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Johnson Estate Winery



Jennifer Johnson
August 31, 2018 | Jennifer Johnson

Labor Day Weekend at Johnson Estate

Things to Do – Labor Day Weekend at Johnson Estate Winery:
Sunflowers, Yoga, Wine & Centennial Farm Celebration Announced

Westfield, NY – All of a sudden, there seem to be a lot of things happening for Labor Day Weekend at Johnson Estate Winery.  Let’s count them:

1.  Sunflowers 
It’s sunflower season at Johnson Estate – and we will have bouquets for sale at the winery throughout the weekend.

2.  The Grapes Are Getting Ripe – Want to Taste?
As an estate winery, Johnson Estate owns and manages its own vineyards.  Thirteen varieties of grapes are grown on 115 acres and and harvest begins in early September.  We will have samples of the early-ripening grapes for you to taste!:  – Marechal Foch, Pinot Noir, Chancellor, Seyval Blanc, and Niagara.

3. Morning Meditation and Yoga Plus Wine, Monday, September 1st
Sue Murphy will be offering the last of her late summer series of Yoga Classes on Saturday, September 1st.  Join her at 10am – the class is appropriate for all attendees and is followed by included wine tastings.  Please bring your yoga mat!  $15/person

4.  For the Weekend - 20% Case Discount or Free Shipping Home
We know that a lot of people are traveling during Labor Day weekend, and if it is hot, carrying wine in the car is problematic.  So, for the weekend, purchase a case of twelve bottles of wine at Johnson Estate and choose either a 20% discount to take the wine home with you – OR get free shipping to your home (Note: available to NY, PA, OH, and thirty other states).

5.  Red Wines
Fall is coming and we’ll be celebrating our dry red wines during the weekend – with a special wine display.  We’ll also have a Red Wine Gift Basket – leave your email address and get a chance to win this “suitcase” with red wines.

6.  On the Tasting Menu
On our tasting menu in the winery during Labor Day Weekend, we will feature a red wine of your choice paired with Mexican Chocolate Shortbread Cookies.  $2.50

7. Centennial Farm Celebration Dinner – A Winemaker’s Dinner
Early in 2018, Johnson Estate was awarded a Centennial Farm Designation by the NYS Agricultural Society – which recognizes family farms which have been owned and operated by the same family for over one hundred years.  We’ll be celebrating with a winemaker’s dinner in November which will feature current vintages as well as some choice library wines.  More information coming soon. 

Time Posted: Aug 31, 2018 at 5:27 AM
Jennifer Johnson
June 6, 2018 | Jennifer Johnson

Ruby Dry Rose

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 14, 2018                 CONTACT:  Jennifer Johnson 513-502-0123

Johnson ESTATE Winery:  Releases New Dry Rosé
Made in traditional French fashion from estate-grown Maréchal Foch

Westfield, (NY) – To start.  What is the most popular wine in France?  Today, it is rosé.  In fact, since 2008, sales of rosé wines in France have actually been higher than sales of white or red wines.  Twenty years ago in the United States, rosé was thought of as a light, pink, sweet “beach” wine.  Today, more sophisticated rosé wines, often on the dry side, are experiencing a burgeoning popularity in the United States, amongst both Millennials and general wine drinkers – just as in France ten years ago.   Imports of French rosé wine to the United States increased 58% in 2015 alone – and over the last fifteen years have risen from a mere 158 thousand liters in 2001 to 7.800 million liters in 2015. 

Johnson Estate Winery’s 2017 Ruby Dry Rosé
In early May, just as spring was struggling to arrive in western New York, Johnson Estate’s winemaker, Jeff Murphy, confirmed that the winery’s most recent Dry Rosé was ready to be put on the shelves.   The rich ruby color of this wine positively glows in its clear glass bottle.  In addition, the bottle has a tempered glass cork – a pale pink re-sealable Vino-lok glass cork - which is also popular in Europe for rosé wines.

What’s the Saignée Method?
Johnson Estate’s 2017 Ruby Dry Rose was made from estate-grown Maréchal Foch grapes which were picked when fully ripe.  The juice was “bled off” just an hour or so after the grapes were picked and the remaining grapes were used to make our traditional Maréchal Foch varietal wine.  Thus, this light and fresh rosé juice has not been through the press nor is it fermented with grape skins.  This traditional process of making rosé wine is called “the saignée method”.  The resulting crisp, ruby-colored wine has an aroma of strawberries and cranberries and a velvety and full mouth-feel redolent of raspberries.  Strong elements of fresh fruit and very light tannins result in the perfect summer wine.

Johnson Estate’s Ruby Dry Rosé joins a portfolio of award-winning dry, semi-dry, and sweet wines made from both classic vinifera grapes (Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon) as well as younger French varietals (Maréchal Foch, Chambourcin, Seyval and Vidal Blanc, and Chancellor).

Johnson Estate Winery, with 115 acres of vineyards, is the oldest estate winery in New York State and a founding member of the Lake Erie Wine Country. For more information please visit www.johnsonwinery.com, or www.facebook.com/johnsonwinery, or call 716-326-2191.

