Monday, May 6, 2013

Recycled Wine Bottles!

Recycled Wine Bottles!

When you pick up your favorite bottle of wine at your grocery or wine store, do you ever give a thought about the glass wine bottle? Do you ever wonder where the glass wine bottle was made or who made it? When you throw your empty wine bottle into your recycling bin, do you ever wonder what happens to it?

Well, with this Blog, we’re going to answer these questions and, perhaps, a few more.

Americans love their wine. Let’s begin by throwing out a few interesting wine facts. First, each year, we adult Americans consume over “350 Million” cases of wine. That’s about “4.2 Billion” bottles! Florida, by the way, is the “Third” wine consuming State in the nation! Did you know that Florida grows grapes and makes world-class wines? Yep, that’s a fact! Florida can boast of about ‘25’ Certified Florida Farm Wineries! Our wineries stretch from north Florida, through central Florida and into the Keys.

So, what about those empty wine bottles? What happens to the bottle when we’ve poured and enjoyed the last glass? Well, per the E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency), approximately 70% of our empty wine bottles are going to our landfills. That leaves us with less than 30% going into our recycling bins! Most often, if you throw your empty wine bottle into your recycling bin, the glass is broken up and added to the asphalt in our roads. Only a very tiny fraction of our 4 billion plus empty wine bottles are being recycled by our wineries!

Unfortunately, this sad picture gets even worse. Instead of stepping up to the plate and repurposing their empty wine bottles back into wine bottles, most wineries are continuing to buy new wine bottles from factories in China, Mexico and Italy. This is an unsustainable trend. Our children and grandchildren will be compelled to deal with this environmental disaster unless we take corrective steps on our watch.

So what can WE do?? Well, we can begin by insisting that our wineries take back and reuse our empty wine bottles. As we know, glass can be cleaned and sanitized and reused…Forever! Vote with your dollars! Support the wineries that recycle/reuse their wine bottles. In Manatee County, BHV (Bunker Hill Vineyard & Winery) uses only 100% recycled wine bottles! Last year, we recycled over “12,000” empty wine bottles! So, you see, it can be done. All it takes is the will to do the right thing!

Until we meet again….”Salute and Happy Days”!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013



Have you ever thought just how important that wines are in our lives? Every great occasion that we experience is shared with a glass of wine. With our wine goblet in hand we toast each other’s health.  Graduations, promotions, birthdays, weddings and great triumphs are memorialized by raising our wine glass in salute!

With your permission, with this month’s Blog, we’re going to vary off course from our normal discussion of wines. Instead, we’re going to raise our wine glasses in a toast to a group of fellow Americans that fought to protect and preserve our precious freedoms. This month, the last survivors of “Doolittle’s Raid” will meet for the last time. More than 70 years has passed since these brave men flew into the pages of history. Without them, and the countless other warriors of WWII, we would not enjoy all that we have today. So, it’s only fitting that we glance back into our past and remember a moment that changed the world!

Lest we forget, on the morning of April 18, 1942, at about 8:00 in the morning, sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium bombers lifted off the deck of the American aircraft carrier…Hornet! They were approximately 600 miles from the shores of Imperial Japan. Led by Lieutenant Colonel James (“Jimmy”) H. Doolittle the planes of this group of 80 volunteers lifted one by one from the rolling deck of the carrier. Still reeling from the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941, the United States and its allies needed something to boost the morale of its soldiers and of their citizens back home. This bold and daring venture by “Jimmy” Doolittle and his brave men became the catalyst for the change of the momentum of the war from the Axis powers to America and her allies. Due the embarrassment of the “Doolittle Raid”, the Japanese high command resolved to prevent this from ever happening again by destroying America’s aircraft carriers. A month and a half later, japan suffered its greatest disaster of the war at…the “Battle of Midway”.

So, please, join me by raising your wine glasses in a solemn toast to these men of uncommon valor and bravery. At the very moment in our history when courage and sacrifice was needed most, these men stepped into their airplanes and flew into certain danger. With humility and gratitude to each of you we say..

Thank You, Salute and Happy Days”!    

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blending of Wines?

Blending of Wines?

With this Blog, we are going to turn our attention to the much misunderstood wine process of…”Blending of Wines”!

This has become such a common practice by wineries, that we thought it warranted a good dose of facts!

Firstly, we are all familiar with blending ‘stuff’. When we pour cream into our coffee and stir it with our spoon, we are ‘blending’ the two ingredients together. Likewise, if we were to take the juice from a Valencia orange and the juice from a fresh Mango and pour and stir them together, we would end up with a ‘Valencia Orange/Mango’ blend.  In any case, blending seems to be a fairly straightforward and a simple process. Is it, however, just as simple and straightforward for wine?

