Sometimes big changes sneak up on you and have happened before you know it. September was one of those times. Actually on August 30th when I picked and bought my first load of grapes from a vineyard other than my own, a change had begun. Those grapes mark a turning point from just being backyard vintner to being the go-to winemaker for friends with more grapes than they can handle. I will be getting organically grown grapes from 3 other vineyards this year and my total crop will be nearly 2 tons, nearly twice that of last year without counting what could be another ton of apples. Our new neighbors donated the apples on their trees and Downriver Orchard – that is actually upriver from us – has promised some more so apples will be big too.
This change put into question our own ability to handle that much wine. Hopefully things will continues to fall into place for doing just that. I called up my grappa guy, Carl (Henry) Anderson, to see if he wanted to make grappa again since it was cumbersome in the still he had at his downtown Colville business, Dominion Distillery. But it turns out that he is busy building a huge still at his current shop that can turn wine waste (must) into 95 Proof
Grappa and was glad to have some to work with. When I visited his shop I discovered that he also built a monster press that can turn hundreds of pounds of apple pulp into juice in one load. He also had a pickup truck full of 1400 pounds of grapes that someone gave to him and he picked with his wife and three girls. They were crushing them by hand, a tedious job even with just 20 pounds, so I lent them my crusher/stemmer to get that going.
Henry is moving his shop to Kettle Falls and buying equipment to roll stainless steel and make containers for fermenting wine. I look forward to that since my current method, using glass carboys, is getting out of hand. I had to re-arrange the office/tasting room again to get the 2015 crop off the office floor and make room for 2016. Realizing I needed more carboys I went online and found a buyer selling a pallet of 36 five-gallon glass carboys.
But when the bidding went over $700, I dropped out. Lucky thing I did. The next day the seller put another pallet up for auction with a buy-it-now price of $220. Three days later I was in Culver, Oregon (near Madras) loading them into our VW van. And I got to visit my brother John and his wife, Marilyn on the way!
With all of this activity the critical resource soon became time more than space, hence another late blog this month. I’ve bottled nine cases of three 2014 varieties of wine and have wine for 20 more cases marked to bottle. We have harvested 8 different batches of grapes so far and have 6 more to go. Several people have come to help out and others to taste and tour. We are still selling wine at the Farmers Market in Colville until the last Wednesday of
the month. September had been pretty much all about wine, but actually our wedding anniversary was the 23rd and my birthday the 26th. We managed to celebrate those events and a few more hosted by our friends. There were some large mapbook orders – thank goodness for some extra income to balance all of the expenses.
So while the other regular Fall chores roll along, drying fruit, harvesting nuts, getting out the latest Rock Club Newsletter…things are changing in 2016. And that doesn’t even include the election.