Vines & Wines event in Murrysville will feature regional winemakers
Winemaking is nothing new for Mike and Patricia Kavic.
“Both my wife and I come from immigrant families who came to the U.S. at the turn of the last century,” said Mike Kavic. “Winemaking is something both sides carried on for years and years. We got into family winemaking probably 30 or 40 years ago.”
Kavic Winery will join other local winemakers in bringing their wealth of experience to the sixth annual Vines & Wines event at Plumline Nursery in Murrysville.
During a 2000 trip to a medical conference — Kavic was one of the first surgeons in the U.S. to perform minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, and his primary career has been as a surgeon, medical scholar and teacher — he and his wife Patricia got the idea to start an “urban winery,” one not specifically connected to a vineyard.
“We enjoy the whole process: making the wine, the science and the art of it,” he said.
Farther east in Westmoreland County, shoppers at the weekly Murrysville Farmer’s Market have had a chance in recent years to try the different varieties of vino from Bushy Run Winery, created by Bill and Karen Gourdie of Harrison City.
“We were making it as a hobby and giving it away,” Bill said. “We were also working with Grandma’s Country Oven Bake Shoppe at Schramm’s Farm, trading wines for pies, and four years ago they suggested we go for our license.”
After being informed by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board that the bakery did not have adequate floor space, the Gourdies decided to operate it out of their home, bringing it to festivals and local venues like the farmer’s market.
“Murrysville has really taken us under their wing and supported us,” Bill said.
Bushy Run has made a name for itself with its Lemon Kiss, a country-style wine created with lemons.
“There are no grapes in it, and it’s been very well-received,” Bill said.
He plans to bring plenty of Lemon Kiss along with Crabby Papa’s Pear, a cinnamon pear wine, and their Battlefield Blush, a portion of whose sales benefit the Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society.
“It’s been a nice fundraiser, it kind of anchors us to the community, and the folks at the battlefield appreciate it,” Bill said. “The first year we donated $700, the second year $1,700 and we’re hoping for more this year.”
The Kavics are hoping that soon, they’ll have their own homegrown grapes for winemaking, having planted a vineyard in Oakdale about five years ago.
“It takes about five or six years before the vine is strong enoug and mature enough to create grapes that are good for making wine,” Kavic said. “We have an acre of Marquette grapes, a hybrid that’s very similar to Red Zinfandel or Pinot Noir. And then our white grape is the Vidal Blanc, which is used a lot to make ice wine.”
The Vines & Wines event will feature wine tastings, food and discounts on the nursery’s trees, shrubs and perennials. Penn State Extension master gardeners will also be on hand to answer garden-related questions.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.