Category Archives: In the Vineyard

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!

“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.

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.