Tsuki's Private Reserve
1995 Honey Chablis
1996 Valentine Rose
1996 Plum Wine
1997 Plum Wine
1997 Premiere Cuvee
My first successful batch. I had decided that I should try
concentrate rather than start from fresh fruit on my first attempt.
There was a minor disaster with the first attempt (check for
preservatives if you're going to use bottled water. Oops). This one had
me worried for a long time, but in the end, patience paid off.
1 can Alexander's Chablis concentrate
4/23/95 Fermentation was a little slow to start, I
probably didn't let the starter sit long enough. Initial balling 22,
2 lbs. honey
12 c sugar
5 campden tablets
3.5 oz. tartaric acid
yeast starter (yeast, 2T sugar, 2C water, 1t yeast nutrient)
5/5/95 Transferred from bucket to carboy and put on the air lock to start
secondary fermentation. Balling 8. Very tart, yeast taste lessening.
5/23/95 Balling -0.5. Temperature 66F (19C). The downstairs bathroom
has a very stable temperature, even on warm
days. The wine has a strong alcohol taste, but no longer tastes tart.
Still a little yeasty.
Added some oak chips to the carboy because I don't have a barrel,
and really don't want one.
8/27/95 Balling -2. Added clarifier a week ago. Looks pretty good.
Pale straw color, but still harsh and
alcoholic. Added 2 bottles Silver Mountain (our neighbors up the road)
1990 Chardonay and 1 bottle water to top up carboy.
10/8/95 Added 1 tsp. ascorbic acid. Thought about bottling but
our friend Steve dropped by and we spent the afternoon trying to convince
him that he wanted to leave Illinois and move to California. Steve's best
quote of the day was "I knew I was lost when I passed the llamas. Jeff would
have mentioned llamas."
10/14/95 Thought about bottling again, but still tastes too harsh.
Added a handful of oak chips to the carboy...the oak helped lots last time.
10/30/95 John and Angela were over and tasted the wine. John detected
lemon, which was pretty amazing since I had used a few drops of lemon
juice when I had run out of acid blend.
12/2/95 Bottled 25 bottles. Used some campden tablets as the book
directed, but the tablets didn't dissolve completely and left some particulates
in the wine.
4/22/96 The wine is a little too acid to drink at room temperature,
chilling helps lots.
6/97 Age helps it more.
The first try with fresh fruit. The initial motivation for learning to make wine was to use up plums, but
this year we had a bumper crop of strawberries. The wine turned out
great, but it pays to be patient with strawberry wine. I find that with
the high alcohol content in mine, they are best during their second
a and third years in the bottle.
about 17 pounds strawberries
6/24/95 Started initial fermentation. My strawberry bed was producing
about 5 pounds of strawberries a week. Since I didn't have enough berries in
any one week to make wine, we had been cleaning, sugaring, and freezing
most of the fruit. The night before
starting primary fermentation, I took the fruit out of the freezer and let it
thaw. Pureed it in a food processor to make the must.
Initial balling 23.3, acid 0.6%
10 pounds sugar in hot water
2t yeast nutrient
1.25 t grape tannin
3 t tartaric acid
5 campden tablets
2t pectic enzyme powder
3c yeast starter
7/15/95 Balling is down to 4, so it's time to start the secondary
fermentation. We used cheesecloth to get as much of the pulp out as possible.
What a pain. The cheesecloth filter is probably unnecessary, but I don't
have a wide selection of carboy sizes, so it makes it a little easier to
get a full carboy. The carboy needs to be full, to keep as much oxygen
out as possible.
10/8/95 Balling -2. Added clarifier a week ago. It's much too dry,
doesn't taste like strawberries without the sugar. Added 1 tsp. ascorbic
acid, 1.5T sorbistat-K (to prevent further fermentation), 2.5c sugar syrup.
Final balling = 1.
10/14/95 Bottled 25 bottles. Color is a nice orange-pink. Still a little cloudy.
Maybe still a bit on the dry side, but I like it.
8/97 Very smooth, great glycerin content, silky with a big berry flavor.
Dropped a bit of sediment, but not too bad.
What a disaster. I sweated over this wine and in the end a bad batch of
corks caused the loss of almost all of it. The vinegar
is quite nice, but I don't cook with that much vinegar. Sigh.
1 can Alexander's merlot
2/18/96 Ready to try a red. I've been told these are more difficult
than whites. I've also been told they're easier.
