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Books,Culture,Flavors from the World of Wine,Oregon,Portugal,Restaurants,Suisun Valley,Wine,Wine Education,Wine Making

First Steps in Winemaking & Real Cidermaking On a Small Scale

Two new books have arrived, as we head into the last quarter of the year and the holiday gift giving season. But, these two are even more seasonal. This is the season to ferment, and these books are right on cue.

Both are from Fox Chapel Publishing, celebrating their 20th Anniversary (1991 – 2011). [I can dig that. Jose and I have just passed our 10th anniversary, and know how hard we’ve worked during those 10 years. Fox Chapel can just double that one on us…]

First Steps in Winemaking, by  C. J. J. Berry
Released September 1, 2001
Paperback is $14.95 US

If you’ve ever wanted to make delicious wine at home, this is the book for you. It will introduce you to the winemaking process in a month-by-month guide of what to do. Honestly, there are a lot of vineyardists willing to sell home winemakers some juice, from which you can all get started. The best sources that I know are in Suisun Valley. Click here to Email Roger King, the president of the Suisun Valley Vintners and Grape Growers Association, and he can put you in touch with the right people, including Ron Lanza at Wooden Valley Winery.

My one effort at making Zinfandel with my grapes ended with moldy wine in a few days. Maybe I should follow this book to get it right, and blog about that one. Hum…

This book is NOT about just making wine from Vitis vinifera, though. It’s about making wine from whatever fruit is in season…Examples:

  • January wine: Barley, Fig, Corn, Prune, Raisin, Grapefruit, Citrus, Date, Instant, Jam
  • June wine: Green Gooseberry, Wallflower, Parsley, Sage, Pansy, Bramble Tip, Oak Leaf or Walnut, Black Currant, Red Currant, or White Currant

While in Portugal, I experienced a truly unique experience… Something that’s never happened to me in the US. At the end of each dinner, the host restaurant would deliver a tiny cordial glass, filled with a sweet finisher to our meal. The one I had at A Cadeia Restaurant. Rainha St. Isabel, Estremoz was an Oak wine that was out of this world. What a lovely culture exists in Old World traditions. I will always be thankful to my friends at Enoforum Wines for bringing so much culture of old ways into my life… Including the process of learning that each restaurant’s after dinner specialized its own home brew.

Please don’t scoff at fruit wines until you’ve tried them. I laughed about fruit wine until I tasted Bartlett Maine Estate Winery’s blueberry wine. I thought I was enjoying Cabernet Sauvignon! Then, I tasted Frambrosia from Oak Knoll Winery’s raspberry wine (Willamette Valley, Oregon) and then knew about the delights of pure ambrosia.

My grandfather used to make root beer, until his entire batch exploded in his basement. I think he could have used this book… This book talks about “brewing,” and how to “brew” is very important, as is having the right guide.

Over 3-million copies of this book have sold, and it is now in its back-in-print mode, from its 1960 debut. The chapter on conducting fermentation… that’s where I failed, and now I know why, for instance.

Real Cidermaking On a Small Scale by Michael Pooley and the late John Lomax
To be released October 1, 2011
Paperback is $12.95 US

Autumn is just about upon us and the apples are beginning to fall from the trees. Nothing in the world tastes better than pulling an apple from its tree and consuming it right on the spot, huh? When living in Maine, every September I’d put the kids in cars (which included my girls, all my girl scouts, and our leaders… we grew from five to about 20 people in all), and off to the orchard we would go. We’d pick apples and return home, and I’d make pies. I always knew (and still do) that when my pie steams and bubble on the top with sweet, sticky apple, cinnamon sugar, it’s ready to come out of the oven.

We’d enjoy cider and doughnuts, and bring cider home for that short month’s window of opportunity to drink that delicious, sweet apple nectar.

Now… cider was never on my agenda, but I’ve tasted it since and love it. Another back-in-print book (Original ©1999) is Real Cidermaking On A Small Scale. You’ll learn how to build your own cellar press, how to ferment, and how to properly store your cider for year round enjoyment. You can also make perry, a cider from pears.

This is all just so yummy… This the season to ferment. What’s your pleasure? I’m off to an orchard to get my right mix of apples. Cheers!

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