Starting the second season..

Our second season is underway.  We pruned  in April which helps delay bud break but with the very late frost on May 13th there wasn’t much more we could have done.  The temperature dropped to below 28 degrees and wiped out all the new growth. Luckily, there’s a lot of great progress going on already and their recovery is looking very promising.  Grapes have 3 buds; primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary were what we lost, but we’ll be fine with the secondary buds.  If we were trying to get grapes off the vines this year we would be looking at less fruit, but this year is all about building the grape vine structure and root growth.

We are currently in the process of securing a loan so we can work towards the addition of a winery to the property. This would obviously be one of the most exciting parts yet, so we’re hoping everything gets approved! Until then, things are pretty quiet at the vineyard.  Mowing, pruning and tying vines.

We’ve been spending most of our time expanding our hopyard on the opposite side of the land. Last year, we planted 150 and we added 400 more this year. If you are interested in learning about that project, check out the website: Central Penn Hops or on Facebook:


Working on some meads.

We’ve been working on our mead recipes over the past few months.  These 7 are a wide rage of meads from a standard honey wine to a mead that tastes of a mix of barleywine and stout; a light clear yellow to a midnight black. We are definitely working to create some interesting styles, playing with different ingredients – spices, fruit, and unique types of sugars and sweeteners like brown sugar and candi syrup. These should be aged for at least 6 months, but we will be giving some out to get comments on them.

The end of the season.

It’s been a long time since we last updated here about our vineyard adventures. Our first year was a crazy one. We planted over 800 vines and installed trellis and deer fencing, which included planting over 300 posts and running 8 miles of wire.

End of September

Some of the vines really took off this year.

We went through a drought and a hurricane. Back in April, we had a barn built on the property and spent the summer installing electrical, running pipes for electric & water over 300+ feet through some tough shale.

The ditch we dug for the water and electrical pipes.

Building the pump house.

Shell of the pump house complete!

Our fleet of farm equipment grew from nothing to two tractors, a pick-up truck, and an ATV. All of that made for quite a rewarding year, considering we purchased the land only a little over a year ago.

IN addition to the grape vines, started 150 hop bines in the ground and over 200 more in pots. We also built the trellis system for those. We had a very small harvest this year; however, it was only their first year. We’re excited to see how they produce next year.

Part of our first hop harvest.

The winery is still in the works, but, as you can see, we are a little over-extended in the funds department. Not to worry though! I still have two kidneys and I heard there is a good market for those. Next year, we plan to have hops for sale. Nugget, Cascade, and Centennial, for sure. Mangum, Mt. Hood, Columbus, and Galena, most likely. The grapevines will still be in development. We’ll be making sure they have a strong root base and canopy. We will have a good grape harvest in 2014. So, until Spring hits, we have a few months of relaxation.

Here are some more pictures from the end of the season. Enjoy!

The even bigger ditch we dug from the pump house up to the well.

At the end of the year, each grafted vine needs to be "hilled" so the graft is protected from freezing. We used dirt and straw.

Autumn approaching the vineyard.

Remember this photo? We posted this back in December 2011. We've definitely made some changes!

Working hard.

Last time we talked, we were in the middle of very hard work. We’d just finished planting the vines and were working on getting the fence & trellis system completed.

Since then, the fence is done! We just have to install a couple gates and staple a couple things, but it’s up and looking great. The trellis system is mostly up, the wires are running, and the vines are getting tall enough to be tied up to the cordon wire. We even have a couple that are reaching the first catch wire.

PP&L has hooked up our electricity to the barn and we’re hoping to have the well finished up as soon as possible. It’s been drilled, we’re just waiting on getting the correct pump equipment installed and the electricity hooked up to it.

The rain was keeping the vines watered in the beginning of the season. We’d get a good storm at least once a week and our worries about water were slim. However, the current heat and lack of any rain in the past two weeks forced us to manually water over the past week. We spent all last weekend and the 4th of July holiday watering. We hooked up a trailer loaded with a 250 gallon water container to our compact Kubota tractor and watered 6 rows each day. We’re already on the second round of watering for the week - the first 6 rows were watered again on Wednesday and we will finish up the last 6 this coming weekend. Unfortunately, we’ll have to continue this cycle until we get some decent rainfall. Help us pray for rain!!

