Do all of you fellow winemakers remember the very first batch of wine that you made from grapes? Still have a bottle? Is it any good?
All very interesting questions to reflect on how far you've come on your winemaking journey. I had a chance for some personal reflection this weekend while I was continuing to clear out the basement so that the architect can start making his plans and construction can begin this fall. I came across 2 cases of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon that was the first wine that I made from grapes still sitting on the shelves. This wine was made back in Michigan when Aaronap Cellars was known as Hidden Lake Cellars. I honestly don't know where the grapes were picked, but I purchased them from Home Winery Supply Company in Dundee, MI. 2006 was the first year that they supplied fresh grapes from CA so I'm guessing that these were pretty cheap grapes from the Central Valley region of CA.
I have no desire to disparage Home Winery Supply, but I wasn't all that thrilled with the grapes when I got them. They were grapes--about the best that could be said for them. Didn't taste all that great but that was the nearest place I could buy fresh grapes. So I crushed them, fermented, and cleared, etc (my back still aches from the memory of hand destemming 100 lbs of crushed grapes). I thought the wine was not that great 5 years ago and the resulting time has not improved it.
Blech! In fact, I tried to offer a sip to Shawna but she refused to come within 20 ft of the glass because she thought the smell was horrid.
Light color (almost róse-like), no tannins, rancid flavor--just plain yuck. Ironically, the wine was still sound. No hint of vinegar or other spoilage odors, it just plain did not taste good. Of course, I blame the grapes! :)
I think I've bared my soul to the world now that, yes, I have made really bad wine. What have we all learned? YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! Buy the best grapes you can, folks. Just like you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, you can't make good wine without getting good grapes. Doesn't have to be Beckstoffer Vineyard, but buy the best grapes that you can within your budget.
p.s. The 2 cases of wine went down the drain to feed the bacteria in the septic tank while the bottles ended up on the curb. Took about 2 days but someone finally took them away. I simply couldn't trust putting anything else in those tainted bottles.