catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 24 :: 2006.12.29 — 2007.01.12


If life gives you gooseberries...

Part 3 of 3


What have you learned throughout this process? How has it changed or affected you?

The lesson I learned throughout this process was something I have been discovering and surrendering to in the past few years. My general bent is to be individualistic, self-reliant, independent, but I have found true joy in the engagement of community. I cannot begin to list the number of people who took some part in the process of winemaking. Some helped pick ingredients, some collected bottles, some helped in my garden, some put air in the tires of my bike, some siphoned, some taste-tested, some helped clean bottles, some helped with labels, some took pictures, some crushed fruit, some gave me verbal encouragement and advice, and let me tell you, more than a few people offered to take the finished bottles off my hands.

Additionally, I've learned about winemaking in my portion of my state, southwest Michigan. Late in the summer, my pastor's wife and I went on a wine tour of four local wineries near Lake Michigan. We sampled wines and asked questions of the vintners about the process and observed and tasted (don't tell them, please) the grapes they used for their wines. We also visited a microbrewery.

Now that the wine is finished, bottled, and labeled, where will it go?  What are your hopes for its consumption?

It did not take me too long to realize the wine was going to make a great Christmas present. I've been noting which wines my friends seem most interested in, or which ones I think they might enjoy most. I ordered wine bags from a company called Treecycle, upon the suggestion of a friend, and used my inkjet printer to label the bags. I also used four bottles—the apple, basil, lilac, and blackberry-gooseberry—to accompany four courses of an incredible winter solstice party of nine people (including three members of the clergy, each from a different denomination).

The saddest part about my hopes for where the wine will go is in regard to my parents. I call my mother once a week to talk and when I was telling her about my friend helping me label the bottles to be given as Christmas presents, she clarified that she and my father didn't want to receive a bottle.  I love my mom and dad, and respect their decision not to drink.  I know they will not share in the finished product, but I do hope that if they read this article, they can at least appreciate the joy that winemaking has afforded me and respect my intentional decisions about drinking and crafting wine.

Will you make wine again next year? If so, what will you do differently and what do you hope to do the same?

Yes, I will definitely make wine again. I hope to try some new and unusual recipes next year as well as some I tried this first year. Perhaps something with ginger—I've never grown it before. Maybe lemon balm. I want to keep searching for local ingredients and inquire about wines other people have had success with. I want to savor the bounty of nature and put its essence in a bottle that I can enjoy myself and share with others, remembering the days shared with friends involved in some step of the process.

I would certainly welcome any suggestions or resources you would like to share with me. Please feel free to e-mail.

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