This is the beginning of my series of blogs on DIY (do-it-yourself) Organic Wine Making At Home. I will be blogging about my experience of making wine for the first time. It is a process that takes about 20 months for red wine and about 6 moths for white wine.
About a year ago my wife and I hosted our wine club at our house. Of course being the organic enthusiast that we are, our theme for the night was “Organic Wine.” That night we poured 13 special organic wines, and yes it was a feat just getting through all 13. Of the all the wines we tasted there was one in particular that stood above the rest, Barra of Mendocino.
Later that year, our friend Cory Wells hosted the wine club and the theme was “how to make your own wine”. Her stepfather Ken acquired several thousand pounds of Syrah grapes from the Temecula Valley in California. Our wine club purchased 500 pounds of the Syrah grapes to make our wine.
This was my first exposure to DIY winemaking, and I was hooked. After crushing and de-stemming, primary fermentation and pressing and racking (all of which were a party in themselves) we discussed how great it would be to do this with organic grapes. We were on the hunt for organic grapes.
Laura determined to find 500 pounds of organic grapes called numerour grape growers and also call our local organic wine distributor Bruno Allaire of Dynamic Imports. Finally she spoke to Martha Barra, the charming wife of Charlie Barra of Barra of Mendocino. She told Laura that Charlie would probably be willing to give us 500 pounds of grapes. Thus, we embarked on a venture from Los Angeles to Mendocino County to pick up 500 pounds of organic grapes. Not only do the Barras’ grow and make amazing organic wines they are incredibly generous and kind people. They put us up for the night and gave us an amazing tour of Ukiah and their vineyards. When Laura talked to Charlie they discussed which grapes we would be getting, and zinfandel was the chosen grape.
Charlie Barra is an amazing and inspiring person. He comes from a long line of Italian wine growers. He started growing wine in Ukiah when he went to high school. We spent less than 24 hours with the Barras’ but in that time I was inspired by this amazing man Charlie Barra.
With the grapes in hand, filling three large trash cans, we headed back to Southern California in our hybrid truck. We drove straight to Ken’s house to crush and de-stem the grapes and prepare them for the primary fermentation.
Read the next blog in this series on DIY Organic Wine Making.
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