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Drink Local Wine – Make Local Wine

Sorting tableRegional Wine Week is in full swing across the country. An interesting twist to drink local wine is to make local wine. On Saturday, fourteen people showed up at Vint Hill Craft Winery, in Vint Hill Virginia to help sort local Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes. The grapes had arrived and were put in cold storage until Saturday.

On the first sorting table, large MOG, materials other than grapes, were removed. The grapes then went to a destemmer. The stems were sent to a bin while the grapes went to another sorting table. I worked on the second sorting table. At first it was easy. There were a few stems, an occasional leaf, and a lot of jacks to remove. I noticed the Merlot berries were small and most were not split or crushed. The easy removing of MOG didn’t last long. The people on the first sorting table began to speed up and before we knew it the second sorting table had to more from leisure to a much quicker pace.

While working the line, owner, Chris Pearmund brought us fresh Merlot juice. Juice made from wine grapes is much better than grape juice bought in grocery stores.

MOG to be sorted from grapesAfter sorting two tons of Merlot, I could feel my lower back start to complain. Then bin after bin of local Cabernet Franc was brought in to sort. Cab Franc is one of my least favorite red wine grapes. After sampling a few of the berries, my opinion didn’t change. The berries were larger than the Merlot berries. By the time they were on the second sorting table, they were broken. This made the sorting a bit harder and stickier.

The experience was fun. It certainly gives an appreciation for the hard work that growers and winemakers go through to produce a bottle of wine. This is a great time of year to visit local wineries. There is a lot of activity that can be observed. At Vint Hill Craft Winery, a second floor gallery allows visitors to watch the proceeding below. While sorting, I noticed that at times we had a captive audience.

(For more information about Regional Wine Week, visit the DrinkLocalWine website.)

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