Collaboration is often the soul of creativity. An idea orchestrated by two or more imaginative people can result in a winner. The latest example is producing smiles of satisfaction across the Piedmont.
It took a farmer and winemaker to break out of the mold and produce a tasty idea that is sipping its way to success. What typically is enjoyed in a bowl is now being poured from a bottle. It’s a locally produced strawberry wine with a fresh new taste.
The idea guy behind the libation is Jimmy Messick, co-owner along with his brother Ronnie, of Messick’s Farm Market in Bealeton. The magic in the bottle springs from part of 6 acres of strawberries that are under his cultivation, the largest planting in the county.
Additionally, more than 40 acres are planted in a wide variety of fruits, berries and vegetables all available in the market or as a pick-your-own buying experience.
In conjuring up his wine idea, Messick may have subliminally thought of the lyrics of a Kingston Trio song: “Raspberries, strawberries, the good wines we brew” and wondered why not create such a beverage for his market.
The only problem: he wasn’t a winemaker. Enter Glenn Marchione, co-owner with his wife Tina, of Magnolia Vineyards in Amissville. Marchione is an experienced vintner, but grapes are his forte. He had never made fruit wine.
“We’re pretty excited. This is our first foray in producing fruit wine,” says Marchione. But he’s not the only one who is pumped about the social lubricant.
Farmer Messick couldn’t be happier that his idea has been successfully brought to fruition. “The wine is flying off the shelves. It’s been a great surprise to us that it's been so well accepted,” says Messick.
The wine is bottled in clear 750-milliliter bottles showcasing its reddish amber hue. It’s 11 percent alcohol with a residual sugar of 9 percent, making it a sweet wine. “It has a beautiful strawberry taste that bursts in your mouth. If you love strawberries, you’ll love this wine,” says Messick proudly.
The wine is called Prairie View in honor of the original farm his grandfather started in the 1930s where the terrain is flat and reminiscent of Midwest prairie land. One of his employees, Caitlin Taylor, designed the label.
The Messick brothers are third-generation farmers. They own 1,000 acres of farmland over three separate properties in southern Fauquier County. In addition to the seven-day-a-week farm market, the brothers have 330 milk cows, 250 of which are daily milkers.
In addition, 800 acres are devoted to grain growing, producing corn, soybean and wheat. Jimmy manages the farm and market, and Ronnie oversees the cattle operation.
The Messicks’ business is an agritourism farm offering pick-your-own strawberries, pumpkins and much more in season. As you walk the aisles of the market, you’ll find produce from the farm and pickled and preserved items such as sweet bay pickles, strawberry jams and cheeses from the dairy.
The market carries local artisanal goods like handmade pasta, pastured meats, and even skincare products. For those who come hungry, there is a made-to-order deli counter for sandwiches and prepared salads and an ice cream stand.
In addition to the new strawberry wine, several selections of in-county wines are sold.
Winemaker Marchione realized in undertaking fruit wine production that the components of strawberries needed a little boost to create a balanced taste. To that end, he added sugar, tartaric acid, and tannins to the fruit before fermentation was begun, building a structurally sound and satisfying wine.
The wine took about six months to produce and is expected to age similar to a light white wine, meaning you wouldn’t want to cellar it for years. This liquid treat is meant to be consumed young to capture the essence of strawberry flavors.
The first bottling was produced from one ton of strawberries resulting in about 1,500 bottles of wine. It takes about 40 plump strawberries to make a single bottle. The majority of the product will be sold at the farm market, but a portion is available for sale at Magnolia Vineyards. It retails for $18.99 a bottle.
Success is breeding an expansion of the fruit wine concept. “I just got a load of blackberries from Jimmy and will start fermenting the fruit soon. He already has a new label designed for the wine,” said Marchione.
This Saturday, Dec. 21, Messick will be holding a wine tasting for his “new kid on the block” and advises, “it will be a great time to come out and taste the wine. I think it makes our market complete,” he said.
For the full Messick’s Farm Market story visit www.messicksfarmmarket.com.