To answer this question, we’re going to have to enter a ‘fantasyland’. For the sake of seeking the truth to this question, we need to pretend that we shared a winning lottery ticket! Even after we paid off all our debts, we have some money left. After some brainstorming, we elect to start ‘Our Own Winery” (yep, that’s the name that we chose). One of the first decisions that we need to make is whether we want to make ‘filtered’ or ‘unfiltered’ wines. Since most of the wines at our local wine store are ‘filtered’, we decide to follow their suit.  The second decision that we need to make is what kinds of wines that we are going to make. Since most of the same wines are ‘Red, White & Rose’, we elect to follow the pack. From now on it gets a little tricky. Since most of the filtered wines are ‘mixed & blended’, we’ve got to go to our ‘color chart’ and pick a ‘color’ for each of our wines. Once we settle on our colors, we’ve got to find a bunch of supplier sources for our juices. Since Nature doesn’t care about our ‘color chart’, we’ve got to line up enough juice suppliers so that we can vary our juice purchases each year from each source. In other words, this year we might need to buy 30% from supplier ‘A’, 30% from supplier ‘B’ and 40% from supplier ‘C’! Next year, however, that ratio might not work. Instead, we might need to buy 10% from supplier ‘A’, 60% from supplier ‘B’ and 30% from supplier ‘C’! Whatever the combination, we’ll need to dump these juices into our mixing tank and ‘Mix & Blend’ them all together. If we’re lucky, the combined color should match our ‘color chart’. Wow!...I sure hope that all that juice sourcing and mixing and blending to match our ‘color chart’ is worth it!

The fact is….”it’s NOT worth it!! You see, color has “NO” affect upon the Taste, Flavor or Bouquet of our wines! If there is “NO” positive affect upon our wines, it should “NOT” be done! What all wineries should be doing is celebrating the fabulous diversity in the colors and tastes of the grapes and fruits.



Naturally, the colors of our wines are determined by how much sunlight, rain and nutrients that the plants and fruits receive. Logically, the natural colors of our wines will/should vary from year to year and from harvest to harvest. For wineries to step in and artificially create consistent colors to match a color chart is a disservice to us all!

So, now that we’ve got the facts, perhaps we need to step back and review our winery plans. It would be a whole lot better for us to create our wines in concert with Nature. Instead of ‘mixing and blending’ we’ll concentrate on making our wines to be the best that they can be. Then, when our wines are ready for us and our customers to enjoy, we’ll tell everyone why our colors are different this year from last. In wine making as in everything else in life, it’s always best to be honest and forthright!

Until next time….”Salute and Happy Days”!  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wine Bottle Wedding Arch!

Wine Bottle Wedding Arch!

With ‘Valentine’s Day’ on February 14th, it seems only appropriate that we dedicate this month’s Blog to…”Lovers and Sweethearts”!
At BHV, we handcrafted a memorial to those in Love! Using over 450 empty recycled wine bottles we created our areas most iconic and unique…”Wedding Arch”!

Framed by BHV’s own grapevines, it rises to over 10 ft. high and over 20 ft. wide. The Arch is capped with a wine bottle heart, a Bride and Groom figurine and two Bridesmaids. When the Florida sun is shining, the blue, green, amber and clear wine bottles sparkle like diamonds.

When you visit BHV and our Wedding Arch, please look closely at the empty wine bottles embedded in the concrete matrix. What you will see are ‘Bride and Groom’ memories etched into the glass wine bottles! When the loving couple selects BHV as their wedding venue, we ask them to select an empty wine bottle on the Wedding Arch. Prior to the day of their wedding, we ‘engrave’ their names and their wedding date into their glass wine bottle. The permanence of their glass wine bottle becomes the celebration of the permanence of their Love and commitment to each other!                                       


Throughout the year, under the Wedding Arch, we perform “Vow Renewals and Commitment Ceremonies” at no charge to all that ask. If you would like to renew your commitment to each other or proclaim to the world your commitment and love, please drop us an email so we can set it up.
Even though Valentine’s Day comes but once a year, we should remember that it’s a celebration of Union, Love and Commitment that knows no limits or bounds or timeline.

When guests visit BHV, we always discuss the importance of wine in our adult relationships. For thousands of years, wine has been a vital part of our human fabric. At most of the important moments in our lives,…weddings, holidays, graduations, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, etc.,…wine has been the glue that has sealed the occasion. There are few moments as precious as when a couple sips a glass of wine, stares into each other’s eyes and says.. “I Love You”!

