Posts Tagged With: wine

Spring foraging and Ramp Sliders

Easter weekend has over the years become a Ramp Feast. ( Ramps are wild onions that grow for only short period of time in the Appalachian Mountains every spring.) This year we struggled to get out into the woods. Cold, rain and snow every weekend made the prospect of taking Christopher foraging a little unpleasant. So we finally got to head out for Morels (a wild mushroom) and ramps this weekend and were surprised with both.

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Cleaned wild ramps ready for cooking

We have missed Morel season the last two years and have come home empty-handed but this weekend we found several and ended up with a few pounds of ramps from a family friends property. This was also our first real trip to the woods with Doc our puppy coonhound. What an adventure we had and what a wonderful lunch the ramps and mushrooms turned into.

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Morel and Pheasant tail mushrooms washed and ready to eat.

Our morning started with a rather long walk into the woods to find the right conditions for Morels and along the way I spotted some wonderful spring sights.

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Red Buds blooming lighting up the dark forest with the bright pink flowers.

 

 

After a few hours in the woods we had our bags were full and empty tummies. It was time to make a lunch with some of our treasures. I made hamburger sliders with sautéed ramps and mixed cheeses. It was fast, easy and delicious.

I used Kings Hawiian sweet dinner rolls for a bun and good quality ground beef. Making about 6 sliders from a pound of beef. The magic ingredient was the wine sautéed ramps. I took about 10 ramps cleaned and sliced them very thin and added them to a skillet with one teaspoon bacon grease, wilting the greens down. When the greens wilted I add 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup Marsala Wine and reduced the heat and simmer with salt and pepper for about 8 to 10 minutes. While the ramps simmered I made and cooked the burgers and topped them with a Colby/ Jack shredded cheese mixture. Assembled it all on a dinner roll with a little mayo and topped with two heaping spoonfuls of wine soaked ramps.  What a pleasure it was to eat and what a joy to make again.

Happy Spring Foraging to all of You!

 

Ramps with bacon grease and Marasal wine

Sliced Ramps with Marsala wine carmelized in bacon grease.

Ramp and Cheese Sliders spring wild food

Wine soaked ramp and cheese slider on a Kings Hawaiian dinner roll.

Categories: Appalachina Mountains, cheese, Easter, Foraging, Mushrooms, organic food, ramps, Ramps, snacks | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Wine Making part 3: Racking and Bottling the Dandelion Wine

The final and best step of my wine making project is the racking and bottling ( and of course tasting)  of the final project. This has really been the most fun thing I have learned in years and I hope that you try it too. If you missed the previous posts her are the links to see the entire process. Dandelion wine, and Wine Making part 2.

At the end of my last wine post we finished mixing the ingredients for making the wine and starting the fermentation process. The wine looked and smell sweet and we were waiting the ten days to taste test and check the alcohol levels.

So this short post starts at the ten-day mark and goes through getting the sediment out of the wine and bottling and ageing the wine. Working with about 3 gallons is the perfect amount of wine if you want to make just one case of wine. A case of 12 bottles is the most cost-effective  way to buy your bottles either mail order or from a local retailer. You get enough wine to drink and share and can keep the box to store the wine in. I like to keep information on the box such as the kind of wine the date made and anything new that you try out on that batch.

case of wine box with information written on it

case of wine box with information written on it

 

As you will see I bought screw cap bottles and there are pros and cons to this.. They do not store as well as bottles that are “corked” and need  stored in a way that the tops do not become damaged. In my case storing them in the box takes care of this problem. I also bought these because I am a beginner and wanted to reuse the bottles and caps if I make a huge batch of dandelion vinegar. If that happens I could just open the tops and pour the vinegar down the drain and start a new batch. I also did not want to by an expensive bottle corking device and a hundred corks at a time. I spent about$ 1.50 more on the case to get the screw tops and can order more of the tops if they get broken or do not seal well.  I got most of my supplies from Northernbrewer.com .

