Stop the presses! We're making our own wine!
We here at the Wine Mouths like to drink wine, but did you know we make wine too? While Jesse spent two whole years in school learning all about winemaking, all my experience has been a bit more amateur - from kit wines made in my bathtub to a short class at Stonefield Cellars years and years ago. Jesse and her husband recently got their hands on a grape press, and we started scheming about making wine from grapes we pressed ourselves.
Well, harvest season is upon us, and this weekend we got the opportunity to pick Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes from Haze Gray Vineyards. They have about 8 acres of grapes planted on an old tobacco farm in Dobson. The vineyard has been established for several years, and they plan to open the tasting room next year, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can stay in a beautiful cottage right in the heart of the vineyard.
We got to Haze Gray on Saturday morning and the four of us set off across the vineyard with our buckets, like kids at an Easter egg hunt looking for the golden egg. Harvest is hard (and dirty!) work, but there is something rather meditative about selecting the grapes and contemplating what they will become. After a few hours of picking, we finally met our goal (five 5-gallon buckets of grapes) and were rewarded with a tour of the winery. You guys! This is a first class establishment. Every detail in the winery has been perfectly thought out. They're getting ready to kick into high gear with harvest next week, and we can't wait to see what they turn out.
After picking the grapes, we headed back to my house to set up the press in the driveway. Since we are making white wine, we needed to press the grapes to get the juice and remove it from the skins. After many turns of the press, we filled a 5-gallon bucket full of juice. Since we didn't have enough Pinot Gris and Chardonnay to ferment them separately, we went ahead and combined them. We're just going to make our own unique blend and see how it turns out! Anyway, all this grape stomping must have been quite the spectacle, because all the sudden all the neighbors decided they needed to stop by to see what we were doing (grape press = instant party). Once we had squeezed out all the juice we were going to get, we added yeast to kick off fermentation. It's happily bubbling away in our basement as I type, and we can't wait to see how it turns out! Since it's our first run, it's all one big experiment, but it will be fun to learn as we go along!
Many thanks to Deane and Becky from Haze Gray Vineyards for letting us come play! We'll keep you posted on the winemaking process!
Here are some more photos from our day of winemaking: