• Harvest 2018 Newsletter

    Harvest 2018 Newsletter

    This quarter’s newsletter is written by me, Nick, a recent – we’ll say ‘retired’ (read: burned out) – urban art teacher who is actually a Lowville native and lightly seasoned Tug Hill Vineyards employee (I’ve been working summers since 2007). I apologize if it’s longer than usual, but can’t help but reflect on the development of Tug Hill Vineyards.

    It’s so interesting seeing the changes out in the fields as owners Mike and Sue have worked to develop the vines over the past decade. I love seeing and hearing what the winemakers (past and present) have to say about our products and the practice in the fields. Dale, the first winemaker, and I shared funny stories reminiscing about the vineyard’s start: converting a dusty cornfield into the beautiful estate it is now. My favorite story I heard through the grapevine was about

    Dick Cole and Mike loading a planter incorrectly and planting a row upside down, roots in the air. I came across some old photos, good memories of the vineyard’s start, Dale’s boots sticking out of a tank, and the first harvest before any of our advanced Italian machinery was purchased. The amount of work that Mike and Sue’s family and friends have put into this little vineyard farm is remarkable. But enough reminiscing, for now, there’s more to write about!

    The 2018 Harvest officially ended at 2:42pm on October 11th. It was the second of two unseasonably warm days which brought out millions of hungry bees from the tri-county area. Some were the terrifying size of ping-pong balls (apparently of european descent), but we were lucky to receive only a few stings as we finished harvesting Briana and Petite Pearl grapes. The growing season ended with slightly lower brix (natural sugar) than we would have liked, however, nature didn’t have it in the cards to give us more time. Total harvest this year was below average at 24 tons.

    The 2018 season started with early cold-snaps in December 2017, which damaged many of the primary fruiting buds. During the harvest, overcast rainy days led to the spread of mold in some of the crop, which coupled with the relentless invasion of hungry birds in our Frontenac Gris and Marquette. Despite these losses, the growing conditions were favorable for our grapes and we’re excited to see the wines they produce. It was a dry summer with an average temperature of 76.7F, which the vines loved.

    A huge thank you goes out to our vineyard team and the many helpers who made harvest a success!

    So what do we do now that Harvest is over?

    Over the next couple of months, the Vineyard will start to get quiet. We are planning to work in the fields as much as we can until the snow covers them. Late season pruning is on the agenda to prepare for the 2019 vintage. We will be laying down a few rows of LaCresecent and Swenson Red varieties to insulate and protect them in the snow. Work will continue throughout the winter in our processing building, getting our wines prepped for bottling, and creating more Liqueur for next season. We are working on finalizing our holiday events, so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on vineyard news. If you’re shopping for local holiday gifts, stop by the wine cellar, where we are offering complimentary gift boxes this season for our products!


    From Nick and the rest of the Tug Hill Vineyards Team

  • Welcoming our New Spirits

    If you have stopped in the store recently, you may have noticed our Tug Hill Spirits being featured. They are our newest addition to our products and we cannot wait to post them on the site so you can order them.

    There are three flavors that you can choose from: Apple Pie, Toasted Maple, and Blueberry. All three of the spirits are 46 proof. Our Apple Pie Liqueur is a mixture of spirits, apple wine, cinnamon, and spices. The Toasted Maple is a mixture of grape spirits and maple flavors. The Blueberry is a mixture of blueberry spirits, blueberry wine, and blueberry juice.

    Each liqueur can be enjoyed by itself or by making a cocktail! We have multiple recipe cards at the store that you can pick out to go with the liqueur of your choice. You can make an Apple Pie Sangria, a Toasted Maple Russian, or Blueberry Margaritas! It doesn’t end there, so stop in the store today to taste the liqueurs, buy a bottle, and grab a recipe card!


  • Tug Hill Vineyards’ First Reserve Wines

    In the fall of 2016, thanks to the warm temperatures throughout the summer, we had an exceptional crop of La Crescent and Marquette grapes come in from our vineyards. As the wines started to develop, our winemakers decided that this would be an optimal opportunity to set aside some of it to try something different. We had just purchased five “neutral” barrels for experimenting and by luck we received two French Oak, one American Oak, and one Hungarian Oak barrels. Neutral oak means that the barrels are not new and have been previously used for wine making for three years. Wines can still be fermented or aged in these barrels, but after each use the flavoring ability of the barrel lessens (so does their cost 😊 ) Neutral oak tends to soften wines, more than add extra flavors, which for certain styles of wines can be preferred. Why not see what these barrels would do to our wines?

    The two French Oak barrels were in the best conditions, so we set those aside to fill one with La Crescent and one with Marquette. Then, because of the fortune of getting three different types of oak, decided to fill Marquette also into the Hungarian barrel and the American barrel so that we could compare how the different oaks influenced the same wine. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! If you were lucky enough to catch me or Derek with some time, you might have gotten a chance to sample the difference and can vouch that it was easy to point out the three different flavors. The French Oak transformed the wine to have a smooth, velvety mouthfeel. The Hungarian Oak added a noticeable black pepper spice element similar to a Syrah. The American Oak, unfortunately, didn’t add anything that we really enjoyed so that was not used in the final blend for the reserve. We did however love the combination of the two French and Hungarian barrels after 10 months of barrel aging and will be releasing a 2016 Marquette Reserve later this year so keep a look out for that announcement. You won’t want to miss it.

    The French Oak had a similar effect on the La Crescent of adding a pleasant, smooth mouthfeel. It also really changed the flavor of the wine compared to our regular 2016 La Crescent by subduing some of the citrus flavors and adding some hints of vanilla, making it creamy in taste and mouthfeel. Also, very noticeable is the difference in color in the reserve. This is a result of the wood allowing the slow introduction of oxygen into the wine which can aid in clarification. Just like the Marquette, we allowed the La Crescent to age for 10 months in the barrel before bottling. And finally, its ready to be enjoyed!

    That all being said, I am very excited to announce the release of Tug Hill Vineyards’ very first “reserve” wine! On Friday, March 16th we will be debuting our 2016 La Crescent Reserve available only in our tasting room for $23.99 a bottle. We only have 20 cases of this fantastic wine so come visit us quickly to make sure you get some to enjoy. We will only be offering it by the bottle, but trust us, it’s good.



  • Welcome to our New Website!

    We are proud to announce the release of our new website at the beginning of 2018! Our modern, mobile friendly website has a fresh look built for easier navigation for our customers.

    A few things you’ll love about the new Tug Hill Vineyards’ website:

    • Homepage – Quick and easy navigation. Easy access to upcoming events, latest social media posts, and weekly brunch menu.
    • Our Wines – New and improved list of our wines and easy access to purchase them from the comfort of your home!
    • New photo galleries – Browse and scroll through all of our new photo galleries to see the latest happenings at the vineyard! From wine making, to U-Pick, to weddings, there is always something going on!
    • Blog – Inspiration ideas, vineyard and winery news, new wine and award announcements, and so much more.

    We will continually be expanding our online content especially under the Blog section. We look forward to bringing our fans updates on vineyard news to give you a better idea of the inner workings of what it takes to make wine, to inspirational ideas on how to pair wine with food or tasty dishes you can create at home using our wines! So, we encourage you to bookmark it, check back often and connect with us on social media to receive notice when updates and new content are added!




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