Saturday, July 16, 2011

My First Homemade Wine From a Cellar Craft Kit

I've been making wine since 2004 and have used kits from several manufacturers, but Cellar Craft had not been one of them, until recently. At the 2011 WineMaker Magazine annual conference I reconnected with a number of people including Christina Carpenter who represents Cellar Craft from British Columbia. Christina asked if I had use the product before and I quietly admitted that I hadn't. Not losing a good opportunity she offers samples of a series of wines made from their kits, including reds that had been aged long enough to be drinking really well. I found every one of them to be stylistically accurate, aromatic, flavorful and well balanced. My favorites were the Amarone and the Red Mountain Cabernet.

The samples got me thinking that I should try several kits from Cellar Craft and see how outcome compared to the kits wines I had already planned to make. I also considered that as long as my influence resulted in a positive outcome that I could also enter the wines in competition to get even more feedback. Speaking of competition feedback, I recently wrote an blog for the WineMaker Magazine web site about the feedback one can get from wine competitions.

The distinction about the Showcase Collection from Cellar Craft that attracted my attention the most, are the grape packs included with the kits. I know from making juice and grape blends that the concentration of aromas, color and flavors all get a bump from the grape material.

Christina must have been reading my mind, not really since I made my intentions to use their product clear, and graciously offered my two free kits to make and enjoy. She didn’t ask for anything in return, but writing an article about my experience with the product is the least I can do to say thank you. For those of you who make wine from kits I hope this article will help you to better understand the product, and if you haven’t used it before, even consider doing so for yourself.

I got to pick my varieties and I went with my favorites from the tasting, the Amarone and Red Mountain Cabernet.

The first one I made was the Amarone. I have loved being able to make Amarone at home as it is so damned expensive!

I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. The full instructions for the Showcase Collection Red Wine Kits can be found in Instructions section at Cellar Craft web site. 

( Adding the bentonite to warm water in the clean fermenter. )

( Adding the contents of the juice bag to the fermenter. )

( The muslin bag filled with the contents of the grape pack. The grapes were concentrated and sticky with heady aromas. So cool! )

( The kit contained two packages of oak powder used during the initial fermentation. )

( Right after the yeast was pitched. I realized I didn't take a photo of the active fermentation, so you will have to imagine what it looked like! )

When I racked the wine into the carboy I took a taste as I normally do. I was met with the pleasant aromas and concentrated fruit flavors typical to Amarone so I knew I had something good going on. I can’t wait to see how this wine develops in time.

We’ve since made the Red Mountain Cabernet as well. My wife noted after seeing the concentration of the juice from that kit that she feels like the Cellar Craft product is richer and more concentrated than some of the other products we have used. That may well be true, but I think the best judgment will be in the finished product after a bit of age. I look forward to those days for sure!

I thoroughly enjoyed using this product and am already on the lookout for unique styles of wine that I can make using kits from Cellar Craft. A big thank you is due to Christina and Cellar Craft for giving me the kits and the opportunity to try their product risk free.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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