Crates and crates of Mouvedre grapes fresh from Berri South Australia were emptied into a crushing machine as participants of Healthy Country Life’s free workshop, ‘Make Wine The Natural Way’ gathered around for a closer look. The workshop was held at Contadino Farm, Falls Creek, NSW on Saturday, 9th April.
Amanda Peek, 45, from Worrigee cheekily asked if they were going to crush grapes with their feet, the traditional way, and got a stern, “No!” from Bruno Morabito, 62, owner of Contadino Farm, who has been making wine for the consumption of his own family and friends for 38 years.
Bruno demonstrated how the machine discards the stems and crushes the grapes. As the crates passed, Bruno and his assistants grabbed a few bunches of grapes and passed them around sparking off the workshop’s glorious tasting sessions that began with grapes and moved on to free flow of wines, cheese, salami, olives, olive oil and bread.
“We simply had to see for ourselves how wine was made the natural way,” said Chris Armstrong, 35, owner of Nowra Steakhouse at Nowra, NSW who was there with his partner Nikki Edwards, 29.
The ‘natural way’ had caused the workshop to be postponed from the date first announced because the grapes were not ready. For wine-makers who emphasize purity without using any additives or preservatives, the date of picking the grapes is crucial because the sugar level has to be perfect.
“It is easy to make commercial wine because they add sulphur and potassium metabisulphite and other additives into the grape juice to regulate acidity and taste. They even have a chemist on site!
“We have to work with nature and that is why the grapes dictate when we have the workshop. So even if we have to disappoint people we can’t work on their timetable. We can only work on nature’s timetable,” said Luke Morabito, 54, who drove all night with his precious cargo of grapes from South Australia to Falls Creek just for the workshop so everyone would have fresh grapes to see, touch and taste.
“The grapes need to be crushed and left for three to five days before they are pressed and the skins removed. We have done all this using our machines so all the workshop participants need to do is just purchase the grape juice and take them home to ferment themselves to make wine,” added Bruno.
Dennis O Reilly 69 from Vincentia had been bottling cheap wine he has been buying in bulk since the 70s and was eager to try his hand at making quality wine on his own for the first time at this workshop.
Summah O’Donnell, 29, from Ulladulla, is allergic to commercial wine and was amazed when there was no adverse reaction when she drank of the free flowing wine at the workshop, both red and white made without any preservatives. The white are made from Muscat grapes also grown by Bruno.
Shelly, 31 who came with Summah expressed how she saw great benefits in eating whole, fresh foods. Not only does she see the health of her children improving but their behaviour has improved too.
Orieta Garcia and her husband Raphael in their late 40s from Vincentia are originally from Chilli, South America.Home wine-making is also in their culture and they were so excited to attend the workshop.
“I have only recently started to have health issues and I realize I need to eat well to stay healthy. We grow our own vegetables such as kale, tomatoes, carrots, onions and we don’t use any pesticides. I’m very interested in natural nutrition and was excited to hear about a workshop that taught us how to make wine the natural way,” said Orieta.
Ninette Prospero was quite the star of the workshop when she arrived in her Harley Davidson and everyone was curious how she would take her container of grape juice away on her sleek motorbike. She adeptly secured it to the back and rode off without much ado, waved on by the impressed crowd.
The juice the participants have bought will be fermented in the convenience of their own homes and in 40 – 50 days it should turn into wine.