Harvesting the Cynthiana (Norton) Grape at Holy-Field Winery in Kansas

This was year was my third trip in a row for the annual harvest at Holy-Field Winery in Kansas.  I let everyone know it is one of my favorite wineries and vineyards to visit.  I make sure not to miss the Friday night outdoor concerts they host throughout the summer.  It’s great to buy a bottle of wine, get some food from the food truck out front, grab a spot in the vineyard, and listen to some great music.  I also try to get there once or twice a year for tastings and to pick up a bottle or two….or three!  So, of course I love getting to help with the harvest. We gathered up a few friends and headed to the vineyard for the annual "Picking Sunday" event in the midst of a perfect fall morning.   

The weather was perfect for picking.  This year we picked the Norton grape.  I say "Norton" because I’m from Missouri and that is what we call it in these parts.  In 2003, Missouri officially made it our state grape.  However, since we were in a Kansas winery,  the Norton grape here is  called  "Cynthiana."  In fact, it’s called Cynthiana by nearly everyone else but Missourians.  It doesn’t matter to me what you call it, it’s a wonderful grape that produces my favorite Missouri wines.  At one time there was an argument that said these two strains were not the same grapes, however, scientists have since concluded that they are the same. 

When creating a dry red wine that is full-bodied, Cynthiana grapes are ideal. These grapes produce a wine similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon but with a spicier taste. Cynthiana grapes have an excellent ability to resist diseases that seem to affect the fruit and leaves of other varieties. They are vigorous plants that bear small grapes that are bursting with flavor and tend to ripen in the fall around August and September.  As a result, the deep purple grapes, when ripe, make a deeply pigmented and robust wine.   It often shows both red and black fruits on the nose and palate and has a unique but intriguing flavor profile that is gentle on the first sip but tightens up with a good core of acidity in the finish. Cynthiana's fresh berry flavors pair well with grilled meat,  smoked meat and wild game. 

I love this particular winery. The owner Michelle greets everyone with a smile and make sure everyone has fun.  According to their website Michelle and her father Les produce 10 varieties that make 19 different wines.  Holy-Field Winery is located in Basehor, KS, just outside of Kansas City, Missouri. After the harvest, they provided us with a fantastic buffet brunch and served up some delicious Sangria made from their red wines.  As you can see,  my granddaughter enjoyed playing in the vineyard and helping us out as well. 

Cynthiana, under the Norton name and made into a wine from Hermann, Missouri, won a gold medal at the 1873 Vienna World Exposition . Henry Vizetelly, a noted critic of the time, said that Norton (Cynthiana) from Missouri would "one day rival the great wines of Europe in quality and quantity,"  and many believe his prediction is now coming true. I sure do agree! 

A few more pics of our "Picking Sunday" at Holy-Field Winery: 

Tour Craft Beer Breweries in the Milwaukee Area

Milwaukee's craft beer scene is booming, with ten new breweries opening in the area in 2016 alone. With so many to visit, it's difficult to narrow down the best ones. Here are a few favorites... two old and two new:

Lakefront Brewery/Beer Hall

According to Brewery President Russ Klisch, the business started when his brother, Jim, expressed interest in beer making, and Russ humored him by giving him a homebrewing book. Impressed with Jim's beer, Russ decided he could brew one better. In short, sibling rivalry and common interest led both brothers to begin entering homebrewing contests and winning awards. It wasn't long before family and friends encouraged them to turn their hobby into a business.

They began brewing with 55-gallon stainless steel drums and used dairy equipment. On December 2, 1987, they sold their first barrel of beer to the Gordon Park Pub. With the brewery up and running, the infamous tour started soon after! As Lakefront's popularity grew, so did their production: by 1988, sales jumped to 72 barrels; by 1989, 125 barrels; and sales began doubling after that.

The tour is one of the best in town. The guides are extremely enthusiastic, especially when the tour is conducted by one of the Klisch brothers. It was one of the first brewery tours where they allowed you to drink beer before, during and after the tour. One of the fun parts is hearing the theme from Laverne & Shirley while they demonstrate the bottling line.

The brewery is located in a large beer hall space, with tall ceilings, brick walls, and communal tables. It's right on the riverfront, with a patio in the back. The brewery transformed from a basic beer hall, where beer was only available with the tokens that you'd receive on a tour. Then they became popular for their Friday night fish fry. Now they serve a variety of basic bar food all the time (counter service) and all the beer is available for purchase at the bar.

