Return to the Vineyard

By , December 29, 2011

To the many wonderful, comforting, homey sounds coming from our cabin this holiday season, we’ve added one more: the quiet, bubbling click of an airlock.

Despite several disappointing attempts, we’ve begun making wine again. And, like last time, I’m highly optimistic. Hopefully, this time optimism is more justified. I’ve reviewed all the information at hand, and narrowed it down to a basic plan of action that is similar to what we’ve done before, with a few notable exceptions.

homemade wine

High tech wine making: food grade plastic jug, must in an old knee-high nylon (all properly sterilized, of course!) and the next batch's yeast on the left (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

For one thing, I’m working in one gallon batches, rather than the five or more of past efforts. It’ll mean more work, but it’ll prevent large quantities of wine needing alternate treatments. It’ll make racking, siphoning the new wine off of the waste and yeast, less of a trial as well.

I’m also shortening the time allowed for each stage. Our preference for natural processes have led us to too many sources that offer rather esoteric advice, speaking of the winemaking timeline in terms of seasonal changes, the coming of the first frost, and the like. That’s all well and good, poetic and holistic, but not real helpful to the neophyte wine maker. This time around, I’ve preplanned the number of days allowed for each step. Even if I don’t adhere to it strictly, I’ll move to the next step a lot sooner and more decisively than before. This will hopefully help us avoid some of the pitfalls we’ve faced before.

To facilitate that, I’ve begun an actual wine diary, a spiral notebook in which I record what I’ve done, when. Not only will this keep me on track, it’ll provide a record to follow the next time, if we happen to do it right this time.

My brother, Dave, and his wife, Anke have been making wine while land based this winter in a caretaking job. They inspired me to give it another try. After all, Dave makes it sound like fun! If our lifestyle appeals to you, be sure to check out Dave’s new blog, Triloboat Talk. They do what we do, on the water.

2 Responses to “Return to the Vineyard”

  1. michelle says:

    Just found your blog. I love the picture of your cabin and the snow. We lived in Alaska for 6 years and loved it. We were so sorry to have to leave.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Michelle, we’re glad you found us! Join the crowd living in Alaska vicariously through us. I sympathize with you–I would hate to have to leave Alaska myself.

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