Be careful what you wish for. You hear it all the time. In my case, it was winning a winemaking contest that fostered in me the delusion that I was actually good at a hobby that has consumed the last 15 years. And with the hobby come dozens of choices. Let’s look at a couple:
Natural wine? Wild fermentation? These may not be what you think. There is a certain romance in letting the Universe choose the yeast that will convert the sugar in your grape juice or grapes into alcohol. I coul
The old business adage is true. If you have experience, you make good decisions. How do you get experience? By making bad decisions.
We’ve adopted some steps that many home winemakers avoid in response to problems.
Most of the time we bottle wine without incident but from time to time, the wine that seemed perfectly clear will throw a sediment a month or so later. Now we rack from carboys into gallon jugs and rack five bottles at a time as I need them. Since I make wine at least twic
Maybe this is the year to try local grapes?
You can make some new friends and possibly help out your neighbors if you are willing to take a look at grapes that grow in your area.
We get grapes from all over: Chile, Argentina and South Africa in the late spring and Europe, California and the Finger Lakes in the fall. There are so many choices, you can feel like a kid in a candy store. To be completely candid, although the grapes have been to some exotic places, I get them through a dist
My ability to make wine at home is not a central issue in our current times just as this blog post is neither “Journal of the Plague Year” or “Love in the Time of Cholera.”
It did make me realize how closely related are my excitement about making wine and the social activity around it. Often, I will rack and bottle wine by myself, but I almost always have company for crushing and pressing and there is usually a crowd around and a meal. The first wine I made, from a kit if I remember cor
Don’t be discouraged by a bad batch of wine.
As an amateur winemaker, I may have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.
My first wine was from juice fermented in the same 6-gallon bucket it came in. A little yeast, a new lid with an airlock and winemaking was underway. It was palatable and red and dry and alcoholic but not outstanding. Then I discovered that the local Homebrew Emporium carried Winexpert kits that made a very drinkable Chardonnay and it extended my
"Lucy, I'm home!" Ricky Ricardo used to call to his wife on the show, "I Love Lucy." Few younger folk remember that show from the 50's but they remember Lucille Ball stomping grapes. Many people have grape stomping on their bucket lists. My winemaking partner Lucas and I produce a public grape stomping at the Hill at Muza a beer garden in Troy, NY once a year.
Just as the winemaking hobby takes on a life of its own and threatens to grow to absurd dimensions so has this event. This has gr
Barrels make good servants but poor masters. Several times over the last ten years of winemaking, the size and availability of barrels influenced my winemaking decisions. When I empty a barrel, I rinse it and fill it with a new batch of wine. I make extra just to make sure there isn't an empty barrel. Not everyone I know agrees.
Wayne is one of the best home winemakers I know. He and I met with a group of Old World style winemakers and one of them advised his colleagues to empty the bar
Once you're comfortable with your ability as a home winemaker, consider contacting wineries and tasting rooms before you visit. Nobody appreciates how much effort winemaking can be more than another winemaker. If they know you'll be coming, you may get tours, barrel tastings and offers not available to tourists. In return, the commercial vintner gets a knowledgeable customer who can talk the language. A year or so ago, a winemaker in Paso Robles invited a couple of us to go behind the tasting
My wife and I have been fortunate to make some award winning wines from a variety of sources (upstate New York, California and Chile) and we enjoy traveling to winemaking regions to talk with professional winemakers. We've found them to be very gracious and generous with their time, wine and advice. So far, we have been to Bordeaux, Champagne, Provence and Lanquedoc in France; Tuscany, Umbria and Campania in Italy and Sonoma, Paso Robles, Napa and (our new favorite) Suisun Valley in California