Take your wine game a step further by bringing out your creative side, and making your very own blends. The best part – you don’t have to be a chemist or connoisseur to get started.
Become an at home winemaker with Manteca’s Delicato Family Vineyards’ annual At Home Winemaking Workshop. Here, you can learn the beginning steps to the art of winemaking, and soon, hone in skills that will impress palates with your very own assortments. Each year, Tasting Room Manager Richard Foote teaches a two-hour class on the key to successful winemaking at home, “From A to Z,” he describes. His 27 years in the industry, and more than 10 years teaching the class, has made him an expert. However, he assures that you don’t have to be one to get started.
Everybody’s got to start somewhere, and that’s exactly Foote’s approach. He starts with the basics, from equipment and pricing to pH balance and storage.
“[This class is for] anyone considering [winemaking] or has done it in the past and it didn’t turn out,” he said.
With a glass of red wine in hand, he begins with the fundamentals — terminology, common equipment and additives — listing reasons for use and alternatives along the way. The step-by–step process is illustrated by power point, a collection of equipment at hand, and tastings of wine in each stage of fermentation.
Foote emphasizes the importance of sanitation during the entire process, as bacteria such as yeast, can mean disaster for batches if tools are not cleaned appropriately. “This is always a problem with at-home winemakers,” Foote said. “Think very clean. It’s good practice.”
With cleanliness in mind, next comes testing the pH and sugar of your unfermented wine. Then, depending on the type of wine, sterilize your juice, mix your additives, and begin the fermentation processes with a close eye on the required temperature for reds (80-85 Degrees) or whites (55-65 degrees). Altogether, Foote estimates that this process can take approximately nine months to a year until wine is ready to bottle and enjoy.
Antoinette Benson and Mike Flores attended the workshop to learn about the winemaking process from start to finish. Though familiar with at-home brewing, both are new to winemaking. The class sparked their interest, as they are both motivated to begin making their own blends together.
Both Benson and Flores said they learned a lot from the class, including ways to keep costs down.
“There are some short cuts you can do using tools that are less expensive to get the same results,” said Benson. “What’s really great is that Delicato has all the tools and information at their winery.”
The couple is ready to put their newfound knowledge to the test.
“We might even get creative and try a mango-pineapple white wine. It will be exciting to work next to my fiancé in creating a wine,” said Benson.IF YOU GO
Delicato Family Vineyards
12001 99 Frontage Rd., Manteca