Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 Stephan Way Chardonnay

If you have been following my blog you know that last year our neighbor Marilyn's grape vines produced such a profusion of grapes that I was persuaded to try making wine from them. You can read about last year's wine making adventures here and here. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned but the project was enough of a success that I was more than happy to give it another go this year if the grapes cooperated. Well, they did. It was another abundant year for the chardonnay grapes. See photos.

This year there was competition for the grapes from a neighborhood bear. Marilyn called with the news that it was now or never. The bear was visiting nightly and soon all the grapes would be eaten and the vines destroyed if we didn't pick now. I came the next day with my black bucket and we spent 2 hours doing our best to empty the vines of grapes before the bear could. 

It was a month earlier than we harvested them last year. At first I was worried that we were hurried into a premature harvest but I don't think that was the case. This year's weather was much different than last year's with an early warm spring rather than the extended winter of 2011. In fact, later, when I checked the specific gravity (SG) of the juice it was slightly higher than last year's, indicating a higher sugar content.

We ended up with 84 pounds of grapes from the four old vines. This yielded over 6 gallons of juice. Last year I stomped them to free their juices from the skins. This year I borrowed a small fruit press. After one awkward attempt with a few pounds of grapes in the press, I returned to the tried and true stomping method. It is actually quite sensual and enjoyable as well as being efficient. I chatted with my mother on the phone as the grapes relinquished their nectar underfoot.

Five and a half gallons of juice was set to fermenting and today was racked to a secondary carboy where it will remain for the next six weeks until it will be racked again. Racking is simply siphoning the wine off of the lees (sediments) into a clean container.

Marilyn, who turns 80 this year, is delighted with the process and with the prospect of sipping 2012 Stephan Way (our cul-de-sac's name) Chardonnay in the spring sunshine of 2013, as am I!

Cheers and enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Got Zucchini? Just Add Sausage!

Hi there. I haven't posted for a while. I figured traffic would have decreased to my site since I haven't been as prolific. A couple days ago I logged on to the statistical side of my blog to check my theory. Boy, was I surprised. Traffic is up and it's all about one post. Canning Peach Salsa and the Seduction of Real Life has received more pageviews than any other post on the blog by far. I can attribute this only to the timeliness of the post; right at the height of peach season. When people do a google search for "canning peach salsa" up comes a link to Farm Girl Blog.

It was with this in mind that I titled this post. Perhaps people are wondering what to do with a surplus of zucchini this time of year. Ours are actually on the decline as the nights grow cooler. One of my favorite meals this summer is super simple and goes as follows: Sauté an onion for 5 minutes in an iron skillet in some olive or coconut oil. Add a couple cups of chopped zucchini and a clove or two of chopped garlic and sprinkle with just a little salt. After another 2 minutes add two of your favorite quality sausages sliced into rounds. They can be spicy or sweet. Sauté for 8 more minutes until the zucchini is tender and the sausage begins to brown. Serve in a shallow bowl topped with chopped fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. Serves 2+.  I probably made this 6 or 7 times this summer but never took a photo. Zucchini also tastes great stuffed with a sausage mixture and baked. 

Next post coming soon: 2012 Stephan Way Chardonnay 

Enjoy these last days of summer!