Some options are salads, sandwiches, tacos, pretzels, cheese and wurst boards, as well as desserts. On a recent visit, they had 12 beers on tap. They are also one of the first breweries in the country to feature organic and gluten-free beers.

Favorite beers:
• Eastside Dark Munich Dunkel - Sweet and roasty flavor, beautifully smooth and drinkable, not at all intimidating.
• Fuel Cafe Organic Stout - Excellent, inviting aroma, full-bodied, roasted malt in full evidence.

Sprecher Brewing Company

Sprecher Brewing Co. was founded in 1985 by Randal Sprecher, formerly a brewing supervisor at Pabst Brewing Company. From 1985 to 1994, the brewery was located at 730 W. Oregon Street in Milwaukee's Walker's Point area. Through the first ten years the company grew steadily, as more and more people found out about Sprecher's high-quality beers and sodas. Finally, the company had outgrown its original facility and began looking for a new location to continue its growth. In 1994, Sprecher purchased its current building, located at 701 W. Glendale Ave., a former elevator car factory. The new, larger brewery enabled the company to continue growing.

The Gift Shop/Tasting Room is open Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Tours are available daily for $6; check the website for times. You must call ahead for reservations.

Back in the day, Randal Sprecher would handle brewery tours, which were made memorable thanks to his obvious passion for the craft. For a bit of a different experience, try one of the Reserve tastings offered on weekends for $20. Reserve tastings are done in smaller groups than the regular tour/tastings and feature the company's premier and limited edition products. Each guest will receive ten samples of Sprecher beers, each paired with a different artisan cheese.

They offer five year-round beers, five premium reserve, plus seasonal beers, as well as a large variety of sodas. They are well known for their root beer.

Though they don't serve food at the brewery (other than cheese), they have opened four pubs, located in Glendale, Lake Geneva, Madison and Wisconsin Dells. The Lake Geneva location is a favorite, right on the lakefront with a nice outdoor deck. The Glendale pub is also nice, located in the Bayshore Town Center mall. They have a very good menu with German and American options, happy hour Mon-Fri, as well as varying daily food specials.

Favorite beer:
Black Bavarian - Best Schwarzbier brewed in the U.S.; Huge roasty character, big malty body.

The Fermentorium

Located just outside of Cedarburg, The Fermentorium opened its doors early in 2016. Kristopher Volkman is the founder and president, a locally raised homebrewer.

Currently offering ten beers on tap with plans to expand, the brewery also distributes to restaurants and bars all over Southeastern Wisconsin.

The tap room is currently open Tue-Fri 4pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-10pm. It's a modern space, very open, comfortable place to hang out and drink beer. The brewing area is in the right half of the room, separated by a wall of windows so that you can view the process.

For a newly opened establishment, they are already making several outstanding beers, so it was difficult to narrow down favorites.

Favorite beers:
• Strawberry Tart - Berliner Weisse; great combo to balance sourness and strawberry.
• Safe Passage - Porter; huge roasted malt flavor, malty aroma pervasive, an outstanding example of the style.

Good City Brewing

Their motto is "Seek the Good." The first brewery on Milwaukee's east side, Good City opened in June. The three founders connected in 2015 and immediately hit it off, sharing a love for craft beer and the untapped potential of Milwaukee. Andy Jones is a brewmaster who left Goose Island Brewing in Chicago to move to Milwaukee and work for Lakefront Brewery as plant manager for six years. David Dupee is an entrepreneur with a background in securities and regulatory compliance, founder of crowdfunding platform CraftFund, which was formed to help food and beverage companies raise capital from passionate customers and local residents. Dan Katt is a Milwaukee real estate developer.

Good City has a modern, airy tap room with a large bar area, outdoor seating, and shiny fermenters just out of the wrapper. The menu offers a good variety of taproom snacks, cheese and meats, salads, brewery food, and dinner entrees. No more than seven options in each category, so the choices are not overwhelming (a good thing). There are several vegetarian items. There are ten beers on tap.

Favorite beers:
• Pils - Medium body, hoppy Czech style, smooth as silk.
• Detail Porter - Dark, deep color, roasted coffee and chocolate flavors dominate; an outstanding example of the style.

Visit our brewery review website at http://www.pourmeapint.com.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?The-Best-Breweries-in-the-Milwaukee-Area&id=9550012] The Best Breweries in the Milwaukee Area
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