Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Summer wine.

I am getting bored and mischievous
Things are ticking over quite nicely. There are quite a few vines growing here and there on the land. All white grapes, they taste beautiful and a number of them had ripened and were starting to over-ripen. It seemed a shame for them to go only to the bees, birds and wasps so we have set about making some wine.

I used to make wine in the 1980s and it was good to have half an idea of what I was doing this time round. We bought some equipment out with us, although in reality, we sold the majority of it in a car boot sale many years ago. The stuff we had left was probably the things we didn't manage to sell!

We managed to fill about 6 large pans with grapes,
all in all

We started by collecting as many bunches of ripe grapes that we could find and that we thought would be sufficient to fill a demijohn with fluid. As they are white grapes the skins and pips are taken off immediately after pressing. So once washed and drained, we started to push them through a sieve. La methode traditionelle soon came to an end when the juicer made an appearance out of a kitchen cupboard. This was a little faster and a little more thorough, although we did press the debris from the juicer through some muslin at the end of the process. It was a very messy afternoon, a bit like the first time we extracted honey! But after going through the process we knew exactly what we were doing and were able to repeat the process 2 days later, when we made a second batch. Mark had brought out some beer brewing equipment so we were able  to take the specific gravity and calculate how much sugar to add in order to (hopefully) achieve an 11% wine. Apparently, if you can achieve over 10% the level of alcohol kills off a lot of the rogue yeasts and bacteria. We don't have any Campden tablets (and it doesn't look like we will get any in town), which would kill off the activity of the micro-organisms, just a bit of sterilising solution and two sachets of wine yeast I never got round to using when I had good intentions of making a brew a couple of years ago!

One of the difficulties I always experienced with winemaking in the UK was achieving an adequate temperature to get the yeast fizzing. Not so in this neck of the woods. There was a bit of volcanic activity the first night and once this had subsided we had some lovely busy wine bubbling away in the bedroom. I was so thrilled I positioned the demijohns and angled the fermentation locks so I could lift my head with minimal effort from the pillow to inspect them from afar. A very pleasing process indeed!


We now have a trailer bar fitted to our car. We dropped the car off early last Thursday, market day, with the idea that we would go round town and pick up the car at 2pm when the garage closes for the 3 hour siesta. So we had our coffee and churros, went round the market (about 3 times) and across the bridge to the garden centre, whilst waiting for the call to say the car was ready.
Unfortunately, the electrics on our car were complicado and when we presented ourselves to the garage shortly before siesta, they informed us it would be ready after siesta. I must say it was a long walk back in the heat up the wibbly wobbly road to the house, as we had been galavanting around town all morning and hadn't left much fuel in our own tanks! When we walked down to collect the car later we were delighted with the smart new tow bar. However, we cannot pull the trailer yet. We have to take the car for an inspection at the ITV (MOT) centre and get the paperwork to say the fitting of the towbar is a pukka job before we can legally pull the trailer!

Last night we let the cats out for the first time. For the past few days Bobby has been so bored, he has been treating the living room like a gymnasium, leaping from one piece of furniture to another. Now he is a free man. I have never seen him (or any of them for that matter) pant before.  A mixture of being overheated and excited, I think. Mark has fitted the cat door and has made a proper reet bo job of it. And, now we can have the door open, yay! I do hope the cats are savvy enough to adapt to living in the countryside and we are looking forward to their offerings of wildlife very shortly, which will probably make us pant!

The plant nursery is filling fast and some of the seedlings have grown enough to be moved to their final planting position: peppers, tomatoes and aubergines.
The aubergines have produced one flowerhead each with more coming.
Red peppers are in

Portulaca (moss rose) - loves full sun - one of the plants we treated ourselves to at the garden centre - it cost all of one Euro

The growing seasons are obviously 'out of synch' with the UK and we are getting our heads around what can be sown /planted and when. We are being guided by which plant plugs are going on sale in the shops. However, there will be a lot more to come on the gardening front in future blogs!

So now I am going off to get together all the documents we need for the trailer bar vehicle inspection over the other side of town, for our 11 o'clock appointment!


  1. I know what you mean about mess with first honey/wine making as we did our first honey harvest this week and everything you seem to touch in the kitchen seems to be sticky. Interesting that you are just planting peppers there, here in Bulgaria everyone is frantically harvesting them and the tomatoes to make lutenitsa for winter storage. Like us it will be a huge learning curve for the first year. Take care guys

  2. Great blog Mark and Janet... keep it going, I'll enjoy even more as the winter blues start to set in here !
    Tony (at the Zoo)

    ps, Hi Dave