Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kreutz Creek set to plant 400 vines

Kreutz Creek Vineyards in West Grove, Pa., sent out its January e-letter today it began with this short note from owner Carole and Jim Kirkpatrick:

"Hopefully you had a great holiday season. We had a terrific time although it was much too short. Now that it's behind us, it's time to begin the grape growing process all over again.

Pruning will begin this month and take us through March. It's been very rainy lately so we haven't begun. It's hard enough to spend the entire day in the vineyard when it's 30 degrees, but when it's cold, wet and rainy it's miserable.

We ordered about 400 new vines for planting this spring. They will be replants for vines we removed this past season. We'll probably plant in April so if you think you want to get 'down and dirty' let me know. It's sure to be lots of fun!"

January will be pretty quiet in the tasting room so make a point to stop by and visit. February 14th and 15th will be our Valentine's Day celebration. Think good wine and good dark chocolate. That's right, we're going to have our popular chocolate fondue with good dippings. March brings us to the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail's "Barrels on the Brandywine." We'll be doing the vertical Kordeaux tasting of 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. That's every weekend in March in the winery.

We're also getting ready to remodel the tasting room. Hopefully by Barrels on the Brandywine we'll have a new look. Look for pictures in the next issue.

These acts are featured 6 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Friday, Jan. 2- Classical Guitar by Brad Rau
Saturday, Jan. 3 - Jazz Guitar by Sean Townsend and Dan Moore
Friday, Jan. 9 - Jazz and Swing by Swing Set
Saturday, Jan. 10 - Classical Guitar by Mark Oppenlander
Friday, Jan. 16 - Folk and Blues by Stephanie Hewett
Saturday, Jan. 17 - Eclectic Tunes by Prose from Dover
Friday, Jan. 23 - Jazz Guitar by Sean Townsend and Dan Moore
Saturday, Jan. 24 - Rockabilly by the Highball Kids
Friday, Jan. 30 - Folk Music by Mary Scholz
Saturday, Jan. 31 - Jazz and Swing by Swing Set
Don't forget to BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)

44 E. Gay St.
West Chester, PA

Pa. association president: Numbers pointing up

Caught up to Bob Mazza, the owner of Lake Erie's Mazza Vineyards and president of the state winery association the other day and picked his brain on a couple of issues. One dealt with what he sees coming up for wine producers in the state this year. In a bad economy, he sees many reasons to be bullish.

"We’ve got a pretty aggressive marketing program that we are working on," he said by phone. "We received some funding through the wine marketing and research program. We received some decent funding from PDA [the Pa. Department of Agriculture] in terms of our winery association. It started out at about $240,000, but that been whittled away by the 4.25 percent decrease and will probably take another little hit here very soon. But, you know, that’s still significantly more money than we've ever received before. So we’re doing some pretty aggressive, first of all, some good research to see what our audience is and what we want it to be and basically market to that. So I think we have a pretty good concerted effort right now to help market Pennsylvania wines.

"We also have a very stable industry. I’ll call it recession-proof. In talking to our members, there's nobody out there wringing their hands and crying the blues, you know, they’re pretty much saying, 'We’re doing OK. We hit a gas crisis in terms of prices and that didn’t seem to affect us adversely, and now the recession just hasn’t hit the wine industry so we’re hopeful that we are a fairly recession-proof business and people will realize that going to a winery and buying some good, local wines is a cheap date, in a sense. At least they’re closer to home and continue to buy local products and we’re wll positioned to take advantage of that.

"In the meantime our industry contiues to grow. We have another 4, 5, 6 wineries coming on board. We're sitting at about 15, 136 wineries right now. We’re still experiencing growth. People are still looking at this industry as a good viable industry to park some money and make an investment in, and that’s good."

Told that the investments new owners are making seem to be growing, Mazza replied, "You got kind of a mixture. You have people getting into it and . . . we'll call them very small, boutique operations, maybe out of the cellar of their homes, maybe out of their garage. Not literally, but very limited operations. But I found that a number of wineries that started that way and have grown successfully, and then you've got guys who put up a million dollars . . . and put up a nice facility. They want to do it Napa Valley style, and, you know, unless they're very well-heeled financially, those are the ones who usually tend to struggle. They make a big splash in the beginning and they kind of peter out later on when they run out of money. I'll take the little guy starting out slowly, cautiously, and growing as the business expands as opposed to someone coming in with a lot of dollars. But we need both and we have both [in our state] and it’s up to the individuals how they want to enter the business. I'm not going to dictate that to anyone.”