It’s the start of the fall today. With this new season, comes harvest and for me home winemaking. It all started on September 23, 2006 when I made wine in my backyard, porch, garage, and dining room. I’ve sometimes added sulfites, sometimes not and I have made many different wines with various red and white grapes.
Before the pandemic, I had one or two of my wines a month. These past two and a half years, I have had many, many bottles of my own wine. I have to say that I have both enjoyed them and been proud of the wines, surprisingly from my humble beginnings. I still have 40+ bottles but it has been a mainstay wine for the past 30 months and has made me happy.
I first started in 2006 and 2007. I then took a break and made a 2011 vintage and have been more consistent in 2017, 2018, and 2019. It is a very humbling experience and an incredibly interesting one. My most confusing moment is always using my hydrometer. It’s an essential tool which everyone who home brews uses. It’s harder to read than I had thought. YouTube has some great videos but it feels like practice is what makes the difference. Here is one that I find helpful.
My Dad made wine in the basement with his friend when I was young. He always mentions how they did nothing but press the grapes, no added yeast, no sulfites at bottling and how wonderful the wine was. I am going another route but we will see if I end up where he started, or if my son does when he makes wine in the future.
Despite studying wine for 25 years now and being in the business for 15, I was pretty intimidated buying grapes and being a home winemaker.
I buy my grapes from the halls of Paradise for New Jersey homewinemakers, Corrado’s. Corrado’s is right out of central casting as are many of the people who work and shop there. I love it. Eros Ramazzotti or some Italian crooner of his ilk are playing in the background, Italian men work to help you buy the right equipment and many customers are of course, Italian Americans who have been making wine at home for generations.
This year I will see if I can still buy grapes and make a dessert wine. Once you’ve caught the bug, it’s hard to miss a year. I’ve missed two vintages because of the pandemic but finally drank a lot of my wine which feels like a success and is very satisfying. I had a goal to finish all my previous wines by this month before making new ones but I didn’t reach it. I look forward to the trip to Corrado’s this weekend, right in time for the New Year.