You know that classic I Love Lucy episode in which Lucy gets a job in an Italian vineyard and she crushes the grapes with her bare feet? That’s exactly what I thought I’d be doing the first time I ever made wine at Lakeland Winery.
When our website designer, Phil, first invited me to make wine at Lakeland in 2006Â (long before I started blogging!), I was a bit apprehensive.Â I’m not one for getting dirty. Even when I was a kid, the thought of finger painting freaked me out, so the idea of stomping around barefoot in a pile of grapes didn’t soundÂ ideal.Â However, I like wine more than enough to try making my own even if it meantÂ reddish-purple stains between my toes.Â I would just have toÂ prepare.
Picture this:Â On winemaking day, I dressed like someone who wasÂ going to be rolling around in a vat of grapes. IÂ wore my oldest pair of jeans with the cuffs rolled up.Â I pulled my hair back as tight as possible.Â It was drizzling that late-October day in Syracuse, so I didn’t look like a completeÂ idiotÂ in my raincoat.
So there I was ready to take off my shoes and socks, wondering where theyÂ keep theÂ wine-stomping barrelsÂ at Lakeland Winery. Owner Andy ushered our partyÂ into a cozy wine-tasting room. During the first part of the experience you get to taste about 20 wines before you choose the one you’d like to make. We choseÂ the light, floral Muller-Thurgau, and I wished that I had eaten something more substantial than toastÂ beforeÂ sampling aÂ bunch of wines (here’s a tip: bring snacks to your wine tasting party).
We then went to the winemaking room. I didn’t see any barrels or vats filled with grapes to be crushed between the toes. That’s when I learned that making wine at Lakeland WineryÂ isn’t like theÂ messy process that Lucy Ricardo endured. Instead, making wine at Lakeland is a bit like mixing ingredients before baking a cake. The winery staff does as much or as little as you’d like all the while explaining how wine is made. It’s fun and educational.
I got to slowly stir the water and bentonite, followed by the juice and the elderflowers beforeÂ sprinkling the yeastÂ in the fermentation bucket. That’s the first step in making wine. The next step happened a week later when the fermenting wineÂ was siphoned into a carboy. This step is called racking. During week three the wineÂ was stabilized, and potassium sorbate and potassium metabisfulateÂ were added to help sterilize the wine. The wine fermented for another four weeks and thenÂ we got to come back to theÂ Lakeland to bottle and labelÂ our wines. No bare feet required.