Aiming for a red table wine, nothing special. The two can recipe
won't give a really solid wine. Initial balling 23, acid .75
1 can Alexander's pinot
1 t tannin
4.3 T acid blend
1 T yeast energizer
13 c sugar
2/23/96 Today the balling 12.3. According to the book, the
balling should be under 10 before you put it in the carboy. But I
won't have time again until next weekend, which will be too late.
So I put it in the carboy with lock anyway. Sometimes you have to find
out the hard way that the book was seriousabout being less than 10.
What a mess! There was red foam every where. Fortunately I noticed what
was going on before it overflowed the counter and hit the white
carpeting. I used a magnum to hold some of the wine for a couple of days
until the foaming subsided. Now I know how much the air introduced during
the racking causes additional foaming if the sugar is too high when you
3/18/96 Mostly alcohol, no flavor. Put in oak chips, since those
helped so much with the Chablis.
4/21/96 Flavor improving, but this isn't going to be the red table wine
I was trying for. Looks like it will turn out more as a rose.
I thought about racking it, but decided to wait another month.
5/24/96 Lost some volume in the racking so topped off with a
couple of bottles that I grabbed off the wine rack. One was a magnum of
Casarsa '93 Merlot. The other was a bottle of
Thomas Kruse Zinfandel,
which is a better wine than what I wanted,
but I grabbed the wrong bottle off the rack and
had it open before I realized what it was. Tom Kruse is an interesting
guy. He makes good wines and doesn't charge an arm and a leg
for them. If you're in Gilroy, CA, stop by the winery and visit him
on Hecker Pass Road.
8/23/96 It's getting better, at best it will be drinkable.
Added more oak chips.
12/27/96 O.K., but too acidic. Maybe finishing with some sugar would counteract
the light body.
3/1/97 Bottled 26 bottles as Esmerelda's Valentine Rose.
At this point seems like it will be an average table
wine. Components are still not well blended. A bunch of the corks leaked and
it was two days before I could get more and re-cork. Doesn't seem like it's
caused a big problem, but very concerned that I'll lose some of it.
4/20/97 Had a top-it-yourself pizza party here and served several bottles.
With pizza, it was pretty good. Of course, almost anything is pretty good
7/15/97 It's clear that most of the bottles have oxidized. Gave
several bottles to John to make into vinegar.
12/10/97 Relabeled several bottles as vinegar for Christmas
gifts. The lesson learned is don't skimp on buying good quality corks, and
try to make sure that the corks you buy don't dry out too much in storage.
This was my second attempt at strawberry wine. In this one I used more sugar,
trying to get the wine to finish sweet. It didn't, so as a result the wine
is very strong and was undrinkable for about a year. In late 1998 it's quite
nice, very smooth with lots of fruit. Some time after I had started this
Tom Kruse told me not to even try to make a wine finish
sweet, but instead to choose the alcohol content you want, let the wine
finish dry, then sweeten it when you bottle. The
books say that fruit wines don't last and should be consumed within a
year of bottling. If I had taken the books' advice I probably would have
stopped making strawberry wine.
This batch was still a bit harsh after a year in the bottle.
In its third year in the bottle, it's excellent. Oh yeah, that's me on the
label, circa 1969.
17 lbs., 14oz strawberries, pureed, previously frozen
6/23/96 Same drill as the first batch of strawberry. Used the food
processor to puree the thawed berries. Initial balling 27, acid 0.6%.
After one week, sugar dropped to 16.
10 lbs. sugar dissolved in hot water
5 campden tablets
1.25 tsp. grape tannin
2 tsp. pectic enzyme
2 T. acid blend
2 cups yeast starter, 3 days old
water to bring volume to 6 gallons
7/5/96 After two weeks sugar was at 7 and the wine could be put
into the carboys.
8/23/96 Wine still bubbling in the carboy and the balling was at -3.
Remember, water is defined to be zero and alcohol is lighter than water.
This is going to be strong, and here I'd hoped for a sweet finish.
12/27/96 Added sugar and potassium sorbate to bring the balling up to
zero (about 2 cups sugar in 5 gallons of wine). The color is a slightly
orange pink. Can really taste the strawberries, but also a lot
of alcohol taste. Yield: 26 bottles.
2/20/99 This has been almost undrinkable since it was bottled, but
is now starting to approach the '95 strawberry in smoothness. I love the
mouth feel of strawberry wine, very rich.
We were going to start this wine a week earlier, but there was a power outage.
Our house is on well water, so when the power goes out, so does the water.