Also, as you can see from the first picture, we spent a great deal of time mowing, weeding, spraying, and cleaning up all the rows. Everything is finally looking great and presentable; now, if it would just rain, maybe we could take a day off ;) .

We plan on having an open house at the end of Summer so follow us on Facebook (link the sidebar!) and look for the details on that if you would like to stop by for a tour and some refreshments.

On another but not totally different business adventure, we are growing hops.  So, if you know anyone who likes to brew their own beer, send them our way as we will have some fresh hops grown right here in Central PA.  Which is a good segway to listing the name of our hop growing adventure – Central Penn Hops.  You can check the site out now, but as of the posting date we are just doing some tests with a shopping cart.  Look for rhizomes and hop plants starting in Fall 2012. or

We’ve been too busy to post!

It’s been awhile since we’ve updated here, but no worries! We’ve been super busy and have been too busy or tired to post but we have made tons of progress on the vineyard. Last time we posted, we had just placed our vine order. Four varieties, totalling 810 vines: Vidal Blanc, Traminette, Chambourcin, and Cabarnet Franc. So, what have we been up to since then?

Back in February, we started working on our fencing and trellis system. An order was place with Lykens Valley Fencing for all the supplies to build an 8 foot deer fence and enough posts and wire for 12 450 foot rows of a trellis system. At this point, we almost have all the posts in the ground and we’re hoping to have the fence done in the next few weeks.  The shale in the area has been causing us some headaches but with the rock auger bit we bought we are slowly getting through the shale.

In addition to the fencing, we designed our barn with Rocky Mountain Structures back in March. The construction of that was completed just a few days ago.

The most important part? On April 13th, our huge vine order was delivered and we were up bright & early the 14th to get started. One by one, we planted and watered each vine. It took us until this past Saturday to plant the last few vines; only a few hours before the rain finally came.

We couldn’t have got this far without help from friends and family so we want to thank the following people so far:  Carol Crum, Brad Crum, Al Michael, Andy Engle, Dana Michael, Josh Miller, Alyx Bowen, Dave Zellers, Denise Zellers, Dave Zellers, Jr., Jon Lindsay, and Porter the Dog.  Check out our Facebook to see more pictures.


Order Vines – Check

On Thanksgiving, we went out to the land and took some measurements to roughly map out where we will be planting our first block of vines.

(This will be the top corner of the first block of vines)

The property is also used by the Hyner Hang Gliding Club as a landing zone and, while we were measuring, a hang glider who took off from Weiser State Park landed on our property.

The hang glider, Joey Nieves, has a website and you can view a video of him flying over and landing on our property.  Click here, from about 13:13 to 14:22 he is heading directly at our property and you can get a pretty decent view of the land. Pretty cool stuff.  I’ll have to incorporate a landing zone for them into our vineyard layout.

Since then, we have figured out what vines we wanted to order and have all the estimates for the deer fencing, trellis systems, irrigation, etc.  We also went on the last vacation we will have for many years.  It was a great time, but what we will be doing instead of going on vacations will be far more worth it.

Yesterday we put in the order to Double A Vineyards out of New York for our small order of 810 vines.  The order includes Traminette, Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin. Once we have these in the ground, I can put in another order with them if we decide to expand next year.  With the spacing we will be using for the vines and rows, we should have about 1 1/4 acres of vines. Including spacing for tractor turn-around and deer fencing, the total area will be about 1 1/2 acres.  Next step – Getting a well dug.

Oh and we got our address today from Jackson Township.  We will be located at 596 Harman Road.

