Would you like Red or White?

My Dad has a passion for wine making. He gets his love of outdoors, nature and gardening from the ways of the Europeans. Originally from Croatia, Dad and his family brought with them Croatian foods, wine making and a lifestyle that has influenced me to this day.

At home we have a small vineyard, a few rows of grape vines that consist of both red (Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon) and white grapes (Chardonnay). Only organic chemicals are used to spray the grapes. Image

The grapes are ready to be picked usually in the late summer to early autumn months. It is a good idea to pick them in the morning while the air is fresh and cool. This is because once it starts to heat up throughout the day, bacteria may begin to grow on the grapes after they’re picked.

Once the grapes are crushed and de-stemmed they are left in the barrel for 3-4 weeks. Dad likes to leave them longer than usual to get more body and flavour in his wine, as well as a deeper colour that comes out of the skins.

By this stage the wine should be fully fermented, but it still needs a little more clarifying. So it is transferred into demijohns, which are glass bottles with a narrow neck that are usually encased in wickerwork. Dad prefers to use glass or stainless steal because they don’t release odours and contaminate the wine like plastic. The wine is left in these containers for another couple of months.

It is essential not to let oxygen into the wine after it is fermented, otherwise it will start oxidising, which will make the wine go flat. The wine in the demijohns is racked several times (transferred from one container to another) until it’s perfectly clear and ready for bottling. This is usually done in the wintertime.

Now the bottles are washed out and sterilised in a bucket of water with a sprinkle of sodium metabisulfite. This inorganic chemical formula is only used as a disinfectant and preserving agent, to sterilise the bottles. Don’t worry this will not harm the organic purity of the wine itself. “Wineries and most wine-makers add sodium metabisulfite into the wine itself as a preservative. I never use this method for my wine.”  (Ranko Marcetic)

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Automatic bottler, set to stop once the bottles are filled with no fuss.

Wine making is something that has to be practiced and perfected; you cannot just learn it overnight. My Dad has had 20 years of experience and has made changes and used different methods over the years, always trying to make it better.

His hobby of wine making is a project that is very good in the long run. Being able to share it with friends and family is a special thing. Plus who doesn’t want an endless supply of free wine?

I hope you have gained something from this post, if you have any suggestions, questions or comments please leave a reply.

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