Screech Owl Cellars Wine & Vinegar

Just Something I Made brings you just something he made. Today Jeff and I labeled his red wine vinegar and he finished wax sealing the last of his bottles of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, all in time to share on Christmas day. I thought you would enjoy seeing a bit of the process of one of Jeff’s favorite hobbies, winemaking.He begins by purchasing and handpicking all of the grapes from a Sonoma vineyard, such as these picked early last month. I adore those vintage wooden crates, much heavier than the new plastic bins available, but these have been in his family for many years.He pours all of the grapes into the crusher then cranks by hand to separate the fruit from the stem.

The separated stems fall into a wheelbarrow and are pushed to the back of our property into the compost pile for our garden.

Our pups not only accompany him in the vineyards when picking, but keep him company during the crush.

The grapes and seeds pile into a large vat.

Yeast is added to the grapes and the vat is stored in our barn and kept covered and nice and warm with heating blankets wrapped around the outside of the vat while the grapes ferment over a couple of weeks. Each member of our family helps keep the electric blankets heated and the grapes stirred while the winemaker is on duty at the firehouse.

After the fermentation process the grapes are pressed and all the liquid is poured into large carboys (huge glass jugs). The liquid is later racked (siphoned from one carboy to another leaving sediment behind.) Left alone for a few months it is again racked into an oak barrel where it will undergo a malolactic fermentation and aged for over a year before bottling. I wasn’t around for photographing the bottling of the 2009 vintage below, I’ll try to snag some shots next time.

I designed the faux leather labels and printed them out onto full sheet label stock. Here is a previous post about his wine and labels on my old design blog. Jeff trimmed out the front and back labels on the Genesis Paper Trimmer (we love that thing!), rounded the corners with a corner punch and adhered them to the bottles. Today he warmed up the gold sealing wax over the stove in a small can,

and dipped each of the corked bottles to seal.

Jeff also makes vinegar using extra red wine from the crush which he stores in crocks and later bottles for gift giving. This year he came home with screw-top bottles and cork lids for the vinegar.I wasn’t crazy about the threads on the neck of the bottle showing so I devised a quick fix using scrap leather.

I washed the leather well with soap and water and cut into strips to fit around the bottles while wet. I trimmed the ends of the strips at angles and cut small nicks at one end.

Folding over the opposite end section, I cut a slit into the leather fold.

I slid the other end into the slit,

slipped it over the bottle,

and pulled tight lodging the cut nicks into the slit. The leather shrunk a bit as it dried hiding the glass threads beautifully.

The vinegar labels were also printed to full sheet label stock and trimmed out individually. As with the wine labels, each vinegar label edge was colored with a same color marker. This is a very important step in keeping the label appearing as a leather patch rather than a plain paper label with the white edge showing.

All the bottles were labeled side by side to keep the labels at the same height on each.

My dear friend Gia stopped by with Christmas cookies and took the first bottle of vinegar home. We will be handing out the rest of the vinegar and wine to friends and family we visit on Christmas day.

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