By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
The Fossil Stone Vineyard bottles of wine almost seem to glitter on display tables at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market: The golden hue of La Crescent, the ruby glow of Marquette, the fiery dark pink of their Rose, a blend of the two.
Fossil Stone is among the market’s newest vendors, joining in late August. But for owners Michael and Kelly Spiak making wine is not new. Their journey, like much of farming, is all about having a passion and the patience to transform that passion into products.
For Michael Spiak, passion began while traveling through New Zealand with the military.
“New Zealand was blanketed with vineyards, which I had a strange fascination with,” he says. “I loved everything about them … the posts, the vines, the grapes, and of course the wine.”
He and his wife Kelly owned land in Greenfield Center. They decided in 2006 to try growing grapevines. Their first wines came from vines planted in 2009, and they began selling wine in 2014. Today, Fossil Stone consists of more than 3,000 wines and a winery barn. A tasting room is set to open next summer.
The Spiaks grow cold-hardy French hybrid grapes developed by University of Minnesota viticulturist Peter Hamstead to produce LaCrescent – a crisp white with hints of apricot – and Marquette – a smooth medium-bodied red with hints of cherry and plum. They also craft a Rose from a 30-70 blend of Marquette and LaCrescent.
“It is darker than most Roses,” says Spiak, “but don’t let that fool you. It behaves very much like a Rose.”
At Fossil Stone, winter is a time to craft wines before the growing cycle begins in late February when vines will be pruned prior to bud break in late April/early May. The grapes grow through late summer and are harvested in fall.
Fossil Stone wines pair well with many winter farmers’ market offerings, such as beef brisket. “I used to work for the Saratoga North Creek Railroad as a locomotive engineer,” Michael Spiak recalls. “The chef on board used our Marquette to make a wine reduction and poured it over a broiled brisket and then paired it with our Marquette.”
“It was delicious.”
This week’s recipe: Marquette-Braised Beef Brisket