As is always the case in October we made our annual pilgrimage to the Okanagan to spend Thanksgiving with the Maclean/Martin/Suuban family and also to pick grapes and make wine.
The drive went pretty well considering we had 17 month old twins in the back seat and as usual, the mountains and fall forests did not disappoint.
Fortunately, timing worked out perfectly and both the Gewurztraminer and Merlot grapes were ready for picking right on Thanksgiving weekend. It wasn’t long before we were put to work picking grapes.
As Saturday was Janet’s birthday, I made her a smoothie and she went for a run to start her day while I strapped Ewan and Eileen onto me and headed out to join Grandpa Ken in the vineyard to pick grapes.
Before long Janet, Loren, and Davis had joined us.
Once the gewurtz was picked it was time to start crushing the grapes.
We let the Gewurztraminer grapes sit on the skins for a few hours this year to extract a little more flavour from the skins. While that was happening we got a head start on picking the Merlot. Ewan and Eileen had a blast running through the rows in the vineyard and eating grapes straight from the vines.
Ewan in particular couldn’t get enough of the grapes. He was eating entire cluster at a time!
Before long it was time to press the gewurtz while the sun set behind the benches.
Ewan and Eileen seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to unattended alcoholic beverages…
The yield on the gewurtz was a little greater than we were expecting. We ended up nearly filling the 290 Litre stainless steel fermentation vessel to the brim which is risky business as fermentation inevitably leads to a certain amount of foam.
Ewan and Eileen really enjoyed the little rocking chairs that their late Great Grandpa Mani built for Davis and I when we were kids.
The next day we made a quick trip out to Keremeos to purchase some produce. Some of the markets had fantastic pumpkin/produce displays setup so we took the opportunity to get a a few pictures of the kids.
When we got back, it was time to get started on the Merlot.
This year we used a yeast that was new to us for the Merlot, Lalvin RC212 which is known for it’s unusual characteristic of not absorbing colour from the wine thereby leaving more colour and potentially flavour in place. It’s also reported to promote berry and fruit flavours. As usual, we re-hydrated our yeast using the yeast re-hydration nutrient go-ferm according to the instructions provided by Scott Labs.
Just 12 hours after pitching the yeast, a cap had formed (the grapes getting pushed to the top of the vessel from rising CO2 bubbles) and fermentation was under way.
Meanwhile, the Gewurztraminer wine was also well under way. We used a new yeast on this one too, Lalvin BA11 which originates from Portugal and is known to promote tropical fruit flavours.
Ewan and Eileen ate lots of grapes over the course of our stay in the Okanagan.
Eileen and Ewan also had a blast crawling into and out of the stools.
The Gewurztraminer was transferred into glass for the trip home which provided a good opportunity to see the yeast in action.
Unfortunately I don’t know that anyone got a picture of the incredible spread that we had for Thanksgiving dinner but we certainly enjoyed an impressive array of home cooked food and delicious wine, beer and mead.
Just like last year, the truck was full for the ride home. This is what the bed of the truck looked like before adding all of our gear.
The trip is now behind us, but there’s still lots of work ahead to finish this wine so that we have something to enjoy next year when we start the process all over again.