Home wine making

I love what I do.  Name it, if it is wine related I am working on it.  Amongst those things that I am doing are making small batches of wine with a pair of friends in one of their garages.  Whenever people hear that I am making my own wine they comment how “cool” it is.  Yes, it is cool, but it is not nearly as romantic as people expect it to be.  It is A LOT of hard work!

crusher destemmer

We started our Sunday out early, heading to a wine making shop that sells everything anyone needs to make wine.  We bought most of our equipment last year so this morning we pretty much only needed to pick up the fruit – nice ripe Cali grapes.   We tasted all the varietals they had and ultimately decided on Cabernet Sauvignon (real original, I know) and Sangiovese (the Italian varietal that makes wines such as Chianti or Brunello).  I was a little concerned that the cab might be a little underripe, and sure enough that seems to have been the case.  If I were a real pro I would have brought a refractometer (a cool little telescope looking device used to measure sugar levels) to test the sugar levels in the grapes.  But sadly I did not.  Fear not, the Sangiovese was GREAT – or so I hope.  I guess we’ll either make a super Tuscan like blend (Sangiovese together with the Cab) or come up with some other alternative.  Could be worse…

SO we got back with our newly purchased fruit and started crushing & destemming with a machine that looks like the one above.  Basically, it gently crushes the grapes and removes it from the stems, leaving what is known as “must”.  We measure out some sulfites to add to our “must” and leave it in open containers before adding the yeast.  And then we wait…

So basically, today consisted of lifting heavy crates of grapes. Getting sprayed with grape guts.  All while surrounded by bugs on a grape-sugar-high.  Oh, and a whole lot of cleaning.

The exciting part was actually bottling last years batch.  Last year we made a Zinfandel batch & a merlot batch.  Partly for simplicity sake and partly because it worked, we blended the two batches for a Zin/merlot blend.  And you know what…it is not half bad!  We bottled a whole bunch of it and even put on our fancy labels.  Now I’ve got about 5-6 cases worth of wine I’ll be drinking and giving away for a while.  Now THAT is fun…

Happy home made wine tasting!


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