Our home winemaking is bubbling along nicely, with eight 1-gallon batches currently underway. Restarting this process in winter has made consistent temperature an issue on the homestead, particularly during the primary fermentation period.
Unless it’s particularly cold, say below 20°, we don’t burn the woodstove overnight. The log walls hold heat well, and the cast iron stove continues to heat the house long after the fire has died in the evening. By the time we wake in the morning, the cabin usually has not fallen below about 55°, a very comfortable nighttime temperature for us.
However, during primary fermentation, we need the wine to stay closer to 70° if possible. To help with this, Michelle has made wine “blankets.”
These are simple: an appropriate length of insulating, reflective cloth covered by a cotton shell, with a couple of hook and loop sets positioned to accommodate the 3-4 different sized and shaped vessels we use. She puts one of these together in about an hour on our treadle sewing machine; much of that time is devoted to selecting fabrics. When complete, they can easily be wrapped around a jug and fastened tight, to hold the liquid’s warmth overnight.
Besides doing this important job, they’re also somewhat decorative, particularly when used on batches with a must bag—they decorously conceal the weird glob of unidentifiable material looming rather unpleasantly in the jar.
With all the fermenters lined up in a row, wrapped in blankets, Michelle has begun referring to them as my “wine babies.”