The first step before bottling is to rack the wine to help remove sediment that collects at the bottom of the Primary carboy while the fermentation is going on. Most wines need racking at lest three times, we did our two times and I am sure that in the future I will do all  three racking processes. In our case we placed the carboy on the counter the night before we wanted to bottle so that anything we stirred up with moving the bottle would have time to resettle over the nine hours we slept.

The next morning bright and early I got up and washed all the bottles, lids, siphon hose, two buckets and hydrometer with hot soapy water and rinsed them all in a sanitize water mixture.

washing wine bottles with a large bottle brush

washing wine bottles with a large bottle brush

While letting everything dry, Tom and I got our siphon hose ready to use. The trick to racking the wine is that you do not want the hose to sit on the bottom of the carboy and suck up all the must that is left on the bottom of the bottle. We rigged up a way to keep the hose from moving loosely around the bottle. We attached the hose with zip ties to a piece of washed wood and placed the hose about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the wood molding.The bottom of our bottle has ridges and traps a large amount of the sediment makes racking quite easy.

Wood molding with hose zip tied to side

Wood molding with hose zip tied to side

 

The next step is to siphon the wine from the carboy into a bucket to check the taste, alcohol content and remove the sediment. It does not take long to fill the bucket and do a taste and alcohol test with the hydrometer. The wine was running at about 10.5% alcohol at this point and was still fermenting and smelled yeasty. So Tom and I returned the remainder of the wine with out the sediment back into the carboy for about 4 more days.

carboy with wine, First stage of racking and checking alcohol

carboy with wine, First stage of racking and checking alcohol

At 4 days  we  retested everything. The wine tasted better, smelled less yeasty, and the alcohol content was up to about 11.0% so we were pretty happy. I suggested that we go a head and bottle knowing that the yeast was almost done as the bubbling had all most stopped by day 14. If you plan to bottle at this point I suggest that you add two or three more campdon tablets to the wine to stop the fermentation process and make sure all of your equipment is sterile before bottling. I forgot this step and may regret it in a few months.

Next we took one  bucket and placed it full of wine on the counter and placed one on the floor empty. Inside the empty bucket I placed one of the empty bottles that  we washed and a sanitized. I siphoned a little wine into the hose and began filling the bottles inside the bucket to prevent a huge mess on the floor if I spilled. Pinching off the tube when the bottle was with in an inch of the neck ring. I repeat this process over and over until I had all twelve bottles full. Then I added twist tops and washed the bottles before storage.

finished Dandelion wine

finished Dandelion wine

I put a date on the top of each bottle and at some point will make labels for the wine that I plan to give away as gifts. The bottles will need to rest about 6 months to get the full flavor of all the ingredients blended. So these bottles return to their box case and head down stairs for the summer. I will also know how much more sediment will appear at that point and see what I can do better with the racking process. The wine should retain the cloudy yellow appearance even after aging. So this is one of the few non clear wines I will be making.

For memorial day we did open one of the bottles and share it with my son and his wife. I enjoyed the wine but found it almost to sweet even after using the Hydrometer to help control the dry/sweet mixture. I noticed that when opening the bottle that their was some pressure in the bottle that indicates that my wine was still fermenting in the bottles. This is the mistake I made not adding the campdon tablets. Hopefully in six months,it will taste  less sweet as the yeast finishes up its job in the bottles and finish off with a nice 11.5 alcohol content.

The worry with bottling still fermenting wine is two fold. First the wine may continue to ferment and not be able to release the CO2 anywhere and may explode the bottles or caps( what a huge mess) and it is possible that this mixture may not stop at wine and may continue to change into Vinegar, wasting my efforts. I will let you all know what happens in about 6 months!

Thanks for following along on my journey to learn more about how fermentation works and what we can do with it. I have learned so much so far and hope to move on to pickled beets and pickles next if my garden allows. Then maybe around the end of summer a batch of water melon wine for New Years. Something is always cooking here at Mountain Mama so join in.

