“This is Troy’s best kept secret,” said Bob O’Krogly, a self-taught winemaker for 55 years. O’Krogly was referring to Joe Perry’s Winery, located behind the East Troy Diner.
Winery owner Dave Pierchorowicz was living in Maine when a friend and once co-worker recommended he move to Bradford County. Bob Vineski and his wife Sony told Pierchorowicz about a farm for sale. Pierchorowicz was familiar with the area since he had done Tenth Special Forces Group training in Galeton.
Pierchorowicz purchased the Century Farm, sight unseen, which was formerly the Case Farm on Elms Road in Troy. He had always wanted to turn a barn into a house. He not only did that, but also started a vineyard.
Pierchorowicz researched vineyards and winemaking prior to planting his grape vines in 2007.
“It takes four years to get them established,” said Pierchorowicz.
While in Europe, Pierchorowicz learned that grapes propagate by wind, not by animals. He experimented and found that with the prevailing winds in his Bradford County location, he was successful.
“Other than the weather, I had ideal growing conditions,” said Pierchorowicz.
According to Pierchorowicz, “Rain is death to a vineyard. They like heavy dew in the morning, but that’s it.”
“The weather has changed so much over the years,” continued Pierchorowicz. “It’s gone from normal farming practices to crisis management.”
Pierchorowicz found that the worst vine killers are cold weather injuries, and crown vetch and crown gall, a bacterial disease of fruit plants that create tumor-like growths. Crown vetch is attractive to deer. And deer love grapes!
“The deer can eat almost three tons of grapes in one night,” said Pierchorowicz.
Other problems facing vineyards are Japanese beetles, birds, and mites. Spraying for mites in April and May before the plants get their leaves is helpful.
“When the grapes are ripe, the birds know it first!” said San Juanita Dwyer, Pierchorowicz’s partner.
They have installed Bird Guard, a sound recording deterrent for birds.
Running a vineyard is a year round business. According to Dwyer, they start pruning in January. They chose “spur pruning” that takes the vines down to about two nodes. By the end of April, beginning of May they are working the vineyard until harvest in September.
“Vineyards are mowed between the rows every week during the grass growing season,” said Dwyer.
There is constant maintenance on the vines – some are too tall, some too short. They need sun, but also the shade of the canopy. Just the right amount of trimming needs to be done to maintain the proper growth. By midsummer, they need to be trimmed again.
“We encourage florists and crafters in the area to come and get our vine clippings,” said Pierchorowicz.
“They’re beautiful long limbs,” added Dwyer.
The process from grapes to wine starts with picking grapes, which are then crushed, pressed, and de-stemmed so the juice can go into the fermentation tank.
For white wine, the picking, crushing, pressing and de-stemming is done the same day. For red wine, they wait a week after picking the grapes to begin the crushing process to get the tannins from the skins. It’s the tannins that give the red wine its red color. The whole process takes about five months to get white wine; a year for red wine.
“Like all the farmers in Bradford County, it’s a gamble,” said Pierchorowicz. “It is farming.”
Pierchorowicz and Dwyer couldn’t do it without help. They hire people from the community to help pick the grapes. That is very timely. When the grapes are ready, they must be picked.
“Time is everything,” said Dwyer.
Once the grapes are ripe, they test the sugar content that is measured in Brix. The higher the Brix, the sweeter the juice, which means less sugar has to be added to the juice.
“Ideally we’d like the Brix to be 21, but the growing season is so short here we usually get between 15 and 18 Brix,” explained Pierchorowicz. “Even with the drier wines sugar has to be added to supplement the fermentation process.”
They have tried different varieties of grapes, and found if the climate wasn’t ideal for a particular type of grape they could buy the juice to supplement their own. According to Pierchorowicz, they don’t add water to the juice.
“Adding water dilutes the flavor of the grape,” said Dwyer. “And we try not to filter the wine any more than we have to. That takes away from the flavor too.”
O’Krogly and his wife Terrie are the official winemakers. Pierchorowicz has been friends with the O’Krogly’s since he moved here.
“I came to help and I’m still here,” said O’Krogly. “We make our wine here from field to glass. It’s all included.”
O’Krogly calls the winery “Troy’s hidden gem.”
So, why did Dave Pierchorowicz name his winery Joe Perry Winery? Pierchorowicz explained that his father, Joseph Pierchorowicz, was drafted in World War II in the medical core. When he was stationed in the South they couldn’t pronounce his last name. They called him “Perry.” Pierchorowicz’s older brother was Joseph Jr. He decided to name the winery in memory of his father and older brother – Joe Perry.
Joe Perry’s Winery first opened for business a year ago when they were set up at the Brew Fest at Alparon Park in September 2019. It was their grand opening.
Joe Perry’s Winery is also open for events.
“We really want to have people’s special events here,” said Pierchorowicz. “We want to touch people’s lives and help give them memories like our Summertime Apple wine.”
They are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., or by appointment.
Joe Perry’s Winery is planning to be at Gardiner’s Orchard for a Farmer’s Market on Oct. 3 and 4. They will also be at the Pumpkin Festival in Canton that same weekend. Pierchorowicz and Dwyer will be at one event. Bob and Terrie O’Krogly will attend the other.
Everyone at Joe Perry’s Winery appreciates the support of the community.
“It’s what’s making us successful,” said Pierchorowicz.
“And what keeps us going is the pride we take in our wines and knowing we’re Troy’s winery,” continued Dave Pierchorowicz. “I want the people of Troy to feel that this is their winery, as like Taverns of old.”
For more information on Joe Perry’s Winery, call (570) 529-2896.