August 10, 2009

Homemade Wine - Why I Do It


Some of you were intrigued by my Savannah*Haven site - and the fact that I make my own wine. So I thought I'd start a series of posts since it's getting to be the time of year that I'll be pulling apples off the tree to make my specialty Apple Wine that has people clamoring for more each year, as well as the grapes that will start to become ripe within the next month or so. I'll be posting wine recipes and taking pictures of the step-by-step process so if anyone decides they'd like to try their hand at it, they can. I figured I'd start off with sort of an explanation as to why I make my own wine - well, besides it being fun and good to drink.

I didn't start off making wine in the beginning - I was big into making all jams and jellies...my mom taught me, as she used to make jam every year and let us 'help' as kids. Sure, more of the fruit went into our bellies than they did the recipes, but luckily there was plenty to spare. And we had fun. Jam making is so time consuming (and gets really hot standing in front of the stove for extended periods of time) that I now just do very limited batches of the jams and jellies.

The wine is easy to make - 'easy' being a relative word - at least easier than jams and jellies...so I've been using whatever fresh fruits I get my hands on to make wine with - and growing more fruits to do that with, too. Like my 5-on-1 apple tree, my fruit cocktail tree, my cherry trees and hedges and a plethora of new grape vines.

At some point, when we sell this house and move someplace else (final destination to be determined - blueviolet votes for Michigan), I'm going to have a dedicated outbuilding for my wine and jam making so I don't have to keep putting everything away in between each step of the process then taking it all out again for the next step... I also plan to plant a small orchard and vineyard. It will be a larger scale than what I've done here - this is my experimentation phase with various plants, vines and trees...then I'll know what works and what doesn't and only plant what works. Eventually I'll have my own little wine shop with homemade wine, jam and gift baskets...that's my ultimate goal.

I still have not yet had a chance to bottle the Blackberry Merlot that some of you are patiently waiting for - I know, I know, I'm hearing a collective gasp throughout blogland...if I don't get a chance to do that before school starts, that's at the top of my list during the first week of School. I'm looking forward to the Princess Nagger actually being in school 'all day' vs. last year being 1/2 day Kindergarten. I'm sure she's not looking forward to it like I am...

I currently have four 6 gallon carboys lined up next to my side board in my dining room... normally right around Thanksgiving I've moved them down to the basement, but I had a major sinus infection right around that time, so lugging those heavy things down a set of steep and narrow staircase didn't sit well with me...and then I just never did. But since I now need to bottle the carboys and rack the rest, I saved a step lugging them up the stairs...

Once the Blackberry Merlot is bottled, that will free up an extra carboy so I'll be able to start the batch of cherry wine I've been meaning to do - we received some awesome cherries from a guy that works with my hubby - I looked up on line how you can 'store' them to use them later...so they've been in the basement freezer packed in sugar...it's going to make an incredible dessert wine. Princess Nagger has been dipping into the frozen cherry stash every so often (they're actually really good eating them frozen coated with sugar like that) so I'll probably only get about 3 gallons of wine out of them...but that will still be about 15 bottled bottles...unless I go with the 375 ml (half bottles) instead...haven't decided yet, but won't have to think about that part until it's ready to bottle, which can take up to 6 months.

I have accumulated all the necessary equipment to 'do it right' (the image reflects only a portion - but a good 'starter kit' for anyone wanting to make their own wine). My very first attempt with the grapes from our grape vine about 4 years ago turned into vinegar...so I've been doing a lot of research and reading online and with books and magazines - so this past Fall's Apple wine and Concord wine turned out the absolute best yet. Which means each time it will only get better and better. I planted additional grape vines over the last couple of years - some interesting varieties that will make some awesome wine.

I'll also turn some of the wine into wine jelly - I did a Shiraz wine jelly last year that every one raved about - my FIL polished his gift jar off in a matter of days and kept asking for more. Everyone has been clamoring for the apple wine again - I have no idea what kind of apples are on this old apple tree out back, but it sure makes some awesome wine - I'll probably see if I can start some seedlings from the apple seeds and reproduce that tree for the future. Should be an interesting experiment.

So there you have it - a rather long explanation of why I make my own wine. Short version? Because I can. ;)

35 Random Sassy Comments:

Laoch of Chicago said...

This is very cool. Thanks for considering doing a series about how you do this.

cherie said...

wow, stacy, all that talent!!! you ought to put up your own business! very admirable!!!

theselfloveproject said...

totslly awsome..

hey your blogversary is coming in less than a month...we want a party..

blueviolet said...

I like how you've chosen to make all these different fruity variations. That sets you apart! I can just picture you with your cute little shop. That fits in so perfectly here in MICHIGAN!

otin said...

