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truly wish this title referred to my Fermtech wine thief, but alas I truly did
have a thief burgle our home. Someone
valued my attempts at wine making, as we came home to find a ransacked house
and 6 bottles of the 21 that were produced from the kit stolen(as seen by the
empty rack above). I was happy to
see our few very pricey selections in the wine fridge left untouched. Sadly, they made off with much bigger
loot in the form of laptops (including mine with all of my notes and pictures),
cameras (one had the pictures of my efforts and all the bottles) and other
valuables. This has been a bit of
a set back with the blog, many apologies for the lapse but time was needed to
get things sorted, shore up the house, and replace equipment. When last I wrote, I was battling fruit
flies and still a couple made their way into the airlock on the second
day. In the meantime, much has been
going on with the grape growing side of things too. Going back in time now, I will touch on the highlights of my
wine making as I recall (my notes are with my burgled 6 bottles). In future posts, I will detail the new
vines which have already sprouted; the white clover taking hold as my living
mulch; and, on the dark side, troubling signs with two of my three Zinfandel
My wife and I hosted a social recently, bringing together
some of both of our wine AND beer loving friends, that created some
conversation about the differences in the two types of people.
Stereotypes often exist for a reason, but some stereotypes
are held more out of tradition or habit rather than actual experience.
So what are some of the stereotypes tossed around about wine
Are snobby & pretentious
With a month or less to go before the 2012 WineMaker Magazine
Conference in Ithaca, NY I’m continuing to take the opportunity to share my
experiences with the regions’ wine and people. For any conference-goers reading,
make sure you tuck the following tidbit away. The best wines that I have had
from the region are the aromatic whites, with Riesling and Gewurztraminer
leading the way, but there are quite a few additional styles that offer worthy
libations. Amongst the other whites (a topic I
wrote about in September 2011) you will find Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and a
healthy assortment of hybrid or native grapes like Seyval, Vidal Blanc,
Vignoles and Cayuga. You will also find blends of any and all; as well as
several producers making sparkling styles from different grapes too. You don’t
have to take my word for it, but if you are looking to explore, doing so will
ensure you have fun.
Lakes Wine Alliance is hosting a virtual tasting series this year. Each
event combines live Q&A to winemakers, with questions fielded from the
organizers and social media channels and online networking amongst members of
the media, including myself, who would also be tasting and discussing the wines
selected for the event. I recently signed up for the tasting of non-Riesling
whites from the region.
In a pre-event
post I shared my preparation for food pairings with the wines I had been
provided with for the event. I had tasted several of the wines previously, five
of eight actually, on trips in 2011 and 2012, but with a new-to-me Chardonnay, a
second tasting of a Pinot Blanc, another vintage of Gruner and a flight of
Gewurztraminers I was sure to provide a range of flavors to study and quite a
few different pairing options. After I setup our snacks I took a picture to
share, and then I dug in!
Before embarking on my forays into kit winemaking there are
a few things to update. First off,
I was able to confirm that, despite my confusion over a 25 vine limit in their
FAQ, Vintage Nurseries
doing me a special favor by sending me two vines, but they indeed will supply
anyone from 1 to 100 vines via their website
. Buying in small quantities isn’t cheap
with shipping but there aren’t many alternatives. The rootstock order is in, so I will report on the
experience and the rootstock when they arrive and are planted. For clarification, I have received no
discounts or incentives for any of the services or items I have referred to in
any of my posts. If I am ever so
lucky and any incentive or gift is received I will be sure to disclose that.
While my focus is inside with winemaking, the vines have
been enthusiastic breaking their buds, with new shoots just beginning their stretch upward toward the
top wire. There is a concern with
one vine which has shoots forming on one cordon but only one small bud just
breaking through on the other.
Plenty of time to cover the vineyard in the coming months,
so now back to the winemaking.
Primary Fermentation (Part Two): As hinted in the last post, and evidenced by the
picture, I had some issues with an overly enthusiastic fermentation. The first day everything seemed to be
going well but after 24 hours I noticed the bubbles were heading up to the
airlock. There are differing
opinions on whether an airlock is necessary or not at this stage; my kit said
to use and airlock so I did. As I watched that next night, the bubbles were
pushing into the airlock. I
decided, to remove the airlock and cover the opening of the carboy with a
glass. I noticed a couple of fruit
flies flitting about, to keep them out, I used a paper towel as a breathable
seal (as seen in the picture above).
It did the trick for that evening, the next day when the foam production
slowed down I was able to go back to the airlock, as I was afraid a fruit fly
would make its way through the folds of the paper towel into the wine. Seems my fears were warranted, the next
day there were two flies floating in the fluid in the airlock. The flies were problematic. I opened a bottle of wine and came back
in about 20 minutes to pour a glass, only to find seven fruit flies that flew
into the bottle now floating in my glass.
I figured perhaps that is a good way to exterminate them so left a small
amount of wine in a bottle and left it on the counter, three days later; I had
a wine bottle with lots of dead fruit flies floating about, sad to lose the bit
of wine but worth it to lose all the flies.
Having settled in after my foray into a snowy Middle East, my
whole urban vining effort is in full swing again with the fermenting of my kit,
the order of my replacement vine, the decision to switch from wood mulch to
living mulch, and the emergence of this year’s new growth. I will cover all these things in future
posts but for today I will focus on my wine making efforts and the primary
fermenting of my first batch.
Primary Fermentation (Part One): With all the excuses of missing gear removed it
was time and yet I still found myself hesitating to start the kit. With everything I read, there was the
constant emphasis on sanitizing everything and I was starting to overthink
things. I was seeing the threat of
bacteria everywhere and trying to figure out how to ensure that everything was
sanitized and avoid inadvertently touching equipment or setting it on something
that would soil things. There are
a variety of sanitizing and cleaning agents out there. I opted for PBW for cleaning and
Potassium Metabisulphite (Kmeta) for sanitizing. So off I went cleaning and sanitizing the carboy,
thermowell, stirring spoon, and airlock (more on this in a future post) to be
used for the primary fermentation.
Then the questions arose, did I need to wait until
everything dried completely? If I
did wasn’t it likely that items could get contaminated after it dried? In the end I left the bits in the
solution and after sloshing a gallon of solution around in the carboy, stopping
it up and letting it sit for about 20 minutes, I turned the carboy over and let
it drip and air dry as much as it would for an hour.
With everything sanitized, I poured the juice in the carboy,
added bentonite and mixed well and now a new set of questions, this time about
water. Should I use tap
water? In San Diego you can taste
a bit of chlorine in the water. Or, should I use filtered water from our
pitcher water filter? Would that
introduce contamination from the picture itself? Ultimately, I settled on the advice that if you taste
something in your tap, then it will be in your wine. I opted to sanitize the
filter pitcher and use filtered tap.
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