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!
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:
HAPPY HOUR IN A BOX, A PERFECT GIFT
Thank you to our daughter for the inspiration of our Happy Hour in Box (or in a Bag or at Home!) product line and to Dr. Seuss for his suitable rhyme! We have tweaked his poem to suit the times.
Three categories - you choose the wine! -
(includes cheese, crackers, and other garnishes depending on the box)
Happy Hour in a Box - Dry, $35
Happy Hour in a Box - Semi-Dry, $34
Happy Hour in a Box - Sweet, $25
Happy Hour in a Box
You would like it with a fox
You would like it at your house
You would like it with a mouse
You would like it here or there
You would like them anywhere
Happy Hour in a Box
Whatever time is on the clocks
Packed for you, no need to roam
Sip and savor in your home
Wine and cheese, a natural pair
Buy it now, don’t despair!
Help us with the next stanza:
Say! I like good wine, cheese, & ham
I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!
I would eat them……..
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.
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.
March - Maple Madness - Celebrate at Johnson Estate with Maple Liqueur & French Crêpes!
In Western New York and Pennsylvania, the maple tapping season usually begins in March and we begin to see tubing and pails attached to large sugar maple trees. Soon the maple syrup will be simmering away and the local sugar shacks and pancake houses will be open for business.
Johnson Estate's Maple Liqueur
Winemaker, Jeff Murphy, loves maple syrup and made an aperitif using estate-grown grape spirits, Vidal wine, and local syrup. The Maple Liqueur tastes like a combination of ice wine and sherry, with a hint of maple on fhs finish. Johnson Estate released this new liqueur in March 2015, just as the region’s tapping season began. To celebrate NYS Maple Weekends, Fred suggested that the winery serve Maple Liqueur and crêpes, which Fanny Tauzin-Dauga, a 2014 French winery intern, made for us during her stay here. So each year, Johnson Estate, a member of the NYS Maple Association participates in Maple Weekends.
A Tasting Room Tradition - Celebrating with French Crêpes
It has become Johnson Estate's annual tradition to serve Julia Child’s French Crêpes and Fancy Ground Nuts with a glass of the Maple Liqueur on the NYS Maple Association’s designated weekends. This year, Chef Edward Work from the Athenaeum Hotel will be flipping crêpes both weekends ($5/person). We’ll also be selling French Crêpe kits (white flour as well as gluten-free, buckwheat) so that you can make these treats at home. We also sell locally-made maple syrup and other maple products.
All About Ice Wine at Johnson Estate!
What it is, how it is made, and why it is packaged in small bottles. Come see!
Three years ago, at the Westfield Farmer's Market, I saw some pretty paper ornaments that Brenda McCutheon had made. Then 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 (which also decorate our "Partridge in a Pear Tree" tree at the Patterson Library) 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).
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.
Every year, the Patterson Library hosts an August auction - and this year loyal supporters of the Library purchased a dinner hosted by Johnson Estate Winery
(actually, there were two dinners, but that is another story).
We are sharing photographs and Chef Edward Work's menu for the dinner held on December 13th in the tasting room when it was all decorated for Christmas. Chef Ed is the head chef at the Athenaeum Hotel, but off-season, is able to share his talents with us and others. The meal was delicious and perhaps offers readers some food and wine pairing ideas!
Artisan Cheese and Charcuterie Board with Assorted Pickles, Olives & Jams
Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Blue Cheese
House-Made Fettucinne with Butternut Squash Cream Sauce &
Wilted Greens, Roasted Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Seeds
Red Wine & Herbed Beef Bourguignon, Parsnip Potato Purée,
garnished with Crispy Root Vegetables
Shaved Kale & Brussel Sprouts with Hard Boiled Egg, Hazelnuts, Craisins, Pecorino Cheese,
Rye Croutons & Sherry-Bacon Jam Vinaigrette
Orange & Almond Cake with Chantelle Cream,
Orange Supreme, Almond Bark & Dark Chocolate Shavings
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