When Life Gives You Raisins, Make Raisin Wine

Grapevines sporting beautiful Fall colors







I did excitedly entertain the notion of making raisin wine after not finding any more suitable grapes in the field for traditional fermentation. My friend, Roberta, sent me a link elucidating the history of raisin wine in ancient Greece. Further investigation led me to the study of “Straw” wines made in Italy, so named because the grapes were dried after harvest on straw mats. My heart sank as I realized it was not simply a matter of culling any odd variety of wrinkled raisins left in the vineyard and putting them through the fermentation methods I had so eagerly learned and applied this year. This highly prized and labor intensive wine-style has been utilized in a few regions since pre-Roman times and involves specific varietals and quite a bit of aging. These robust wines are not meant to be consumed young. They generally are aged for three to ten years in order to turn out these irresistible elixirs.


My State of Libation Address

Taking my dogs for a run in a post-harvest vineyard. The excitement is over till next year.










Against last week’s backdrop of frenzied 2012 Presidential campaigning I found myself rooting around in the dry, yellow-leafed vineyards of my tranquil Guadalupe Valley looking for grapes that hadn’t turned to raisins yet. While pundits of every stripe weighed in with their predictions for the election I was on the phone texting local growers and winemakers …. Does anyone still have fruit for sale? As the hopes and fears of the USA peaked in anticipation of election results I absorbed myself with the tasks that will ensure my livelihood for another year in beloved Mexico. I contacted everyone I could think of who might have a lead on late harvest grapes. In part I wanted to make up for the disappointment of my salty Barbera (more on that later) and try my hand again at carbonic maceration. In part I just wanted to keep the momentum going, I did not and still don’t want to stop. And in part, working at the very mundane tasks of daily survival was a necessary balance to the furious political rhetoric of the highly emotional and polarized race for Presidency.