Monday, September 19, 2016

New Winemaker

I was contacted by a person interested in making wine, and asking how do they start. Here's what I wrote back:

Making wine:
1. How are you at chemistry? If chemistry (and math) are really difficult and not fun, then you won't like winemaking.
2. Are you able to spend over half of your "winemaking" time cleaning and sterilizing things? 
3. Are you OK being alone for long periods?
4. To start, I'd suggest you get a good winemaking book (try several and pick the one that speaks best to you) and treat it as your bible. Mine is "Home Winemaking Step by Step," by Jon Iverson. Read everything you can about the process, online--blogs, articles. And volunteer at a working winery. When you start your own batch, do a small one. Maybe do a kit first, though I never did a kit.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Delicious apples; what a cluster!

This is why some of us farm. Check out this cluster! Not grapes--apples!

Delicious is a great apple, and can be forgiven for its child, Red Delicious, which is an absolute abomination and should be rendered extinct as soon as possible. This cluster is on an 80-year old Delicious apple tree.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

First cider!

Here's a photo of my first batch of cider. I'm making three batches (each from a different set of apple varieties, based on ripening dates), and will blend them together later. This batch is Fameuse (Snow Apple, from Quebec--a "sharp-sweet"), Gravenstein (sweet), and Fiesta (sharp-sweet with wonderful aromatics).

It's dry now, so fermentation is finished. Just racked it. It's tart and tannic now, but lots of aging will even it out. And it has a really nice honey smell.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Epona Vineyard harvest report

Cayuga: My next-to-latest grape (Regent being the latest to ripen); a favorite; hanging at 19.0 Brix and 3.12pH. Flavor is apple-moving to citrus now; a string of warm sunny days coming; I could make a good Riesling style wine with it now, if weather was turning bad, but by waiting I'm hoping for citrus-moving to peaches in the final flavor, when it tastes more like a Viognier. This one has EXCELLENT vinifera flavor emulation. No bird damage yet at all (unnetted, but scarecrows).
Leon Millot (pictured) : Picked 14 lbs per vine this week; sample berries were 24 Brix but the must is 21.5. pH is 3.56; that's not so high that I'm worried--I added 11% white grapes to fix color (same as adding Viognier to Syrah for same reason; it works), and let the ferm reach 88F as you taught me George. In my location, I prefer the big red style (actually tastes a lot like a good Pinot here) to Paul's rose style that is so delicious up on Salt Spring Island. I get nice purple fruits with a hint of woodsiness (not herbaceousness) here. 
Delicatessen: Picked at 21 Brix; pretty high for this variety. Nice fruit. Young plants, so low yield.
Jupiter, NY Muscat, Venus, Monastery Muscat: I make a rose from a blend of these. Jupiter had scraggly clusters (rained during bloom) and I got only 4 lbs per vine. Worse, the clusters shattered (right term?) during picking, so about a quarter of the berries fell to the ground. It reached 23 Brix, though. But if you want a good seedless grape here, why not grow Monastery Muscat? 23Brix and many large pretty clusters of large yellow grapes (13 lbs/vine) with superb flavor, compared to Jupiter's "fairly weak" flavor and Venus' "almost not there at all" flavor. NY Muscat (about 21 Brix) has superb flavor but has one seed per berry here. I should ditch the Venus and Jupiter (sorry, Arkansas) and just use NY Muscat and Monastery Muscat.
Mindon- what I call MIN(nesota 1095) x DON(skoi, which I read is probably the grape called Norway Muscat) is a winner here. David Roy Johnson's grape. 20 lbs from one vine, at 24 Brix. Nice flavor. No bird damage. I blended it into my Leon.
Regent- Sure like its fruit, but it's late here and the birds hit it hard. Only 18 Brix now and I have 33% bird loss already. I should really just give up on it. Makes a nice, full-bodied, Syrah-style wine, though.