Categories: country cooking, Dandelions, fermentation, home brewing, Uncategorized, wine | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Lambert’s Vintage Winery, advice from a wine maker

Stone entry sign at Lambert's vintage winery, Weston, West Virginia

Stone entry sign at Lambert’s vintage winery, Weston, West Virginia

Since spring has not really reached my home yet,  I thought this was the best time to do  more investigations into wine making and visit some friends who make wine for a living here in North Central West Virginia. The Lambert family owns and operates one of the loveliest winery’s in our northern Appalachian mountains. Hidden back on a hill the winery has some thing for everyone, even a newbie wine maker. I spent the afternoon with J.B. Lambert ( son of owners Jim and Deb Lambert) and Jimmy Blake as they showed me the wine making process. They let me taste some of their stock and ask questions about the most important parts of the wine making process.

Lambert's stone tasting room,store and porch for events

Lambert’s stone tasting room,store and porch for events

The winery property includes several Gothic style stone buildings, a small vineyard, a banquette hall with a catering area, and a waterfall. By late spring the entire place is green rolling hills , flowers and out door fire places for warmth and lots of smiles.

Lambert's winery front doors to tasting room and  kitchen

Lambert’s winery front doors to tasting room and kitchen photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

Water fall and flowers at the side of the entry of fermentation building  photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

Water fall and flowers at the side of the entry of fermentation building photo by Jimmy Blake used with permission

The inside of the stone building is just a warm and inviting as the rest of the property with a tasting bar and kitchen area for a summer pizza night.

Wine tasting bar at Lambert's Vintage Wines

Wine tasting bar at Lambert’s Vintage Wines

Dinning table with fire place at Lambert's Vintage wines, Weston, West Virginia

Dinning table with fireplace  at Lambert’s Vintage wines, Weston, West Virginia

J.B Lambert was so helpful for answering all of my fermenting questions. The wine making in the family started with a humble story of a husband brewing in the family kitchen. Father, Jim Lambert started with the same inexpensive equipment as I have. He learned and increased the amount of wine step by step, from kitchen, to basement, to cellar, to garage, to full-out fermentation building under ground. The passion grew with each step and soon the family needed to add  more space to accommodate  the growing equipment and crowds that wanted to see and taste the wine the family made.

Fermentation tanks getting ready for use at Lambert's winery

Fermentation tanks getting ready for use at Lambert’s winery

The smell of wine greats you as J.B. opens the heavy wooden door to this room where most of the real work happens. All equipment gets washed and sanitized before the fruit juice pours into the tanks. J.B. made clear that this was one of the most critical parts of the wine making process,wash and sanitize everything. Making sure that you start with clean yeast and bacteria free equipment to save you from having loses later.   Then J.B. showed me their bottling machine. It fills the bottles, corks and labels them in a matter of seconds. Sadly, for me this process will not finished in seconds at home. I hope to spend most of one whole day doing nothing but bottling and corking two cases of bottles.

bottling machine at Lambert's vintage wines

bottling machine at Lambert’s vintage wines

When I asked J.B. who designed the distinctive label for the winery, he said that Deb, his mother and Tracy, his sister, were the one who came up with the labels. Their style is apparent every where you look at the winery. They decorated the store, dinning area, and porch and helped with labels and logos. In this photo of  bottles on the tasting bar you can see some of the lovely labels and colored bottles that they use.

bottles on bar at Lambert's winery

bottles on bar at Lambert’s winery

I am hoping to make my own labels on printer friendly, water-soluble paper, I found on-line. This will give my Dandelion wine a unique look when I give it away as gifts. I can also date the wine to help me keep track of the aging process.

After I walked back to the kitchen area from the fermentation room, Jimmy Blake invited me to see their banquette hall. This is the most resent addition to the property. This way a wedding  preformed outside can include a sit down dinner at one location. This addition makes the winery perfect for weddings, reunions, and birthday parties.

seating inside banquette hall of Lambert's vintage wines

seating inside banquette hall of Lambert’s vintage wines

The banquette room includes  beautiful french doors that open out on to a large porch with outdoor seating. While adventuring outside to taking more pictures of the grounds and buildings, I stumbled into the wineries most lovable mascot… their yellow lab. She is a real beauty.