Making wine is messy, so we delayed the crush by a week. Instead we had
people over at the house playing games to pass the time. This was a big
power outage, the entire western US and parts of Canada were down. About sunset,
we had just taken some sandwiches out onto the deck for dinner, when we
heard a whoosh and looked east over the trees to see a fireball. We live in
a wooded area, and our first thought was "canopy fire". It's amazing how
much adrenaline gets dumped into your system by fire. We had the dog in the
truck, all the cars turned around and our friends helped us ransack our
house for valuables, all in about fifteen minutes. At that point we had time
to stand and look at the fire for a while. It was dusk, so we really had no
way to judge how far away the fire was. All we could tell was that the smoke
wasn't coming our direction. After a while, the radio said it was a structure
fire. We found out later that our neighbors about half a mile away had
been running a generator in their garage. The fireball was their Mercedes
That's the long way around to why I started making wine in the first place --
to use the plums. I finished my plum wine as a semisweet, about 1.5
degrees of sugar. The wine on its own finished dry, but lost the flavor
of the fruit. Mine is not nearly as sweet as commercial plum wines
like Kinsen. Instead it's a very
clean lightly sweet wine. Still goes great with Chinese food,
as well as being a great sipping wine.
Was ready to drink as soon as it was bottled. Still holding nicely in 1998
36 pounds prune-plums after crushing and pitting
8/10/96 Plums were fresh off the trees. Ripe but not over-ripe.
John and Angela came over to help with the wine, which was fun since
winemaking was John's idea in the first place. There was some
mis-communication and John didn't bring his grandfather's crusher.
Instead we crushed the plums one at a time using the heel of our hands.
Angela and I picked the pits out, again by hand. John came up with the
idea of using a piece of lumber (4x4) wrapped in plastic to further crush
the fruit in the bucket.
Initial balling was 30, acid was 0.6% tartaric.
20 pounds sugar
2.5 tsp. grape tannin
5 t pectic enzyme
4 oz. acid blend
1/4 tsp. sodium metabisulfite
water to make 12 gallons
8/18/96 Borrowed John's press, removed the pulp and skins.
8/24/96 Started the closed fermentation with two 5 gallon carboys.
10/13/96 Smells good, but will finish too dry. Will need to add
sugar to bring out the fruit flavor. Down to 7.8 gallons due to sediment.
3/2/97 Bottled 39 bottles. As part of the bottling process added
1.5 degrees of sugar which was
needed to bring out the taste of the plums. Used potassium sorbate to
This year it stopped raining in February, so all the trees were running
several weeks early. We had
a whole bunch of people come over to help pick plums and do the crush.
Only one problem. No
plums on any of my trees. We were only a week later than last year, and
last year the plums were
barely ripe. On a whim we decided to wander down the road a bit to a
vacant lot which has several
plum trees that haven't been pruned in years. The plums were dead ripe
and many were picked by
shaking branches. I thought about labeling this one Purloined Plum,
but it didn't look right on the
Because of the slight late harvest quality, I added no sugar to the finished
wine. It tastes just like the plums that we made it from, but
in 1998, it's not as good as the '96 plum yet.
43 pounds prune-plums after crushing and pitting
8/17/97 Used the crusher set on the widest setting to split the plums
open, then the women sat around the buckets pulling out pits. We were
gooey up to the elbows and our hands and nails were stained orange for
days. Got 10 gallons of must at 24 Balling. The initial acid
of the plums was .45, so had to use the acid blend to bring it up to .60.
1/2 t sodium metabisulfite
14 pounds sugar
2.5 t grape tannin
5 t pectic enzyme
1/2 t sodium metabisulfite
6 oz. acid blend
8/21/97 The cap is almost gone. Still foaming, but not nearly so much.
8/23/97 Pressed and put it into carboys. Balling is 10.5 at 72
Fahrenheit. Wine got a little warm doing the press out on the driveway.
Should be fine when we get it back into the downstairs bathroom that I use
as a winery. The temperature is very stable at 65 F down there.
8/31/97 Lots of sediment still. Decided to run the wine through a
kitchen strainer to try to get some
more of the pulp out. Balling at -1. Added more water to keep the total
volume at 10 gallons.
10/26/97 Racked again, still lots of sediment. Lost about 8 liters
to sediment, so added that much
water back in. Still cloudy. Good fruit flavor. As I had hoped, there is
a certain late harvest quality to it, a little bit of a smoky flavor.
3/25/98 Filtered and bottled 49. The specific gravity is right at
zero. Didn't add any sugar. I think it
will be fine without it, although it may take a few more months before
it's really good that way.
