I feel very lucky that I live where I do. Within a time span of 15-45 minutes I can be in a vineyard, apple or peach orchard, or at a local farm purchasing some of the best meats, produce, cheeses, jams… well, the list goes on and on! Oh, and our breweries! Can’t forget them either. Some of the best craft breweries in the country are at our doorstep. This is why I love living in the Midwest, and Northwest Indiana in particular. Well, it is one of the reasons. It could also be because of the beautiful woods that I look out on from our window, or majestic Lake Michigan which is 5 minutes away from our house.
Today I’m focusing on wine and grapes because I have made the leap into home winemaking. I’ve made wine from a kit , which means they send you the juice and the yeast, and you stick it in a glass carboy until it ferments. The Pinot Noir that I made is very good. But frankly, it didn’t seem like I really had to do anything at all other than sterilize some equipment, take a few readings, and wait. I wanted to be more hands on with the process, and since I live so close to so many wineries I figured I could buy grapes and do it myself.
Little did I know the investment I would have to make to start this project. I posted earlier about the wine-press that I bought. I love the look of it and would probably have one just to sit in a corner of my kitchen as decor. Yeah, I’m that weird. But of course, that’s not the only piece of equipment needed. I also had to buy a crusher/destemmer. The “crusher” part is a bit of a misnomer. It doesn’t really crush the grapes, but breaks them open to get the juices running. The destemming part is exactly what it says. It removes the stems from the fruit and drops them in a container for tossing away. I’ll let you know in a few weeks how seamless the process is when I pick up the grapes from the vineyard and actually use the equipment! Of course, if I didn’t want to spend the cash on the crusher, I could have done it the “I Love Lucy” way with a big vat and bare feet! Trust me, many friends have forwarded that clip to me on YouTube!
The Dude and I try to check out the tasting rooms at the wineries in Southwest Michigan when we can. Baroda, Michigan is a gold mine of vineyards and I highly recommend a trip up there to see everything that Michigan wines have to offer.
A few weeks ago we stumbled upon Gravity winery. I love this place! We pulled up to the tasting room where their dog Ollie greeted us. The best part about Gravity is that they paired cheeses and chocolates with their wine samples. And the samples were generous too. They have four reds and four whites available for tasting, so the Dude and I got both and shared.
It was a great day sampling some really terrific wines, and I love that it is all right in my backyard! Come on up to Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan. You’ll eat AND drink well!
Stay tuned next weekend when I’ll be featuring naturally raised pork without antibiotics from Jake’s Country Meats! It’s a great family run operation out of Cassopolis, Michigan.