FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2020
Sunflowers to Brighten Summer Days
Working Together Yields a Field of Flowers
Westfield, (NY) - Back in May, during the depths of the COVID-19 lockdown, three farmers in Westfield, NY decided to brighten things up a little bit along US Route 20 on the west side of Westfield.
Fred Johnson, owner of Johnson Estate Winery and head of the local Chamber of Commerce, thought that a field of sunflowers would make a good westerly welcome to not the Winery, but also to the Town of Westfield. Since Mr. Johnson owns some land just west of the winery, he proposed the idea to Chad Schofield, who owns Schofield Farms, and rents the land for corn and soybeans. Chad agreed to plant sunflowers along Route 20 – but the catch was that his planting equipment didn’t include the right planting drill for large sunflower seeds. Enter Carl Villardo, Fred’s nearby grape farmer, neighbor, and friend. He had a John Deere 750 no-till grain drill, fondly named “Sally” which he lent to Chad to plant the sunflower seeds in the late spring. Et voila!
What Fred forgot, however, is that sunflowers always face east towards the sun. In a recent Science magazine, researchers noted: “A young sunflower faces east at dawn and greets the sun and then slowly turns west as the sun moves across the sky. During the night, it slowly turns back east to begin the cycle again”. Once the sunflower is mature, the plants face east throughout the day, providing warm flowers which attract more bees and pollinators. So, indeed, the best vistas (and photographs) of the sunflowers will be taken on the east side of the fields on Route 20, as one is departing Westfield.
So if you’re out for a country drive between now and Labor Day, you should visit the village of Westfield. Then drive west for about a mile to try some of Fred’s wines and afterwards, continue west along Rt. 20 to see 600 yards of happy sunflowers looking right back at you! It will put a smile on your face!
PERSPECTIVE: 100 years ago - in 1920 - at the Johnson Farm (aka Sunnyslope)
Circa 1954, Owner Fred Johnson Jr. with grandfather, Frederick William Johnson.
So here we are, one hundred years later, struggling to navigate the latest pandemic, looking forward to a great harvest, but uncertain about political, economic, and environmental futures. But we have been here before. We will persevere, as will you. As farmers, we know that there will always be challenges ahead, both man-made and God-given. But we are always optimists; determined optimists, dedicated to always leaving this place and our customers and community a little better and a little happier than they were before.
WINERY OPEN DAILY 10am-6pm
Tastings plus bottle, food, & merchandise sales in the winery.
is available - just call us at 716-326-2191.
Visit our website anytime or give us a call (1-800-Drink-NY or 1-800-374-6569),10AM - 5:30PM, daily. Our tasting room team will be happy to speak with you. Please do share this offer with your friends and family!
AND NOW, THE FINE PRINT:
Your First Bottle Trial - Now until May 10th, just $7.50
"A little madness in the spring be wholesome even for the king”
Maybe Emily Dickinson said this because the sweet woodruff used in Germany's May Day white wine punch was considered a tonic - or even aphrodisiac - and that this day is meant to celebrate spring, the season of fertility!
A German friend recently had this to say after she first tasted Johnson Estate's May Wine:
Hello Jennifer. Yesterday would have been my mother's 100th birthday. We celebrated it with one of her favorite desserts, homemade Strawberry Shortcake and your outstanding May Wine. I can assure you she would have loved it too. It is excellent!!!! What an art to capture the taste and consistency [of a German May Wine punch] in a bottle! That is truly a very special celebration drink. Congratulations!
Then my friend, Siggi T., shared her recipe for that Strawberry Shortcake (in our recipe section soon) and explained that the German tradition is to put fresh strawberries and small bouqets of sweet woodruff in the "Mai Bowle" punchbowl.
Here's a woodland stream in Germany - it looks not unlike what we might find here in Western NY - and in fact, our "terroir" is very similar to that found in Germany. Hence, at Johnson Estate, we can grow the same grapes varieties grown in Germany: Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir (Spatzburgunder in Germany). And we can make award-winning wines from those grapes. Testimony to this is our award-winning Semi-Dry Riesling, not to mention the awards won by other Rieslings, our Pinot Noir, and our May Wine.
The Story Behind Johnson Estate's May Wine
Johnson Estate is located in a special microclimate along the shores of Lake Erie, similar to that found in Germany. As a result, the grapes grown and wine made in Germany - Rieslings, Pinot Noir, and ice ones - are exactly the ones which also do well here in western New York.
Johnson Estate's Winemaker Jeff Murphy, travels to Europe every year or two and often comes back with some new insights or "discoveries" which are utilized in our products or events. These have included: the terracotta bottles used for our Ruby Port and Cream Sherry; the glass corks manufactured in Germany and now used on our Freelings Creek wines, and the idea of serving "Fedderweiser", a partially fermented grape juice, for a fall Riesling celebration.
May Day in Germany
In Germany, spring festivities feature "Maiwein", or white wine punches with strawberries and a handful of the shade-loving herb, sweet woodruff (shown here, behind the bottle, just emerging for spring). Jeff was inspired by the annual celebration of May Day in Germany to create Johnson Estate’s own May Wine, using estate-grown Vidal Blanc wine and an infusion of dried sweet woodruff. This sparkling May Wine was first released in 2016 and since the "experiment" was so well-liked, production was doubled the following year. Our current plan is to release, each spring, a limited vintage of this special wine. .
But What is Sweet Woodruff?
