Growing grapes in quality over quantity
The grapes aren't much to look at right now. They are small, ranging in size from a thumbnail to a marble, and as green as the vines they grow on.
However, as the summer months roll on, when daylight hours and temperatures increase, the grapes will grow, both in size and numbers.
But growing a mass amount of grapes isn't the objective at Holy-field Wine and Vineyard located just west of Basehor at 158th Street and Kansas Highway 24/40.
The end goal for the 14-acre vineyard has always been quality over quantity.
And that's why Holy-field owners Les and Michelle Meyer work in the afternoon sun cutting away excess grapes from vines, preparing their vineyard for the August harvest.
"If we wanted, we could grow double but we want quality over quantity," Les said.
"The whole thing is to make sure you have a high quality fruit," he added.
It's that attitude and work ethic by Les and daughter, Michelle, that helped Holy-field earn 26 awards during various wine competitions across the country in 2002.
From as far east as Virginia, and west as California, Holy-field's wine routinely gained the attention of judges and wine connoisseurs alike.
Whether it was a 2001 Vignoles winning first place in California, or a Melody wine winning a gold medal in Florida, Holy-field has received nationwide recognition for its wine.
Locally, the winery has received even more success.
At the Kansas Grape Growers and Winemakers Association competition, Holy-field brought in five gold medals.
At a competition at the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., a wine from Holy-field took second to a more expensive wine from a bigger winery.
"People were so excited to find out ours was from Kansas," Michelle said.
With each variety of wine, each bottle and even each grape, there is some of Les and Michelle's personality ingrained.
And that's what separates Holy-field from larger, more commercial wine producers, they said."We're more of a boutique that does smaller amounts," Michelle said. "Ours is more hand crafted. More of a specialty."
Although winning awards and competitions is always nice, it's the respect of the customers that drives Les and Michelle to produce a quality product, they said.
To insure they keep producing that quality product, the two will spend all summer in the vineyard, before and during the harvest.
Before the harvest, they'll work like they did this week, cultivating the grapes for the harvest season, still more than three months away.
Besides thinning out the number of grapes, there are other chores.
That could mean deterring flea beetles from eating the infant grapes, or fixing vines damaged by a recent hail storm.
Regardless, the needs of the vineyard are always pressing the two growers for attention.
When harvest season does come around, the two will be seen in the vineyard picking grapes, and processing them for wine making.
"Once your fruit is off the vine you don't let it sit around," Michelle said.
The harvest normally produces enough grapes to make approximately 5,000 gallons worth of wine with each bottle benefiting from the careful and watchful eye of Les and Michelle.