September 23, 2008

Wine Cellar Needed!

I bottled the Reisling last Wednesday. A very easy task using a hand corker and some traditional corks. The kit was supposed to yield (30) 750 mL bottles, but I only ended up with 21. Apparently I did more tasting than I'd realized. The wine is a bit cloudy, but I feel as though given my resources and expertise, I did the best possible. It is an extremely dry wine right now - hoping that it becomes less harsh with time.

The bottles are stacked away in their original boxes awaiting the move to the new home, where I will hopefully someday soon be able to construct a wine rack for me planned collection of home-grown wines.

What a joyful venture!

August 21, 2008

Faster than a speeding bullet!

So my wine fermented too fast. Not sure why. I guess the yeast were just REALLY happy and they got the alcohol created in record time. I'm thinking it had something to do with the temperature. It was typically about 72 degrees in there, but I noticed that it fluctuated above 75 occasionally. Still, to finish fermenting a week and a half early is rather unusual. Hopefully the absence of an airlock during those last few primary fermentation days (when it should been in secondary mode) won't cause issues. We shall see.

It looks as though I'll be bottling next week sometime. I've been routinely stirring to remove CO2 and I'll add the fining agent tonight. Bottles should be on their way today.

August 12, 2008

The Wine Instruction Free for All

So I got these explicit directions with my wine kit. Seriously. Remember those tests in elementary school where you had to follow directions in order and you were told to read everything before you started? It is a bit like that. So simple yet so complicated all at the same time.

I read them, follow step one and get my wine happily fermenting. Then I keep reading other material. Don't add bentonite until after secondary fermentation, don't use an air lock during primary fermenting, don't stir the must! And of course my directions are the complete opposite. So maybe there's not so much mystery to this. Apparently there is more than one way to skin this cat (or ferment those grapes in this case).

It's rather like an adult science fair...

I set my Johannisberg Reisling to fermenting on Saturday amidst two little kids pulling at my legs. By Monday morning, the primary fermenter was hissing and bubbling happily away. It is rather smelly in that pleasant "Hey, I'm making my own alcohol so why should I care" kind of way. And to put your nose over it and catch a whiff, you can almost taste the alcohol being created. This is so cool!

This is a wine kit that I am using, so the directions are rather foolproof. I'm anxious to proceed with using fresh produce to create a vintage, as there is a great deal of chemistry and science involved. True, you can just follow a recipe, but I am eager to learn about what a good wine's chemistry profile looks like and how to go about creating my own recipes based on knowing the must's composition.

It's like high school chemistry class all over again. Except this time, the reward is in the product!

August 7, 2008

Riesling anyone?

Progress has been made. I have done a bit of research, laid my hands on an E.C. Kraus catalog and took the plunge to buy a winemaking kit. Johannisberg Riesling is it. I've had the supplies for about a week now, but time has not been widely available around the house due to the twins and the husband's long hours. I was excited to get it started on my day off yesterday, only to discover that I did not have enough bottled water and I wasn't going to drive 40 miles just for more water (just to note - you don't drink the water in these parts - unless you like sitting on the toilet). I suppose I could have used the remaining 5 gallon jug of water for wine-making and Kevin and I could have drank beer to quench our thirst. Hmmm...why didn't I think of that last night. My wine could have been happily fermenting today.

Perhaps Sunday will be the day.

I also need to make some decisions on what type of vines I shall plant and where they will be planted. I am so good at procrastination, but the dream is not dying.

Anybody know how to navigate winery laws? Perhaps there are so few in Montana because the regulations are so cryptic.

June 3, 2008

They DO grow here!

A little research last night has led me to believe that I will get grapes to grow here. There are several varieties that are adaptable to a Zone 3 growing area, which is where I exist. Minnesota and other northern universities have also been working on developing varieties that can create a respectable wine. It seems that my biggest problem will be getting the fruit to ripen before frost hits. Oh, and alkaline soils, drought, high heat, disease, pests, deer, lack of quality water, etc. may rear their ugly head. But we shall move on, undaunted!

Other people seem to have had this same dream. Rist Canyon Vineyards consists of this guy on the Colorado Front Range who has begun experimentation with different varieties of grapes and the use of sodium alginate to prevent early bloom. This is interesting to me and he may be worth checking out. Wish I had money to start my own private "research vineyard." Someday. Someday.

I'll also attempt to try other fruit varietals with other species. Chokecherry, buffaloberry, plum and raspberry all seem to do respectably well around here. And I've never heard of pumpkin wine until this past week. That sounds yummy.

So much to do, so many questions. The quest continues.

May 30, 2008

The Impossible Dream

I had a thought yesterday. I'm going to make wine and the whole world needs to know about the journey. To sum it up, I pretty much live in the desert and the arctic all at the same time. Eastern Montana is not know for its grape production capabilities. Actually it's not known for production of anything at all besides wheat and cows. My hopes of having a roadside fruit and veggie stand have been crushed (can't sell much when only two cars a day pass you by), so we'll make wine. And you -- the public -- will be able to follow my journey. Enjoy.