Healthy Country Life organised a wine-making workshop on 9th April, 2016 at Contadino Farm, Falls Creek, NSW, Australia. Twice we had to change the date because the grapes were not ready. As we were making “pure” wine with no additives or preservatives, we had no way of regulating it ( I call it interfering with nature).
So we had to work with the elements to bring out the best in the grapes in terms of the best in taste and best in health value. So much control has gone into commercial wine-making to ensure the unique taste of a well-known brand remains the same from bottle to bottle to bottle.
Controlled fermentation is needed in commercial winemaking to attain a consistent result so that every bottle of wine will taste the same. To achieve this the commercial wine industry is known to use at least 19 additives and 37 different processing aids which include sulphur dioxide, potassium metabisulphite, egg and milk products, gelatin (a meat product), commercial yeast and other food chemicals. Our wine from the workshop had none of these contaminants. Now a year after the workshop I am bottling pure wine.
Bruno Morabito, 62, the owner of Contadino Farm demonstrated how the machine discards the stems and crushes the grapes. As the crates of grapes passed the participants, Bruno and his assistants grabbed a few bunches and passed them around, sparking off the workshops glorious tasting sessions that began with grapes and moved on to free flow of wines, cheese, salami, olives, olive oil and bread.
During the year our grape juice has been fermenting, I have been in touch with the participants to see how they were doing with their fermentation and here are some of their comments:
Dennis O’ Reilly bottled his wine a month after fermenting. But he only drank his wine six months after bottling and had this to say, ” It was very drinkable. Good fruit, although only medium bodied and I usually drink full bodied shiraz. A little tang on the palate as it goes down and I think it benefitted from decanting and a half hour of breathing.
“With Christmas arriving, I now have a plentiful supply of day to day drinking red. That should save me a few dollars when I go to Dan Murphy’s for my Christmas shopping. “
Ninette Prospero, who unfortunately did not have much luck with her fermentation. ” Very disappointed. I got the bottom of the barrel and after filtering many times sediment was half. And unfortunately mine was very bitter. However I thoroughly enjoyed the day.” It is good to know she at least had fun at the workshop.
Amanda Peek started drinking and sharing the wine with family and friends just four months after fermentation. She divided her wine into two batches though and kept the second batch in a cold area. This is what she discovered between the two batches.
“My first batch was lovely and thoroughly enjoyed by family and friends since August 2016. It had a slight fruity taste and was very pleasant. The second batch that I left in the cold after racking took on a more Shiraz taste. I prefer the taste of the first batch. But I have now bottled this and intend to leave it alone for a few years to see what sort of outcome I get.
“The workshop was a lovely experience and I would thoroughly enjoy another workshop on how to grow and brine olives and other fruit and vegetables. Thanks again for a once in a lifetime opportunity. I loved it.”
As for me at Healthy Country Life I racked my wine six months from the start of the fermentation and after ditching the sediment, I poured the wine back into the carbuoy to ferment for a further eight months. It was thoroughly dry by the time I bottled it and I was so glad to be bottling pure wine.
Throughout the duration of the fermentation, Kevin and I have been tasting a little every few months and it was exciting to see how the flavours changed as the fermentation progressed. It was extremely high in alcohol at six months old and had a very strong bite to the taste. By the time I bottled it which was one year and two months since fermentation started, the wine had mellowed and now in July 2017, it tastes incredible and alcohol level lower. I could just sit next to a glass and drink in the aroma alone without having any sip of it – such is the strength and sweetness of the aroma. Amazing!
When I collected the wine at the workshop I made sure I had an airlock and that airlock did not run out of water. Except for racking it once after six months, that is all I did during the course of fermentation. It is that easy. Initially I needed to add water often because the grape juice was very bubbly and the water in the airlock ran out often due to so much yeast activity. But the yeast eventually died out for lack of oxygen and then the bacteria went to work because they thrive in anaerobic conditions.
Even if you buy a kit to make wine it will almost certainly include Campden tablets to add to the grape juice and also commercial yeast. I didn’t resort to using any of these for my wine. I didn’t even sterilize my carbuoy with potassium metabisulphite but simply washed with soap and water and then air dried it before I filled it with the grape juice to turn into wine.
When bottling pure wine, I got about twenty seven 750 ml bottles out of 25 litres of wine. I lost some litres naturally due to discarding the sediment and racking.
When bottling pure wine I used the simple method of siphoning out of the main carbuoy into individual bottles. In the video what Kathy is doing to help me is making sure the other end of the siphoning hose is just beneath the surface. Too deep and we will pick up sediment that will flow through the hose into the bottle (which we don’t want). If the hose is too high up, close to the surface, it could accidentally slip out and stop the flow. So she has to make sure the hose sits just right so as not to disrupt the smooth flow.