I’m excited, as you can tell by the title and exclamation point. Today, we’re making wine. The Dude and I purchased 150 pounds of grapes from a local winery – Lemon Creek – near Baroda, Michigan. We’ll be making a red table wine from Chancellor grapes which is a hybrid of French origin. During the next few weeks I’ll be bringing you details on the process. One thing about making wine – you need patience. What I’ll be making this season won’t be ready to drink until next fall. Good thing we have The Dude’s beer to hold us over until then!
So, come with me as we head up to Baroda, MI to get the grapes and commence to crushing!
We arrived at Lemon Creek Winery around 10 AM right when they opened. We were met by their dog. It seems like every winery has a dog. Yet another reason I love wine!
I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure just what 150 pounds of grapes would look like. I’m so used to picking up a bag of grapes at the market that I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around 150 pounds. Turns out, it looks like this…
Of course, we hopped in the car and had to taste them. How can I describe them? Warm, sweet, juicy…. ah, a yummy grape that I hope will make an equally yummy wine. And the smell in the car? Dio mio! I had a smile on my face all the way home.
So, the process for starting the wine is pretty simple. Clean your equipment and buckets, crush the grapes, test them for proper sugar levels, pitch the yeast, put in a dark temperate place and toss a sheet over the buckets. Then wait for fermentation.
The process really didn’t take long at all. The crusher/destemmer made short work of 150 pounds of grapes. We were done with everything in about 3 hours from start to finish. Not bad!
The crushed grape mixture, which is called “must,” is loaded into open fermenting buckets. We ended up with about 16 gallons of must. I hydrated the yeast and poured it over the top of the must and stirred it all up.
Now, it’s all about waiting. Within the next 10-14 days, once the juice has taken on all the color and tannins in the skin, then I’ll run it through the wine press. So stay tuned for the next step!