The Lambert winery Mascot

The Lambert winery Mascot

I then went back to the tasting room to talk more about what other important steps in the fermentation process. J.B. Lambert felt that the next two most important steps in home wine making was to learning to rack your wine carefully and testing for alcohol content  as fermentation slowed. You want to stop the process when you are happy with the end product not when the sugar runs out or when you get a vinegar instead of a wine.

Racking the wine is the process that removes sediment from the wine. At home the process can take up to three siphoning processes. When the wine has finished fermentation, to clear away sediment the wine is siphoned from one container to another. This process if done correctly leaves the sediment in the bottom of the first container. Then you allow the wine to sit for another few weeks to settle again and repeat the processes. Their other methods that maybe faster and more expensive but for the home wine maker it is just a simple game of waiting and siphoning.

The second thing that we discussed is stopping the fermentation process before it makes the wine to dry or becomes a vinegar. He explained the Hydrometer and how to use it and what the Campen tablets can do and how is can help me in both the cleaning step and the testing step. I now know that I can stop the fermentation any time. I can also learn to control the amount of alcohol safely and have better control over the finished product with this simple tool. He explained the a Hydrometer was an inexpensive tool at about 8 dollars and that Campden tablets were available at our local liquor store.

While J.B. and I talked I also sampled a few of the 25 different wines and sherry that they  produce. My two personal favorites are their Blush White  Zinfandel that is crisp, fresh and lite and the a White Niagara  that is fruity without being to sweet. Then we tried the Lambert’s newest addition a deep red Chocolate Kiss.The sent is of a Tootsie roll, but to my surprise the flavor is of cherry’s bathed in chocolate, something like a chocolate covered cherry but with a strong cherry flavor. This is something that I will add to my collection soon mostly for cooking.  What a great way to dress up a black forest cake with a wonderful wine sauce. Then I wanted an idea of what their Elderberry wine tasted like. I want to make mine, as good, if not better than, their wine at home. It was fruity but not to sweet and gave me a high mark to aim for this summer.

With the tour and tasting over, I was able to just sit and visit with my friend Jimmy for a while and take a few more wonderful photos. I  snooped through their wine cellar and collection of pottery that they also sell.

wine cellar at Lambert's vintage wines

some of the hand made pottery at Lambert's vintage wines

some of the hand-made pottery at Lambert’s vintage wines

Wine god tile with hand made bowels at Lambert's vintage wines

Wine god tile with hand-made bowels at Lambert’s vintage wines

A day with friends surrounded with the warmth of a fire and a glass of wine really can’t be matched. I left Lambert’s winery a richer person with advice from a local family, and time spent with my friend. I may just be able to make a few bottles of my own elderberry and dandelion wine now and miss some of the pitfalls along the way.

A huge thank you goes out the Lambert family for letting me see and photograph their lovely business and to Jimmy Blake for always being a friend willing to help me write a better blog.

corks on bar counter at Lambert's Vintage Wines

This is the Vineyard/ Winery’s contact information for any one who wants to stop in to see them or call and order wines for your next event.

Lambert’s Winery is in north central West Virginia about an hour south of Morgan town, W.V. or two hours South of Pittsburgh, P.A. off of I-79 to exit 99 Weston. Take rout 33 west 4 miles to Gee Lick Road. Turn right 1.5 miles to Dutch Hollow Road turn left at winery signs.  190 vineyard Drive Weston, West Virginia, 26452.  You can call  the winery at  (304) 269-4903  or visit their website at www. lambertsvintagewine.com and like them on Face Book. Summer time is the best time to see the winery but they are a very busy with weddings and events on the weekends. I recommend visiting during the work week if you can, when the family is able to really spend quality time with each guest.

Categories: fermentation, Lambert's Vintage Wine, West Virginia, Weston, wine, winery tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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