Modern-Day Wine Production

Usually I am all smiles when writing this blog with my spouse, but I have a tinge of sadness today since our beloved Napa Valley in California has been besieged with flames of late. Many of our friends have suffered losses in their vineyards and the grapes are irreplaceable. It is a heartbreaking sight. We are all rallying behind these victims, helping to restore the vines for the next season. I wonder how the soil will react now that it is laden with ash. The fires last month were devastating, but it won’t stop us from touting the benefits of wine from a health and pleasure perspective. Life goes on. I will wait to take you on a mental tour of the local wineries and describe various types of wine tastings and the food that goes with them. There is a lot to say about wine appreciation and how to develop the right palate. You can learn a whole new vocabulary to express your opinion. All this will be a subject for another time. Today I want to talk about making your own wine when you don’t live in a glorious wine-growing region. Wine can be made in the traditional way in areas like Napa and Sonoma, but innovations have made the results much better in terms of flavor and texture. No, we don’t see people around here standing in barrels squashing grapes. Now we use air compressors from to perform the usual task of crushing and pressing the grapes. It is wonderful to have these shortcuts in modern times.

However, some of you might want to make wine at home, kind of like brewing bathtub gin. Ha! Seriously, you can buy starter kits with complete instructions. Once you have a few good recipes, you are ready to start. People who make their own beer often like to diversify and they attest to the efficacy of the process. Personally, I would rather grow the grapes. The result is much better. However, you need to buy oak barrels, sanitizing equipment, bottles, etc. It can be quite an investment. For a hundred dollars, you can buy a Master Vintner (I love the name) kit. I am all for it if it makes you enjoy wine more often. It goes with anything from pasta and pizza to lamb chops and fish.  You can get kits for different types of wine like chardonnay or cabernet. You get two 8-gallon fermenting buckets with drilled lids, a fermenter’s siphon and bottle filler with tubing. You also will find a triple scale hydrometer, corks and certain chemicals like sodium metabisulfite. If you use the recipe in the kit, you will already have everything you need.

Meanwhile now that the smoke has cleared and we have those glorious blue California skies back again, it is time to make the rounds and encourage the vintners here to carry on. Any words of support from you are most welcome.