Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hinnant Vineyards- Tarheel Red

I'm dying to go to Hinnant Vineyards. They're off the beaten path on the way to the beach. If work allows us to, we are going to try to go to the NC Seafood Festival this weekend. Maybe we can make a pit stop at Hinnant.

Anyways. I tried a bottle of the Tarheel Red. The most disappointing thing about this wine, is that I was already slightly intoxicated and just kept saying "it tastes like candy." It was delicious, and that is all I really remember. I will have to try it again. Food Lion, $7.99.

I also wanted to mention the surprise RNH and I got while walking into the nearby, new Wally World. Right there at the front of the store was a huge kiosk thingy, with Hinnant grapes by the quart! You could chose between "black" and "bronze." Specifically which muscadines these were, I have no clue. But RNH was beside himself and ended up buying a ton. At $4 per quart. Sheesh, I really wish we could get the wild vines in our back yard to start mass-producing. Then we wouldn't have to blow our dough!!!

Anyways, RNH bought a ton and we really enjoyed snacking on them on the way home. A few days later, RNH and I worked together by squeezing out the juice of these succulent grapes... by. hand. It was rough-going!!! But we put the juice and some of the skins in the bucket for the grapes to ferment on. This will help add some color to make a "blush" (at least we're hoping!) RNH had purchased a special bucket last year for making wine, however we weren't able to get muscadine grapes. This year, he was too excited!!!

We're both dying to try the wine, but last year's attempt was not fermented long enough, and not enough sugar was added- making a sour spumante. Not the best in the world!!! We put this year's batch in a closet in the man-room. We never go in that closet, so hopefully we'll forget about it for a while!

It was so much fun being able to buy those grapes in the stores! Maybe next year we'll be able to go down to Silver Coast and get them for $1 per pound!!!

Ginger Creek Vineyards- Carlos

I picked this bottle of NC-grown muscadine wine from Total Wine in Charlotte for $6.99. I had to wait a day or two to try it at home. I chilled it and got pretty excited to open up the bottle.

Then I was disappointed.

The cork snapped in half. The last time I snapped a cork, was when I was in high school. And it was the first cork I ever tried to get out of a bottle. Therefore, I don't think it was operator-error, I think the bottle was not sealed properly. Thus, the rest of the post. Disappointment.

After busting my rear end to get the cork out, I pour a glass and immediately notice something that is off. The color. The bottle says the muscadine wine derives from Carlos muscadines. Carlos usually have a beautiful, light straw color. This color was a much darker, almost deep gold color. Something was off.

I took a sip. Disappointment. Actually, disgusting is more like it! I checked to see if the date would indicated something was wrong, but nope. It was just bad. Horrible.

RNH agrees with me on this one- we think the bottle was not sealed properly, thus causing the wine to spoil. Don't take this post as warning you to stay away from it. Next time I get to go to a Total Wine, I'll see if they have another bottle and give it a try.

I tried to do some research on the internet about this winery. Apparently it is in the "backwoods" of Taylorsville, NC. They don't have a website or anything. Given this knowledge, I'm thinking there is a very good possibility that it was not sealed correctly.

Give it a try if you ever run across it. I will give it another shot!

The Start of Puberty

The chicks are getting older... quickly. I believe we have started what should be known as "Chicken Puberty." The chicks are only a little over a week old, they've doubled in size, their combs and color on their beaks are coming in, and they're beginning to get their wing and tail feathers. They're still the cute little buggers that arrived in a box a week or so ago, but they're beginning to change. I know in a few weeks they're going to go through some awkward, ugly stages, but right now, I'm enjoying my babies!
They're eating well, the major medical issues seem to have passed, and they're really enjoying any time they get to spend outside.

