Mostly, with the exception of Concord and Niagara, which we source from Lake Erie. The growers in that region provide grapes for Welch’s and are of the highest quality. I couldn’t grow it better or more economically myself. The apples used in our apple wines are sourced from Schantz Orchard in Orefield, PA. To harvest apples you have to climb trees, and I’m not interested in doing that. Raspberries are now sourced from upstate New York, having picked them ourselves the first year, an act of tedious futility.
Why are your tasting samples at room temperature as opposed to being chilled?
At room temperature, about 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, our wines will have the most flavor. We want you to make an informed purchase. Liquids that are too hot or too cold can numb the palate and drastically reduce the perception of both aroma and flavor.
Yes, we do. You can observe our workspace from our tasting room. The really messy stuff, like crushing and pressing, is done outside to try and keep the bees at bay. We love and care for our butterflies and bees, so catching them for release can be a challenge.
We started planting grapes in 1986. We started construction on the winery in 1994, and opened our doors in March of 1996. The property, however, has been in the family since the end of the Great Depression.
The short answer is that all of our vines come from accredited nurseries from New York to California. The varieties themselves had their origins in the Old World. We have trialed vines from Italy, France, Germany, Russia, and Spain. Even the vines that originate here in the United States, through breeding programs, often have one ancestor with its roots in the Old World.
How come I've never heard of a lot of the grapes that you grow?
When we first started planting grapes we just planted what we liked to drink. So we had Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Nebbiolo, and San Giovese. They grew beautifully, but never ripened. It became evident that nature decides what you can grow. So we embarked on what is still an unfinished journey to find out what varities of grapes make the best wines in our particular vineyard. More often than not, those best suited are not what are considered popular varities in these modern times. Just because they are obscure doesn't mean they don't make great wine.
Yes, without question. A wine bottle is marketing, pure and simple. It doesn't belong on the dinner table. Wine should always blend into the background and complement the table seamlessly. Wine bottles are great for storage and transport, but not best designed for pouring. Sediment is natural in authentic wine and should remain in the bottle. When decanted properly in one smooth motion, the wine won't suffer from over-aeration or cloudiness due to sediment.
The simpler, the better. There's a lot of sexy Italian crystal out there with all sorts of shapes and curves, but a simple cylinder with an unconstricted opening is best. It doesn't take up much room on the table, you're not going to knock all of the glasses over when you use it, it's not bottom heavy, and, most importantly, the wine doesn't glug when you pour it.
Don't ever mention using ice cubes in front of Grandma Millie - she gets very upset. Ice cubes melt and dilute the wine. Chilling in a refrigerator is also very hard on most wines. Our preferred method is to add frozen grapes, either neutral varities such as Thompson's seedless, or an aromatic variety like Concord.
What type of glass should you use to drink champagne?
Champagne flutes impede one's ability to enjoy the full flavor of the champagne. All you get is a nose full of bubbles. Champagne coupes, rumored to have been designed after the shape of Marie Antoinette’s bosom (the left one, we think – no matter, we have a 50% chance of being right) – are the ideal glass from which to drink good champagne. That legend has been widely discredited by various scholars, but it still makes for a good story.
Good champagne is made from very fine wine, but to really enjoy it you must let most of the bubbles dissipate. Decanting a champagne, while almost never done, is the best way to enjoy its full flavor.
As a family we enjoy everything from Veuve Clicquot to Asti Spumante. We are obliged to share an old family story: Kiki, Grandma Millie’s father, was the self-appointed champagne popper of the family. One Christmas after his wife had spent three days cooking a feast, he popped the cork right into the glass chandelier hanging over the table, raining shards down upon every last morsel of food.
“Put on your coats,” his wife commanded. “We’re getting Chinese.”
Why don't you allow buses, limos, or any other commercial livery?
People using group transportation often set out with the intent of getting a buzz or worse, under the aegis of being responsible by not drinking and driving. Though driving under the influence can have catastrophic consequences, even being moderately intoxicated has an insidious impact on not only the individual, but everyone around them. To put it bluntly, we do not suffer drunks. Of course, that isn't a rule that applies to everyone who rents transportation, but it has been enough of an issue that we would rather forgo that type of business to cater to those of our guests that are looking for a relaxed and refined atmosphere to enjoy wine.
Why don't you host private events like weddings and parties?
We are quiet and personable by nature, and event hosting is simply not our style. We put alot of effort into making good wine and we like it to be the center of attention. We understand that people like to celebrate their milestones and marriages, but we do not have the staff nor the space, and our facility is not designed for such activities. Luckily in the Poconos we are surrounded by many beautiful event venues that could certainly satisfy anyone wishing to host a party.
What is your thought process behind pairing wine with food?
It can get really complicated, but the simplest rule is drink what you like, eat what you like. It's fun to experiment with different styles of wine and different foods, something we try to do with our antipasto platter here at the winery. We usually pair one wine with many different flavors and textures of food. Best to learn by experience.
Why do some people prefer sweet wine over dry, or vice versa?
It's all a matter of personal taste and physiology. Some people are born with a lot of taste buds and tend to be sensitive to anything acidic or tannic (black coffee, strong tea, dry red wine). Socially, one can and should learn to appreciate all well made wines. We do not ascribe to the school of thought that preferring dry wine somehow makes one superior to sweet wine drinkers. In fact, in much of the ancient world, sweet white wine was the most highly coveted of all. A wine snob is as insufferable as a drunk.
Our family loves animals and pets of all types. Service animals are always welcome, of course. But as we serve food and also want to be considerate of those of our guests who may be allergic to or uncomfortable around animals, we do not allow pets inside of the building. If your buddy is along for the ride, we are happy to provide water for them if they are thirsty, and they can certainly sniff around on a leash outside away from other guests. We do ask that you pick up after them and do not enter in between the rows of grapes. We don’t want anyone twisting an ankle in a groundhog hole.
Blink- resident good boy at Big Creek Vineyard and a beloved member of our family.