It's been another very rainy day, and we've taken advantage of not being able to work on the deck (again) and have been stomping grapes! OK, not really stomping, but squishing:) Yes, we are making Riesling wine! I've never made wine before, but Mountain Man used to make lots of it many years ago.
Mountain Man picked the grapes at the Betty's Creek vineyard (they sell them to the public) with Bobby, the grounds keeper there (pictured below). Do you see a similarity between them? I thought so...so do I. Not only that, but they get along like they've known each other forever...perhaps they have in a cosmic way...
This is one of the Riesling bunches selected for our wine, quite an appealing bunch of grapes in my opinion, maybe this photo will be used to create our bottle label:)
These are all the grapes they collected, about 25 pounds or so. They are sweet, juicy and with just a little bit of a tang; should make delicious wine!
This was our work area...newspaper to collect the sugary sweet drippings, white bucket for the grapes and red bucket for the stems and rotten grapes. Yes, my chair is the rocker with the cushion...it makes me laugh to see that!
This is our first bucket of good Riesling sweetness, and red bucket of discarded stems and moving toward raisin grapes.
The first basket weighed in at 5lbs. 7oz.
We then washed the grapes in preparation for squashing.
The first squish released a slightly fermented yet sweet aroma. It is hard to describe how it feels to squish grapes, but my favorite part is when you have some in your hand that are still whole, and you squeeze them, they sort of pop. Reminded me of when you crush plastic bubble wrap!
We ended up with a total of 21lbs. 3oz. of "must", which is what you call the crushed up grapes including seeds and skins. Some people include the stems, but we prefer not to because they add a lot of tannin and who knows what else is residing among them. The must goes into a primary fermentation bucket. Eventually, we hope this will make about 12 bottles of wine!
The next step is to identify the specific gravity (SG), which tells you how much sugar you will need to add to arrive at the level of sweetness you want for your wine. You do this with a hydrometer. It is a complex but not necessarily difficult process, with scientific calculations (to a certain degree) to determine the amount of sugar needed. We are going for a semi sweet Riesling.
We ended up adding 3 pounds or 6 cups of sugar. This brought the hydrometer reading up to the level we needed to produce the sweetness we wanted. The end result was 2 1/2 gallons of must in the fermenting bucket, again, probably resulting in 12 bottles of wine or so.
Now, I have not stressed as of yet, how important this hydrometer is to the wine making process, as it is the tool that indicates not only the ratio of sugar to liquid in your must, which you must know (no pun intended here), but it also tells you when fermentation has resulted in the must reaching a specific SG which then requires moving the fermenting wine from the primary fermenting bucket into the carboy container which is where it spends time really becoming wine. (This is all lay language, or Lise language, as I am not certain of all the technical terms.) I bring all this up because, I BROKE THE HYDROMETER!!! Of course, not on purpose, it happened when I was cleaning up our dinner dishes, and a measuring cup slipped and hit the hydrometer and UGH! I dreaded telling Johny, though it was an accident...but oh my...one can not make wine without it, and the local wine making supply shop (or not so local, being it is over an hour round trip) owner is in the National Guard and is now deployed to Egypt (yes, I thanked him for his service) and even though his roommate is going to run the shop for him, he said call and check the hours before you come (which are usually only M, W, F from 3/30 - 8:00).
Well, I know that was a run on sentence to say the least...but I had to let it go... I am confident we will end up with the hydrometer we need (no doubt a back up will be purchased as well), but thanks for bearing with me as I cleared my conscience.
Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,