While we don't sell our wines commercially, Clay has been making small batches for our drinking pleasure for the last eight years, and his love of winemaking is what led us down this merry path to becoming vineyard owners.
He made beautiful wines in our garage when we lived on the coast, including one that won a silver medal in the dessert wine category of WineMaker magazine’s 2008 International Amateur Wine Competition. Now that we have moved to the ranch, he has struggled to find a location on the property that would serve the same purpose. We finally decided to take a small barn once used for kiwi harvesting and turn it into a dedicated winery for his work.
His remodeled winery now holds fermenters, steel tanks, barrels, a collection of our wines and favorite wines from other winemakers. It also contains all the tools of the trade including hoses, clamps, bins, pails and carboys. The crowning glory is his laboratory that contains everything he needs to create the finished product.
One of our biggest needs was a proper crush pad. A crush pad is a big concrete space for all of our messy work: grape crushing and equipment cleaning. We spend a lot of time cleaning. According to Home Winemaking for Dummies, "All the scrubbing and rinsing and flushing in winemaking help stack the odds in favor of the good guys and against the bad guys. The time spent on winemaking operation often breaks down as something like 40 percent devoted to cleaning equipment beforehand, 20 percent doing whatever it is with the wine, and then another 40 percent cleaning up afterward. Glamorous? No. Essential? Yup."
Even though we installed an air conditioning unit, Clay built a passive cooling system into the design to conserve energy. Our nights get chilly, even in the summer. He can open the panels at the top of the building at night to let in the cool air, and then close them up in the morning to keep out the heat, one of wine’s worst enemies. We hope the system – along with the heavily insulated walls and highly reflective roof shingles – will allow us to keep the winery cool using very little electricity.
A Word from the Happy Winemaker, Clay Gantz:
"If you've ever considered making your own wine at home, you should try. With a little effort, it is quite possible to equal or exceed the efforts of professionals, as winemaking in small batches allows the kind of love, care and experimentation that professional winemaking does not. If you dare to try, go see Bernie and Homer at Oak Barrel Winecraft or Bob at The Beverage People, and they will get you started, perhaps with the great book "Home Winemaking Step-by-Step" by Jon Iverson. They also have lots of shiny new tanks and other equipment for purchase when your interest grows."
Evolution of the New Winery Slideshow