Couple winemaking stories from my 87-y-o uncle

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Jan 12, 2012
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My Grandpa was an Italian immigrant who made wine once a year. My 87-year-old Uncle Joe emailed me this story, from after his return from service during the Korean War.

>>> I don't think I told you this one. We had a pair of hip boots that we would use and an empty half barrel to smash the grapes. Well after I got out of the army my feet were too big so what I did was take a baseball bat, cut off the handle so I had about 18 inches of the big end. then I drove a lot of nails in it. Then I put a handle from an old meat grinder on the end that I cut off. Then I built a box around it. So we would put the grapes in the top of the box, turn the crank and out comes the grapes out of the bottom all smashed out and ready to ferment. <<<

A DIY crusher! :D I got a kick out of this. It's been fun to hear his winemaking stories, because my Grandpa passed when I was only 10.

Another one... I had asked if Grandpa used natural fermentation.

>>> As best I can remember when we stomped on the grapes we used a one-half barrel and poured that into a full barrel and let that ferment. after we used the crusher we poured that into a full barrel to ferment. After the grapes were fermented we drained the juice into I think a 50 or 25 gallon barrel. My father did not seal the barrel for a long time after he added whatever amount of sugar he decided on. I do not know if you remember the press that he had. It was from a plated newspaper. (It was converted from a former letterpress.) We would use that to press the grapes after we drained off the juice. He would order the grapes from the grocery store. When the grapes were there, the store would deliver the lugs to our house. <<<

Fun stories! My cousin still has Grandpa's old press. I wish I could order California wine grapes from the local grocery store and have them delivered to my house!
Great, great stories. My dad (95 now and still sharp as a tack) tells me stories every so often about my great grandmother (his grandmother who raised him), making wine and sauerkraut in the basement of their house in North Dakota. I think it was mostly chokecherry wine and times when it would blow up

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