Author Archives: bharger1

Corona Virus Response – Day 14

A message in the clouds: Flatten the curve

Yesterday was a warm day with temps in the 60s. We were able to work a good long time in the vineyard with a couple of breaks. The forecasted storm traveled a path farther north than expected and an unusual bank of clouds captured our attention. What must have been a space between two systems resulted in a light band running coincidentally horizontal from our perspective. Given the current circumstances of corona virus shut downs, the message was clear. Flatten the curve.

On March 12th, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the novel corona virus a worldwide pandemic. We had been hearing the news for many weeks now, but this declaration felt like a turning point. The upcoming weekends then would have Indianapolis as host for several basketball tournaments with spectators coming here from all around the world. It is not unusual at all for these type of events to bring visitors to our winery, just 20 minutes north of the city. On the evening of the declaration, we knew we had to make a decision. We certainly did not want to worsen the problem. One last trip to the grocery would shore up our normal emergency supplies with some fresh milk, eggs and bread. The “french toast kit” we call it, often what people buy just before the snowstorm. Oh, and cat food too.

The next day we posted on our Google page and outgoing voice mail the fact that our public hours would be temporarily and voluntarily “suspended” until things settle down. We were fearful of using the word “closed” because of possible misunderstandings and rumors that we were out of business. It felt very against the grain at the time. We kept an appointment the next day with our accountant who had our taxes ready for filing. The winery, as an LLC, is required to file a report by March 15th and that deadline was never extended. We are grateful to Penni who graciously received us as we signed the necessary forms for her to file online. No trip to the post office.

By the next day, all of the basketball tournaments in Indianapolis had been cancelled. This was a great relief and validated our personal decision. A few days later, restaurants and bars were requested to stop indoor seated service. Then it became mandatory. Then came the threat of license removal if businesses continued to serve indoor patrons. Currently, the governor has a “stay home order” in place for all who do not have jobs considered essential services. Many restaurants have restructured into drive-thru only, delivery service, or curbside pick-up.

The Indiana wine industry, voiced by the Indiana Winery and Vineyard Association, has instructed its members to close tasting rooms and pursue curbside pick-up. Those who have Direct Shipper permits can utilize that revenue stream, but we do not have that permit. Home delivery is not something any winery would be permitted to do. Although we could do curbside pick-up, we feel that would encourage more travel in general than is essential. A lack of wine is not an emergency, in my opinion. In fact, if a person would drink in response to extreme anxiety this could trigger (in my opinion) the brain’s association of alcohol with stressful situations and develop a future bad habit. (Again, this is not medical advice, just my opinion.) So until things improve (or get much much worse) we are committed to staying closed to the public. We, on the other hand, have lots of work to do. The whole vineyard needs pruned this time of year, so that works out. And we have a building permit now to begin construction on the interior of the winery structure. Lots of work to do.

So this is life on Day 14 and I’m a little wordy today for not talking to folks in so long. We apologize to the bachelorette party bus that we had to cancel. A big thanks to the guy who was working at Lowe’s at 7:01 am when we needed a new sump pump. And thanks to the staff at the Indiana State Laboratory who handled our quarterly water sample for required testing. We truly appreciate all of you who have stayed home or continued to carefully work an essential task for the hopes of flattening the curve. We look forward to seeing you all on the other side of this thing!

Chocolate Spoon Bread with Port Wine Sauce

A decadent dark chocolate dessert produces shockingly rich results. Try your own combination of dried fruit and nuts.

Pairs nicely with a sherry glass of Country Moon “Native Harvest” wine

THE BREAD
3 c. milk
3/4 c. cocoa powder unsweet
1/4 c. sugar
6 c. wheat bread cubed 1/2″
3 eggs
1 c. semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/4 c. quick oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat, add cocoa powder and sugar. Stir gently and set aside to cool. Grease 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Choose a sturdy but airy bakery loaf of wheat bread. Cut bread into 1/2″ inch cubes and add to casserole dish. Whisk eggs and drizzle over bread. Measure chocolate morsels, dried cranberries, sliced almonds and quick oats, then shake evenly over bread. Pour milk mixture evenly over bread. Press any dry areas into liquid. Do not stir. Cover with aluminum foil and cook 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

THE SAUCE
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. port wine (or Native Harvest)
1/4 c. cocoa powder unsweet
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

Stir together and simmer on low heat until thick and creamy. Cover and set aside until bread is ready to serve. Reheat sauce and drizzle on individual servings or over the entire dish.

Introducing “Small Batch – Small Bottles”

Gift baskets are created to be appropriate for any occasion.

At every winery, some years have higher yields than others. We have discovered that when we have a small quantity of wine from one of our varieties, we can make a bigger splash by bottling in half-bottles or 375 ml bottles. This will also be handy for special, boutique recipes. We experimented with three wines this year, making necessary changes to the labels and we are happy with the results! The gift baskets shown were designed to work for any occasion but are especially nice as a hostess gift during the holidays. Let us know if we can prepare some custom gift baskets for your or your business!