Oh, when I say "medical issues," I mean the threat-of-dying issues. Maybe I should briefly mention this! When baby chicks are born, they usually have a mother to take care of their needs. In our chick's lives, I am their mother. Meaning I have to do all of the nasty stuff that a mother hen would usually do. And this means picking poop off their butts. Chickens and other birds, reptiles, and fish have this thing called a "cloaca." This is actually their poop-shooter. But these animals only have one hole. No hole for pee, and hole for poo. Just one hole. So everything comes out of this hole. Baby chicks have runny poo, which often can get stuck to their cloaca, or "vent." In doing my research, I learned to look out for this condition. Sometimes it can be hard to tell because the chicks have so much "fluff" around their rears.

One day I noticed two babies lying in the middle of their home and they seemed to be breathing heavy, head down in pine shavings, and neither looking nor behaving anything like the other chicks. After closer examination, I learned that they had "pasted." Pasting is when their poo clogs up their vent and they cannot pass any more poo. This has to be cleaned immediately because it can cause death. So I got to work. I sat down in front of the TV, beach towel, spray bottle and paper towels, rubbing the chick's butt. Seriously. I spent at least 30 minutes, each, on the two chicks. They were letting out a screeching "peeeeeep" the whole time. Their little vents were getting red and swollen. I know it was hurting them, but I knew I was saving their lives. Yeah, it was pretty gross. But I sucked it up, being thankful that I wasn't having to do it the way a mother hen would- use my mouth to pick the poo off their vents! YUCK!

Those babies have gone on to be happy and healthy. I don't have to worry much about this pasting issue anymore. Instead I have to worry about keeping their food in plentiful supply! These little suckers can chow down!!!

RNH and I are still working on the coop. I'm a little worried about what is going to happen between the time when the chicks are a bit bigger, but not big enough to be in the coop outside, full-time. I think their cage will be too small. We'll have to see!

*This post should have been written several weeks ago, however I didn't have time, or was too lazy to sit at the computer. So the chickens are no longer going through puberty. But I will try to get you up-to-date sooner-than-later! The chicks are no longer chicks anymore!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rock of Ages Winery- Hurdle Mills, NC

A few months ago I dragged RNH and Skinny on a winery adventure. It was Skinny's first time going to a winery, I wanted to learn, and I enticed RNH into going with a Durham Bulls game at the end of the trip (actually he really enjoys the wineries too, but he's a guy, so ya know...!) We took off from our home and drove about 30 minutes North of Durham to Hurdle Mills, North Carolina. A very cute and tiny town with a post office, butcher shop, hardware store and stop sign. Yup, that's pretty much it. Oh, and Rock of Ages Winery!!!

The drive up to the winery is very breath-taking. Rows upon rows of grapes surround a magnificent, grand building made with quite a bit of stonework. They describe the "lodge" as having Old English style with hints of Italian and Western architecture. Either way, its beautiful! Walking into the lodge you can tell that every minuet detail has been looked after. The doors to the building look as if they were from an old oak barrel and the wrought iron handles on the doors and windows have grapes and grape leaves set into the iron work.

Skinny being totally fabulous in front of the winery. Check out the beautiful stone work!

We were greeted by an older lady, the mother-in-law of Kevin Moore- the owner. She was very friendly and told us some background on the winery. Her son-in-law, Kevin had graduated from NC State University (GO PACK!) with a degree in Economics. After graduating he invested in other business opportunities and then settled by opening Hard Rock Marble & Tile in Hillsborough, North Carolina. He continues to operate that business with his wife Kim, and wine-making has become his hobby. Yes, the guy who created this ginormous building- oh, its just his hobby. Humph.
Me & Skinny at the wine bar for a tasting. Check out the beautiful mural of the vineyard against the rear wall, and gold plated ceiling!!!

