Farm Notes


On the Shelf in the New Pioneer Food Co-op Stores!

So excited to be on the shelf of all three of the New Pioneer Food Co-op Stores in Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids. New Pioneer Foods Co-op is locally owned natural foods grocery retail that we have long respected for their environmental stewardship and values for local and organic foods. We will be sampling Walker Homestead wines at their Friday Night Flights from 4:00-6:00 pm February 2nd. 

Come shop local. Come sip wine. We look forward to seeing you in the stores! 

kristy walker
A Call Out to the Vineyard Team Investors

We want to take a pause to give thanks for our blessings over this past year.  At the top of the list is our appreciation of those who chose to invest in Walker Homestead Vineyard and Winery.

To recap this past season, we expanded the homestead from five acres to eighty-five. We grew our vine count from 150 to 750, adding 300 Petite Pearl and 300 Verona vines. These two varieties hold much promise. 

The Petite Pearl wine grape is a newer cold climate red wine grape, producing a full crop after -32◦ F. Vigor is moderate and bud break is mid-season. Petite Pearl wine has Syrah-like qualities, with good tannins and structure. It is deep ruby-red and should age well. Early wines have been very complex with lots of spice and jammy fruit qualities.  The Petite Pearl should be an excellent blending component to add complexity and softness to other mid-west red wines but it can stand well on its own and produce an age worthy, dry red.

Verona is a new St Croix cross-breed. Of advantage is Verona’s late bud break in the spring and good production on secondary buds. Verona’s leaves have some resistance to fall frost, which allows the fruit to hang and ripen later into the fall, with harvest often taking place 10 days after Petite Pearl. In tests at North Dakota State University in 2012, ripe berries from Verona vines ranked No. 1 in tannin content out of 34 skin samples from northern grape varieties.  The dry red wine made from Verona grapes has a velvety deep berry color and abundant soft tannins in the mid-mouth and finish, with a great balance between acid, tannin and alcohol. The aroma is complex; the characteristic raspberry aroma is dominant, changing to blackberry as it ages in the bottle. There are dark chocolate flavors along with raspberry, with an excellent balance and finish, all in a style that is reminiscent of a Tuscan red wine.

We very much look forward to what we can produce with these two varieties in their first harvest of 2019.

In partnering with Shanti Sellz of Muddy Miss Farms, we have our first two acres of an organic garden area underway at the homestead, which will come into a CSA offering this spring and source the food for our culinary classes and farm to table dinners led by Chef Chris Grebner of Provender.

We planted fifteen acres of pasture to make way for our heard of vineyard grazers that will come to us this spring. We are excited that our ‘Pick Me’ wine won a silver medal in the Mid-American Wine competition. We have bids out for the barn with plans to break ground in February. So much is happening - so much in the earliest of stages.

Thank you again for your investment in the Walker Homestead vision and joining us from the starting block. If you are interested in becoming a Vineyard Team Member, email bob@walker-homestead.com. For a $300 investment, you have three vines with your name on a plank in the vineyard, a Walker Homestead t-shirt and cap, a case of the first production of those grapes, and 10% off of all future purchases. Best of all, you are a part of this new venture.

As we start in to 2018, please friend us on Facebook if not already done so. We pledge to keep this website a good reference for you moving forward and cannot wait to dig into the calendar for this coming year. We very much look forward to our next visit with you.

Thank you and Blessings to all of yours.

kristy walker
Tomato town

Last winter Shanti and I sat down to plan fruit and vegetable plantings for 2017. If you've ever planted a garden you know that those seed catalogs you get in the winter can be dangerous. There you are, hunkering by the fire with a hot toddy and a magazine full of beautiful edibles. Once you've earmarked every single page, you fill out your order and wait.

As exciting as it is to think about colorful fruits and vegetables in the gray cold of winter, what you're really doing is giving yourself all sorts of work. I am a victim of this every .. single .. year. Except this year I took Shanti with me on this rabbit hole. Thankfully she is able to sell to much of the product to other cooks, kitchens, and homes over the season, but I for one was not ready for the onslaught of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the list goes on. In addition to my already busy work schedule, in order for us to actually put use to all this product I've got to preserve it. Literally hundreds of pounds of product and I have been able to preserve a little over fifty pounds. 50. Five-zero.

So what am I planning on changing for next year? My schedule. I have already blocked off multiple days next year where I plan to process product. I realize the risk of the product not being ripe, but it's all I can think of doing this early in the game. It will also help that we'll have a full kitchen on site next year and we won't need to schlep food all over.

So here's to hoping we can stretch the season out a bit and hopefully share with you throughout the year.

Chris Grebner

Last farm stand of the season will be Tuesday, October 17th  5:00 to 8:00 pm. Get your fresh local produce from Muddy Miss Farms here on Walker Homestead. Buy Walker Homestead and Revasser wines. Enjoy Provender pizza or roasted veggies. Get a free-range chicken or fresh farm eggs. The harvest is here. Pass the word. Last picnic of the season!

kristy walker
Farm Stand TUESDAY Sept 26 5:00 to 8:00 pm

Here we go, getting our Ag on. On Tuesdays, once a month during the season, we are celebrating Local Ag with our farm stand. Come out to get your fresh local produce from Muddy Miss Farms here on Walker Homestead. Buy Walker Homestead and Revasser wines. See our barn plans. Enjoy Provender pizza or roasted veggies. Get a free-range chicken or fresh farm eggs. This is how to celebrate a harvest season. Pass the word. Come picnic with us and make it last!  

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kristy walker
10 Weeks

We have had the farm for 10 weeks. The transformation in such a short period makes our heads spin. Pasture is in and 97 freedom rangers moved in, complete with a transfer from inside the cab of an air conditioned truck. No one is spoiled here, right? The vineyard is taking shape, with rows that look like (and felt like) they go forever over the rolling hills. The herb garden and bocce ball court has risen from the old barn foundation. Such a good spot to take in the end of the day. Even though we are physically exhausted by day’s end, we are rejuvenated by the beauty of the area and feel blessed. We look forward to the point where we can share this blessing with others. Stay tuned!

kristy walker

Welcome to our homestead. We have had quite the journey thus far to get us here and yet we cannot wait to see how it all unfolds. At this moment, Walker Homestead is a blank canvas that holds so much promise.

Despite the unknowns and challenges we have to get us to this point of taking ownership of this farm, we have held one core value and that is respect for the land and the sharing of its bounty with family, friends and neighbors.

Farmer’s will often refer to anyone in a five mile radius as ‘neighbor’. In that same spirit, we would like to extend that title to anyone we spend time with on the homestead. How do you share breaking of bread and the amazing farm life with others and not feel the glow of kinship?

When all the rest of the world is churning chaos and complexity, we look forward to creating a getaway on these 80 acres, where joy can be found in watching the chickens take care of the bugs, goats at play, and ginger walks through the gardens, enjoying warm pizzas from a wood fired oven topped with freshly picked vegetables, cheese made next door and wine from local grapes.

And this is just the beginning…

Extending a welcome from the team,

Shanti, Katie, Andrew, Chris, Dennis, Bob and Kristy

kristy walker