Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Winemaking Part I

Photos by OHventures

Camelot Cellars Urban Boutique Winery
958 High Street
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 441-8860

House Bill 491 just passed in the Ohio House of Representatives that designates the month of June as Ohio Wines Month. Representatives Casey Kozlowski and Ron Young of Ashtabula and Lake Counties, respectively, recognized the need to acknowledge the flourishing wine industry in our state, which has a significant impact on our economy, from the farmers who grow the grapes, to the truck drivers who transport the product, and the retail workers who sell the wine in stores. With that in mind, it’s only fitting that I decided to take my love of wine to a whole new level this past month.

Now, thanks to Camelot Cellars Urban Boutique Winery in the Short North in Columbus, you can participate in this growing trend in our state by handcrafting your very own wine! For those wine aficionados who are ultra-ambitious (and have an extra $200-$400 on hand), you can make personalized wine with the right tools and ingredients in the presence of skilled professionals. Camelot Cellars offers patrons this extra special opportunity in their on-site wine lab, tucked in the back of their retail store and bar. It is the one and only location in the state of Ohio that offers such a service (although I hope and suspect that many more will follow suit)!

For me, making wine was a way of following in my father’s footsteps. He has made wine for years at home from grapes picked right off of my grandfather’s vines. He often hands out his homemade goods on special occasions, such as birthdays and Christmas. This sparked in me the curiosity to try it for myself. Thanks to Drink Up Columbus (a kickass local blog on everything you need to know about imbibing in the capital city), I received a coupon for $50 off a winemaking experience at Camelot Cellars. This prompted me even further to get things started.

I scheduled my winemaking appointment with good friend and owner of the fantastic Camelot Cellars, Janine Aquino. She was very helpful in setting up my session and answering all questions I had. It is important to note that making your own wine will take a great deal of knowledge, skill, work, time and patience. You will not be able to walk out with your completed wine right away, as it is a lengthy process that takes months! Knowing this, I decided that my batch of wine would be ready just in time for Christmas, so it would make a perfect holiday gift, much like my father had done.

My appointment was on a Thursday evening in June and took approximately two hours. The two hours flew by, and included drinking specially selected wines, so I was okay with that! The first part of the process is sitting down one-on-one with the owner, Janine, who will help you choose six wines to taste in order to determine what kind of wine you’d like to make. Janine said this is one of her favorite parts of her jobs, as she gets to match a person’s palate to their preferred wine type. For me, that meant red wines with smoky, oaky, spicy, dry flavors. With this in mind and with Janine’s help, I narrowed my six wines down to that one perfect wine: South Australian Single Vineyard Shiraz. It is very different, which is a taste I was going for!

The next part of the process was heading to the wine lab itself to prepare the wine with a staff member. Brian was the staff member who assisted me. He instructed me step-by-step as to what I had to do to get my wine ready to go. I poured the grape juice, added bentonite (which reduces cloudiness in my wine), grape skins, oak chips, oak powder, and finally, yeast (which I added at the end in the formation of an “O” for OHventures). This was quite a process, as I had to submerge all of the oak chips and powder in a delicate motion. Having more people with you in the winemaking experience would speed up the process.

Now, all I do is wait patiently and return to Camelot Cellars in 12 weeks to check on my wine. In the meantime, I have to come up with a name and a label for my wine, so all suggestions are welcome! I will update you all on my winemaking experience this fall!

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