[Photo Credit:  John Conti, Jamestown, NY]

Time Posted: Jun 6, 2018 at 6:53 PM
Frederick Johnson
May 13, 2018 | Frederick Johnson

What's Bud Break?

Bang!  Starting Gun. 
"Bud Break" announces the start of a new growing season in the vineyards - a new vintage begins.

Will there be enough heat-light units to finish the race at harvest with gold medal quality grapes for the year's wine?  Or will we come up short, with grapes insufficiently ripe to make the best wines? 

In 2017, "bud break" - officially when half of the buds on the grape vine are showing at least the edge of half of a leaf - was about two weeks early.  This year, we're about five days late than the May 4th average.  Last year was ideal for producing excellent vintages; not too cool, not too wet; long mild fall; just right.  Five days later than the average bud break in 2018 is no great handicap, but the vineyards will need a little extras heat during the summer (but not over 90° please)
and extra sunny days to arrive at harvest in "medal form" this year.

Time Posted: May 13, 2018 at 7:11 PM
Jennifer Johnson
April 29, 2018 | Jennifer Johnson

All About 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?
Galium Odoratum
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.

Time Posted: Apr 29, 2018 at 5:58 PM
Jennifer Johnson
February 16, 2018 | Jennifer Johnson

Sparkling Traminette Wins Double GOLD

& Best of Class & Best of Show Sparkling

Six other vintages win Gold Medals

Johnson Estate is very excited and proud to announce the following awards at the
2018 East Meets West Wine Competition.  The multiple accolades for our favorite Sparkling Traminette are, we believe, well-deserved.  It is an elegant and delicious wine, complementary to a wide variety of food, ranging from appetizers to desserts.

2016 Sparkling Traminette: 

2016 Founders' Red: GOLD

2016 Niagara: GOLD, BEST OF CLASS

2016 Concord: GOLD

2016 Vidal Ice Wine: GOLD

In addition, Beverage Testing Institute (Tastings.com) just released
its ratings for Johnson Estate's 2016 vintages of Riesling and Traminette:

2016 Sweet Riesling:  GOLD, Exceptional, 90 Points
2016 Traminette:  GOLD, Exceptional, 90 Points
2016 Black Locust Dry Riesling:  SILVER, Highly Recommended, 89 Points
2016 Dry Riesling:  SILVER, Highly Recommended, 89 Points
2016 Semi-Dry Riesling:  SILVER, Highly Recommended, 89 Points


Time Posted: Feb 16, 2018 at 3:09 PM
Jennifer Johnson
January 28, 2018 | Jennifer Johnson

Estate Wineries: Controlling Quality from Bud to Bottle

So, just what are estate wines?  Why is it important to know?
Why does Johnson Estate include it in its brand/name?

The Estate Label
Producing estate-grown and bottled wines is analagous to the French phrase "mis-en-boteille en chateau" - wine bottled at the estate/chateau.  "Estate" wineries, which have a financial interest and own the vineyards AND the winery provides incentives to maximize quality of grape production, not quantity, and thus gives the winery in question some good advantages and attributes.

The U.S. government, through the Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (known as the TTB), sets the requirements for wineries that want to use the word "estate" on their labels. 

  • Estate-labelled wine must be made from grapes either grown on land owned or controlled by the winery.
  • Those grapes must be in the same viticultural area as the winery. 
  • The winery must crush, ferment, and finish the wines - bottled and aged - on the winery premises. 

Thus, an "estate winery" is one whose operations are vertically integrated to include farming/growing of grapes in vineyards owned by the winery, wine-making, and bottling. As an estate winery, Johnson Estate's vineyard practices are wholly integrated into the production of its wines, and quality, rather than quantity, is the governing principle from bud to bottle.

Time Posted: Jan 28, 2018 at 11:45 AM
Jennifer Johnson
December 16, 2017 | Jennifer Johnson

ICE Wine - How Sweet It Is

"ICE Wine - How Sweet It Is"
Edible Western NY
by Christine A. Smyczynski, Photos by Publisher Stephanie Schuckers Burdo

Time Posted: Dec 16, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Frederick Johnson
December 15, 2017 | Frederick Johnson

ICE WINES: Mother Nature is the one who decides....

Dear Mother Nature,
Thanks for getting me up so early Thursday morning.  The stars were sparkling over the vineyards as I tromped through knee-deep snow hoping for an early harvest. 

Each winter, we watch the long-range weather forecasts to see when you will bless us with several "cold-enough" days (that means 12-15 degrees!) to crystallize the juice in the grapes we net for ice wine.  Earlier this week, it began to look promising, and we'd sent out the "Ice Wine Harvest Alert" to all our hardy volunteers. 

So, on Thursday, well before dawn, I stopped in the midst of the snowy Chambourcin vineyard to check on the state of the grapes set aside for ice wine.   When I popped a grape berry into my mouth, it was slushy.....but not yet crunchy.  A no go......not cold enough.  Then I had to text the volunteers:  "stay in bed!".

So, back to watching your weather.  In the meantime, and for all of the regular folk too, here's a link to an article on ice wines in the most recent issue of Edible Western New York.  Publisher, Stephanie Schuckers Burdo, was with us last December and took that photo of me hauling a crate full of Chambourcin; then she put the camera down and helped with the harvest! 

