Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Personal Wine Making

I realized that it has been some time since this blog has been updated. Therefore, in a last ditch effort to avoid this blog fading into cyber obscurity, I thought I'd share an experience I had this past Saturday. Michael DeChiara and I spent a stormy afternoon (the remnants of Hurricane Hannah) at "A Little Taste of Purple" (formerly the Wine Room) in Livingston, New Jersey. This is a personal winemaking establishment that has been in business since 2001 and Mike has used for the last couple of years to make his very own, high quality wine. Saturday and Sunday were their tasting days. This was an excellent opportunity to taste virtually every wine the establishment offers to its customers. Throughout the afternoon we tasted wines made from Barbera, Brunello, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel,Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Grenache and various blends. All the grape varieties are grown in six California regions and shipped out to New Jersey within days of harvesting. The six regions are Mendocino County, Lake County, Sonoma County, Suisun Valley, Sierra Foothills, and Lodi.

So, all the wine we tasted was made by amateurs, here in New Jersey, with the assistance of a professional winemaker. Having tasted my share of homemade wine and its often 200 proof alcohol content, it goes without saying that did not expect much in terms of quality. Well, I'm happy to report that I was wrong. For the most part, the wines that we sampled were professional quality. I will even go as far as to say they were indistinguishable from the low to medium cost professional product that most California wineries put on the market each year. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my notepad and didn’t really feel up to rating the wines individually.

With that being said, I saw little to discourage me from participating in the winemaking experience this year. Although the cost is not insignificant, the amount of wine you end up walking away with in a year's time amounts to about $11 a bottle. I say not a bad bargain when you add in the take a way of actually having made the wine yourself. Mike and I agreed that we, along with a couple of others, would make a barrel's worth of a traditional Bordeaux blend (which was my favorite of the samples)

So, stay tuned as there will be more to come as I go through the wine making experience. If the idea of making your own wine excites you, I'd encourage you to check out one of these establishments. They website of the place in Livingston is www.alittletasteofpurple.com. Check it out today.


Jon-Paul said...

Ant, great post! So while at the place in Livingston, what exactly is done when you 'make' wine? Are you involved in the actual process of pressing grapes, fermentation, other?

Anthony F. LaVista said...

Yes, you do the actual wine making. Step one is the d-stemming and crushing. Step 2 is 7 to 10 days later when you press the wine in pump it into American Oak barrels. Step 3 is racking and removal of sediment (this is done by the pro winemakers throughout the year). Step 4 you bottle, cork and cap your wine and attach your personal labels.

Jon-Paul said...

That is VERY cool! I am sorry my finances are so tight, otherwise participating would be a no brainer--HEY, always next year!