Sauvignon Blanc - make good wine?

bejay9_10(zone 9/10)February 24, 2007

I'm new to this forum and would like some information as to how to make my own wine.

I planted 3 grapes several years ago - training them on an arbor. Now two of them have reached the other side and I'm beginning to have hopes they will survive here.

One vine, however, has leafed out very well, and looks a lot healthier than the others. It is the wine grape that I bought on a whim. It is Sauvignon Blanc. The other two vines show no signs of life yet - but perhaps they need more warmth yet. These two vines are Thompson seedless.

Although we had some rather severe weather in January, I note the vines at a winery about 20 miles inland were still dormant yet, so perhaps mine are too.

So - can anyone tell me what the Sauvignon Blanc grapes will produce in the way of a palatable product. Also, where is the best place to find out about making home made wines, without going into too much expense for the beginner. My only other experience was a bottle of balloon wine - that was terrible!

Bejay

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Lindsey_CA

Sauvignon Blanc grapes will produce Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Thompson Seedless grapes are table grapes -- grapes that you eat, not drink.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 3:55PM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

Bejay,

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes should produce a nice semi-sweet and fruity wine that is best consumed within the first couple of years after it's made. To get a more in-depth description of the variety, try Winespectator.com, click on the learn wine tab and take a look at the grape varieties.

I don't know where the best place is to learn about making home but since you're out in winegrowing country there may be homebrewer clubs near you that have meetings and would have good recommendations. Also, winemaking suppliers like www.eckraus.com have some instructions on their site for those people just starting out. Finally, if you'd like to go the book route, one of the older ones that still has good information is by C.J.J. Berry and is called "First Steps in Home Winemaking". Another, more advanced, book is by Acton and Duncan though the name escapes me at the moment (I think it's Intermediate winemaking but I could be way off).

Basically, if you're growing your own grapes and want to turn them into wine, I'd imagine that the the wine press would be the most expensive part since you don't need much else aside from a sterile pail with lid for the primary, something like a glass water jug for the secondary fermentation and bulk storage, an airlock to keep bugs and air out, a piece of plastic tubing to get from one jug to another and some miscellaneous chemicals.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 7:41AM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

makalu -

Appreciate the information, and will try to locate a few books on the subject, before I jump in.

I have an older glass 5 gallon water bottle - remember those? - that some poor water man had to carry from truck to someone's door - and that should suffice for the secondary fermentation part. The rest sounds easy - except for the experience.

Many thanks.

Bejay

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 11:54AM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

Bejay - any time. I remember those 5 gallon carboys very well ... I've got 10 or so of them in the basement full of wines / meads waiting to get clear enough to bottle! Good luck, post if you have any questions and remember, most of the time you can just add mulling spices and drink your mistakes.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 1:32PM
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rosesinny(7a)

Thompson grapes will not be any good for wine. It is true that some people will make wine out of them, but it will be like most of the cheap wine produced in the US from grapes that are not vinefera - very inferior wine.

Sauvignon blanc on the other hand, is one of the great white grapes for wine. It typically likes a cooler area to produce well and consequently New Zealand has made it their signature grape. It has flavors of gooseberry, grass, citrus, and apple and often has an aroma of cat pee. Sounds wierd but if you smell it, you will get it immediately.

Its home is France and it is one of the ancestors of the great cabernet sauvignon. They grow it in Bordeaux, along with semillion, and it produces some of the great botrytised wines of the world in Sauternes and Barsac. It is also grown widely in the Loire, as well as in California and Washington and Oregon, producing high quality wine in all places. Those from the Loire will generally have more tartness and will be more austere than those from California.

If you want to get an idea of what it is like, you can purchase a couple bottles. It is generally not too hard to find some good and inexpensive samples. I believe that Chateau St Michelle in Washington makes some.

But making wine and making good wine are not one and the same. Good luck to you. Worst case, you can simply make grape juice, which is healthy, good, and maybe simpler than making wine.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 2:50PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

rosesinny

Thank you for your most interesting and informative posting. I tried to post a reply, but apparently it didn't go through. Web site problems perhaps.

I am aware that Thompson grapes are mainly a table variety. However, as the vines were available at my local nursery, I decided to plant them. If they survive, I still intend to make use of their fruits, as I do preserve many foods from my garden - such as drying, etc.

However, the Sauvignon Blanc vine that I bought was not familiar to me, the wine it can produce, it's climate preferences or soil needs. That is the reason for my posting.

As I am new to grape growing of any kind, I am in search of new information about them. The most worrisome problem is that because I live close to the ocean, the climate and soil conditions may or may not be conducive to growing grapes of any kind. We have sandy soil and a cool summer climate.

The fact that it likes cooler weather (as your post indicated) is encouraging - alternatively, the cat-like odor, you mention - doesn't sound terribly appealing - hopefully, it will taste better - or is this something one has to be indoctrinated into?

On the bright side, many plants from "down under" in New Zealand, Australia do well here. We may have similar climates, and I find many cultivars that are found here,
originated from those countries.

On inspection today, I find the Sauvignon Blanc vine to be doing extremely well - and has been leafing out well over the previous days of cold/hot/windy temps that we have been experiencing. Alternately, the Thompsons are just beginning to "pop" and I was afraid that I had lost them through the winter months.

Thank you again, for your very informative article, it was appreciated.

Bejay

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 6:31PM
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bud_wi

Check over on the garden side of this board. There is a forum for those who grow grapes, for wine, over there.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 8:09PM
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rosesinny(7a)

Bejay - if you are near the ocean, good for you. Many of the finest wine-producing sites are near the ocean (Bordeaux, Napa, Sonoma, Carneros, Monterey, Sicily, many of the top-end sites in Australia and New Zealand, and most of Italy).

What's the advantage? Grapes like heat and dryness. Too much shuts down the vine and or turns the grapes into over-ripe raisins. In those climates, they get sun and cooling ocean breezes. In fact, Carneros gets so much cooling that it grows the cold-climate grapes (pinot noir, chardonnay) better than the hotter-climate grapes that grow farther north in Napa.

The fewer clusters produced on the vine, the more concentrated the flavor, or so the argument goes. So people do "green harvests". Also, too much water during harvest means watery juice. It's interesting. Since you have time, search around for some web-sites - the Australians are great at posting their latest info. Best of luck to you and I hope you make some great wine.

Don't forget - Heitz was started by a guy who made wine for himself. It just happened to be great. I had a 1989 the other day and it still had many years ahead. William-Seylem was started by two printers who worked for the SF Chronical and made wine on the weekends for themselves. It is arguably the most elegant and famous pinot noir made in California today.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 1:58PM
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