Fred Johnson, A hopeful vignernon

Time Posted: Dec 15, 2017 at 11:02 AM
Jeff Murphy
December 8, 2017 | Jeff Murphy

Winemakers from Western New York Visiting Chateauneuf-du-Pape

A Visit to the Southern Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape
Winemakers, Jeff Murphy (Johnson Estate) & Sam Sheehy (Winery of Ellicotville)

After attending a trade show in Montpellier, we travelled to Avignon, the small French town set upon a hill in southern portion of the Rhone Valley where the “Pope’s New Castle” was built in the thirteenth century.  It housed eight popes over the course of 70+ years before the Pope moved back to Rome.  But it was the popes of the era who first encouraged the growing of grapes and the production of “vin du Pape” in the nearby countryside.  Chateauneuf du Pape, where we traveled during much of our visit to France, is one medieval village located near vineyards, some of which are over 100 years old.    

The Appellation d’Origine Controlée for Chateauneuf du Pape was established in 1936 and fifteen varieties of grapes are allowed to be planted in the appellation.  Grapes must be hand-picked to make the approved appellation wines (sometimes with stems, sometimes not).  Today the area with roughly 6,000 acres of vineyards has about 250 growers/wineries.  Grenache is by far the most popular grape variety planted in the region (roughly 75-80%), along with Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Syrah.   –In old vineyards, these varieties might be mixed to provide field blends, but today are often used to blend the famous red fruity, lush wines of the region which are very drinkable young and may also be successfully cellared.   Only five percent of the region’s production is white wines – from Roussane and Grenache Gris – but these more rare white wines were some of the most interesting which we sampled during on our visits to several of the regions wineries. 

We use the word “terroir” to describe a wine region’s climate, geology, and wine culture.  Most of the wineries we visited had educational “displays” of the terroir of the region, illustrating the importance of terroir and the differences amongst the wineries in the Rhone Valley  Yes, in sometimes cases, the displays were very elaborate set-ups in which a winery would display “dirt” - the soil, sand, clay, and stones/pebbles characteristic of different vineyards.  Old vineyards were a source of pride and are pruned very short to protect them from the “mistral winds” which are an integral part of the region’s terroir – which is otherwise features sunny, hot, dry Mediterranean summers and mild winters.  BUT, we will say that during our visit, that the region had its first snow in ten years!  It was not what we were expecting!

We were very impressed with the size and quantity of the concrete tanks we saw in this region.  Fermentation occurs in these tanks as well as in stainless steel ones.  And aging, of course, done in large even giant, French oak barrels.   

Cheese and sausage!!! Every meal, it seemed, came with a cheese and charcuterie board, with soft cheeses, like Brie, predominating.


Time Posted: Dec 8, 2017 at 1:30 PM
Jennifer Johnson
December 1, 2017 | Jennifer Johnson

All About Quince

What is Quince Paste?
Quince trees (Cydonia oblonga), of the apple or “pome” family, are native to the Caucasus mountains of Georgia, Armenia, and northern Iran/Persia. The hard, sometimes fuzzy, fruit is apple or pear-shaped and the green skin becomes bright yellow when ripe. Its whitish-yellow flesh turns a beautiful ruby color when cooked. Quince fruit is high in pectin and has a unique sweet-tart, floral flavor which is perfect in preserves, jams or jellies, and quince paste. Known as “dulce de membrillo” in Spain, quince paste is a thick, sliceable  jam, often served with Manchego cheese.

The Story of Quince at Johnson Estate:
Fred William Johnson was an orphan from England who immigrated to Saskatchewan at the age of 14 and worked as a cowboy until making his way to Cornell in the late 1800’s. He bought the farm in 1908, planting orchards of cherries, peaches, apples, and pears. He grew quince for his own consumption and both Fred Sr. and Fred Jr., founder and current owner of Johnson Estate respectively, grew up eating poached quince. Although quince trees  were popular in England and the colonies, quince orchards are now somewhat rare in the United States.  Fred and Jennifer Johnson have planted three varieties:  Van Deman, Orange, and Aromatnaya, providing quince not only for Fred’s dessert with cream, but sufficient quantities for Jennifer to make quince paste to pair  with cheese and wines and to sell in the winery.

How to Serve Quince Paste:
With a small knife, gently pry the quince paste out of the glass jar and onto a plate or cheese board. It will hold its shape and may be cut into slices to accompany cheese or charcuterie. In Spain, quince paste is traditionally served with Manchego, a salty sheep’s milk cheese, but the  paste is delicious paired with a large variety of hard  and soft cheeses.

Serve as dessert with cookies or crackers; pair with Johnson Estate Vidal Blanc.

Gitane, Tom or Palimino from Reverie Creamery, Mayville, NY  (Riko Chandra,  Owner)
Various sharp cheddar cheeses  (Yancey Fancy & Cabot brands   available in the winery)
Parmesan and other hard cheeses; goat and soft cheeses

Time Posted: Dec 1, 2017 at 12:50 PM

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