Can you mail wine??? I like wine!!!! Hint Hint :)

Tami said...

You need to open up a winery! We only have 1 here in LA. Come'on OVER!

mo.stoneskin said...

But where's my Rioja?

I would love to retire and make wine. It would be ideal!

Angel said...

I have actually been considering learning how to do this. I love wine lol and I think it would be fun to make my own. (bytheway if you do mail wine, I'll take some!!) Good luck with the dream and thanks for offering to show us too!

Kitten said...

This looks like a lot of work, but also very fulfilling.

And if you're looking for a state where the soil adores growing grapes, may I suggest our fair state of CONNECTICUT? You could be featured on the Connecticut Wine Trail!

Grant said...

I once embarked on the winemaking journey. I bought a kit, made a Merlot that tasted like grape battery acid, then a storm toppled a tree onto my house and the kit / wine was destroyed. Now I drink beer.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Is there anything you can't do? Hmmmm.....

Well, you have more patience than me. I couldn't wait around for all that stuff and do all the stuff and "stuff" is my word for today.

Speaking of "stuff" ... remember how you put up about stores already decorating for Halloween? I walked into our local craft store the other day and .... they had all the Halloween stuff up already!

Mango Girl said...

I'm with otin!

You really make this sound fairly easy. Since I have made jams and jellies and you swear the wine is easier, I may try to do that...one of these days!

I look forward to further posts about your adventures with the vineyard...

Candie Bracci said...

wow,this is so great Stacy!
Have a nice day :)

rxBambi said...

Sooooo.... What kind of hoops do we jump thru to get some of that there wine?? Send gifts? Money? Prizes? Trades? I'll do it! Just let me know! I'd love to try some!

Chic Mama said...

oooh, that sounds interesting, I might try making some.

I've tagged you at mine in a tag of 8's.

Medora said...

I grew up stomping grapes with my brother and cousins to help my grandparents make wine - itchy itchy feet for weeks afterwards! I don't drink the stuff but I love the smells and colors.

Hit 40 said...

I was wondering what happened to the blackberry wine? I didn't want to bother you :-) Glad to hear that I might still be able to buy a bottle.

Please put me down for a bottle of the apple if there is some left still. You can mail both at the same time if it is easier for you.

Yummy!!!

Brooke said...

How cool! My favorite is muscodine wine.

Kathy B! said...

I'd love it if you'd do a series about this! How amazing!!

I bet you make awesome labels, too :)

Megan said...

This is so cool!! LOVE IT!! I will definitely be getting some. My mouth is watering thinking about it. LOL

Firefly@www.firefly-shop.org said...

That is really cool :)

buffalodick said...

Whoda thunk? A wino mommy? Just kiddin', dear.. I made wine for years, until animals and children(same catagory) came along... It is a great hobby, and the quality is far above commercial, if it comes out well! Good luck, and the only advice is to let some of it age, if the alcohol content is high enough for it to keep..

Otin said...

Stacy, I just noticed as I came here through your profile, that you like Historical Cookbooks? What is a historical cookbook, dare I ask? LOL!

Mimi said...

We do have a great grape growing region here in Michigan.

Native American Momma said...

Oregon has a good berry, grape and apple growing season too :)

Martha in PA said...

Very interesting... thanks for sharing, I will leave the making to you, and the drinking to me....

Captain Dumbass said...

What??? Wine jelly? MUST. HAVE.

otin said...

Send me wine! Send me wine! Send Me wine! C'mon everyone lets start a chant!!!!!!!!!

Casey said...

Your wine materials look what I would imagine a meth lab would look like. I watch too much TV.

Julie@Momspective said...

I think I'm going to start a series of posts about how I'm going to be hanging out at your house with my glass out :)

Stacy said...

You make wine!!?? We make wine on our own sometimes too! Although only from kits but hey...
It's so fun and gratifying!

JamericanSpice said...

At the orphanage we would make jams and jellies to sell to the local people. It was good. I think I'd love to do that again.

And making wine...quite interesting....I don't have a taste for it but wished I did. I feel its an acquired taste.

Do you have like taste parties etc?

Justine said...

It actually looks like a hell of a lot of work to me girl! But, I bet it's worth it in the end.

I'd love to see pictures of all your fruit bearing trees and plants!
Justine :o )

UPrinting said...

You've really got the talent and passion for wine-making, it's evident in your posts! Jams and jellies aren't that bad too :) The wine making sounds like a lot of work, but I'll definitely look forward to your series of posts about this, it's certainly very interesting! Thanks!

LT said...

Yea! I am so glad you are going to do a series on wine making. I find it facinating and will look forward to your posts!!