After having a good time at my first (grown up) wine tasting experience at the Silver Coast Winery, I decided I would be upfront with the wine hostess and tell her that we are all "new" to this and would like to learn a lot. Unfortunately, so was she. She really couldn't tell me anything that I didn't already know, which isn't much! I was pretty disappointed in this because Rock of Ages is a winery that concentrates on growing and producing wine made from muscadines. I thought for sure I'd learn a lot here. Nope. Bless her heart, she was very sweet. I would ask her a question and she'd say "Now that's a good question! I'll have to ask Kevin someday..." Sheesh. The other problem I had is that she barely poured us any wine! I could barely even get a sip to taste! I feel like a good "tasting" of wine should at least give you 2 or 3 small sips so you can really study the flavors. Nope. Not here. (I also learned that the pours given to us at Silver Coast Winery- like 1/2 a glass!!!!- are not common. I think that guy just wanted us to get D-RUNK!) But not being able to really taste the wine kind of annoyed me.

A very neat thing about this tasting is that we were able to experience the wine-maker's progression. He had a bottle of Semi-Sweet Muscadine, a blush, that he was "phasing out" to make room for the new Bushy Fork Red- also a muscadine blush. Basically he started off with this semi-sweet blush. It was very thick and syrup-tasting. He was phasing out for the new and improved blush, that wasn't near as syrupy and absolutely delish! RNH bought a bottle of the NC State Fair Silver-winner, to enjoy at home. It was really neat to see the beginning efforts of this man's hobby, and how he was beginning to progress and become better at the trade.

Another really delicious wine that is a must-have is their Cork and Pork. It is a wine specifically created for the consumption of pork. It fits so incredibly well with vinegar-style BBQ, its crazy! They also pride themselves in a BBQ sauce, also called Cork & Pork. The vineyard has a festival every year in May that is full of Cork (wine), Pork, Music and fun! I really hope we can go next year. The combination of the wine they've come up with, the BBQ sauce, and pulled pork... nom nom nom!!!

The wine tasting included 8 wines and a souvenir glass. The vineyard also does whites and reds, however you can only pick one "leg" to try (I think!).

After the tasting, we bought a glass of our favorite and joined the sweet wine hostess for a tour. The tour was really just her showing us where the stainless steel tanks were. It was a large room towards the back of the building. We were also able to see the bottling machine and oak barrels. Nothing was in operation that day. She kept suggesting that we return on a weekend day (this was a Monday!) to see the winery in its full glory. She stated Kevin and his wife would be there and able to answer more questions and the winery is usually more busy and sometimes you can catch them bottling the wines. I think we'd like to go back on a weekend.
A fun note about this vineyard- the wines are named after areas surrounding the vineyard. Driving to and from you'll notice "Bushy Fork Rd, Flat River Rd, and Red Mountain Rd," all which the owner named the wines after!

After taking the quick tour we headed out to the vineyards, leaving the wine hostess inside. Skinny and I took a ton of fun photos, thanks to RNH. In one picture, Skinny is actually squeezing a grape into her wine glass. Pretty funny stuff! It was beautiful outside (although blazing hot!) and we really enjoyed sitting on the deck out front over looking the vineyards. It was peaceful and perfect!
Fun photo shoot!
Cheers to drinking in the vineyards!!!
Skinny making herself some wine!

I enjoyed my time at Rock of Ages and would love to go back, especially for a festival. I highly recommend this vineyard! (It is also the closest vineyard to my house!)

Tonight I'm enjoying reminiscing on the vineyard and having a glass of their Flat River White. I purchased the bottle at the vineyard for $11.95. The vineyard is not producing commercially in stores yet. The sweet wine has a wonderful bouquet. There is nothing tart to it. It has a smooth start and finish with no bite. I think this wine will continue to improve as Kevin continues in his wine-making endeavors. I feel that most of the wines he produces have a bit of a syrup-ness to them that major vineyards do not. It is still very delicious and I can't wait to return!

Fun Things!

Just a few random fun things I'd like to mention!

As we all know, Halloween is coming up. My mom and I are shopping in Target when we run across the pet Halloween costume section. Lo' and behold... there is a cat chicken costume. "Nana" (my mom) thinks that Chloe (the kitty) just has to have it. It is probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I've got to get RNH to help me get a picture of Chloe the Cock, with one of the pullets. Too funny!
She loves me, she really does!
I was driving into work and snapped this picture. It just made me smile. I love where I live. I love the fact that there are Americans out there that still believe in good old fashioned hard work and know how to work the land and provide for themselves. And yes, he is waving to the neighbor. Sigh.

