Winemaking is an age-old art that probably started by accident, like the discovery of penicillin. Someone’s storage of grapes went “bad”, only it turned out not to be so bad after all.
The basic process is still the same. Yeast consumes sugar and converts it to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. You can ferment anything with sugars. If you ferment carrots you’ll end up with a drink with alcohol that tastes somewhat like carrot juice. Grapes are the chosen fruit because they produce one of the most pleasing drinks that contains alcohol.
You can make wine at home, usually in your basement, starting from juice or grapes. Crushing grapes is an art of it’s own, because variables like seeds, stems and leaves, crushing pressure and contact time with the skins, all affect the final outcome in different ways. Fortunately the companies that produce juice for fermenting have vintners who can take care of all those details, and starting from juice can be a lot simpler. The vintners also take the guesswork out of balancing the juice for things like pH, alkalinity and brix, to produce a consistent wine each batch. The wine kits of today have come a long way from the “ozzo” the neighbor used to strip paint and serve to guests.
With the addition of the Ferment on Premise wineries several years ago, it’s become even easier to make your own wine. The hardest part tends to be choosing from the many varieties available and the quality level you’re looking for. Once the decision has been made, the proprietor will help mix the ingredients into a carboy to initiate the fermentation. Your next job is to come back in 4 to 6 weeks and bottle the finished product; the proprietor will take care of all the intermediate steps. Starting a kit takes 5 or 10 minutes and bottling is usually around a half-hour. You can even get custom labels to say “Smith Estate Wines”. Throw up a grapevine in the back yard and tell your friends about your private winery.
Blog provided by: Ray Vezeau, owner of Chateau Vezeau Wines, a ferment on premises winemaking facility in Brooklin. www.ChateauVezeauWines.com