My Artful Winemaker kit arrived in the mail last week – the company claims that it will make an artful winemaker out of all of us, if we follow the instructions carefully. I have high hopes – sufficiently high that I plan to blog about every stage of the process as I muddle along. I really enjoy red wines with grassfed meat, so I chose the Cabernet/Shiraz grape juice concentrate for my first attempt. If all goes as planned, I should have drinkable wine in as little as 28 days. I’ve tried making homemade wine a few times in my life, but without exception my experiences were anything but artful – but I have a good feeling about the process this time.
My Artful Winemaker winemaking package ($99.99 until 12-31-2010) included a fermentation vessel (complete with integral thermometer), clarifier, yeast, disinfectant, 12 wine bottles with corks, foil cork covers, and labels, winemaking book, instructional DVD, assorted utensils and, perhaps most important, quality varietal wine grape juice concentrate sufficient to make 12 bottles of hopefully the good stuff.
Even though I am a guy, and even though I have a strong penchant to assemble things that need assembly without looking at the instructions, I decided to hedge my bet against yet another failed attempt at making homemade wine by reading the instruction booklet. I was pleasantly surprised by the instructions – they were clearly written by someone who knows how to write and how to make the wine thing happen. It took me about 10 minutes to get the Artful Winemaker assembled and disinfected. It took another few minutes to steep the giant tea-bag-like sachets of shredded oak chips in water and dispense the grape juice concentrate and water into the fermentation vessel. The last steps included tossing the steeped oak sachets, primary clarifier and yeast into the mix, installing the cover and airlock and placing the entire works where the sun won’t shine on it.
That’s it for step one of the process. It’ll be a couple of weeks before I proceed to the next phase of the process. In the meantime, I like to look in on the Artful Winemaker from time to time to see the yeast at work. So far the mudroom doesn’t smell like a brewery and the airlock isn’t foaming over (ask me about some of my early beer-making experiences). But there is definitely evidence of yeast doing what yeast does ….
Top and bottom photos courtesy Karen Keb.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.