Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stone Hill Winery does it again

HERMANN, Mo - The 2014 Missouri Governor's Cup top honors were awarded to Stone Hill Winery for their 2012 Cross J Vineyard Norton. This prestigious wine also took home the top honors of C.V. Riley Award for Best Norton and the designation of Best of Class Dry Red wine. This marks the second straight year Stone Hill Winery won both the Governor’s Cup and C.V. Riley Award after winning both awards last year for their 2011 Estate Bottled Norton. The Missouri Wine Competition is a premier competition designed to recognize and promote quality wines made in the state. The Governor's Cup recognizes the best wine in Missouri and was determined by a panel of nine judges from across the U.S and one industry judge. During the course of the two-day competition, which wrapped up July 16, the judges tasted 300 wines before awarding the Governor's Cup and C.V. Riley honors to Stone Hill Winery. "This competition truly showcases the top wines in Missouri," said Jim Anderson, Executive Director of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board. "This year, more wines were awarded gold medals than ever before, which is a direct reflection of the quality of wines Missouri is producing." Stone Hill Winery, established in 1847, is the oldest winery in Missouri. Stone Hill boxed its two millionth case of wine last year. The winery, with locations in Hermann, New Florence and Branson, boasts many awards over the years, including multiple past Governor's Cup awards, including last year's sweep of the same three top awards with their 2011 Estate Bottled Norton. "To win the trifecta at the Missouri Wine Competition two years in a row is an incredible honor," said Jon Held, Vice President and General Manager of Stone Hill Winery. "It's a great compliment to our super vineyard and winemaking team and to the value of investing in state of the art technology." The C.V. Riley Award is for Best Norton, the official state grape of Missouri. The award is named in honor of C.V. Riley, Missouri's first state appointed entomologist who is credited with salvaging the French wine industry with his discovery of the state's pest resistant rootstock. Norton is a Native American grape and Missouri's premier red varietal, accounting for 20 percent of all grapes grown in the state. Norton grapes produce a rich, spicy, full-bodied red wine. The Governor's Cup winner was selected from the 12 Best of Class honorees: Sparkling: LBV Brut, Les Bourgeois Vineyards - Rocheport
Rosé: Estate Bottled La Fleur Sauvage, Augusta Winery - Augusta
Dry White: 2013 Seyval Blanc, Montelle Winery - Augusta
Semi-Dry White: 2013 Vignoles, Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery - Rocheport
Sweet White: 2012 Vignoles, Hermannhof Winery - Hermann
Dry Red: 2012 Cross J Norton Vineyard, Stone Hill Winery - Hermann
Semi-Dry Red: Hunters Red, Adam Puchta - Hermann
Sweet Red: Stone House Red, Montelle Winery - Augusta
Fruit Wine: Good News Red, Windy Wine Company - Osborn
Dessert/Fortified:Signature Port, Adam Puchta Winery - Hermann
Late Harvest/Icewine: 2013 Late Harvest Vignoles, Stone Hill Winery - Hermann
Distilled Product: Cherry Brandy, Montelle Winery - Augusta
Judges determined the awards through the process of blind tastings. Throughout the course of the competition, they granted 51 gold medals, 109 silver medals and 88 bronze medals. Thirty Missouri wineries participated in this year's competition. The winning wines will be on display throughout the 2014 Missouri State Fair, held in Sedalia Aug. 7-17. Many will be available to taste and purchase in the Missouri Wines tent on the fairgrounds near the grandstand.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In mesic streambank forests

The morning cicadas starting their droning around 10 o'clock this morning when the temperatures had already climbed into the lower 80s. I would rather have been on a river this morning but drinking hotel coffee along a streambank rich with the big strapping blades of Carex albursina and drooping white flowerheads of Polymnia, loyal to talus slopes and forested settings, was also nice.

Walking the spring branch and seeing the forces of nature working alone as they do in these mesic woods, shaped not by fire but by windthrow and rain events, I was reminded of comments from a forester who visited the site with me years ago. He tried to tell me that these moist north-facing slopes should possess a carpet of warm season grasses and widely spaced post oaks rather than the old maples, white oaks and wild hydrangeas that exist today. He tried to tell me that we need to burn these areas, these mesic forest settings, to "promote savanna." It's just silly, frankly, when folks unfamiliar with ecologically complex systems try to offer one prescription across all landscapes for "restoration." So today I was reminded of the anti-maple craze going on in the Ozarks in reaction to papers and studies from the Appalachians. The Ozark Highlands do not have a "maple problem" along the lines of the deer-infested Eastern Deciduous Forest range northeast of the Ozarks. Our widely spaced large girth maples and white oaks, pine and Kentucky coffee trees are not necessarily out of context with the historic character of so many acres across the area, and these wanton maple eradication projects that I'm discovering throughout the region are not based on any ecological standards but as a draw for timber? Or just meddling with forested settings because practitioners have chainsaws and Tordon? I really do not know.

Streambanks and mesic forests in the Ozarks are rich, rich sites with a suite of flora that includes Solidago flexicaulis and delicate little plants that depend on cooler temperatures and deep soil. Streambank wildlife in the Ozarks usually include Louisiana waterthrush and those sneaky green herons. Today we encountered a den of four mink frolicking in a fallen tree along the sreambank, the young pups chasing one another and the adults swimming through the Sparganium and duckweed in the cool 56 degree water. The hike in shady conditions represented such a vast departure from working on glades in the summer months. But, like so many other fabulous natural history sites in the Ozarks, the moist forested conditions along streams here are associated in a heterogeneous matrix with hot, dry uplands and glades where fire-mediated flora and fauna exist just a stone's throw away from the maple-white oak woods on the north slopes.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Long July Afternoons

I have something even greater than the deepest depths of empathy and compassion for people like my Daddy who worked hard all his life and has been absolutely lost since he retired from teaching many years ago. Now age is taking its brutal toll on him (and probably thousands of other Americans) who worked for years socking money away into a retirement system only to find himself without a creative outlet and passion for healthful living so he spends entirely too many hours in doctors offices and spending hours in front of the television. Ach.

So the glade mapping project that lasted almost four years is over; the final shapefile will be made available in the next couple of weeks for anyone interested in seeing all 88,000+ mapped glades in Missouri (complete with substrate and a fully stocked attribute table!). Much fieldwork for the past four years has included field truthing mapped glades across the state--thousands of glades of questionable quality, but glades nonetheless. Even though the glade project is over, I'm not heading off to die in a pasture like an old bull bison but my days-hours-minutes are still absolutely packed. Summer is chugging along and I only learned last night that my yard harbors two species of katydids (which explains the heretofore unidentifiable nightly chorus that joins the "regular" katydids and cicadas). I have encountered monster-sized beautiful timber rattlesnakes in the St. Francois Mountains (moved this one off the road with a stick which his girth broke) and really nice pine woods full of Rudbeckia. I've devoured all of the compilations of David Foster Wallace's essays and really enjoyed all of his tennis-related articles. Regular fieldwork, visiting nice woods, chanterelles! my garden so full of kale, cucumbers and basil, daily tennis, and the early lights of the fireflies as they come alive in the yard at sunset I just don't have time to do anything indoors.