Puple House Red Wine

I just finished making a batch of wine - the label image is above. It's merlot, from grapes grown in the Stags Leap District in California. The fine folks at Your Wine Cellar (part of The Brew Kettle) did most of the work. In a nutshell, I paid a little over $200, went there for two rather brief visits, and ended up with 30 bottles of wine. And I am now an officially registered winemaker in the state of Ohio.

It can be done even more cheaply; I know several people who took the complete DIY at-home route and spent less (at least on consumables). There are families - even here in the Midwest - who traditionally make wine every year, starting by buying grapes. My kit used juice, which is a lot easier but takes away some of the control (deciding how long the juice sits on the skins after crushing determines the tannin content). Beer brewing, of course, is a thriving subculture in the US, and not just for people who want a cheap buzz. It's maker culture, artisanal, a craft.

So I approached it expecting to be introduced to a new hobby by an experienced "true believer". Unfortunately, our visit wasn't like that. I suspect that Your Wine Cellar's clients mostly want batches of cheap custom-labeled wines to give away at events, because we weren't told much about what was going on as we mixed the ingredients together. I'm sure if we'd made it clear that we wanted to learn, they could have accomodated that. But ironically I learned more by reading the wikipedia page on winemaking than I did by actually making wine.

Of course, I could learn all I want by helping my boss at the winery he runs, which is significantly farther out on the economic scale. Laleure Vineyards (not to be confused with the much larger Laurello) is in Geauga County and makes wines from varietals you'd recognize - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay - grown in Ohio, not flown in. It's not easy to grow finicky Vitis Vinifera varietals here, but Rich does it. My favorite is his Cabernet Franc.

I'm told we shouldn't open our wine for at least three months. I tasted a batch of theirs that was a little immature and by my standards it lacked complexity, but I'm willing to wait. By the way, the Photoshop filter I applied to the picture of my house is "Dry Brush".