Open House Winery: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Following our successful inaugural foray into cider brewing last year, we thought that it was time to broaden our repertoire. With two young grape vines starting to bear fruit in the polytunnel, it was time to try our hand at making some wine!

After some initial research we realised that wine making is a lot more of a protracted and nuanced process than cider. However, unperturbed, we bought the relevant bits and bobs and got cracking! Our expectations were pretty low and therefore more than 1 bottle of drinkable end product would be a definite success!

Picking the grapes was pretty simple, and we had around 8kgs to work with.

Pressing the grapes has to be done by hand (or foot if you prefer), rather than using a fruit press. We learnt that this is because crushing the pips brings a bitter taste to the wine. Despite being a bit messy it was quite a pleasant job. The resultant Must was then left for a couple of days.

We used a Campden tablet to remove any wild yeast, and left the Must with the skin in as we wanted to make red wine. I think the Campden tablet contains sulphites, which some people believe gives you the headache after drinking!?

After a few days, we then strained the juice, which again was quite satisfying, although it took a bit of effort to squeeze it all out.

Miraculously we had over 3.5 litres of juice, which may even make 7 bottles of wine, if all goes to plan. Unexpectedly, the main aroma of the grape juice was something like pink bubble gum! I am pretty sure that this is not what a Somelier would want the bouquet to be, so perhaps we will end up with a few bottles of something undrinkable! But it is worth a go. We added the yeast and nutrient, and then found a warm place for it to ferment for 8 weeks.

We are nearly at the point of being able to bottle the wine (if we can call it that) and then in 6 months time we will see whether we have something that is vaguely quaffable! So it will be sometime yet before we will know for sure whether the juice is really worth the squeeze!

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