RJ Cole Winery

Insights into the world of an amateur home winemaker.

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Cole Wines anagrams to Senile Cow.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Thank You, Wine Thief!

Okay, I've decided on a recipe! It came from Wine Thief who is a poster in the forums at Winepress. I just recently found that website and it looks like it's going to be a great help for making wines because of all the advice you can get there! Everyone seems so nice and supportive of each other (unlike my fantasy football league where we all try to sabotage each other!) Just so everyone knows, Winethief has okay'd my stealing of the recipe. Maybe as I get more practice in making wines and learn more, I'll be able to come up with my own recipe, but I'm not quite there yet!

Okay, here's the recipe:
30 pounds pumpkin meat from 3 pumpkins
5 tsp yeast nutrient
1.25 tsp tannin
12 pounds sugar (Winetheif later suggested using brown sugar. I'll update on what I use later!)
2.5 tsp pectic enzyme
4 cinnamon stix (Winetheif suggests maybe a little more than this actually.)
5 Campden Tablets crushed
Acid Blend to .60 TA
Starting SG 1.090
PH 3.32

Yeast Starter:
2 cups warm water
1/4 tsp citric acid
1/2 tsp nutrient
2 tbsp sugar
Montrachet Yeast (this is the type of yeast I've seen suggested in every pumpkin recipe I've looked at, so it must be the right one!)

Make yeast starter - Red Star Montrachet -
Pitch yeast 24 hours after starting

Scrape pumpkin meat using an Ice Cream Scooper.

Add the sugar into 2 gallons of boiling water which with sugar volume will yield a total of 3 gallons liquid. Add liquid to the must.

Rack the Pumpkin wine juice from the squeezed pulp to carboy. Total juice will be 6 gallons once it gets all put back together (I will use a little less pumpkin and maybe a touch less water since I only have the capability for 5 gallons right now! - ed.) Be sure to allow room for finishing fermentation foam.

Secondaries of juice will sit now until fermentation is complete. When the foam dies down and fermentation is complete, rack to a fresh carboy which should fill it to the top for aging and add sulfite.

That's it for the first few weeks! After a few months, I will rack the wine again, just go from there. I hope that I only need to rack once, but from what I've read, it sounds like I will need to rack this a few times to get the wine off all of the sediment.

The first thing I need to do is to make sure I've got all the ingredients I need and make a stop at Alternative Beverage. Then I'll get started tomorrow morning!

BBQ Festival and Childress Vineyards

Last Saturday, Kat and I went with Bobby and Casey to the Lexington BBQ Festival. It wasn't quite what we thought it would be, though. It was mostly just street vendors selling crafts and the such, with very little BBQ and long lines where it was. We got to see General Johnson and Chairmen of the Board who still have very energetic shows even though they've got to be close to 300 years old now! After that, we walked through the streets a couple of times and decided that it would be easier to get our BBQ fix if we just left and went to a BBQ restaurant. We stopped at the Barbecue Center restaurant and ate our fill. Great restauarant - as I said to Kat, it had everything a good BBQ place should have - Pulled (or chopped) pork bbq, hush puppies, sweet tea, and homemade banana pudding.

After that, we still had quite a lot of time before we needed to get back to Charlotte (so Kat could watch the Auburn football game!) We decided to stop by Childress Vineyards and do a wine tasting there. The Winemaker was there. His name is Mark. I stopped him and asked him if he had any advice for the home winemaker. He laughed and said, "Don't make wine, buy it!"

Very funny, Mark. Very funny. I bet we'll all be laughing once I take your job from you! (So it'll take a long time, who cares?) I'm gunning for you!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

What exactly would ya' say it is you do here?

Hi again everyone! Thursday morning now. I'm getting excited about starting the wine this weekend!

I just popped open the first bottle of my first batch of wine a couple of weeks ago. It was a Blackberry Wine Vintage 2004. Both Kat and I thought it was really good, but it turned out even better after I chilled it! I can't wait to let more people try it, but I've got to get the labels on first.

I first became enamored with the idea of home winemaking after hearing the song "Blackberry Wine" by Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Boys. I thought about doing it for a couple of years before I finally sat down and started getting my thoughts together about it. I looked up a recipe online and found a great Home Winemaking website run by a man named Jack Keller called The Winemaking Homepage. It's full of useful info for the home winemaker. Igot a recipe there, and found a link to my local winemaking supply store: Alternative Beverage. After a stop there to pick up supplies and a trip to the farmer's market and Bloom (I bought all of the remaining blackberries at the farmer's market, but still needed a few more!) I was ready to go.

It was a little bit of work, but I was on my way to 5 gallons (2 cases (24 bottles)) of Blackberry wine with no idea of how it would turn out! I was hopeful and nervous at the same time!

In everything I've read on the subject of Home Winemaking, one of the most important things suggested was to keep notes to record what you've done and track the progress of your wine. This will be extremely helpful for future batches of wine. If the wine turns out bad, then you can go back and see what you did and try differnt things to make it better the next time. If the wine turns out good, then you have a record of how it was made so you can reproduce the wine the next time.

Well, it may come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I decided I would just remember what I did. And while I have to brag that I have a good memory, it can be tough to remember whether I let the wine ferment in the primary for 5 days or 6 days, whether I used 1.5 pounds of sugar or 2 pounds, and later whether I added a 1.5 sugar solution or 1.75 to sweeten the wine. Alas, my existing batch of blackberry wine may be the only one of it's kind to touch the face of this earth. I'll likely do things differently next time without wanting to.

That's the purpose of this blog. It will serve as my notebook to record the procedures I use and the amounts of ingredients that go into my wines. I offer it to y'all as something that may interest you on how I'm doing with the wine. I intend to eventually add photos of the wine as it is progressing. Maybe I'll throw in a random thought here and there about the world and anything else I want to say. Feel free to leave comments (please leave comments!) and I'll try to keep things interesting!

More soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


This is my first post! Thanks!!

This blog will be my record for my wines which I will be making. This weekend, Oct. 29, 2005, I plan to start my 2nd batch of homemade wine. It will be a Pumpkin Wine! I'll keep you posted on how it's going! See y'all soon!