GUILFORD, Conn. (WWLP) – Months before the Big E begins, the wine starts pouring for the annual Big E Wine Competition. In the hustle and bustle of our very busy lives. A trip to the market can be a chore. But for Keith Bishop, it’s a labor of love. “The family’s been here since the beginning. I’m not that old.”
Bishop’s Orchards has historic roots in Guilford, Connecticut. “Family members got off the boat in 1639,” he told 22News. “The family’s been here since the beginning. I’m not that old.”
But it’s the fruits of Bishop’s labor — the peaches, apples and uneaten berries — that have put Bishop’s Orchards on the map in the past decade. They make their own wine without any grapes.
From late August to mid-October, people can come and pick raspberries, the same raspberries used in all of their wine. It goes like this: apples, peaches, pears and berries get picked, sorted, inspected, washed, then ground into a chunky sauce. called pummus. Then a press squeezes out the juice.
The juice is pumped through a tube and into variable capacity tanks. These tanks have a cover that actually floats on top of the wine so that it keeps oxygen from getting into the wine.
In 3 to 12 weeks, the wine is put into bottles and shuttled across the street to be labeled and packaged. Then they’re carted back across the street, either to be opened for tasting, placed on the shelf, or praised at the Big E’s wine competition.
“We’ve won many many silvers,” Bishop said. “A few golds and a few double golds in those competitions.”
Their big winner: the Rubus Nightfall sparkling raspberry wine, which started as just raspberry seeds in their fields. The secret ingredient to their success: tradition. At a time when we rely so heavily on technology, it’s the Bishop’s vintage method of making use of everything they grow that’s truly appreciated and rewarded
When 22News spoke with Bishop, he was hoping to have the Rubus Nightfall sparkling wine ready for this Big E. After all, the centennial celebration certainly deserves some bubbly.