It’s been some time since we provided you all with an update on the progress of building our winery and opening to the public. As you might have guessed, there are a lot of federal, state and local regulations regarding opening a winery and it does take some time to go through the process. I’m happy to say that our federal application to the Tax and Trade Bureau has been submitted and is pending. We anticipate that will take less than three months to complete. Once that is done we should be able to quickly obtain approval from the state and start actually producing wine. Until we are licensed, we cannot even start fermenting. Our goal is to begin making wine this fall with some of the wine to be released next spring. We’ll keep you informed of our progress and exact dates as we move forward. There IS light at the end of the rainbow!
Grape Vine Planting Day
Saturday, May 24
Please join us for our second Grape Vine Planting day at 4e Winery. We are excited to be starting our new venture as a North Dakota vineyard and winery. Our winery is located just SE of the I-94 Casselton exit. It is the first farmstead that you see from the road. Turn east on the frontage road and take the first right. You can’t miss it. We will be planting 80 Frontenac vines and may need some help installing trellises. We appreciate all the help we can get. We will gather at 10:00 am to start the day. Lunch and of course wine will be provided.
When: Saturday, May 24 starting at 10:00 am
Where: 4e Winery, 3766 156th Ave SE, Durbin, ND (Mapleton on some GPS)
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or 701.936.9692
Rain or shine, the grapes need to go in. If the weather is too severe, we will plant on Sunday, May 25. The vineyard may be muddy, so please wear appropriate footwear and clothes.
Download the flyer here: 4ewinery-planting-2014
Earth – one of the four classical elements from ancient Greek science and philosophy – represents matter and the terrestrial world. It was thought to be the heaviest element and all earth-laden substances would fall quickly straight down toward the center of the cosmos. Earth also represents the planet Earth, the seasons, fertility and abundant crops and many Greek and Roman goddesses represented these features of Earth. On this Earth Day, we are reminded of the purity and wholeness of nature and our responsibility to care for our planet. We take this to heart at 4 Elements Winery and consider sustainability in everything we do. And we hope that gets expressed in the purity of our wine. Happy Earth Day!
As spring tries to beat back winter, my thoughts lately have been turning toward summer time white wines. If you’ve been perusing the store isles or attending any of the local store tastings, you may have noticed an increase in the offerings of fruity delicious white wine blends. Sure, Menage a Trois white blend has been around for some time and I have certainly enjoyed the white blend from Conundrum, but I have noticed a plethora of new blends arriving in town. Many of them tend to blend 3 or more whites into balanced and versatile beverages. One of the trends I see is the combination of chardonnay with more fruity grapes such as muscat, sémillon, sauvignon blanc and viogner. What results is a wine that has the body and structure of a chardonnay and the fragrant and fruity sweetness of the other grapes. These wines are not dry but most would not be considered sweet by any means. Thus, they will please a diverse set of palates and may be drunk on their own or paired with foods. Winemakers in France have know for years that blending the best grapes together makes for a consistent and delicious end product. It is nice to see American producers experimenting with new blends. So, while you are out looking for that varietal moscato, riesling, or chardonnay don’t pass up on some of the great blends arriving for spring.
By the way, one of my favorites is the Buonchristiani Triad Blanc. This is an inspiration for me as a winemaker to try to achieve a quality wine like this with grapes from North Dakota!
Well, a week or so of nice weather has encouraged spring to spring. And that means it’s time to prune the vines. After a long drawn-out cold winter, I was concerned about the status of my now 1 year old vines. We had some snow, as you can see below, but it wasn’t very deep. Frost in this area was down to 8 feet or more under the ground in spots. Needless to say I was worried about the vines dying all the way to the ground.
All of the snow is now gone and underneath all this brown are grasses and weeds just ready to burst forth.
Even the buds on the tiny apple trees are starting to swell.
But this is supposed to be about the vines. As I said, I was worried because the few I had been checking over the winter looked to be brown throughout the cane which means it had no life out at the tips. In the first year I let the vines grow as much as they want without pruning in order to establish a solid root system. Since I did not train these up straight last year, the canes from last year were not really that straight. The plan this year is to prune all the vines down close to the ground and grow a few canes trained up and select the best ones for establishing the trunks of the vines. I was so very pleasantly surprised to find nearly all the vines were alive and vibrant green. This is a great sign saying the vines are healthy and should push lots of growth this year. Now, come on sunshine!
At the 2104 Annual Meeting and Conference of the North Dakota Grape and Wine Association, I had the pleasure to share the floor with Bob Thaden, winemaker extraordinaire from Tongue River Winery in Montana, to help educate folks on the basics of winemaking. I have included the powerpoint presentation attached here.
Brianna is cold hardy hybrid grape that was bred by Elmer Swenson in 1983. Originally released as a table grape, it was introduced as a wine grape in 2001 and since then has been spreading across upper midwest vineyards. For the geeks out there who follow this stuff, it is a cross between the grape ‘Kay Gray’ and ES 2-12-13.
Brianna has a very distinctive and characteristic tropical pineapple flavor which makes for really delightful refreshing white wines. It is most often made on the sweet side to bring out those exotic fruit flavors.
This year at 4 Elements Winery we planted 75 Brianna vines. It will take a few years before they start producing. However, I have just received a 5 gallon sample of Brianna juice grown at NDSU’s test vineyards and it is happily fermenting away as we speak. Here are the details:
Brianna grown in Absaraka, ND
Brix 18.6 (sugar added to bring the brix to 20)
TA 7.5 g/L
Some time ago a guy in Minnesota names Lon DePoppe created a fermented version of Hard Lemonade that he calls Skeeter Pee. It’s a sweet alcoholic beverage made from bottled lemon juice that is quick to ferment and certainly quaffable on a hot summer day sitting on the patio. It has really taken off among home winemakers and you can find gallons and gallons of it described on various winemaking forums. Many versions with different fruits have been made. As an avid home winemaker I decided to try my hand at a version of Pee with blueberries. Some folks call a variant with frozen triple berry blend Dragon’s Blood. So I decided to call this one Blue Blood. It’s not finished yet but it is getting close. I just sweetened up a 6 gallon batch in my basement. It tastes surprisingly good. It certainly isn’t a serious wine by any means but I am thinking about how to come up with a recipe I could commercialize.
It has been about a month since my last update. I’m happy to report that the weeds are being beaten back for the most part and the vines are growing very well. After flooding rains in June things have dried out considerably. In all of July we only received about 1/2 inch of rain. That’s fine as there is plenty of moisture under the soil. Just a few days ago we received another 1/3 of an inch just to moisten things up. So far the vines look strong and I’m hoping the moisture level slowly recedes down into the ground to encourage the roots to go deeper. I’ll keep my eye on them and give ’em some water if I see any signs of distress. Here are some updated photos of the vineyard and surrounding pasture.
Shawna Olson, from KFGO, featured several local wineries and vineyards on her Ag Report show. She started her interviews right here with Greg Cook at 4e Winery. Then moved on to visit with Mark Vining at Agazziz Shores Orchard and Vineyard. She ended her Red River Valley winery tour with Rodney Hogen at Red Trail Vineyards. Take a listen.