Friday, January 9, 2009

What's in the Cellar??

Brad Posts:

After reading Terry’s post about his wonderful wines I kept wondering what I have in my cellar already bottled and what I have in the wings. First, let me assure you that I do not have a wine drinking problem – it’s more of a winemaking problem!

And while I am envious of those of you who possess wine cellars filled with the brim with exotic and rare labels, I must confess a bit of satisfaction at making my own variety of rare wines – some of which turned out to be big flops and others award winning. I’ll begin with what is already bottled in the cellar and then talk about what’s coming up.

Peach (2006) – lightly sweetened: One of our very first wines. Thin with notes of old tennis shoes – peach wines have a funky smell. (10 bottles).

Raspberry (2006) – lightly sweetened: Another one of our very first wines. Thin and not enough raspberry fruit flavors. (8 bottles).

Cranberry (2007) – lightly sweetened: A couple holidays ago, we purchased some fresh cranberries and made our first cranberry wine. Very tart and very past its useful life - oxidized (3 bottles).

Rhubarb (2007) – lightly sweetened: Grown behind the garage and fermented in the house! We produced only a gallon during our first try with rhubarb – a rascal to work with. (5 bottles).

Wild Grape (2007) - Dry: Handpicked wild grapes on state land in Iowa. One gallon was not enough! Very tasty! (2 bottles).

Concord/Marechal Foch Blend (2007) – lightly sweetened: A nice, fruity blend of Iowa grown grapes. First place: Eastern Iowa Amateur Wine Competition. (3 bottles).

Catawba (2007) – off dry: We got the juice from NY and fermented it here. This wine was very tough to start and is plagued with some off flavors – probably diethyl sulfide. Despite that we won these awards: First place: Cedar County Fair; third place: Eastern Iowa Amateur Wine Competition (13 bottles).

Apple-Kiwi-Strawberry (2007) – lightly sweetened: A summer, sitting in the garden drunk, wine! Second place: Eastern Iowa Amateur Wine Competition; Third place: Cedar County Fair.

Apple (2007) – off-dry: One of our favorites! Very reminiscent of a Riesling and so easy to drink. First place: Eastern Iowa Amateur Wine Competition and top-5 selection. (6 bottles – we’re sad).

I Was Bored – Grapefruit (2007) – lightly sweetened: Okay, I’ve heard that grapefruit makes wine with notes of Sauvignon Blanc – so, we tried! Yuck!

Rhubarb (2008) – Dessert-styled. If you like rhubarb crisp in a bottle, you might like this! (14 bottles).

Blackberry (2008) – Dry: We went wild making blackberry wine. Okay. (10 bottles).

Blackberry (2008) – Lightly sweetened: We left a little residual sugar. Okay (7 bottles).

Blackberry Port (2008) – Dessert, Port-Inspired: Our first attempt making a port-styled wine and we really like it. Bottled just before Christmas (2008) we give them as presents (375ml)! Very tasty! (22, 750ml bottles and 13, 375ml bottles).

Total: 142 bottles!

Just so you know, a family is legally allowed to make 200 gallons of wine per year and if our cellar isn’t full enough already, here is what is coming. FYI: 1 gallon is roughly equivalent to 5, 750ml bottles of wine!

To be bottled in 2009:

Peach – Sweet: We are phasing out of fruit wine making but I was bored in early August and so here is the result. Has nice peach flavor and its typical aromatic baggage. (6 gallons)

Marechal Foch (red) – free-run: We helped pick these grapes in late August – probably a little early but is showing its Fochy characteristics – strong earthy and coffee notes. Oak. (22 gallons).

Marechal Foch (red) – press-fraction. Same batch as above, but we separated the pressed portion. Thinner but less of the earthiness. Oak. (5 gallons).

Traminette (white): I have written about Traminette before. We are very impressed with this one. It is in the final stages of cold stabilization. (10 gallons).

Malbec (red): Our winemaking group purchased grapes from Chile and crushed them in April (08). Currently undergoing cold stabilization. We aged it with MT oak and is promising. (5 gallons).

Chambourcin (red): A true Midwestern favorite! Delicious berries and very tasty wine. One of our most promising reds! oak. (15 gallons).

Peach-Traminette (blend): We blended 50:50 peach-Traminette – sweetened! Yummy (1 gallon)

Pear – Sparkling): I helped a winemaking friend process a few hundred pounds of pears and came away with a few gallons. We are planning on making a sparkling wine from it using the traditional method. (2 gallons).

Zinfandel (red): After working the crush with a local winery that sourced some organic Zinfandel grapes from California, I was given four pails of must! Yay! (7 gallons).

Total: 73 gallons

If you’re in Iowa later this year and have an interest in being part of a bottling process, we welcome your help! What’s in your cellar???

Cheers ~Brad


  1. I only have a handful of what I would call "trophy" wines. There is a '98 Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barolo that was, coincidentally, rated 98 by Wine Advocate. We're saving it for our 25th anniversary. There are a few other special bottles we picked up on trips to Paris and Napa. The most unusual wine I have is a 1996 Vin Jaune from the French Jura region. Similar to Fino Sherry and very rare in the US.

    Oh yes, and 400+ bottles of homemade wine.

  2. You need not wait that long to open the ' fact, we're having our next EIWC ( meeting on Jan. 17th! You're always welcome. And really...400+ bottles?!?! You definitely have a winemaking problem, my friend!


  3. I envy you your talent in making wine. Other than one opportunity to participate in the crush with Montichello Cellars in 1998 - I have never worked that side of the equation.

    I LOVE the idea of your having, "a winemaking problem"

  4. Great blog, Johnson Brothers!

    Brad....about your wine making problem...we're not here to judge.

    And remember that the last Saturday in February is "Open That Bottle Night"... Time to reach into the cellar and free that bottle of wine being saved for a "special occasion". And what more special occasion than the Eastern Iowa Wine Club Meeting (at our house!!!)?

    WOOHOO! Can't wait!

    Cheers~ Penny

  5. Thanks, Penny!

    We're looking forward to the "Open that Bottle Night" at your place. We'll have to see what special occasion wine we have for this important excuse to drink wine. Jill was given a bottle of Bordeaux a while back...maybe that'll be the one. Or the Grapefruit wine!!!

    See you soon!