What were you doing in 1973? Pulling on your high-waisted bell bottoms and heading to the disco to dance to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA or “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees?” Well, many were doing that but some were also busy organizing a Sacramento, California-based home winemaking club that was to become known as the Sacramento Home Winemakers. Early members dedicated themselves to sharing their knowledge and resources of home winemaking in the greater Sacramento area.
The Sacramento Home Winemakers (SHW) is the oldest continuously operating home winemaking club west of the Rocky Mountains. We maintain 150–175 members hailing not only from the Sacramento area but also the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sierra Nevada Foothills, the San Joaquin Valley, and even as far as neighboring states.
The club’s mission is educational — promoting the art and science of home winemaking. The club meets monthly for educational programs and member wine evaluations, but also organizes more intensive workshops around member interests: Vineyard management, sensory education, blending workshops, commercial winery educational tours, and most important, new home winemaker orientation and education. Our Winemaking 101 class is offered annually in the late summer.
Being winemakers means being a part of a niche of folks, so while it may be winemaking that brought us all together, it was the friendships that have formed that keeps us such a tight-knit community. SHW organizes social activities such as our annual Jubilee Picnic, our holiday party, and also a harvest dinner. For many years, SHW organized the California State Fair Home Wine Competition. This year, we were asked to step up to restart the competition after a three-year hiatus. We answered the call and as a result of our efforts, over 780 wines from California home winemakers were judged and celebrated.
During the COVID-19 years, after our initial shock, we regrouped and offered Zoom-based monthly meetings, wine evaluations, and even a virtual holiday party. We also continued to organize group crushes, but this time safely distancing from each as best we could.
Making wine at home is our passion, but helping members make excellent home wine is our mission. In recognition of our 50th anniversary one of our members, James Lane, created our commemorative poster.
We think the poster below says all it needs to about SWH: Making handcrafted wine at home, each telling our own story through our wine as it makes its journey from vineyard, to press, and finally, flowing into the glasses of those we love. Please raise your own glasses to another 50 years of the Sacramento Home Winemakers and the future winemakers we will help find the passion!