This was an experiment caused by an abundant grape harvest. The grapes I grow
are table grapes,
and all the books talk about wine from table grapes tasting "foxy", whatever
that means. I bought
my vines from Raintree Nursery in Oregon. The two varieties used were
Venus, a large sweet purple
grape, and Canadice, a small spicy red grape. The mix was about
1/3 Venus, 2/3 Canadice. Later
at Guglielmo's winery I saw a poster with the different kinds of wine
grapes. Canadice resembles a
Gewurtztaminer grape. Tastes like one too in the end product.
After one year it started to develop slightly off flavors.
John blames the Venus grapes for this.
60 pounds grapes
8/23/97 Another winemaking party. Last week we started plum wine and
sent everybody home with several pounds of grapes. This week we sent a
couple people out to pick
grapes while others worked to press the plum from last time. They filled
two of the buckets that I
use for fermentation with grapes. Using our old postal package scale,
we measured it as 60 pounds
total. Crushed and then debated about whether to treat it as a red or
white. Looking at the pale
green juice, we decided to leave the skins on for a week and see what
happened. Starting Balling
was 16. Added sugar to bring it up to 20. Acidity is .85%, too high,
but not much we can do. Must volume about 7 gallons.
3 pounds sugar
1/2 t pectic enzyme
1/4 tsp. sodium metabisulfite
8/30/97 Balling has already dropped to -1! Pressed and got a little
over 6 gallons. Decided to try to
reduce the acid by increasing the volume. Did some spooky calculations
and decided to add 11oz
sugar syrup per gallon of wine to bring the acid down to .78%, in theory.
fermentation starts, you can't get a valid acidity reading with the
equipment I'm using. My algebra
went something like: I wanted .78% per gallon, which is 128 ounces.
I had .85% acid which is 1.088
times as much as I wanted. Therefore 1 is to 128 as 1.088 is to X. X=139,
so all I had to do was add
11 oz. of sugar syrup per gallon of wine. According to my notes, what
I did was add 68 oz. (1/2
gallon) of water with 2 cups of sugar. Bottom line: I have no idea what
the alcohol content or acidity
of this wine is.
10/26/97 Racked down to 6 gallons. Crystal clear, nice blush color.
Still very acidic, but nice citrus
background. Grapefruit. Added a few oak chips, but not very many.
3/28/98 My notes on the bottling are sketchy, but I'm sure I didn't filter
or add any sugar. Got about
30 bottles. Since then has dropped a little bit of crystalline sediment,
but quite drinkable. Nice on a
We made strawberry/raspberry wine because we had a bad strawberry year
and didn't have enough to make strawberry wine. Where do you get
seventeen pounds of raspberries when the markets are selling them at
$9 a pound? I grow mine. If you can stand the thorns, I think raspberries
are one of the best uses of garden space, right up there with tomatoes.
I started with 10 plants spaced 5 feet (arms width) apart. The canes spread
by root runner, so my ten plants have become over a hundred. This was the
first big year for them and I could literally stand in one place and pick
a quart of berries. Still, I was happy just eating the berries, and
wasn't planning on making them into wine. The only commercial
raspberry wine that I've found is very sweet, almost
syrupy, so I wasn't really enthusiastic when Jeff wanted to make
raspberry wine. O.K., he was right.
After a few months in the bottle, a few people noticed a slight bitter,
which is probably from the seeds.
17.5 pounds raspberries
9/10/97 Raspberries had been previously frozen. Strawberries had been
previously sliced, lightly sugared and frozen. Thawed all berries the
night before. Crushed with a potato masher. The aroma of that much crushed
raspberry pulp is amazing.
Dissolved sugar in warm water. Measured specific gravity several
times while adding sugar, since I was working without a recipe. Ended up
with a little over 10 gallons of must. The raspberries
provided sufficient acid themselves and no other acid was added.
Final Balling = 24.5. Acid .65%.
12 pounds strawberries
20 pounds sugar
5 T pectic enzyme
1 t grape tannin
1/2 t sodium bisulfate
9/21/97 Balling 2.5. Used cheesecloth to filter out most of the
pulp and seeds. Quite tedious, much like making jelly. Beautiful color from
the raspberry juice.
10/26/97 It's clear that this will need some sugar when it's done
in order to taste the fruit. Lots of sediment, added 9 liters of water.
3/14/98 Balling is -3. Filtered then added 1 cup sugar and 2.5 t
potassium sorbate to prevent renewed fermentation.
That brought the Balling to -2. Jeff wanted more sugar, he likes the
syrupy raspberry wine though.
3/15/98 49 bottles at 750ml each. Ready to drink now, slightly
chilled. Very lightly sweet.