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2013 Vintage- Here we go!

Home / Make / Wine / 2013 Vintage- Here we go!

It wasn’t looking like we’d be making home wine this year; busy with the kids, grapes being expensive, and the fact that we still had tons of bottling to do.  But, as it usually happens, everything came together Friday afternoon… in less than 24 hours we had to be ready  to welcome in over 1,000 pounds of luscious zinfandel grapes.  So the half-sewn Halloween costumes on the dinning room table, the 2 cords of oak sitting in the driveway and the end-of season canning would all have to wait.  It’s time for our family CRUSH!

Early Saturday morning, we drove about 1 1/2 hours to Sebastopol to pick up our 1/2 ton of grapes.  The kids jumped out of the truck and immediately started running down the rows of vines and cramming their mouths with the plump, juicy berries.  The family that owns the small vineyard was having a picking party with friends, and were cracking up at how comfortable the kids were  in the vineyard.  “You can tell these kids were raised in the country!”

Picking Box of Zinfandel

The grapes looked amazing!  The clusters were big, loose and deep purple, mostly well ripened with some raisons and very few red berries.  The seeds were lightly toasted and the sugars were at 25 brix.  They  were planted in the 1920’s and maintained by bootleggers, looks like the 90-year old vines gave us something special.

One of the reasons we can enjoy making wine is because we have close friends that own a winery.  Our friends at The Moore Family Winery are always so generous with their time and equipment, and really a lot of fun to be around.  So a big “THANKS” to them for all their help!

We hauled the grapes up to the winery, which is about 10 minutes from our house, and let them sit over-night in their cave.  They were busy pressing their syrah, so we came back Sunday morning to use their de-stemmer.

Macro-bin full of grapes

Meanwhile, back at home, we had major prep work to do!  We had to bottle about 6 cases of our 2009 Zin, which was still in glass carboys (because we have 2 little kids), clean our equipment, make room in the garage and clear out the carport, which we call our “Crush Pad”.  I also decided to use the grapes the kids had picked to make them juice.  Around 2am we finally fell into bed.

Bottling Home Wine

Bright and early we headed back up to winery to process the grapes.  It takes about 10 minutes to run a macro-bin full of grapes through the de-stemmer.  One year we de-stemmed 300 pounds by hand and it took over 24 hours.  So, yes, friends with wineries are awesome!

De-stemming the grapes De-stemmed grapes

Primary Fermentation Begins

After letting the grapes “cold soak” in the macro bin for 12 hours, we moved them to our fermentation cans and inoculated them with yeast.  The next afternoon we bled off about 16 gallons of juice (no skins) to make a rose` for drinking next summer, this will also concentrate the juices that are soaking on the skins.

Fermenting Grapes at Home

For the next 7-10 days we will “press the cap down” 3 times a day.  The skins and seeds rise to the top of the juice, forming a cap.  We push it down and stir it around to make sure that everything is mingling nicely.  This process is over when the sugars are gone and have been converted to alcohol.

The plan for the rose` is to let the juice sit and ferment until the sugars are gone, making it a “dry” white wine.  We’ll let it rest in glass, rack it a few times (syphon it off the sediments) and let it clarify.  It should be done in the spring.

So, yes, we’re busy babysitting the wine now.  Next week is Halloween, and we should be ready to press!

Take a peek into my world of Eating, Gardening, Making and Mothering, authentically and with meaning. Thanks for visiting!
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