I’ve been making wine as a hobbyist for over 10 years now. I work in the high-tech industry by day and there is little that is more satisfying on weekends than to revert to a hobby that is sensuous, artisanal and that can, in many ways, be surprisingly forgiving.
While a service like Crushpad is a fine way to participate in some of the decision making processes of winemaking, I highly recommend that, at some point, you consider procuring grapes (there are many sources across the country serving every state) and “getting sticky”. And make no mistake, at least here in the U.S. premium grapes can be had at prices that those who enjoy fine wine would not find the least bit outrageous. Nor are the basic tools of the trade prohibitive.
Enjoying wine is a sensual experience in so many ways. Taking the time to engage with the whole process from start to finish — to participate in the metamorphosis — has only expanded my appreciation for the craftsman and his or her handiwork. It’s an almost mystical hobby, both introspective and meditative — whether you’re hearing the bees buzz in the vineyard as you harvest on a cool, misty morning in early autumn, listening to the free-run juice run from the press like a babbling mountain brook in a Zen Buddhist’s garden, or enjoying the bready fermentation smells of yeast and fruit as they transform each other and become one.
Tomorrow morning I pick Muscat — in Maryland of all places — and I can already smell the orange-spice aromas, feel the sun and the dew, and hear the early morning vineyard sounds. And I can assure you from harvests past that with a just a little effort and a reasonable amount of patience a fine wine will result. I will pick Cab Franc and Lemberger in the coming weeks after which fresh Cab Sauv and Malbec grapes, from Napa and Lodi respectively, are due to arrive. And I engage…
Check with your local chapter of the American Wine Society. Or check with the folks who put on your state and county fairs. There are usually homemade beer and wine competitions included as a part of the agricultural displays. Often they can direct you to a winemaking club in your area. Or Google for one! And enjoy!!