It’s not just wine. It’s a conversation.
That’s what happens when local winemakers get together to sample the varieties they’ve made and to enjoy the camaraderie of a wine-tasting event.
In this case, they’re not vineyard owners, but their wines are made from varietal grape juice from vineyards around the world.
The wines are made from kits – and before anyone gets too uppity with their comments – they should know that the grapes come from the same vineyards that grow grapes for the likes of Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap district; and vintners in Sonoma Valley; Washington State’s Columbia Valley; Germany; Italy; Australia; New Zealand; Chile; South Africa; and France, among others.
Locally, enthusiast Becky Redford got into the business of selling the kits (and enjoying the wines) when Brad Nelson, her partner in bandbwinery gave her the necessary equipment and a couple of kits about a year ago.
“We enjoyed the process and the wines,” says Redford, who started selling the kits to fill the void left when Cayman Corkers went out of business.
While the kits come with all of the necessary ingredients and equipment, it’s fair to say that winemakers can tinker with certain things to adjust the wine to their own taste (with or without oak; a little sweeter; with more or less fruit, etc.)
Typically, mixing up a batch takes 15 to 30 minutes, and processing takes four to six weeks, plus ageing time, which varies depending on the wine.
All of the kits make six gallons (30 bottles) – enough to spread around as gifts or to share with friends and family at your own wine-tasting party, says Redford.
While there’s no mashing of grapes with your bare feet, a la Lucy Ricardo in her famous I Love Lucy scene from years past, there is the pleasure of stirring (“with a drill-mounted stirring device”), adding in the pre-measured ingredients, checking it at the appropriate times, and then contemplating when and where to serve it while you wait for it to age.
Some wines don’t require ageing, so when you’re ready to consume them, you just pour into the bottles and enjoy.
You can also make your own labels and design them for special occasions.
“I belong to a wine club in the US,” says Redford, “and I like mine [the wines she makes] a whole lot better.
“You can make it the way you want it.”
A few friends and others just dropped by for a recent wine-tasting at Welcome Home in Governors Square and sampled several varieties, discussing which ones they preferred. The responses are always fun to hear, says Redford.
At the first wine tasting they ever did, Redford recalled, the people who sampled were pleasantly surprised.
“This happens over and over again – people get a surprised expression because they’re expecting grandma’s dandelion wine…”
The wine makers agree that the process is fun, adds a personal touch and reflects their own taste and costs considerably less than retail.
“We’re wine aficionados, not connoisseurs,” says Redford.