Making wine from grapes (the right way this time)
We have finally arrived at a very special time of year here in the South of France when there are so many fruits, nuts & berries all around us which can be easily harvested and turned into something even better. Grapes into wine being the most obvious example of this.
Last year I made mixed fruit wine & cider using a self-created contraption involving a modified kid's bucket and a secondary container to prevent air from getting in (while permitting the fermenting fruit to release its CO2).
It worked great for the cider but not so much for the wine which was pretty strong but tasted a bit strange. This year I am determined not only to get it right but also to produce enough bottles to be able to give a bunch of them away!
Wine Making '21
An english speaking man in our village has been enjoying the occasional loaf of bread from me over the last six months and has given us many things in exchange for this but the most valuable of all (unknown to him) are his grapes.
A small area of his garden is dedicated to vines which are able to grow down the side of a sunny wall.
While the local wine producers trim their vines every year to stop them touching the ground, David does nothing to his and I think because of the wall they seem to like this.
I was able to collect 2.5 of these giant buckets from just this small area you can see here. All of it going towards this year's white wine production, with a few of them reserved for my daily smoothies of course ;)
The local producers all grow red grapes (more profitable) and I couldn't help but pick a few of these in the early hours to also have a go at making red wine. They smelled super strong and had already begun their fermentation process on the vines.
As with all things in life, we get better at stuff the more we do it. And I intend to be great at this! When there is no more booze in the shops (due to the incoming apocalypse) you can be sure I will be fully stocked and willing to exchange ;)
So, thanks to good old YouTube and its variety of people posting there I was able to pick up a bunch of useful tricks I didn't know about last year.
Separate stalks & squish
While I was tempted to stomp on these with my bare feet in the bath (with my entire family!) I opted in the end to try this technique of rubbing the grapes through a plastic crate we had at the garden.
It worked like a dream. Not too much mess and all done super fast.
Separate juice from skins & pips
In the image below, bucket number one has the grapes, skins & pips mixed. Bucket number two is the juice without skins & pips. You can see the sieve I was using to squish the juice out as best I could.
Traditionally a grape press is used at this stage to make sure no juice is wasted but all I had was the muslin bag you can see on the side of the grey compost bucket. It was hard work and took around 8 hours to complete the squeezing stage. My hands were getting cramps by the end and I really felt the pain the next day, but it was worth it because now I have over 21L of juice!
The red goes through the same process but unlike the white, it stays with its skins for the first week.
This helps give it some extra flavour and that super red colour we are accustomed to.
I also added some sugar to both the white & red as I like my wine on the sweet side and if I understand right, this increases the alcohol content.
Don't be tempted to add water! This doesn't do anything useful. (Thanks @cherie).
Last year I didn't add yeast, which is fine but the process is slower. This year I coughed up for a decent German brand of little yeasty boys ;)
They are super active and ready to do their thing! This is them after 10mins in warm water (and a little bit of the grape juice itself). Now I just pour some into each and shut the lids.
With the skins I have 12.5L of red, which will probably boil down to 8L in the end.
These little things on top do the job of my crazy bucket machine from last year, permitting gas to exit while stopping air from entering.
While the white is good to go for the next two months, the red requires a little more work needing a mix four times a day for the first week. Make sure those surface grapes are pushed back down to the bottom.
Fermentation & racking
Once seven days are done I will separate the grapes from the skins & pips using the muslin bag technique and leave it for two months.
After this I will syphon off the wine (a process known as racking), leaving the bottom layer where the yeast has settled. A few weeks later I will rack it once more, separating as much yeast as I can, before bottling it and waiting another month before tasting. Too much yeast in there and the fermentation process will continue in the bottles, eventually pushing your corks out.
Oh, something important I forgot to mention! One of the mistakes I made last year was letting the juice sit with too much air during the fermenting process, so this year I have ordered carboys of various different sizes (glass containers with convenient handles for moving them around) in order that they can be full to the brim, eliminating any air from the fermenting vessel. I have ordered some big corks too, so that I can attach the air bubble devices to the lids.
These glass containers don't have taps at the bottom so I will need to use a tube for the racking, syphoning off the wine without disturbing the yeast at the bottom, which will be discarded (or drunk if you don't care about the yeasty boys!)
Racking can be done multiple times, but I think twice should be enough for us.
I am expecting 26 bottles of white and 12 bottles of red! Which is amazing right? Naturally I will update you on the final product.
Esteban & I are still working on a name for our wine. Chateau something... Hey, perhaps I'll call it Chateau HIVE and sell 10 bottles on the blockchain? Bet that would be a first!
Here we are with some hazelnuts, collected yesterday.
Did you know that hazelnuts are at their best when they are one year old? This is perfect for us because we still have an absolute ton from last year and now I have a reason to eat them!
We also have figs in season at the moment so I have been making jam. Here you can see vanilla flavour & cinnamon/ginger flavour, which I can assure you is out of this world!
Crap, spell check has just confirmed for me that I spelt cinnamon wrong on the labels. haha. Who cares! It still tastes awesome and I have so far given away five pots (which are not in that picture).
In other news all things are great! BTC hit the golden pocket and experienced a 20% pull-back. I know many people were calling manipulation but in truth this is just what markets do and I was expecting that drop, as were many other traders.
The important news is that we broke out yesterday to the upside and the bull market looks set to continue as expected now. Fingers crossed!
HIVE on the other hand crashed through the golden pocket to reach a new ATH earlier this month and has now found support above this level, which is a great sign of strength for our future price action.
Here at home baby cat (also known as Roger these days) made it to our garden (200m along a canal) for the first time yesterday, which was a big moment for him. He has also in recent days taken to being pushed around by Luna like a doll. Not unlike his mother, little more than a year ago!
In the background of this image you can also see Sabrina helping Esteban with his homework, a daily thing now.
As for me, I am excited to have landed some decent leveraged positions on Bybit before yesterday's pump (BTC, ETH, EOS & XRP) and am grateful the bull market looks set to continue as expected, long into the winter. Sabrina has a birthday coming up in the next few days, for which we have bought a few bottles of champagne (something I will be learning to make next year!) and I also intend to buy her a laptop so that she may learn how to use exchanges and set up her own crypto wallets. The idea of not having to ask me when she wants money is no doubt appealing to her but most of all she is interested to finally learn how it all works, in order that she can teach the growing number of friends & family who are asking for her help getting started. Indeed, if you are not already into crypto you really have to ask yourself the question why? The value & spending power of your £/$/€ is decreasing at an alarming rate and it won't be long before other countries follow in El Salvador's footsteps.
So I think that's it for now. Remember to keep doing your Mudra four times a month to release unwanted energies and spiritually connect with the small group of us who are awake and adapting to these times of great change.
Love & Light everyone 🌱