I love wine tasting. I love going to vineyards when I travel. I love experimenting with different ages and flavors and varieties. It is amazing how a wine can be dry to savory to super sweet like candy that is a dessert wine. Really the flavor profiles and hints of whatever can be endless and that is a big part of what, to me, makes wine fun – so many choices and options.
I also love Midwest living and reasonable prices and no traffic (unless I visit Chicago). I also love that there are so many varieties of grapes grown in South West lower Michigan. The sandy soil there and air off the lake is perfect for happy grapes.
I visit a farmer in Lawton Michigan each year and get my order for my own home made wine.
He has a number of varieties I can pick from and it is just so much fun to browse fields for a bit before I pickup my order.
I favor reds. That is the skin since the pulp inside is about the same on all the grapes.
My blend is a mix of Foch and Delaware. The first many compare to a Pinot Noir and the next is a blush grape that is often used for Champagne. I use the two with a 65-35% mix to soften my final product.
If you are a wine enthusiast you need to visit the fields at harvest time. The smells are just amazing and views of rolling hills and vines takes your breath away. That and the views around the farm are just fun to take in.
We like to do all the steps ourselves. We begin with grinding the grapes with an Italian made crusher that is run by a small motor. While the crushed mash may not look that appealing it is pure delight for the yeast we add (I add vs using the natural yeasts for better control and final product).
After about a week of primary fermentation it is time to press my little happy friends and discard the skin and seeds.
I also built my own press out of 4x4s and an oak cage to allow the juice to flow but also an opening on the retaining bands to dump the pressed pulp. Not the most glorious contraption but it functions well and has served me for a number of years as you can see by the staining on the wood.
Anyway we have now put our wine to “bed” in the basement to slumber for a number of months. This allows any tiny particulate matter to settle to the bottom before we draw off the top 95% or so for bottling. I am also trying something new this year. I do not use expensive oak barrels to age my wine but use glass. To add the rich flavors of charred oak I use wood chips (the wine does not know the difference). I have recently discovered the joy of wine aged in bourbon barrels. So, to that end, I have soaked my French oak chips in Woodford Reserve. It will be fun to see what flavor profiles it yields in a while.
Have you ever made wine before or taken a class or anything similar? I would love to know! – René