Over the past couple of years, Dan has become enamored with the process of making wine. From reading books and blogs, to volunteering at different wineries, he has really immersed himself in the wine industry. I was joking with a friend the other day that our house is closer to a winery than it is to a Target, which is a great problem to have if you love wine as much as we do.
Last fall, after helping at a local winery for two seasons of harvest, we decided to try to make our own. First we decided to try out blackberry wine. We picked over 50lbs of blackberries from our friend's property. In Oregon, you can find blackberries almost everywhere you look around the end of July, so gathering that many berries didn't take us very long. My only request was that I could stomp the berries myself! Dan happily let me turn purple, and do the manual labor, with his assistance. We had gotten a large food grade plastic barrel from a friend so we dumped all the berries in the barrel and I jumped in to start stomping. (Don't worry, Dan made sure my legs and feet were extra sanitized and clean before I jumped in).
In October, when the grapes were nearly falling off the vines, it was time to pick our Pinot. We found a local vineyard that allowed us to purchase 200lbs of pinot grapes if we agreed to pick them ourselves. Dan, my Dad, and I headed out to the vineyard on a drizzly Saturday morning. It only took us about an hour to pick all of our grapes and sort out the stems and leaves. It was fun to be a part of that piece of the process. So often we taste the final product but don't get to experience each step from the beginning.
Once the grapes had been picked, destemed and we had sorted out all the leaves, we cleaned and pressed them. We then put them into glass carboys, along with some other additives (Dan is the chemist behind the operation) and let them ferment. Dan would check the temperature and levels of the wine frequently to make sure everything was fermenting and aging properly.
Throughout the last year, Dan has tried different samples of the wine, added the necessary chemicals, and added oak to change the flavor. I haven't done much, especially since he's way more educated on the process and necessary steps to take than I am. He's documented each step, and learns more and more. I'm so amazed at his knowledge and passion for winemaking.
Two weekends ago it was time to bottle the wine! It has been sitting in glass carboys to ferment for the past year. It was exciting to get to taste literally the fruits of our labor! We had 3 carboys of Pinot Noir and 2 carboys of the Blackberry Wine. We tasted each container separately and tried different combinations to decide which blend we liked the best. Then it was time to bottle. We ended up with over 9 cases of wine - 6 and a half of Pinot and 3 of Blackberry. The blackberry has to sit about another 3 months and the pinot needs to sit another year. I can't wait to try to finished product!
Have you ever tried to make your own wine or other neat at home recipe?