Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grapes To Wine

Welcome back for another edition of the Future Reference Farm blog. In this post we will discuss the process of turning grapes into wine. I am not particularly a fan of grapes, however I am certainly a fan of kicking back some alcoholic beverages every now and then and I did say sustainable living can be fun.

Grapes are pretty hard to mess up once they get going. They are like a weed and will take over if you are not careful. Because of this there is much you can do with a grape vine. You can get really fancy and build elaborate trellises for them, or you can just grow them along the top of a fence.

Luckily for us, when we bought the farm, the grapes were already here. We just had to learn how to trim them to keep them healthy and productive. But accidents are bound to happen and indeed they do. Grapes are growing in two locations on the farm and in one of those locations there is also some other viny tree type of plant that we have yet to identify. I had intended on cutting that back a bit and accidentally cut the other grape vine down to the main trunk. Luckily though, it grew back this year. A new bright green shaft of life sprouted out of the dense, severed trunk and is now over 6 feet long and still growing. Soon it will follow the trellis we built all the way across the farm to the house, cutting right between the plumb, apple and peach trees. It will be quite beautiful.

Grapes are highly vulnerable to birds and chickens. We have already given up on the low hanging grapes, the chickens love them and that is just fine. But for the bulk of the grapes growing up on the trellises, birds are a huge problem. They will wipe out the entire crop in a matter of days if you are not careful. It's very easy to counter though, a simple net over the grapes will protect them from the birds.

Again we are approaching the point where I explain that we will be using ingredients that are not sustainable. For the sake of proper learning, I am following known recipes until I have the time, patience and gull to attempt my own. Until then, the methods I use rely on various ingredients that are not produced on the farm such as yeast, sugar, and others. But don't despair, Jams and wines CAN be made without unsustainable ingredients and I promise I will make that information available when I have secured it and applied it. Why do I know it can be done?

Well, in my kitchen cabinet right now is a small plastic container of some of the cherry plumb skins that I dried. Because the container was 'sealed' and the skins were still a bit moist, they have begun fermenting on their own. I opened the container as I wanted to take some to work and thought the smaller container would be good, but I immediately noticed a small pool of liquid at the bottom of the container and some small amount of mold. When I opened the container I smelled the familiar scent of fermentation taking place. Viola!, I thought, it can be done!

So what is the trick? How is it fermenting without yeast? Well, it's not. Turns out there is a small amount of yeast, or rather mold spores on the fruit already. If you provide the right conditions, that natural yeast will make alcohol. Nature knows how to do it all if we are patient enough to learn. So let's learn how to make wine.

For the sake of choice and to get you motivated, I will abstain from providing the specifics of our ingredients and process and let you do your own research. There is plenty of information online regarding making your own wine and your safest bet is to consult with someone who sells the various materials and supplies for making wine. They will generally be knowledgeable enough to get you started in the right direction.

Wine is a great drink if you like the taste. Since we have various fruit trees on the farm, we make wine out of all sorts of fruit, or we will when the rest of the trees start producing. But so far we have made wine out of grapes, plumbs and cherry plumbs. Nature provides if we abide. So let's start abiding nature and learn a few things along the way. YOU are the sustainable revolution. Live it, be it.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dicks
futurereferencefarm @

Video of the farm

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