I'm a God fearin', hard workin' combine driver

Hoggin' up the road on my a p-p-plower

Chug-a-lug-a-luggin' 5 miles an hour

On my International Harvester

~Craig Morgan's International Harvester

On another, very, very, VERY exciting note: it had been raining for the past 2 days. RNH and I are hanging out lazily around the house. Then he starts DEMANDING that I come into the kitchen. I could tell something was wrong by the tone of his voice. I started to run in and he tells me to stop. He's very stern about it too. Something is terribly wrong. He tells me to slowly walk up to the window and look out the backyard. What do I see? TURKEYS!!!!!!!! 6 total, hens and toms. Very skinny. GOSH we wish it was Turkey season! Super cool!!!

RNH and I got to go one of our favorite stores while in Charlotte: Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World. Yes, we love it. I've been stumped as what to do with our guest bathroom. I feel each room in a house need a theme. Whether it be a color, a certain activity, brand name, just something to help tie everything together. For instance our bathroom is all about John Deere, our guest room is a beach-themed room, etc etc. And our guest bathroom has just been sitting there. Until now. I found this at Bass Pro. RNH loves it. We should not be allowed to go home decor shopping together!!!
The chickens are getting SO big, SO quick! They deserve a post entirely for them, so that will come later. I've also visited 2 other wineries I have not blogged about. And there are a few other things that I guess will just have to wait! I've got to run out with RNH to renew my hunting license!!!

Dove Hunting, Yet Another Redneck Adventure!

All I have heard about since, well, the end of turkey season from RNH is "September... when September gets here, I'm gonna be in the fields all day... yaddi yaddi yadda." Labor Day rolls around, the very first day of Dove Season. Where is RNH? In Charlotte, the big city, with me. Yup. He could kill me!

But it was the perfect weekend to visit my mom and after talking to some locals, we figured out it was best not to go out on the opening day of Dove Season because everyone and their mother's mother is out there trying to get a kill.

Labor Day comes and goes, but the next day we've got off, RNH heads to the fields. We had scoped out a gameland area because the fields and woods surrounding our house just don't seem conducive to doves. The gamelands are just huge fields where the State of North Carolina Wildlife had planted corn and other yummies that attract dove. The birds are starting their flight towards the warmer regions, and pass through NC on their way. While thinking they've made a pit stop in our wonderful state for some delicious corn, they've really got a target on their back, and the State then is controlling their population. Its a pretty sweet set-up for avid Dove Hunters. But I'm not so sure I want to be one of them. This is why:

Dove's mate for life. For Life. If you shoot one, you gotta shoot the other, otherwise it will live the rest of his life in sadness and despair. Well, at least that's what I imagine. RNH makes this mistake of telling me this one fact about doves, and all of a sudden, I'm completely turned off. I'm a decent shot... when it comes to target practice. But moving birds are a completely different story. I found that out last year when duck hunting. And now the target is smaller, and flying faster. And my heart tells me I have to kill both of them if I'm going to shoot them. And of course I know that's not very likely! So I go out with RNH and decide to see what its like.
We get to the fields and I pull out my hunting license. Expired. DOH! Awww mannnn, that's just tooooo bad. I guess I won't have to be ending some couple's life today.... Geeeez. I'm actually sort of relieved that my license is expired. I walk around the fields behind him and we try to see whats flying. Its blazing hot and we don't see any doves. RNH is pretty disappointed.
I kinda am too. I'd like to see what it's like to get some birds. I'd like to try them and see how they taste. And I'm pretty confident that RNH can kill the couple. Not just one. So for now I'm happy just being the photographer on dove hunting trips. We'll see if once RNH gets him some doves, that I can stomach the thought of a lone dove flying to Mexico, weeping the whole way there of his lost lover. We'll see. It might just depend on how good these birds taste! :)
(Oh, and I forgot the best part of our dove hunting excursion: ripe muscadine grapes on the edge of the field! I was in heaven!!!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Introducing Mrs.Clementine!!!