Until next time..”Salute and Happy Days”!     

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Does it Matter “How” Your Wine is Made?

Does it Matter “How” Your Wine is Made?

When standing before a huge selection of wine at our local beverage center, what motivates our final wine selection?

For each of us, the motivating factors are loaded with commonalities. A few of the most common reasons for buying a bottle of wine are…‘Price, Fancy & Colorful Labels, Color of the Wine, Clarity of the Wine, Saw it Advertised on TV”.

Of course, “NONE” of these are valid reasons for buying a bottle of wine. Yet, every day, we give our hard-earned money to wealthy wine barons based upon these criteria.

Just maybe, we need to consider some really important factors! Just maybe, we need to consider “HOW” our bottle of wine was made!

Of course, most factory wineries are a little vague on the “How’s”. However, we can pick up a few important hints about the ‘How’s’ by looking closely at the wine label.

To begin, we should consider these four words on a wine label as the ‘Holy Grail Rule’ of wine making….”GROWN, PRODUCED, VINTED and BOTTLED
 These four words state that the winery that created this bottle of wine does… “Everything”! There’s a great probability that this bottle of wine was created with a huge amount of passion and love. It was made to be the best that it could be! After all, they have grown ‘ALL’ of the grapes or fruits that go into making their wine. They have invested in farmland and provided jobs and employment in their community. Most probably, they are a family farm.

So, the first step in selecting your bottle of wine is to compare it with the “Holy Grail Rule”. By the way, every winery is required (by law) to give you these facts on their label.

The second important criteria that you want to use in selecting your bottle of wine is to determine if it is…“Unfiltered”.

No matter where an ‘Unfiltered Wine’ is created, they will always tell you, on their label, that their wine is ‘Unfiltered’. They are pleased and proud to let you know that it was made to be the very best that it could be. Usually, the word ‘Unfiltered’ is prominently displayed of the front label.

If a winery makes a ‘Filtered Wine’ they will ‘NEVER’ tell you on their label. By the way, the law says that they are NOT required to tell you…and they Don’t!

The third important criteria to use in selecting your wine is to verify that your wine was made from ‘Whole Fresh Fruits’ that were grown in the U.S.A. Admittedly, this is not going to be as easy as looking at a wine label. One way that you can tell that your wine was made from ‘whole fresh fruit’ is to look for the word…Natural’ on the wine label.

 Per the Feds (BATF) the only way that a winery can use the word “Natural” is if the wine is made from ‘100% Whole Fresh Fruit’. However, you may have to email or call the winery directly. Since most factory wineries are not committed to growing anything, they are mostly using juices imported from off-site sources. Many are importing juices from other countries that fall far short of our U.S.A. agricultural standards. Lest we forget, America has the “Highest” agricultural standards in the world and were designed to protect our health.

Lastly, don’t be swayed by the words “Mixed & Blended, Clarity, Consistent Color or Hints & Notes”. They have no positive impact upon the quality of your wine. Most are used by wineries that ‘filter’ our wines.

Hopefully, this handful of wine facts will make your wine selection a little easier.

So, until next time…”Salute and Happy Days”!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Why are “Sulfites” in Our Wines?

Just like an old can, Sulfites have been kicked around by lots of people for a very long time. It’s been kicked up the hill, down the hill and through the valley. It’s been dented, scratched and bent. Yet, through it all, Sulfites have weathered the abuse and stood with us. There must be more to the Sulfite story than we’ve been told.

Of all the questions that we hear at Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery, the question that’s most often asked concerns, ”Added Sulfites” in our wines.

So, come on, put on your can kickin’ boots and walk a ways with me through the vineyard. I do my best talking when I’m walking among the grapes. The fact is, this is where our Sulfite story begins!

See those plump black skinned grapes over there on the left? Just look at those luscious golden skinned grapes over there on the right! Remember how delightful those red and white wines tasted?       

Well, if it wasn’t for the “Sulfites” contained in the skins of those grapes, we would not have this memory. Yep, Sulfites are contained Naturally in the skins of All grapes everywhere in the world! We have a legion of grapes and a plethora of fine wine memories, due in large part, to these natural sulfites.

Grapes are packed with lots of great stuff, anti-oxidant, natural sugars and carbohydrates. Besides us, there are lots of other things that like to eat grapes. Lurking on the skins of our grapes are tiny microscopic organisms that would love to take a bite out of our delicious black and golden gems. The barrier that keeps them at bay is, you guessed it, those natural sulfites.  

So, why do we add ‘additional’ sulfites to our wines? Don’t sulfites give me a headache?   