In Germany, sweet woodruff is called “Waldmeister” or the “Master of the Woods”. It is a spring blooming perennial plant which thrives in moist woodland shade. In the Middle Ages, it was known as an herbal medicine since the dried leaves contain coumarin and infusions were used as a spring tonic and even as an aphrodisiac. When dried, the herb has the long-lasting scent of freshly mown grass and vanilla. The dried herb has been used for centuries as a strewing herb, for pot pourri or as a perfume ingredient, as a tonic in tea, and an ingredient in German May Wine or a punch made with white wine, this herb, and strawberries – to celebrate the coming of spring.
See May Wine product listing.
PLEASE NOTE, 3/12/2020:
Johnson Estate is providing "No Contact Curbside Pick-Up", please call 10am-6pm to pre-order/pay with credit card and arrange delivery of wines to your car - we are happy to do this. We will ask to see your driver's license through your car window.
The winery is open from 10am-6pm daily and while we have suspended tastings and tours, you may shop for your wines for Take-Out bottle purchases.
The text from our recent email to our online customers:
Spring and summer are coming and discerning wine consumers like you often plan to visit wineries like ours......but then comes this Corona Virus. So, in the spirit of the moment, and to try to help "flatten the curve", we would like to offer you the following options for 750/375mL bottles (except where noted).
GOOD NEIGHBORS PROGRAM:
Free Shipping to Ohio, NY and PA for minimum purchases of 6 bottles or more. Also applies to six bottles of Proprietor's Red and House Red (1.5mL).
Promotion Code: GOODNEIGHBOR
FREE SHIPPING, EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI
To customers in states east of the Mississippi with minimum purchase of 12 bottles.
Promotion Code: EOMFREE
50% OFF SHIPPING, WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI
To customers in states west of the Mississippi with minimum purchase of 12 bottles.
Promotion Code: 50SHIPWEST
ONLINE OR CALL:
Please visit our website anytime or give us a call (1-800-Drink-NY or 1-800-374-6569) between 10AM and 5:30PM Eastern Time, 7 days a week. Our tasting room team will be happy to speak with you. You are welcome to share this offer with your friends and family.
We look forward to seeing you at the winery - hopefully it can be sooner rather than later.
Frederick & Jennifer Johnson
AND NOW, THE FINE PRINT:
PICK-UP OPTIONS AT THE WINERY:
In the spirit of social distancing, we are happy to accept online or phone "pre-orders" for those who live nearby. Just let us know that you'd prefer for us to bring the wines to your car.
Here's an article about our region's specialty - Concord Grapes - and their perhaps unappreciated nutritional value. Aside from our American tradition of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the fruit is a little forgotten. Rarely in New York State, and certainly not enough in Western NY, home of the largest Concord grape belt in the whole world, can one find a Concord pie. There's juice sometimes, but nothing else. A pity. Johnson Estate sells Grower's Grape Cooperative's 100% Concord Concentrate from Western NY (and the climate here helps us to produce a tarter version of this specialty compared to Welch's blended Concord juice) as well as Concord Filling (great in these Concord Grape Tarts/Bars). Naturally, Johnson Estate makes our own award-winning Concord Wine from Estate-grown grapes. We believe is the best in the world.
CONCORD GRAPES - 8 SURPRISING FACTS
Judith Upton, US News & Health Report
Talk about purple power – the pigment that gives Concord grapes their distinctive hue is responsible for the (super) fruit's super powers. Here are some, er, grape reasons to add more purple produce, including Concord grapes, to your shopping cart:
They may improve your health. Purple may be the color of royalty, but purple-hued foods signify improved health. One study found that Americans who eat purple and/or blue fruits and veggies (Concord grapes, blueberries, plums, eggplant) had smaller waistlines, lower blood pressure and reduced markers of inflammation compared to those who didn't eat purple/blue foods.
They provide benefits similar to red wine. Many of the beneficial polyphenols found in Concord grapes are the same as those present in red wine. Hundreds of studies conducted over decades show that these natural compounds promote cardiovascular health.
They're nutrient-rich. About 19 Concord grapes (one handful) contain around 30 calories and equal 1/2 cup or one serving of fruit. And, if you're sipping 100 percent grape juice, you're scoring the same beneficial polyphenols of the fruit because the beverage is made from the skin, seeds and flesh of Concord grapes. Cheers to that!
They contain compounds that fight free radicals. While human clinical trials are limited, mounting laboratory, animal-model and other types of research studies suggest that purple foods, such as Concord grapes, blueberries and plums, can neutralize free radicals that can cause DNA damage when left unchecked.
They relax your arteries. Relaxed arteries are considered healthy arteries. Two decades' worth of research shows that Concord grapes and 100 percent grape juice are good for the heart and help maintain clean and flexible arteries that improve blood flow. This is thanks to the potent polyphenols in the super fruit.
They help keep your mind sharp. Concord grapes, grape juice and red wine may also help maintain grey matter as you age. That means an improvement in cognitive function and a reduced risk for declines in memory, due to the beneficial cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, according to laboratory, animal model and small human clinical trials.
They're natural performance-enhancers. Studies on antioxidant supplements suggest a reduction in markers for inflammation among athletes. One small human clinical trail that included 12 adult runners reported that those who supplemented their diet with purple grape juice had improved endurance.
They may help boost immunity. One study of 85 middle-aged adults found that those who were given 100 percent grape juice daily for nine weeks (in the absence of eating any other blue/purple foods) had an increase in a certain type of immune system cell compared to those who drank a placebo beverage.
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