Every year on May 26, our closing day university, we reflect on the year that has past and the plan for the future. The past year has certainly had its hardships, both for the farm and our community. But even with the hurdles we are content with where we are 5 years into this venture. The vines are thick and filled with berry clusters. While harvest will likely be at least three weeks later this year than most, we do believe it will be big. We are excited to see how the later harvest and stressful start to the season influences the flavor profile of the harvest.
Plans for this year: Get Cabins and Outdoor kitchen & lounge area completed and ready to be rented. A wedding Gazebo that will ne ready for Spring 2022 weddings in the vineyard. A new crush pad where we can more efficiently destem and press grapes and other fruits for wine.
The freeze of 2021 was certainly a scary few days for all of East Texas, us included. It was yet another bruise on a wreck of a year since March 2020! We initially thought everything was fine in the vineyard since we didn’t have a large accumulation of ice and so we did not have any breakage due to ice. We also didn’t have any animal loss, like so many did, which was such a blessing. But once mid-March got here and we still had brown barren vines with no buds, we started to get very worried! Thank the good Lord that grapes are hardy, practically weed like plants. About a month behind the norm we started to see little tiny buds. We ended up only having two vines with actual damage. We feel both lucky and blessed because so many families and colleagues lost so much. As of now we have lots of flowers, so harvest should not be too badly affected, just pushed back about a month.
We just received news that Polk County has gone past the threshold for Covid 19 hospitalizations. Therefore all bars and bar like establishments must close again. We are very lucky, in that we already did some permit changes last time. Meaning we ultimately do not have to close, but we do need the weekend to prepare. So this weekend will have pick-up sales only. Starting January 16 there will be a mandatory food purchase with any on-premise consumption. On-premise consumption included tastings, glasses of wine and bottles opened on the property. Jams, Pickles, candy and other snacks as well as Charcuterie boards, cheese plates, queso and spinach dip will be available. We apologize for any inconvenience, but this is the only legal way we can remain open.
In better news we are going to bottle our new Semi-sweet red blend, Broken Bridge this weekend! Silver lining?
Our first frost came early this year, starting the process of dormancy in the vines. They have browned and are on their way to losing all their leaves. Covid requirements have remained the same and haven’t really effected us, since we are primarily outdoor anyway. We have added some new animals to the farm! The Guineas are supposed to be for pest control in the vineyard, but they are also super fun to watch! Bonnie & Clyde are our two peacocks. Both are growing their colors in nicely!
We celebrated our One Year Anniversary on December 12th! What a fun day!! We had our first grape stomp and live music! Thanks for everyone that came out for the festivities!
We have started turning some of our wine into jellies. We started with the Strawberry Jalapeno and it was delicious! As I write this we have two jars left. Next we will be using some of our Rose to do the same thing. We currently have three wines in the tank; A Dolcetto Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Rosemary Plum. Let us know what we should start next!!
We are happy to announce that we are back open as a Winery again! While closed we tried to catch up on some projects and did a ton (3 tons actually) of work! We filled in the pavilion, added lights and put in a large 10×60 deck overlooking the vineyard. Right now it has seating for 44 people with even more possible.
The 2020 Blanc Du Bois is fermenting nicely. Bottling is tentatively scheduled for late November. The goal is to have it available before Thanksgiving. We will be splitting the finished product into a dry and semi sweet. We are so excited!! We also have been working on a few other small batch wines that will be available by the Christmas season; the Strawberry Jalapeño (can you say yummy?!?) and a Cabernet Sauvignon (100 gallons).
We are so happy to be open again!! TABC has allowed wineries, breweries, and distilleries to essentially turn into a restaurant. We jumped at the opportunity! So we are now allowed to be open at 75% capacity, just like a restaurant. We have added some new menu items in order to keep our percentages at less than 51% alcohol. We will continue to add new items and specials every weekend. While a food purchase is not mandatory, it is highly suggested. Keeping our ratios correct is the only way we can remain open. Thanks for all your support.
We certainly thought this second shut down would be over by now! We have had to get creative to bring fun things to our community while still abiding by the Governor’s order. We have continued with our second quarterly specialty small batch wine – Strawberry Fields Forever. We have also introduced To-go tasting flights with tasting notes! They are so cute and fun!! We have also been going to the Farmer’s Market @ Yellow Cottage Farm on Saturday mornings 10am-2pm.
Things are not even close to perfect, but we will make it. I feel for all the small businesses, wineries and others, that will not survive the shut down this time.
Wineries, Breweries, and Distillery tasting rooms are a vibrant part of the TX economy and tourism industry. While we wholeheartedly support keeping people safe, we also support small business and TX agriculture. Wineries are the picture of the American Dream blending small business, agriculture and artisan craft wines and this shut down is going to kill many of them. Support your favorite wineries and other small businesses throughout this time of hardship!
July started with our largest harvest yet! With the help of a couple of friends we harvested 1871 lbs from four rows of our Blanc Du Bois grapes!! It was sad that we could not have our harvest festival and grape stomp, but the grapes look great. We will reschedule the festival and grape stomp when we are allowed to open back up.
We had amazing community support during the six weeks we were able to reopen! Thank you all so much!! Unfortunately, as many of you already know, due to Governor Abbott’s executive order GA 28 we are ordered to close our doors again as of 6/26. We have no idea when we will be open again.
When/If we are able to open we will continue to take precautions against Covid 19 in order to keep our customers and family safe and healthy.
We will be:
Only seating outdoor spaces (you may bring chairs or blankets)
Continue to use disposable glassware (you may bring your own wine glasses)
Employees will me wearing masks
Customers encouraged to wear masks while purchasing wine in the tasting room
All food will be served in disposable containers
Social distancing will be employed (easy to do in our large outside space!)
Adhere to all CDC recommendations for sanitizing spaces before and after use, including restrooms and the POS system