Author Archives: thehomebrewbarn

Fall Harvest 2020 – Update

This Fall Harvest is certainly living up to the hype we received from our distributers. The deliveries to date have been received on time, and the packaging has been as impeccable as we usually see. It is so hard to believe that the chaos surrounding the California wildfires doesn’t appear to be affecting the shipping at all. Our hearts go out to all of those dealing with this tragedy.

There has been a concern surrounding the issue of ‘Smoke Taint’ possibly affecting this year’s crop. The wildfires this year are different from those seen in recent years, as they occurred earlier in the growing season, before the fruit had been harvested. It is important to know that the fact that when smoke enters a vineyard, even if it is dense, the grapes are not automatically damaged. Another complicating factor is that the wildfires affected such a large area, that testing for the smoke taint is severely backlogged. However, recent results from one vineyard in the Central Valley indicated that from 8 samples, five showed no signs of damage, and three had low levels that would not impart the smoke taint condition.

As we all know, the wine industry is massive. Much money has been invested by large growers, procurers and producers. Due to the testing backlog, many commercial contracts have been put on hold until more results become available. If you still have concerns, try a white Fresh Juice – the way they are processed minimizes the time they are on the crushed skins before pressing. Rest assured, our distributers are well versed and committed to providing only the soundest grapes and juice.

IN GENERAL

Fresh Grapes

All varieties that have been received have looked wonderful. Standouts from Lodi / Central Valley have been the Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Merlot, Black Muscat and Chardonnay. Sangiovese received from the new ‘Mettler Farms’ look fantastic. We can’t wait to see their other offerings!

Fresh Juice

California ‘Juice Only’ varieties have been in plentiful supply and are still available. Results of the Acidity and pH testing we have performed on the juice has been the best we have seen, with only a few varieties requiring increased acid.

Mosti Fresco and Imperatore juices are expected to be received around Columbus Day, look on our website for updates.

Cider Apples

This year certainly has been a bumper crop for local early harvest apples. Macintosh, Gala, Gravenstein and Paula Red have led the way. What we are seeing is that the apples, though plentiful, seem to be smaller. Results of the Acidity is higher than usual, pH is within range and sugar content is down about 5 points on the Specific Gravity scale. This actually translates to making a more interesting early hard cider, and gives the cider maker more options for sweetening without making it ‘too boozy’.

Look for our Antique and Heirloom special cider juice blend later in the fall – you’ll make a hard cider that’s like champagne!

Classes

Though the Pandemic has slowed down our usual scheduling, we are forging ahead with proper procedures for our reduced-size classes. We require masks, perform routine cleaning and provide appropriate social distancing in our classroom and shop.

Our ‘ADVANCED WINEMAKING’ and ‘HARD CIDERMAKING’ classes are mostly held outside and continue to be a hit. We offer a great experience where you get to make your wine right from grapes, and your hard cider from apples that you crush and press, You can’t get much fresher than that! We show you the entire process from start to finish.


We will offer Introductory Classes for Beer, Wine, Cheese and Kombucha late October through Thanksgiving. See our website for dates and times. Don’t forget – gift a 2021 class to someone for the Holidays – you know how much fun they are!

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Fall Harvest – 2020

This Fall Harvest season is destined to be one of the best on record! And we need it after such a tumultuous year. Despite scorching temperatures and widespread fires in many areas of California, our growers, pickers, packers and shippers are forging ahead. This means that we will be receiving the first shipment of grapes and fresh juice by the second week of September. Northern California, Washington State and Specialty Regions will arrive the around end of September – beginning of October. Our premium ‘Mosti Fresco’ and Italian Specialty Juices are expected the first week of October. Keep in mind that we are dealing with fresh fruit, so these timeframes are subject to change.

As always, we take great pride in providing you with the best grapes and fresh juice available. Due to the Covid Pandemic negatively affecting the efficiency of Customs, the condition of our Spring Harvest grapes were not as good as we usually see. Spoilage is easy with fresh fruit even when refrigerated if it ‘hangs around’ too long. You can be assured that all of our Fall Harvest offerings will arrive in ‘top shelf’ condition. We take great pride in providing you with fresh grapes and juice that has been refrigerated from vineyard processing to right when you pick it up. Our Fall Harvest never sits out on a loading dock.

IN GENERAL

Whether you purchase fresh grapes or juice, we are there every step of the way (if you need us) to help you make the best possible wine. We provide detailed, step by step instructions that clearly lay out how we recommend you ferment your selection. We offer testing equipment and kits to ensure success. Look for our ‘ADVANCED WINEMAKING’ class where we show you the entire process from start to finish. Make wine the ‘real way’ – purchase grapes and use our CRUSHER/DESTEMMER and PRESS to help you get started.  


Fall Grapes come in 36 lb containers called ‘Lugs’. It takes 75 lbs (two lugs) to make 5-6 gallons of finished wine. When making larger batches, we recommend 175 lbs (five lugs) per each 12 gallons of finished wine. The grapes are carefully packed in wooden or plastic containers, then sprayed with a low amount of Metabisulfite solution to ensure freshness.

