help the grapes reach their fullest potential.  Next week we will pick the final two rows of concord on Sunday.
      This Saturday, we plan to pick the Chardonnay in the morning while the grapes are nice and cool. The weather is looking good and the Chardonnay is developing much better than the Concord.  Today we tested the Chardonnay and it looked like it will all come together for us on Saturday morning.  We will keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.  Wish us luck and join us if you can.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vineyard Light Show

O      The last several Fall days have provided some beautiful sunsets and harvest moon rises.
  All these spectacular light shows herald the start of harvest.  The cool, wet Spring and Summer have given way to a warm, dry fall just in time to ripen our grapes.  This weekend we will begin the harvest with our Concord and next week we will tackle the Chardonnay.  The fun begins at 9:00 AM and we will take a lunch break with Ham, Beans and Potatpoes.  
So enjoy the light show with us and see what the harvest moon holds in store.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall Evenings and Great Music

      Fall has always been my favorite time of year.  I know some people view it as a time of death as the days shorten and give way to darkness, but I grew up on a farm and Fall has always been about harvest and celebration in my life.  Summer is nice with the heat and humidity but I live for crisp Fall days with cool, clear nights.  Evenings come sooner but their is nothing like sitting around a fire and watching the harvest moon rise over the fields. 
       In the vineyard, our grapes are becoming ripe and we are looking forward to the crazy days and nights of harvest and winemaking.  This year is shaping up to be an outstanding year if the warm, dry days and cool crisp nights continue through October.  Because of the abundant rain, we did not hesitate to allow our vines to retain a large crop of fruit.  Now as the fruit continues to ripen, we are happy we made that decision and ready to make some of the best wines we have ever made.  Each year that the grapevines get older, their fruit becomes more complex.  Now with fall coming on strong and the possibility of an Indian Summer to continue ripening we anticipate another celebration and lots of great wine!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Sunset Toast

      Yesterday evening in the vineyard we had a little gathering of friends.  The sun was setting and we had a special bottle of wine so we offered up a toast to a special member of our group who was missing.
      Lilly Hoffman passed away 2 weeks ago as a result of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  The most tragic thing was that she was only 3 years old.
She would have loved to be with us, because the vineyard was one of her favorite places.  She loved grapes and helped us pick the grapes for the wine we were toasting.  Last year our Late Harvest Vidal which will be released in November was picked with Lilly's help so we affectionately call it Lilly's Wine.  It has an extra special sweetness imparted by her extra sweet little girl.  
      Lilly's grandparents have set up a foundation to benefit research on Childrens Diseases and the Milton S Hershey Medical Center's Childrens Hospital.  Please help us help other children in Lilly's memory.

The Lily Bennett Foundation
C/O Northwest Savings Bank
1048 East Main Street
Palmyra, PA. 17078

Here is a Pennlive news piece done for Lilly.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Hershey Band Booster Event at the Vineyard

      Coming up on Sept. 27, Cassel Vineyards will host a Hershey Band Booster Club Event at the Vineyard.  The event was a huge success last year and includes live music, a catered meal and wine tasting all for $25.  The meal is catered by Dafno's Restaurant in Hershey and the Live music features Dave Knott playing jazz music.  This year everything is under the tent so the event will go off rain or shine.  It's going to be a great evening and you can join us by contacting Tonya and Barry Krushinsky at or by calling them at 717-592-8164.  Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

3 Weeks to Harvest


      Here are the Chardonnay  grapes in a picture we took last night.  It shows just how far we are behind this year.  Last year we were preparing to pick and everything was ripening as the sugar levels were rising.  However, this year we are just starting to see a rise in the sugar levels so I think it will be 3 weeks until we are ready to pick.  
      The Chambourcin are also starting to show their color but they are also a long way from ripe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fruit is Changing Color

      Its that time of year when every winemaker starts to get excited over the prospects of an imminent harvest.  The change in color of the fruit known as veraison is taking place.  Green fruit that looks unappetizing and small, changes over the course of a few days into beautiful, delicious looking berries.  Thankfully, we finished installing and zipping down bird nets last weekend.  We have enjoyed two hot, dry weeks for the first time this summer.  Suddenly, the vines have stopped growing and are putting their energy into reproduction.  In the next 4-10 weeks the berries will ripen as the seeds harden and mature.  All this is an attempt by the vine to spread its fruit and seeds by means off hungry birds and animals.  That is where we draw the line and plan to intervene.  We want to take those grapes at the peak of ripeness and turn them into your favorite flavor of wine.  Like I said this is the time of year when we start to get excited about the prospects!