For me, being a wine enthusiast means not only tasting and drinking different varieties of wines from various Ohio wineries, it also means making wine, which I do on an annual basis to give out as holiday gifts. Making wine is a way of following in my father’s footsteps. He has made wine for years at home from grapes picked right off of my grandfather’s vines. He often hands out his homemade goods on special occasions, such as birthdays and Christmas. This sparked in me the curiosity to try it for myself. Instead of buying tons of equipment to make my wine at home like my father, I have found a couple of great wineries in Ohio that allow you to use their equipment and ingredients to make your own batch in the presence of skilled professionals.
It’s Your Winery in Medina
In the past, I had gone to Camelot Cellars
in Columbus and It’s Your Winery
in Medina for my winemaking needs. You can also make your own wine at Your Wine Cellar
in Strongsville. All locations offer patrons this extra special opportunity in their on-site wine labs. The entire experience from start to finish is controlled by YOU: picking the type of wine you want to make, mixing in the juice and yeast, bottling, corking, and labeling.
It is important to note that making your own wine will take a great deal of knowledge, skill, work, time and patience. You will not be able to walk out with your completed wine right away, as it is a lengthy process that takes about 10-12 weeks. So, if you’re like me and you are strapped for time, you also have the option to adopt wine. This is wine that has already fermented, but needs bottled, corked, capped, and labeled! If you go this route, you may limit yourself on the varieties you can get, but it’s still a fun and unique experience (if you’re in a REAL hurry, you can head to Signature Wines
in Columbus to design personalized labels to add to already-bottled wines).
Making wine at camelot Cellars
As mentioned, the handcrafting process allows you the chance to make your very own wine using the equipment on site. You come in and taste various wines to see which you want to make, then you are guided through the process – adding the chosen grape/fruit juice(s), correct amount of yeast, oak, etc. Then, you come back weeks later to complete the process, which consists of bottling, corking, capping, and labeling (you can design your own labels too).
Whether you make the wine from the start, or adopt the wine that’s already made, it’s a fun activity to do with friends and family! You will need to taste test various wines to see which you want for your own batch (which of course is the best part)! And, you can help each other in the “assembly line” process to each take on one of the tasks.
The very first step (once you have the wine made) is to clean and sanitize the bottles in which my wine would be going. It was a rather basic process: I placed the empty bottles on nozzles that squirted water and a cleaning chemical into the bottle, and then I placed the bottle on a rack to dry. It was a simple, but very necessary step to get rid of any dirt, dust, or germs on the bottles.
Next, you will use a fancy contraption with tubes running from the container of wine to separate dispensers. Pushing the wine against the dispensers would essentially suck the wine from the container, through the tube, and into the bottle, stopping at just the right spot so that it didn’t overflow.
Probably the coolest and most fun of the five steps was the corking process. Another fancy machine helped achieve this with ease and perfection. I individually corked each bottle by taking Camelot Cellars cork from a bowl of cleaning solution, and placing it in the top of the cylindrical device. I then placed a bottle in the bottom part of the device, closed the door, and watched as – like magic – the cork was shoved into the top of the bottle.
Capping the wine was next. The caps are the plastic material that are placed over top of the corks on the neck of the wine bottles which are peeled or torn off before opening. I was given a variety of caps to choose from, and I opted for a traditional red-colored “sleeve” with golden grapes. I placed the caps on each of the bottles, inserted the bottle in a apparatus with red-hot coils, and swifty and quickly removed it from the coils. In a split second, the plastic had melted onto the bottle. I had to be careful, as holding the plastic near the hot coils any longer would cause it to burn.
The absolute final step in wine making was labeling my bottles. The label making process was different at both Camelot Cellars and It’s Your Winery, but it was definitely super cool to personalize and design the labels to see my wine come to life. I can’t wait to give them out once again as holiday gifts to friends and family this year!
For more holiday activities, Find It Here