Monday, March 17, 2008

The Fascinating Business of Wine Making

A fellow blogger left a comment on one of my previous blog posts today about how she had always been intrigued with the winery business. I guess I was intrigued with this business at one time, too. 80 hour weeks making wine and running a retail store selling brewing supplies and winemaking supplies can sure make it unintriguing (apparently that is not a word, my blog's spell checker just hiccuped!).

In my prior life I was a combat flier in the Viet Nam, taught high school and was a commercial banker. The flying was exciting (and slightly dangerous), the teaching was interesting (maybe even more dangerous), the banking was tedious (and the hours were long) and the wine making is a fascinating way to make a living (but the hours are very, very, very long).

Mondays are spent packaging beer brewing supplies, winemaking supplies, and WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits which were sold on via the internet over the weekend. Any time left over is spent checking our in process wine, and restocking our retail store shelves with winemaking equipment and home brew supplies. Restocking can be a time consuming process as many of the wine making ingredients must be weighed, labeled and packaged. If we have sold some of our BlueStems Best home brewing ingredients kits then replacement kits must be packaged and put out for display. This can take a great deal of time as the grains must be milled, weighed and packaged and the hops must be weighed and packaged, too. The shelves for our Cellar Craft and WinExpert ingredient kits need to be restocked, too.

Tuesdays are spent doing more of the same with less packaging and more of the other things. If we are going to start fermenting a new batch of wine we will start this when my wife gets off from her high school teaching job. It usually takes about four hours to get a 150 gallon batch of wine in the fermenters. Evenings are also when we will typically rack wine from one tank to another tank to get it off its sediment.

From Wednesday through Saturday we are open from 11 to 5 so I spend my time in the store. I spend time between customers vacuuming (isn't that intriguing!), restocking shelves and heaven forbid, dusting! Early mornings are spent packaging the website sales of homebrewing equipment and home winemaking supplies plus any WinExpert wine kits or Cellar Craft kits sold overnight. Evenings are sometimes spent racking wine or filtering wine or adding needed additives to wine in the secondary fermenters.

Sundays we are open from Noon until 4 and we actually have a little shorter day at the store. Unless we are going to bottle wine! If we have wine to bottle we usually have one person watch the store while we get the crew (myself, my wife, my son and his wife, my daughter-in-law's parents and anyone else we can corner) together to bottle wine. It takes the crew about six hours to bottle and cork 1,600 bottles of wine.

The fascinating business of making wine! Between the homebrewing ingredients and homebrew equipment and the Cellar Craft wine ingredient kits and the other wine making supplies we find the time to put together tanks of wine, rack the wine from tank to tank, filter the wine, and bottle it. If my calculations are right, our average week is 70 hours or so. Banking? Hell no! Teaching? Maybe. Climbing back into an EC-47 and flying over northern South Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia? Absolutely (especially if we can just go do the flying and leave out the shooting part!). Making wine? Intriguing, fascinating, and even though it is week after week of very long hours, it is the best job I have ever had. I especially like the not having a boss part of doing this job!

1 comment:

Buffy said...

I worked at a winery for 5 years (in a previous life!) I remember the many stresses endured by the winemaker...frosts,too much rain,weather too hot. Early mornings and long days at harvest...but the wine...mad it all worth it!