There are some good reasons to make wine in 5-gallon (19 liter) or larger batches. Once you know what you’re doing, it takes about the same amount of effort to make five gallons of wine as it does to make one. The amount of headspace in a 5-gallon carboy isn’t much more than in a 1-gallon jug. So five gallons of wine. stored in 1-gallon jugs, is in contact with a lot more air than if it were in a 5-gallon carboy. That makes oxidation a bigger problem. So why am making the three small batches in the photo (and many more that aren’t shown)?
Each one has it’s own story. My “backyard burgundy,” a rose made from Leon Millot, Pinot Noir, Siegerrebe, and Price grapes that I grew in my bonsai vineyard, is on the left. On the right is my honey apple, made from Liberty, Ashmead Kernel, and Roxbury Russets that I grew in my bonsai orchard. Finally, my Leon-Pinot, a red wine made from Pinot Noir and Leon Millot grapes from my bonsai vineyard, is front and center.
I’m still not sure what to call my most recent wine, but Backyard Burgundy just might stick. It’s the product of two less-than-ideal harvests from my bonsai orchard. From pests, large and small, to wacky weather I wasn’t sure what I’d get from these grapes. The 2007 harvest sulked in my freezer until it was joined by the 2008 vintage. Growers all over the Puget Sound complained of low sugar and high acid, so I decided to toss all the grapes into a single batch of rose. So I crushed, pressed, and fermented the juice just like a white wine. All the red grapes gave the wine it’s color, and that’s why it’s a rose instead of a white wine. I love my bonsai vineyard, but volume isn’t it’s strong suit, so the harvest from a difficult year – even two difficult years – will be small. The 8.5 lb gave me about 3 quarts of juice, and I’m hoping for three 750 ml bottles of finished wine.
You’ve really got to want to make wine to make it in these quantities, and I do. That’s why I crushed, fermented, and pressed a red wine from my first harvest ever – 4 lb (about 1.8 kg) of Leon Millot and Pinot Noir grapes. It’s been aging in a 500 ml Grolsch bottle since 2006 and I’m getting ready to open it.
The honey apple came from my biggest harvest of apples. It was big enough that I decided not to supplement the apples with store bought juice, like I usually do, and that will make it my smallest batch of apple wine. How’s that for irony?