As many know, our winemaker, Jeff Murphy, has been with us for nearly two decades, and we are proud to say that each year, he continues to introduce new award-wining wines to our porfolio using our estate-grown grapes. In some cases, these wines make for interesting taste comparisons since sometimes small differences - as in the sweetness levels of our Rieslings - can have bigger than expected impacts on flavor.
Another example is our new Hand-Picked Seyval Blanc which was made with estate-grapes which were frozen and then thawed prior to pressing and fermentation, a wine-making technique used in particular in New Zealand, to preserve the peach and passion fruit flavors of Sauvignon Blanc. While our two wines are made with the same grapes - there are subtle differences between the two, with the Hand-Picked being more dry - but we'll let you decide!
As 2020 draws to a close, the Cornell University's Smith Family Business Initiative (SFBI) invites you to spend a special evening discovering two storied families and their businesses, each with special ties to Cornell University. Spotlighting the Johnson and Jurgielewicz families, this delicious pairing will feature a Joe Jurgielewicz & Son's Pekin duck, with Hoisin Sauce and Bao Buns, paired with Semi-Dry Riesling and Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir from Johnson Estate. Learn more about the Complete Peking Duck Kit.
Click HERE to register for this free Cornell hosted event.
Johnson Estate Winery
The history of Johnson Estate begins with an English orphan named Frederick Johnson. He immigrated to Canada as a teenager and found his way to Cornell at the turn of the century to study entomology. In 1908, Johnson purchased a circa-1822 home and farm along the banks of Freelings Creek in Westfield, N.Y. The Johnson Estate endures today as New York’s oldest estate winery, with the third generation, Frederick, Jr. ’75, MBA ’77 and Jennifer Johnson MBA ‘78 as owners and operators. Today Johnson Estate Winery grows 13 varieties of grapes spanning 110 acres of vineyards on the 300-acre farm. They produce over 40 award-winning wines which they sell in the Estate’s own tasting room, online, and in stores across New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Jurgielewicz Family Duck
Four generations of Jurgielewicz family duck farming began in 1933 when Bronislaw and Katarzyna Jurgielewicz, emigrated to America from Poland via Ellis Island. The young, ambitious couple initially settled in Brooklyn but, driven by their entrepreneurial spirit, soon moved east to rural Long Island. The fledgling Jurgielewicz Duck Farm was hatched, and quickly became a top producer of Pekin ducks for the famous Long Island Duck Co-op, and remains one of the leading Pekin duck suppliers in North America. Now settled in Pennsylvania, Joe Jurgielewicz & Son, Ltd., aka Tastyduck.com, is in its’ fourth generation of farm ownership, led by Dr. Joe Jurgielewicz DVM ’81, joined by his sons Joey Jurgielewicz III MMH ’15, Dr. Jim Jurgielewicz, DVM and Michael Jurgielewicz ‘13. The company employs over 200 and has partnered with 27 local farm families throughout Pennsylvania to raise JJS Pekin ducks, direct descendants of the ducks that Dr. Joe’s grandparents raised on their farm in Long Island.
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.
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