x5 days ago by crowteam
Outdoor Seating....call 302.304.0551 to make reservations more info hereThanks, Got it.
  • Bringing in the Harvest

    Bringing In the Harvest

    By Marie Morganelli

    Standing at the conveyor belt, I’m trying to keep my balance. It’s a brisk 55 degrees inside the winery. Gloves on, sweatshirt tied around my waist at the ready, I stare intently at the endless supply of grapes coming down the line. I do my best to grab every stem, leaf, bit of debris, and even a confused stinkbug or two, so that only the ripe merlot grapes make it into the vat.

    I’m so intensely focused – I must win! I must not let anything by! The integrity of the wine depends on me! – I sometimes forget that others surround me, each of us intently focused on the same task.

    Someone finally breaks the silence: “I feel like we’re Lucy and Ethel with the chocolates!” We all get the reference. The winery staff smiles politely, never saying out loud what I can only guess they were thinking: that they inevitably hear that from someone every single time.

    Until I experienced sorting grapes for myself, I never would have thought that standing at a table picking out leaves and bugs for hours at a time would be fun. Now that I have spent the better part of a week helping to bring in the harvest, I can honestly say this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

    Getting started

    I knew I had made the right decision to volunteer the moment I turned onto the long gravel driveway leading to the winery. Hanging a right past the Crow Vineyard & Winery sign, the corn fields gave way to a compact farm, complete with grain silos, a cattle barn, a smart-looking farmhouse (that doubles as a B&B) and a farm dog named Myrtle waiting to make my acquaintance.

    Co-owner Judy Crow was there to greet me as well, with a smile and an offer of coffee and breakfast. I declined both, and she led me to a bucket of clippers, told me to pick out my preferred pair, and showed me how to clean them.

    I, and the small handful of other volunteers who had gathered, hopped onto a waiting Gator. Judy transported us to our first harvest station while Myrtle gamely trotted along behind us. We quickly got to work. It was time to harvest the merlot grapes and there were many rows ready to come in off the vine.

    In the Vineyard

    Harvesting grapes is pretty straightforward. The vines were heavy with grapes, so we simply clipped off the bunches and gently tossed them into the waiting bins, known as lugs.

    Clip, toss, clip, toss. Sometimes I stood, other times I kneeled, depending on where the grapes were hanging along the vine. One smart volunteer brought a small portable folding stool to move with him as he cleared section after section.

    We worked in companionable silence as we filled the lugs, leaving just enough room at the top so they could be stacked without crushing the grapes.

    Working together

    Of the two days that I spent picking grapes, day one was much quieter. One person wore headphones as she worked, but most of us did not. I loved the sound of nothing at all. Sometimes I would hear the wind pick up and rustle through the leaves. Once, a flock of geese flew by. As if on cue, we all stopped clipping, stood in unison, looked up, and watched the geese fly over our heads.

    By day two, with mostly the same group of people, our silence gave way to easy conversation. Several of us had a connection with Italy, due to our heritage (the winemaker), citizenship (me), or having lived there for many years for work (a fellow volunteer). In breaks of conversations about Italy and wine, winemaker Mike, a trained opera singer, would serenade us with snippets from Italian operas.

    Getting my hands dirty

    After leaving a career where my days were filled with computer screens and emails, the opportunity to literally get my hands dirty while doing meaningful work meant a lot. My hands wound up covered with grape juice after both harvesting grapes and sorting them. The rest of me didn’t get that dirty, though if it had, I wouldn’t have minded the mess. I enjoy a good dirty job, and always have.

    Perhaps it’s this connection with the land that the concept of terroir is all about more so than the land itself. The vineyard manager, Brandon, has the responsibility of learning the viticulture, but anyone can – and should – learn the value of simply putting their hands in the dirt and working the land. I am convinced that knowing how you are directly connected to your food and drink that you helped create makes it taste even better.

    All in the family

    Crow Vineyard and Winery is a family affair. Owned and operated by Roy and Judy Crow and son Brandon, they also have a small yet dedicated staff. Over the course of the four days that I spent there, I asked pretty much everyone how long they had worked there. With the exception of one woman who had just started the week before, the staff has been there for years. That’s a sign that what I saw on the outside – that Judy treats everyone like family, while also being a shrewd businesswoman – is what keeps things running behind the scenes, too.

    Wrapping up

    We finished sorting the last of the Malbec quicker than expected. We credited the hearty grapes for that, making our work faster by being easier to sort. I was the last volunteer still on the line, and offered to help if there was anything else that I could do. “Are you sure?” asked Judy, somewhat incredulously. “All we have left to do is clean.”

    “You’ll get wet and probably covered with grape juice,” Brandon warned.

    “No problem,” I said. “Happy to help.”

    Brandon handed me a hose and I got to work. I spent several hours helping team members scrubbing, rinsing, and stacking the seemingly endless supply of lugs that will get stored away until next year’s harvest.

    I’ll be ready to get my hands dirty then, too.

    Marie Morganelli writes about travel, personal finance, higher education, and lots of other things. You can read more of her work at http://www.precisewords.org.

  • What Role Should Vidal Blanc Play in the Future of Maryland Wine?

    written by Aaron Menenberg for The Cork Report

    “There is a tension in the Maryland wine market. On one hand, consumers want the wines they know – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and the Vitis vinifera like – while on the other hand, Maryland doesn’t necessarily produce versions of these varieties that meet consumer expectation.

    Early last year, I had a Vidal made by Maryland producer Crow Vineyards that blew away my expectations for the variety. Unlike many other white vinifera varieties, Vidal is a good grape for the state’s challenging and varied climate, and when made like a serious wine it can, brace yourself, be a serious wine.”

    To read the full article click here.

     

  • Barbera Authentic Excellence

    Crow Vineyard and Winery knows how to create superb wines from the Barbera grape. The Crow’s Vineyard is at an elevation just above the surrounding Mid Delmarva plain creating a wonderful cooling breeze for this intriguing grape to mature. The Barbera most known for its Italian roots is now taking on new importance as a Rosé partner due to an authentic protocol developed by the Crows. With the guidance of consultant John Levenberg the Crows studied the strengths of this varietal and added a twist by lengthening the Saignée process.*

    Barbera is not intrinsically the most flavorful grape in the viticulture universe however the Crow’s discovered that it achieves new life in the chemistry of Rosé creation. The Maryland Governer’s Cup just awarded the Rosé Best in Class to the Crow’s 2016 Barbera Rosé. Obviously the Crow’s know how to create a stunning twist on Rosé with their Barbera grape. Owner Roy Crow attributes the achievement to the care taken in growing this varietal letting it stay on the vine a bit longer than the brix reading would suggest.

    To learn more about how the Crow’s manage their farm crafted grapes and create wonderfully unique wines enjoy this “Thirsty Maryland

    Crow Vineyard & Winery Podcastpodcast.

     

    *When a winemaker desires to impart more tannin and color to a red wine, some of the pink juice from the must can be removed at an early stage in what is known as the Saignée (from French bleeding) method.