This blog deserves a special shout out because it's my big sister's!!! Ms. Clementine's blog is mostly for those of us that know her, so we can keep up with her and her fun family! I'm pretty excited about it because a few of her posts are about ME! I am proud to say that I've had the opportunity to extend my newly-acquired redneck ways to my sister. I've attempted to influence my wonderful sister in many ways, from country music to raising chickens, I've tried to teach her the ways of a redneck woman. I'm pleased with my progress, however my latest chicken endeavor has led her straight into vegetarianism-ish. Yeah. She won't eat chicken anymore.

I'll make RNH cook her up a good chicken dinner and she'll be back at it. We just won't tell her it was "fresh" chicken! :) Just kidding- we're not eating them... yet.

Anyways- check her out, I'm so proud of her and look up to her as a role model. She's a wonderful mother, friend and I am SO happy she lives MUCH closer to me now!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mail Order Chicks

RNH and I finally built a majority of the chicken coop and I've been trying to hold myself back from ordering chicks.

Finally, I caved in. Only after doing tons and tons of researching.

Its Fall here, usually people don't have a large plethora of baby chicks like they do in the Spring. I'm looking all over our small town, the local farming community, checking with friends, asking RNH's grandma, and everywhere else I can think, but NO ONE has chicks. I call up Southern States and they will order chickens for me, but the minimum order is 15. Um, no thanks. I ask if they purchase the chicks from a local hatchery and they tell me no. They ship them in from Ohio and Texas. Hmmmm... if Southern States can order them, I probably can too!

Oh, I even asked the Doctor of Poultry Science at NC State University. He was extremely helpful, only he called me back the day after I had placed my order.

So anyways, I get on the internet and do some research. I end up finding Meyer Hatchery out of Ohio. I call them up and ask them endless first-timer chicken questions. I am worried sick- how does one ship a chicken???

I hang up the phone a little later, $55 in the hole. Six chicks. Wow.

This is what I received: 6 Rhode Island Reds (this is the specific breed we wanted because this breed is the same RNH's grandma raises.), all female hens/pullets (sexing the chickens costs more, otherwise you'd end up with a mixture, known as straight-run.), all a day-old, all with their Marek Vaccination (it costs $1 per chick), a heater pack was thrown in with them so they'd stay warm (it was not warm when they got to our house!), and were thrown into a box with holes in it (shipping itself, cost $30!!!!) Needless to say, I felt it was a lot of money. After talking to the NCSU professor, when I purchase them again, I'll probably be able to purchase locally and not have to pay shipping!

The chicks were supposed to arrive on a Wednesday. I took that day off work so I could be home when my babys came. The post office was supposed to call when they arrived. On Tuesday morning my cell phone rang. The post man left a voice mail telling me my chicks had arrived (a day early!). I hurriedly put on clothes and was grabbing my keys when the doorbell rang. It was the post man. He had got into his personal vehicle and drove the chicks to my home. He had a stressed look on his face and I think he was just very concerned about the well being of the chicks. I don't think he wanted them to die in his store! I just thought it was awesome that the post man bothered to come to my home for me! It's crazy how it all worked out, because the day I took off- I ended up getting called in anyways!

So the chicks came, RNH and I were home to hang out with them and try to acclimate them to their new surroundings. I put them in a small aquarium with a pine shavings bed.

They bobbed their little heads around and yelled out a continuous "peep peep peep," that is just adorable. They are the cutest little chicks I've ever seen! I'm so excited to have them and really enjoy watching them! They're extremely smart birds and it is amazing to see how quickly they learn. My sister and two nieces came up that night to check them out.

After a few days the birds will be let outside to roam, and then eventually, they'll be put outside into their coop! We just have to finish it first!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Biltmore- Reisling

Another vineyard I'm dying to visit. I went to the Biltmore when I was young, but really couldn't appreciate it for what it is worth. I'd like to go back as an adult and really take in as much as possible.

