A Sustainable Life - James Strawbridge tells Cornwall Life how to make your own wine

PUBLISHED: 12:30 12 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:41 20 February 2013

A Sustainable Life - James Strawbridge tells Cornwall Life how to make your own wine

A Sustainable Life - James Strawbridge tells Cornwall Life how to make your own wine

Eco-celebrity James Strawbridge tells Cornwall Life how easy and satisfying it is to make your own wine...

Eco-celebrity James Strawbridge tells Cornwall Life how easy and satisfying it is to make your own wine...

On a summers day, after a hard days work, what could be better than relaxing outside with a glass of aromatic, homemade wine? For a small investment, it is easy to make. Whether it turns out to be fine wine, however, very much depends on your ingredients, overall cleanliness and degree of patience. I have to be honest and say that I do not make very good wine. However, Cornwall being Cornwall, there are lots of successful producers around who are making very drinkable bottles, so you wont go short!

Vineyards that I know and enjoy buying from are the famous Camel Valley Vineyard, Polmassick Wines near St Ewe, which makes a delicious wine called Meva Red and also a tasty white, and Polgoon Vineyard near Penzance with a particularly good ros. Cornwalls microclimate improves the conditions for growing, making it a great place for grape vines. Try growing them against south-facing walls, under cover, or outside on a warm south-facing slope. Prune the lateral stems each winter to two or three buds from the main stem and grow Mulberry trees nearby as they have excellent anti-fungal properties.

Wine-making can be approached either as a scientific experiment with accurate measurements under meticulous conditions, or, as I do, as a vibrant and fun activity. I like to think of myself as a wine-making rebel not bound to strict rules but letting the process evolve naturally. Having said that, there are a few basic essentials.

Make Your Own Wine

Pressing: press your grapes any way you can. I use both red and white grapes together for making ros. We have a large press that we use to make cider in the autumn but it is also excellent for pressing grapes. Alternatively, try the traditional way and get in there with clean feet and squash the grapes until they are reduced to pulp and swills of grape juice.

Squeezing: dont stop until you have squeezed every last bit out of the fruit.

Fermenting: after pressing, strain the grape juice through a sieve and a muslin cloth to make the resulting wine even clearer. Pour this into a fermentation jar or demijohn, using a funnel, and keep at 24C. Put a fermentation lock in the top of the jar to allow gases to escape but to stop outside air contaminating the contents.

Racking: to rack essentially means to siphon off your wine from above the yeasts which have settled at the bottom (these are also known as the lees). It is important to rack the wine so that the lees dont spoil its flavour. I use a simple length of clear plastic flexible tube to do the siphoning. A month after racking your wine the process should be repeated and, if you have the patience, again three weeks later. Before the final racking some people leave their wine outside in the cold to hasten the settling down of any left-over sediment. Because the temperature should be reduced to about 15C, the wine should also have calmed down and there will be no risk of exploding bottles.

Bottling: when the wine is six months old, bottle and cork it. This will be after it has completely fermented. Rack your wine into dark-coloured bottles to preserve the colour, filling them so that you leave about an inch at the top for the corks.

Corking: a corking gun is a gadget that we find well worth having for this stage. After you have driven the corks into the tops of the bottles using a corking gun or a wooden mallet, remember to label them clearly and leave for a full year. Store them on their side at about 13C.

TOP TIPS

Keep everything clean.

Strain the wine well at the start to improve the chances of achieving a clear wine.

To preserve colour, keep red wines in dark bottles.

Dont use too much sugar or the wine ends up tasting too sweet.






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