Intial Soil Tests Are Back

Soil tests are back.  Everything is looking really good (I posted one below).  pH is just where I want it to be and any additions of main nutrients aren’t necessary at this point.  It looks like I can put in an order for some vines now.  Also, we are working on our main logo concept and I hope to have that available within a week or so.  The initial blueprints for the winery were provided and need some minor tweaks. After they come back again, and if I am okay with them, I will post them up here to show what our winery layout will look like.  I’ve been in contact with some local wineries (we have done a little volunteer work for Hunters Valley) and will be calling Matt from Laurel Highlands Meadery to get some more insight into the world of commercial Mead making and distribution.  Everything is headed in the right direction.  I just wish I didn’t own my current home so that we could begin construction on the winery as soon as possible, but good things are supposed to come to those who wait, so . . . we will wait.   Unless someone reading this wants to buy a house in Harrisburg, PA.  Any takers? 

Let us know in the comments below what your favorite type of wine is.  I’ll try and accommodate it in my vine order.


What’s in a name?

 I’ve been questioned about the choice I made when choosing our winery’s name.  Some people associate the term Pariah with a negative thought.  I can understand why; one definition of the term is “any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.”  This doesn’t seem like it would be a good term to associate with a place for people to go and spend time drinking a fine wine or a place to hold a wedding ceremony.  I am aware of this.  On the other hand, Pariah, to me, means someone who doesn’t follow the social norms.  We don’t plan on becoming a run-of-the-mill winery, where the wines that are offered are the same as most other wineries in Pennsylvania or even over the remaining States of the Union.  We plan to offer a variety of choices, some will be new to this area, such as Mead.  Follow this link to an article from the leading Meadery in the United States for a full description of Mead.   While typing this, Microsoft Word doesn’t even recognize “Meadery” as a word, so I can understand why most people have no clue what Mead is.  In addition to Mead, though, we would also like to experiment a bit with our wines.  One thing I am dying to try is aging a merlot in used oak whiskey barrels.  I’ve tasted some great beers that have undergone this process and I was very impressed.  I have a lot of ideas I want to experiment with, but want to leave the rest of them to mystery. 

So, Pariah Vineyard and Winery is named to reflect our goal of being different than the majority of wineries out there, but at the same time still trying to fit in.  Hence why out motto is, “An Uncommon State of Wine.” If all this sounds foreign to you and you think, “I don’t want to try any of that at all”, then don’t worry, we will still be making a long list of other great wines that will fit any occasion.  If you have any questions, just ask in the comments below!

Building a dream

After speaking with our architect this weekend, everything is going well.  The blueprints should be available to us within a week or so. 

I know no one reads this blog yet because we just started it, but that doesn’t mean people won’t in the future so I am asking for some feedback.  Since we are in the design phase we want to know what you would add if you could.  If you visited a winery and saw something that really caught your eye, or thought that something should be added to a winery that would really make it a fun place to visit we want to know what that is.  Post in the comments section.

This is going to be an adventure.

 For the past 4 years, I have been dreaming of starting a winery.  It all started after I went on a tour of the wineries along the Finger Lakes. That trip showed me how awesome it could be to own & operate my own winery.  Not long after that, I was making wine from a kit I purchased at the local beer and wine making store.  That wine turned out pretty good, but I wanted to do more.  I had 3/4 of an acre of land in Elizabethville, along with some free time and money, so I started a small “test” vineyard consisting of 18 vines.  I called it a “test” vineyard because I was using it to determine if I really wanted to do this or not. The next year, it became 90 vines. This is where I learned that growing grapes is a backbreaking but rewarding job.  After 3 years of watching those vines grow and then finally making wine from the grapes, I knew it was what I wanted to do.  For the past 3 years, I’ve been creating wine in my basement and learning everything that I can about the business. My girlfriend & I have immersed ourselves in making wine from grapes grown in California and Chile and Mead from local honey.  As of recently, we have started brewing beer.  In the mean time, I’ve also kept looking for suitable acreage to start a commercial winery.  That search has now ceased because as of 9/29/2011 we are the owners of 26 acres in Halifax, PA.  That is where this blog will start.  We have land, motivation and a dream. Stay tuned for more updates into the process of starting our own winery.