A Ukrainian Was One Of The Muses of Mount Salem Vineyards
Here in the United States, we are watching the tragedy unfold in Ukraine and are doing what we can to help our friends overseas, whether that means boycotting Russian products or donating funds. However, from our relatively safe space across the pond, it can be difficult for the average person to relate to someone from the faraway country.
But East Coast wine drinkers have our own Ukrainian to thank for his invaluable contributions to the winegrowing industry – Konstantin Frank, whose eponymous winery in the Finger Lakes prospers to this day under fourth generation Frank family leadership.
Having survived two World Wars and the Russian Revolution, Frank immigrated to New York in 1951 with empty pockets and no knowledge of English. But he did arrive with one thing – a vast knowledge of wine. He had a PhD in viticulture and years of experience helping fine wine grapes thrive even in freezing temperatures.
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So, when Americans told him that the East Coast was far too cold to grow fine wine grapes, he immediately got to work – and proved the naysayers wrong. His European grape varieties, the first to grow on the East Coast, prospered. Then, he gladly shared his methods with anyone who was interested in doing the same.
The legacy continues
Today, fine wine grapes continue to succeed on the East Coast, and in time, our region may be one of the most important winegrowing regions in the country, and we have Frank to thank. Here at Mount Salem Vineyards, we thank him for our own reasons, too.
Like Frank, we too were told that our Central European grapes would never flourish in the Hunterdon County cold and instead, we should plant lower-quality hybrid grapes to achieve any old wine. But that was never what we wanted – we were solely interested in world-class wine. So, we followed Frank’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and brought Central European grapes here, since that region’s climate is much like ours.
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Frank’s teachings showed winemakers how to design and manage vineyards to withstand freezing temperatures, including by choosing an ideal location, direction, soil and more. And, perhaps most importantly, he taught them to never be afraid to experiment with varieties and methods.
We’ve always done just that. And what resulted was decades, and counting, of first-class Mount Salem Vineyards wine.
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