Mid-Winter Pillar of Fire Sunrise
This Sunday morning, January 24, was dawning grey and still, with about a foot of snow on the ground when I walked to the bay window with my first cup of tea in hand and was greeted by one of the most unusual sunrises I’ve ever seen. It lasted less than two minutes, and I think that it was caused by the sunrise being focused through a hole in the clouds just behind the ridge of hills that make up the Allegheny escarpment two miles south of Lake Erie. This is the so called “Chautauqua Ridge” which is notorious on the evening weather shows for its Lake Effect snow accumulations.
Fifty year ago today, it was likely also a grey day in Massachusetts where I was an 18 year-old headed off to the required Sunday Chapel with about 800 other boys. Dark suits, white shirts, and neat ties required, and as a dorm proctor I would have been responsible for making sure that my various tenth-grade charges made it to church on time and then, as a student deacon, for helping to pass the collection plates during the offertory. Hopefully, the sermon and the service lifted our sights above our teenage worries.
Always an early-rising farm boy, I’ve seen a lot of sunrises since; on at least five continents and three oceans, and it's a joy to see this, one of the most uplifting sunrises right out the back bay window of what was, originally, my grandfather’s house to which we have returned in our “retirement”.
Over the years, I have experienced far beyond my just allotment of good fortunes and adventures, yet I am thankful this morning that in returning to one of the places of my beginning, that in this Sunday sunrise over vineyards, I should be granted such an inspiring glimpse of a more fundamental perspective.
MULLED OR SPICED WINES: Red Ipocras and White Ipocras
The Germans call it "Gluhwein" - literally, wine that makes you glow - and it is a staple of their Christmas markets to this day. The Swedes call it Glogg and the Italians borrow some French to call it "Vin Brule’". Ipocras is sweet and generously flavored with several of the spices popular in old England. These include ginger, cinnamon, and clove, and they leave a wonderfully warm and lingering aftertaste. In fact, the recipe we use is an adaptation of an Elizabethan formula.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Warm, spiced wines have a long tradition going back to the early Greeks who believed that the combination of warmth, alcohol, and spices had excellent medicinal properties to combat the infirmities of the cold winter season. They called the mixture “hippocras” after Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The medieval French called it Ypocras, which the English often changed to Ipocras. Chaucer mentions it in his first work: The Book of Duchess in 1370, a dirge he dedicated to Blanche, the Duchess of Somerset who died of the plague at age 26.
In 16th century England, both white and red Ipocras, had become a drink of the highest nobility. At a time when both sugar and spices were rare and precious, Ipocras was reserved for the use of royalty at the most precious ceremonial occasions. Indeed, Ipocras was the libation presented by the Lord Mayor of London to Queen Elizabeth I at her coronation.
Johnson Estate's founder, Fred Johnson, was inspired to produce Ipocras to celebrate the commissioning of the Sea Lion, an authentic replica of a 16th century merchant ship which was built nearby on Chatauqua Lake.
Serve it warm in a mug or cut it 50/50 with hot apple cider and serve it in a beer stein with a stick of cinnamon. Some traditions fortify it with apple or grape brandy for extra warmth, but that sometimes can be too much of a good thing. And here are some food pairing suggestions including Triple Ginger Cookies!
TRY IT NOW
By way of introduction, we are offering you a 20% discount on our Red Ipocras or White Ipocras
this month to encourage you to try it! Here's a "one-click to try them both!
Some years ago, at the Westfield Farmer's Market, I saw some pretty paper ornaments made by Brenda McCutheon. I got the idea of decorating the whole tree in the winery with wine-label ornaments - getting rid of the "fake Chinese brass" ornaments - and "dressing" the winery tree in something unique for our tasting room Brenda was able to accommodate by making dozens of ornaments - and you see the beautiful tree as a result on the right.
And yes, the ornaments have been so popular that we have asked Brenda to make additional ones so that we may sell them in the winery (S=$15.00, M=$17.50, L=$20.00) - they are a great substitute for gift bows!
We would be remiss not to add that this year, our twelve-foot Fraser fir tree was purchased from Bear Lake Christmas Tree Farm - worth a visit if you still need a tree! Bruce has beautifully shaped trees in all sizes ready to be freshly cut.
Chautauqua County is defined by its beautiful agricultural and forest vistas and landscapes. One of the special ones is the College Lodge Forest - and here's an opportunity to help preserve it.
The College Lodge Forest in Chautauqua County near Fredonia is one of the most exquisite natural areas remaining in Western New York. The heart of the forest is anchored by a large grove of towering old-growth trees, hundreds of years old. This is extremely rare in Western New York. Trillium, orchids, and lilies cover the forest floor. The forest is part of a major flyway for migratory birds that come from as far south as the Amazon rainforest in the spring, and from as far north as the Arctic tundra in the fall.
But the land is threatened, and the old-growth trees could be logged. Thanks to the dedication of people who have fought to protect this land, the Western New York Land Conservancy has an opportunity to purchase it right now. When the land is protected by the Land Conservancy, it will be protected forever from logging and open to the public.
Would you consider donating to ensure the College Lodge Forest is protected forever? You can donate with this link (When you donate, note "College Lodge Forest" in the dropdown menu) or by sending a check to Western New York Land Conservancy, P.O. Box 471 East Aurora, NY 14052.
Be sure to stop at College Lodge Forest for a beautiful walk, next time you are near Fredonia.
Thank you Elyse Perruchon for writing this summary of the College Forest!
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.
ABOUT TORPEDO RED
This label was designed by the Johnson’s son, Spencer, a US Navy active duty EOD officer, in honor of his grandfather, the winery’s founder, Frederick Spencer Johnson.
The dragon carrying a torpedo was the insignia of the WWII Navy Squadron Torpedo Three which flew off the Yorktown from 1943-1945.
The silhouette of the airplane is that of a TBM Avenger, designed by Grumman Aircraft and built by General Motors. to carry a 2,000 pound aerial torpedo. On November 11, 1944*, then Lt. (junior grade) Frederick S. Johnson, age 23, single-handedly torpedoed and sank a Japanese destroyer for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Admiral John S. McCain (the recent Senator’s grandfather).
The wine is a blend of Chancellor and Pinot Noir both grown here on the farm. It is a smooth but almost-dry, full-bodied wine that is ready to drink now but should also continue improving with age for at least another five years.
This is a limited, special edition label we are now offering every November in honor of all veterans and active duty military.
* Coincidentally, November 11th is Armistice Day, now called Veterans’ Day.
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!
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