Adventures in Home Winemaking or A Vineyard Saga

Aug 2016

A few weeks ago (just before brew fest) I followed up on a lead from a family friend, and went with dad to go and check out this small vineyard across the way from my parents, right next to the sledding hill we went to when it snowed when we were kids. It’s about a ½ acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a fence row of about 30 Muscato vines. The owner is an old valley almond grower. He knows how to keep the plants beautiful and healthy, and has done a good job on that. But he has no clue how to get good fruit for wine, or really how to make good wine. But there is a little winery (everything feels tight) that has a crusher destemmer, 2 very dry barrels, 2 macro bins, 3 small drop top stainless steel tanks, and a pretty well outfitted lab. I went and bought some supplies and it was mainly cleaning products. I’ve taken inventory, but tomorrow I’ll be cleaning everything up, rearranging, and soaking the barrels. The vineyard was planted and the winery stocked by the original owners who called it Sullivan Creek Vineyards (vanity label).


So any way, I’ve worked out a handshake agreement to take over the running of this vineyard and do something with the grapes. There is no bond or anything on it, so it’s just home winemaking level, and it should be fun. I have no clue when they are going to ripen, Jerry says he’s never had sugars over 22-23. I’m shooting for 26-28 and I think I can get there without losing too much acid.

September 2016

2 weeks ago, dad and Owen helped me trim the vines and do a green drop. A little late but it worked well. The grapes were at about 2% verasion and last week when I checked they were closer to 85%. Jerry keeps wanting to water them, and we did right after the trim and last week, but I think that will be it for a bit. I need to stress them. A few hot days this week are going to help.

Well the grapes are looking pretty good. Smaller than I really want, but is it is Cab and not Syrah so its normal, and should give good flavor. The brix were at 200 on Saturday, I’ll check them again on Sunday and if all goes well we will be picking the following Sunday. Far earlier than (the vineyard owner or) I was thinking, but it would work wonderfully for me. I could actually get to my friend’s wedding in Denver! And it looks like everyone is going to be there. The whole gang.

October 2016

Harvest and complications. We got a crew (of wonderful and dear friends) and got to picking, but the birds worked over the grapes too well. Now I know not to trim the greens so hard. We got 1/2 of what we were expecting (only 1000lbs), but the fruit tastes great.

Got to grab another 100lbs of Merlot from a TWA buddy and tossed it in the fermentation, whole cluster. my dad thinks I’m nuts but it is going to turn out great.

Fermentation is done and wine is pressed!

November 2016

The wine is dry and yummy. Time for setting and aging.

The barrels I inherited are dead and could not be brought back to leak-less life. So another barrel was procured and everything is sitting pretty.


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