When Jake Busching and Joy Ting made a tiny batch of skin-fermented pinot gris a few years back, they kept revisiting the barrel until it tasted just right. Teaming up with Charlottesville wine professionals Will Curley (Ten Course Hospitality) and Priscilla Martin Curley (Tavola), they bottled the 'orphan' barrel as 'Orphan No. 1.' They hope to find more barrels in other wineries and bottle them under the label series.
<-- Here's a link to my article in Knife & Fork magazine about the project.
In 2016 I was researching for an article about passito wine. At the suggestion of a winemaker friend, I took up a tiny project to learn more by going through the process and making a small amount of it. I thought I could gain more insights into the production side if I watched a wine through from harvest to bottling. With the help of some friends, I harvested about 10 small lugs of grapes, dried them by fan, pressed them in a tiny basket press, and fermented the juice in a glass demijohn. I held back a small beaker of inoculated juice to add to the demijohn of must-- but only as a last resort if I couldn't get a ferment started with the native yeasts.
I lost the demijohn of wine to a bad fermentation. But I did make about eight tiny bottles of tasty passito dessert wine from the beaker-- meager gains from a small experiment. Though the amount of wine is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I learned much about winemaking in the process. The palpable, tactile joys of handling the grapes, the smells and sounds of a fermentation-- all these things brought me closer to wine.
Hearing the satisfying "glug" as a gas bubble first made its way through the air-lock and signaled fermentation had begun, watching CO2 bubbles churn during the fermentation as tiny universes of yeast worked through their micro-life-cycles, and performing mundane tasks like siphoning without disturbing lees-- all the small decisions-- increased my appreciation for the motions and quotidian labors of winemaking. I always knew these things happened, but by performing them, I saw them in a new light.
Outside of educational experiments for professional growth, I still approach 'sommelier winemaking' with extreme caution. And yet, just yesterday I found myself bottling some experimental PetNat to see what happens... There's a certain gravitational force that pulls a wine lover to make wine. I already relish the day when I can pop the first bottle of PetNat, irregardless of what quality it might embody. I'm now viscerally connected to that wine and to this vintage. I can only imagine that this fierce connection to the casual wines I've "made" must be much more intense for the great winemakers of the world.
I’m Erin, and this is my wine blog. Here, you'll find information about wines from around the world, and Virginia.