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Old 06-12-2011, 01:43 AM   #1
Wetfoot
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Jun 2010
Louisville
Posts: 112
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Yes, conventional wisdom says that its way too early to bottle the 2010 red wines. However, this is our first year with red wine from grapes and there was no way we were going to wait forever to drink it.

I bought about 100 pounds of Norton Grapes last fall here in Kentucky @ $.75 per pound. I meticulously separated grapes from stems, etc., crushed, and fermented (Using beer equipment). Then came pressing and secondary ferment. After one racking I put in one package of medium toast American oak cubes. Then I waited. To sum things up: It is amazing how a wine transforms from 'too acidic', and 'too much tannin' to a balanced, drinkable wine. The oak flavor is pronounced, but I understand that oak flavor fades.

I packaged in 22 oz bombers with crown caps. Not as fancy as corks, but I don't see a problem, technically, with crown caps, especially since this will mostly be gone by Labor Day, for sure. Labor Day will likely be the 2011 harvest date for this years crop.

Tasting notes: Good fruit, mellowed acidity (Cold Winter storage led to acid crystals in carboy, left behind during bottling), pronounced oak, and medium tannins. Not the best red wine ever but this seriously decent wine. I compare it to a 8 to 12 dollar Merlot. I would also note that I topped off with a 750 ml of cab because I got less than 5 gallons from the grapes, lower yield likely due to drought.

I'm ready for the 2011 crush, and the winery will be expanding! I'm looking for Norton, Chambourcin, and Traminette for 2011. Home wine making is the best complement to beer making there is!

 
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Old 06-12-2011, 04:52 PM   #2
Rossnaree
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Sep 2008
Upstate NY
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I like your choices. Much along the same lines that I have. Norton has a great and enviable history as a wine grape. If you have a mind to, also try Chardonel. I don't know that you have any hardiness issues there, but here the Chardonel has better wintering qualities than the Traminette. Chambourcin does pretty well, also, but the Cynthiana (I don't want to get into a "Norton IS Cynthiana!" debate, at least not here, lol! ) vines seem to be unscathed. Each year, the Cynthiana come through better than even the King of the North and the Concord vines that I have growing. Beautiful vines and bunches. I'm always on the look-out for a possible white Cynthiana sport; hey, you never know!

Good luck, and I agree - all fermentation is complementary.

- Tim
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Primary: Chardonel
Secondary: Apfelwein, Chambourcin, Blackstone Pond American Ale, King of the North, Concord, 2nd wine from pulp of both
Bottled: Bavarian Hefeweizen, Dortmunder, King of the North (2010), Apfelwein (2010), Lesser Wilderness Mead (2010), King of the North (2nd wine - 2010)

 
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:21 PM   #3
Wetfoot
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Jun 2010
Louisville
Posts: 112
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Chardonel grows here as does Seyval. Its just a matter of how many batches can I start? I'd love to ferment both.

I think the untold story is the ability of the non vinus vinifera grapes to make good wine. California has the climate for Vinifera, so they have little interest in other grapes; France grows the hybrids but, because of law, commercial wines are usually vinifera. Who knows what the French home winemakers (aka 'garagistas' are into). At any rate, its a great time to be a home winemaker in the USA; plenty of vinyards, good prices, access to equipment such as crushers and presses, little bags of toasty oak, the right yeast, you name it.

Cheers

 
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