Have you even been to Lawton Michigan? If not, you are missing out on some amazing countryside and endless fields of a massive variety of grapes. I visit an old family farm that is the Cronenwett’s.
They primarily supply commercial operations as do most of the growers in the area. If you have grape juice ever, it is very likely you are drinking Michigan grapes!
I really enjoy the “hobby” of collecting points, but another hobby is wine. It is so much fun to tinker and play and see what you can produce with the help of nature.
This year I think I have made my best batch ever. Now I do say that every year, but I really think this is the best batch ever.
I have mixed 1/3 Delaware, a blush grape often used for Champagne, and 2/3rd Foch that is a VERY dark grape many compare to a Pinot Noir.
Other years I have fermented each and crushed each separately, but this time I crushed and fermented them together.
In early testing I am most pleased. Then, after pressing, I cheat a bit. There are number of ways to age your wine. The expensive way is in big oak barrels that are “lightly burned” inside to impart nice vanilla and oak flavors to the wine.
After about a week, primary fermentation is done. I built the above rig, and use a 20 ton press to get all the goodness and color out of the grapes. Then they go into glass. The nice thing about glass is you can use it over and over again. Next, I add a few cups of toasted oak chips. Honestly, the wine does not know the difference. The important part is I like the finished product.
This is about my 5th year and it really is becoming fun to refine the process. The normal questions are always “how much do you make?”. Anyone who makes wine will always tell you “enough” and that is the right answer. I make enough that I can enjoy a glass of “table wine” with dinner now and then for a year or so.
I add NO chemicals to my wine so it needs to be consumed in a year or two after finishing, that is, letting it rest to pick up flavors from the oak chips and to allow the sediment from crushing to settle out to the bottom (that is discarded later).
If you happen to live anywhere near the Southwest Michigan coast there are a number of vineyards in the area that you can visit if you want to see what it is all about. NOW is an amazing time to see fall colors and enjoy some #PureMichigan! For all the flying we do – driving can be amazing this time of year at a slower pace that 500 MPH! – Rene
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