First, let me say that we have been adding extra Sulfites to our wines for ‘hundreds’ of years! Most people think that adding Sulfites is a recent thing…It’s NOT.

The reason that we add additional Sulfites to our wines is, quite simply, to protect our health. Many of those same bacteria and other organisms that would like to eat our grapes would just love to get into our wines and make us sick.

Most other foods we treat with UHT (Ultra High Temp) to kill these bad bugs. UHT just won’t work with wine. Please consider what the effect of UHT would be on our wine.

First, UHT would destroy much of the “taste, flavor & bouquet’ of the wine.

Second, UHT would remove most of the alcohol from our wine. We all know what happens to the alcohol in our wine when we cook with it. The alcohol dissipates.

Third, the ‘color’ of our wine would be forever changed.

So, until something better comes down the pike, we will continue to add some additional Sulfites to our wines.

Please note, if your favorite wine is produced in the U.S.A. the Sulfites added to your wine are regulated by three Federal Agencies…the BATF, USDA and the FDA. According to the rules, wines can contain anywhere from 10 parts per million to approx. 385 parts per million. Please, please, don’t get hung up on these numbers. They are pretty low! Those cheese and crackers that we eat with our wine can contain anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 parts per million!

Finally, the question about sulfites and headaches??

Unless you’re asthmatic, sulfites are probably NOT the villain.  In America, approx. 5% of our population is asthmatic. About 1% of that 5% are sensitive to sulfites. The rest of us are not sensitive, at all! If, however, you are still convinced that your headaches are being caused by your wine, my suggestion would be to switch to an “Unfiltered” wine!  Since Unfiltered wines are NOT filtered in any way, there’s no reason to add “Hints & Notes” to the wine.  

Our Sulfite story has come to an end. It’s time to pick up our can, dust it off and put it back on the shelf.

Until next time………”Salute and Happy Days” 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Thanksgiving Wine

“My Thanksgiving Wine”

With this BLOG we’re going to talk about our favorite… “Thanksgiving Wine”! 

Our favorite wine for Thanksgiving is NOT made from grapes. It’s made from another fabulous fruit that hangs in profusion from stately trees. It comes in many magical colors, from reds to greens to colors mixed and in-betweens. Its taste can be sweet or quite tart. It can be eaten right off the tree, sliced into slices and baked into a marvelous pie, crushed and mashed into a delightful sauce, squeezed into a fresh cider or made into a……”World-Class Wine”!

This versatile and delicious fruit is, of course the….”APPLE”!



For generations upon generations, we have relished the taste, flavor and bouquet of our ‘Thanksgiving Apple Wine’! All wine, of course, is meant to be shared and to be enjoyed in social settings. What setting could be more enjoyable than the gathering together of friends and family for “Thanksgiving”!

I remember a particular Thanksgiving where my mother made a small mistake. Perhaps it was the mild confusion of laying out the bounty of the Thanksgiving table or having to referee a bout between my two younger siblings, but, regardless, the mistake was made. Instead of pouring my usual Thanksgiving glass of fresh apple cider (which, by the way, I loved) she poured into my glass the ‘Thanksgiving Wine’ that was meant for my grandmother. Our tradition was to wait until everyone was seated and the prayer was said. Then, everyone would raise their glasses in a toast of thanksgiving and clink them together. Then, drink down their festive drink and proceed to enjoying the Thanksgiving meal. Well, as it turned out, this was my best Thanksgiving…EVER! As I raised my glass to my lips and tasted my ‘Apple Cider’, I realized that a small mistake had been made. There was actually ‘Thanksgiving Apple Wine’ in my glass!! I looked around the table and no one was looking at me. Everyone was just talking and enjoying themselves. I took another sip (just to be sure that it wasn’t my imagination)…It wasn’t! Now, I have to tell you, this was NOT a large glass. It was a small toasting glass. There couldn’t have been more than three or four sips. What was I to do??

The answer came quickly. My grandmother asked my mother if she could have ‘another’ glass of that fabulous “Thanksgiving Apple Wine”. My grandmother raised her glass, as in a toast, towards me. As we clinked our glasses together, my grandmother….smiled knowingly.

Even though my grandmother has been gone for a long time, and my mother never made this same mistake again, this Thanksgiving still ranks as my best Thanksgiving…Ever.

So, if you want to experience your best Thanksgiving…ever… it’s my suggestion that you forget the grape wine for a day. Instead, bring out the ’Apple Wine’ and bring back a tradition!


Just a word of caution, however, check out your grandmothers smile!!

Salute and Happy Days!

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