Fall Juices come in six gallon pails and are available in two packing styles. Even though the juice is refrigerated, fermentation can occur.

The ‘Juice Only’ style comes from grapes that are simply crushed, destemmed and pressed. Metabisulfites are added to prevent spoilage. If fermentation occurs before you get it, it will be on ‘wild yeast’, which is not always a good idea. Most of our customers who purchase the ‘Juice Only’ products do so because certain varieties are not available in the “Mosti” line. Another reason is that when making larger batches and ‘Blending’ varieties, you can add a single yeast strain and be sure that there are no competing strains.

The premium ‘Mosti Fresco’ style is initially processed like the ‘Juice Only’ style. The juice is then tested and ‘balanced’, ensuring that the sugar, acid and pH levels are correct – then it is inoculated (pitched) with the proper yeast. Different varieties may be inoculated with different yeast strains.

Though a little more expensive, the ‘Mosti Fresco’ style is the most popular – we definitely recommend this style for new winemakers. The ‘Juice Only’ style also produces exceptional wines, but we recommend testing and balancing before fermenting.

REGION BY REGION

In last year’s blog we covered general information about LODI, CENTRAL VALLEY, LANZA-SUISUN / PASO ROBLES / CONTRA COSTA regions and WASHINGTON STATE.

This year, we are pleased to bring you grapes from METTLER FARMS for the first time. They are a family owned, hundred plus year old vineyard that produces an exceptional product. All their offerings are worth a try, but for something different look at ROUSANNE, GRENACHE and ZINFANDEL.


SPECIAL OFFERINGS

Once again, we have PINOT NOIR from the Russian River Valley and CABERNET SAUVIGNON from the Sonoma Attwood Ranch. For the first time, we offer a fantastic MERLOT from the Geyserville region – don’t miss this one if you dig a more ‘fruity’ wine style.

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SUMMER STYLE BEER – ARE YOU READY?

ImageYou know there is just something special about having an ice cold bottle of beer on a hot summer day – it’s a Tradition…. The ‘up’ of our ‘down time’. We work hard. Disorder has tried to screw with us all week and we stood tall. Ahhh, the first sip of that crisp Lager, Hef or Pale Ale.

…Ready to break Tradition? What about those ‘other’ summer beer styles? One of our Facebook friends brought our focus to Porch Rocker, a fantastic summer beer with a name that helps put you there. S A has presented us with this seasonal ‘Radler’, but what is it? Well, a Radler is typically a German-style beer blended with lemon soda. In this case, it’s a Helles made with lemon.

We wanted to turn you on to some alternative summer drinks that you can make up – just take your favorite beer, preferably your homebrew, and mix it 50-50 with something, basically anything. Turns out there are a number of these traditional summer beer drinks:

  •        Alster                     Pilsner/Lemon Soda
  •        Bismark                 Scwartzbier/Champagne
  •        Black Shandy        Stout/Lemonade
  •        Brass Monkey       Beer/Orange Juice
  •        Cincinnati              Beer/Lemon-Lime Soda
  •        Diabolo                  Lager/mint or grenadine
  •        Flieger                   Weizen/Cola
  •        Kivela                    Lager/lemonade
  •        Mazouts                Lager/cola
  •        Quianti                  Beer/Orange Soda
  •        Radler                   Beer/Lemon Soda
  •        Russ                     Weizen/Lemon Soda
  •        Shandy                 Beer/any Soft Drink
  •        Snakebite             Beer/Cider

And then when the ‘soft’ drink added to the beer becomes ‘hard’ we have:

  •        Diesel                    Lager/Cider/Black Currant liquor
  •        Dragon Bite          Diesel/Vodka
  •        Red Witch            Diesel/Pernod Liquor

Be creative and give it a go!

Let us know if you have one you really enjoy that you have created! Maybe we can design a new beer style!

Kirby

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There may be things that even a good beer can’t save…

Interesting read this week from azcentral.com written by the brewmaster of Tempe’s Four Peaks Brewery on trying new brews to pair with food… if you haven’t yet read it I’d recommend reading but Wow…Andy – I can’t tell if you need a beer or you had too many when you wrote this article. Wading through the content of the article basically left me with one thought: there may be things that even a good beer can’t save.

First off, beer is an icebreaker, a social conduit. If you’re going to saddle it with a task like pairing it with food, start with appetizers. “Befores” typically should be light alcohol content. They’ll go with anything from the spicy to the bland. But beware: the spicy will need to be watered down with more of the same beer, and the bland will cry out for the next style.

Which brings me to the next point: I liked the suggestion for each of the guests to bring some beer. I always like this suggestion. As a matter of fact, at our dinner parties, if you don’t bring some beer you wash the dishes. This rule has resulted in a concerted effort by the guests to not only bring beer, but to garner some sense of what the hell it is they have brought so that everyone in attendance knows it’s their beer.

Kirby

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