Laura’s Little Corner at Hops & Vine
by Laura Yale
As I set forth on my latest adventure, the crispness of the air, the crunch of the grass below my feet, and the blustery north wind are all tell-tale signs that fall is upon us and soon will be beckoning the call of old man winter. Just as seasons change and the leaves become more vibrant with hues of yellow, red, and orange, the local hops have all been harvested and our local wineries and breweries have been busy developing innovative blends and entertainment that will extend keeping us warm and cozy throughout the chillier months.
Infusions of pumpkin spice, apple, and cranberry are back to center stage this time of year with our regional wine and beer purveyors. Bonfires on site and wine tastings off premises are popping up, and festivals offering sampling of the ingenious local libations are in full swing. Not to mention mulled concoctions that round out their selections that not only tantalize our taste buds but our senses with their spectacular aromas.
All of these wonderful additions give consumers even more variety than ever before. The colder months also give the producers a chance to reap some of the harvest. All their hard work and perseverance can pay off with the start of industry award competitions and by the increase in sales of the holidays.
This is a time that the both brewers and wineries can add to their forte by showcasing special festive blends that capture the spirit of the season. They offer guests some pizzazz with indoor activities such as trivia and ugly sweater Christmas parties, and many play host to gala events featuring local entertainment that give folks a chance to kick back and relax a wee bit from all the hustle and bustle and pick up some wonderful gifts. Truly a winning combination of buyer and seller!
Just because the grape leaves are wilting and they and the hops are going dormant, there is still a lot going on behind the scenes. Production is still full steam ahead and like the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither are wine and beer. While we are worrying about what gifts to give, what sweaters to wear, and what holiday meals to prep, the vintners and brewers are busy not only making their regular selections but calculating what the next big taste in the industry will be and how to create it – figuring in the fermentation process and getting it to the market while it is still trending. Not an easy task with combating issues and the ever-changing palates of consumers.
All of this keeps those in the industry on their toes so to speak. One of the crucial and combative issues that I have come across in my journey visiting local wineries and breweries is the talk of the spotted lantern fly. This pesky bug is a plant hopper that is indigenous to China, Vietnam, and Eastern Asia and has been in our state as of 2014. First discovered in Berks County, most likely by an egg sac coming over attached to pallet or packing material, this insect is an insatiable feeder on such economically-important crops as grapevines, hops, fruit trees, ornamentals, and hardwoods and deadens them by feeding, excreting, and causing molding so they die.
Just like the emerald ash bore, it is spread by people moving wood, stones, or outdoor items that the spotted lantern flies’ eggs are on. Its containment and eradication are a main priority so much so that even this month Penn State University acquired a $7.3 million dollar four-year grant from the USDA to do extensive research and learn more facts about the habits of the insect and to help in the fight. As the war is raged on the spotted lantern fly, our local grape and hops growers remain vigil to protect their crops. It is definitely a serious key element which unfortunately be part of our conversations for years to come.
On a lighter note, as I return to my little corner at Hops and Vine, I will leave you all with an original Irish quote of my own. “May the chill in the air bring more warmth to your heart and generosity to your soul.” Wishing you all the best on your personal adventures on our local wine and brewery trails. Until we meet again, Cheers my friends!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Yale and her husband, Dan, are the long-time owners of The Fireplace Restaurant, 6157 US-6, Tunkhannock, PA 18657. The restaurant proudly features a variety of local wines & beers, the artwork of local artists throughout, and locally-sourced foods as much as possible. The Fireplace Restaurant is open 11am-10pm daily, until 11pm Fridays and Saturdays.