“Crushing it” in the vineyard

A first attempt at field crushing

There is very little automation in our processing at Country Moon Winery, so things are very “hands on” from start to finish. This year, in an effort to get empty picking lugs back to the crew as soon as possible, we decided to try our hand at field crushing. Kasey and Konner worked hard at exchanging lugs for tokens, dumping lugs, and turning the crank – yes, by hand! Some tight-fitting lids allowed us to transport 5-gallon buckets of crushed grapes to the vineyard, condensing the loads and reducing trips to the winery. The LaCrescent variety is notorious for its long tangley stems. It was discovered that the destemmer jammed less often with the cover and collection bag off – another advantage in working outdoors.

We’re gonna party like it’s 1969!

Make tracks to the Moon…

Saturday, July 20th, 2019 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm

We are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the first man to land and walk on the moon. It was a victory for the United States, but more importantly, a unifying, exhilarating, humbling experience for all mankind. Come experience and help recreate some of that excitement during this fun and educational event for the whole family.

The day’s activities include:

Goofy Games and Silly Prizes all day
Photo Opportunities with Space Suits, Flag Planting and the Big Blue Rock
Videos and Stories
Retro Snacks

4:00 pm – Moon Walk Contest – Demonstrate your best moon walk either Neil Armstrong style or Michael Jackson style.

5:00 pm – Walking Taco Bar – Build you own Walking Taco from Red Burrito. $3 each or 2/$5 while supplies last.

6:00 pm – Team Trivia – Create your own team for this intense competition of Space Travel & 60’s Trivia with some fairly decent prizes! No entry fee.

We hope to see you here!  

Brian and Rebecca Harger
Country Moon Winery
16222 Prairie Baptist Road
Noblesville IN 46060317-773-7942
https://www.countrymoonwinery.com

The fine print: All prizes will be on display during the activity. Decision of the judges is final. No outside alcohol is allowed. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

First Marriage Proposal in Our Vineyard

Photo by Ashlynn at “A Small Town Story”

June is wedding season, but it was also engagement season here at the vineyard! Austin Hochstedler wanted to create a special surprise experience for his future wife so he enlisted the help of his sister, Ashlynn, who has a photography business, along with his mother, Angie Hochstedler. After Angie contacted us with Austin’s intentions, we hoped for good weather in spite of the forecast of rain. With this rainy spring, there have been many days where a trip through the vineyard would be muddy at best and dangerously flooded at worst. Fortunately, when June 22nd came the weather cooperated and the couple received a beautiful afternoon.

The mother and sister arrived first and picked out a spot from where they could photograph the proposal. Austin and Rebekah dined nearby for lunch after which Austin texted his mother saying they were on their way. The couple appeared at the tasting bar as usual customers with Rebekah none the wiser. I asked them if they would like to taste some wine or take a vineyard tour. Rebekah jumped at the chance to take a vineyard tour which made all of our jobs easier. Off they went and we could hear squeals and laughter not long after. The family generously shared photos with us, some of which we assembled as a little slideshow for a Facebook post. (See 7-5-2019) Congratulations, Austin and Rebekah! We feel honored to know your promise to each other began here! We wish you all the best.

Pink Chia Sangria

Try this refreshing summer drink using our Patchwork Pink wine and those crazy little chia seeds


1 bottle of wine
2 liters of ginger ale
1 honeydew melon, 1-1/2″ chunks
1 cucumber, sliced, quartered
8 oz. chia seed beverage
salt

Cut melon into chunks and place in freezer-safe bowl to freeze ahead. Mix wine and and ginger ale equal parts in pitcher, cover and chill. Cut cucumber and set aside. Prepare individual glasses (16-20 oz.) by wetting rim and dipping in salt. Add 2-4 melon chunks and 6-8 cucumber pieces to each glass. Pour wine mixture into glass to fill. Top with 1 tablespoon of chia seed beverage (not kombacha, yuk…we like MammaChia® Rasberry Passion.) A straw helps to to suck the seeds that settle to the bottom!

Rosé All Day

June 8th, 2019 – National Rosé Day

This is the day to “Drink Pink.” We will be serving up tall glasses of “Chia Pink Sangria” made with our own Patchwork Pink wine. Carry out some Patchwork bottles for later at a 50% discount – one-case limit, one day only. Normal Saturday hours: 1-7pm

Call me “old-fashioned”…

…but I prefer to read from top to bottom. More specifically, I prefer to start at the beginning of the story and not the end. Therefore my brain has rejected the concept of blogging and its end-at-the-top format. But it is 2019 and my old-fashioned preferences are in the cyber minority. Today I venture into WordPress to redesign what I considered perfectly good html pages into something they call mobile-friendly. Again another battle lost. Maybe I can learn how to salvage 7 years of online journaling designed the old-fashioned way and make them part of the new site. But for now I just need to get a homepage up!