To curb my curiosity about the Biltmore's wines, I bought a bottle of Biltmore Riesling. I purchased this bottle at good ol' Wally World for $7.99.
This Riesling was actually not one of my favorites. There is a subtle taste of an oak barrel, which is not my favorite. It has a deliciously tangy bouquet, but is also very dry to the taste. The flavor sets well in the mouth and is a perfect blend of tartness.It is a very well blended chardonnay, just not my "cup of tea."

Hopefully if I am ever able to visit the vineyards there, I'll be able to find my favorite Biltmore wine!
(Yes, that is a tub of worms sitting next to the wine. I'm a wife of a redneck, what could you expect!?!?)

Silver Coast Winery- Shallotte, North Carolina

RNH traveled to the beach about mid-summer. We stayed at the KOA Kampground in Shallotte, NC and had a wonderful time. While there, we just so happened to stumble upon a vineyard: Silver Coast Winery.
There had been a few signs along the highway that sparked my interest. Much to my surprise, RNH was pretty willing to go. We had arrived in the area on a Friday late-afternoon, and with a cloudy gray sky, going to the beach was pretty much out of the question. RNH was up for heading to the winery and checking out what they had to offer.

The best thing about the directions to this winery; the winery is located on Barbecue Road. Really? How awesome is that.
We passed a few fields of soybeans and made a right onto Barbecue Road. Down a dirt road, past a farm-style home, and voila. There lies Silver Coast. I will tell you this, it doesn't look that inviting. Almost like a warehouse type building with an addition, that looks pretty crappy from the driveway and a little bit better as you drive around the sort-of back-side entrance.
Don't let my description keep you from going here. It is fabulous!
We walk in and we're kind of scared. Wine can be (and was originally thought to me,) intimidating. The guy at the wine bar is an older man, with a kind smile and wonderful southern accent. He made us feel at home. My nervousness told him immediately that we had never done a wine tasting, and this was going to be our first experience. He relaxed us by telling us our different options for the tasting and what we'd do.

For $10, we could taste all of 10 (plus 2 others) that the winery produces. This would include reds and whites, as well as the souvenir glass! We were sold! He lays a small sheet of paper out in front of us with a pencil. The paper has a list of all of the wines and he encourages us to make notes on each wine, what we liked and didn't like. Having verbiage that states "Calabash White: very pale straw in color; the nose is treated to vanilla, red apple and subtle tropical fruit. Full and round, this well balanced wine seduces the palate with pear and creamy vanilla. Nicely balanced fruit and acidity make this a perfect pairing for seafood or poultry." realllllly helps describe what you were tasting.
With each sip, and constant reference to the sheet in front of us, we were able to dissect the tiny flavors in each sip of wine.
I learned very quickly that I do not like Chardonnays or really any type of wine that has been processed in an oak barrel, where as RNH loves it. The oak barrels really give wines the musky, earth-flavor that you'd fine when drinking bourbon. I like the stainless steel process. That is a much cleaner, crisper taste.

I also learned that 75% of your taste comes from your nose. That is why it is important for you to swish the wine around in the glass before tasting. It helps vent the wine, letting off much more of the bouquet.

Turns out RNH and the wine bar guy know the same people from Lexington, NC. Its a pretty small world.

I loved Silver Coast because they made me feel at home and not intimidated. The man there taught me a lot of basic stuff without making me seem like an idiot.
Our favorites were the Calabash White (not opened yet or reviewed on blog!) and the Holiday Red. (RNH decided this will be our special Christmas Day wine! We'll have to wait til December for a review on that one!)

I must also pay credit where credit is due. Thanks to the tasting host at Silver Coast, I realized that wine isn't half as intimidating as it seems to be, anyone can enjoy a glass of wine and describe it with posh words, and... going to vineyards and wineries is FUN!

*August is the start of harvesting at Silver Coast. Pick your own muscadines for $1 per lb!*