Vintage 2007… I Hope!

Pictured below is what might become the 2007 vintage from the WineMinisty Cellar.  No kidding.  While I have done my fair share of CONSUMING wine over the years, I have never actually MADE any wine.  I’ve left the winemaking to the winemakers.  And even now I am under no illusion that I am a “wine maker.”  But I am a sucker.  Let me explain…

My friend Charley has been making wine for many years.  He buys the fresh juice from a local source (it’s actually juice from California), does some kind of voodoo chemistry in his basement, and several months later ends up with wine.  Lots of it.  And it’s actually drinkable.  That was a surprise to me.  And this part is all well and good.  I even told Charley that I’d love to join him sometime in his winemaking adventures.  Here is where the “sucker” part is about to come in…

It’s harvest time for the grapes, and the juice arrived this past week.  And it has to be purchased and fermented right away, otherwise… well, vinegar comes to mind.  Charley presented me with a printout from the webpage of the juice supplier showing me all of the available varietals.  “What do you want to get?”  I thought for a moment, and thinking the process is innocent enough, particularly since it will all happen in Charley’s basement, I gave it a thumbs-up and looked down the list.  Cabernet Saugivnon.  Pinot Noir.  Syrah.  Merlot.  Zinfandel.  On and on the list went.  I’m hooked now.  “I’m interested in the Cab and the Syrah.  What do you think, Charley?”  Here it comes…

Charley said, “I like the reds, but it doesn’t matter much to me.  Whatever they have in stock when you get there will be fine.”

You know those screeching brake sounds you hear in the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons?  That sound went through my brain.  Turns out Charley is going to be out of town for two weeks.  Right when the grape juice is here.  But if I want to get the juice, he’s got the bottles.  Oh, and here are the directions…  No, I can’t just purchase the juice and wait for Master Winemaker Charley to return.  The fermentation must begin.  The stinky, yeasty, musty, messy (and did I mention stinky?) fermentation.  He’ll be back by the time we have to get to the next step.

So here it is…  The 2007 wines from the WineMinistry Cellar:

 Pinot & Chianti  

This is the 2007 Pinot Noir (left) and the 2007 Barbera-Alicante Blend.  About 7 gallons of each.  GALLONS.



This is the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s in a bigger bottle.  There are 8 gallons of this bad boy.  GALLONS.

They are bubbling away doing their primary fermentation.  Yeast is aiding the process.  And making things smell really, well… stinky.

Did I mention that Charley is out of town?

In total we’ve got about 22 GALLONS of grape juice that is now turning into wine.  We’ll lose some as we go through the whole process, draining the clear wine off the must and sediment (that’s why there are extra jugs fermenting along side the big bottles — to be able to make full bottles after we remove the sediment).  If things go as planned, we’ll end up with more than 100 bottles of wine!  Or 100 bottles of vinegar.  We’ll see!

I’ve never done this before, but it is a total kick in the pants.  And watch out — if this stuff is even remotely drinkable, I am certain I will be hooked on this gig.  I won’t even begin to reflect on the metaphors and theological overtones in winemaking — it’s fertile territory!  Especially “fertile” right now… it stinks!  But it’s actually that pleasant “stink” of the cellar room at Zaca Mesa during their winemaking process.  But they’ve got a cool winery.  All I have is a bathroom next to the wine cellar in my basement.  And until I taste this stuff, I’ll not kid myself about being a “winemaker.”  For now I’ll stick with “sucker.”


  1. Stink ????? Whatdaya mean STINK …do what Jesus did and skip the fermentation process!!! If you want, I’ll hook you up with my brother in law who make a really decent batch of vino.



  2. Interesting idea, Ed, to go straight from juice to… wait, didn’t the Holy One start with only water??? THAT’S my problem… I started with Cabernet juice!!!

    We’ll see how this goes. I might have to consult the brother-of-Ed if it doesn’t go so well!


  3. Being a wine drinker all these years, I never thought to try making my own! I have considered making my own beer, but have always been deterred by the thought of putting in all of the work necessary and coming out with “skunk”. If this works for you, maybe I will get up the nerve to give it a go.

    When is the first tasting?


  4. So, lots of good discussion here about the grape and hops!!! Images of water and the Holy One’s understanding and command over it, vines, branches, furtile soil, plowing, pruning, harvesting,sharing, and most importantly the second cup. Go revjavadude…preach on !!!

    ps…almost forgot about bootleggin’ as I’m raising my hand to volunteer.


  5. Joel, I think the bootleg trail might have to open between Nashville and NE Ohio!!! What kind of “organic grain beverages” are you brewing these days? My favorite for home brews is usually wheat varieties…

    Ed, you’re catching on to the whole “wine theology” and “wine ministry” aspect of my musings here. Let’s keep the conversation going!


  6. muse… to become absorbed in thought; to turn something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively. Wonder, Marvel (archaic)… to think or say reflectively…a state of deep thought or dreamy abstraction. Any one of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences. A source of inspiration… a guiding genius… poet.

    I’m “bemused”… are you “amused”???

    Well, enough wisecrakin’ from the peanut gallery!!! Seeing no other responses as of yet, I’ll take a run at some “wine theology”. (Thelogy to me seems to ask more questions than have answers)

    Since the main topic seems to be fermentation of grape, hops, or even mash… I wonder why we can’t use that as a metaphor for the formation of our own spirituality, both individually and corporately. Who and what is the yeast in my life? How does my little vessel affect the fermentation of the larger carbouy (church)? How does the fermentation of our carbouy affect the denomination, community, world, all of God’s creation? I woner if God said “I’ve never done this before, but it is a total kick in the pants. And watch out — if this stuff is even remotely drinkable, I am certain I will be hooked on this gig” So fellow muses, I’ve got to know or discern if I am bubbling enough, smelly enough, fermenting enough to be a drinkable wine at the holy one’s table? How concerned should I be of turning into vinegar or becoming “stuck” in my fermentaion? Who is going to clean out the sediment in my vessel? Just a few questions I have if we travel down this wine theology road…. Any thoughts, or better yet, answers out there?


  7. Ed, you’re getting the idea of “wine theology” and “wine ministry.” I assume you’ve checked out the whole site and not just this one posting… I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting on wine — as metaphor, as lens, and even as source of spiritual reflection. Of course those musings are interspersed with wine reviews, etc! If you haven’t seen the whole site, just go to and stroll through the pages. You’ll need to click on “previous posts” at the bottom of each page, or use the category searches on the right hand side to see particular groupings of posts. Glad you’re part of the wine conversation!


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