Posts Tagged With: Elderberry wine

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

Dandelion Wine Making Preparation Begins part 1

I have several friends who over the years have made their own wine, schnapps , sherry’s and flavored liquors. I just never thought that I would be one of them. About a year ago I realized that I use a lot of wine to cook with. So I decided to make my own for half the cost. I do not regularly drink red wine as I am allergic to something in the tannin’s of the red grapes but love a lighter and sweater white wine with dinner or when out with friends. So why not make home-made wines to drink and cook with. My home-made wines would keep me from getting allergic headache  and would still be pleasant to cook with. West Virginia is also over run with natural wild ingredients  that cost very little to make into a favorable wines.

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

Bowl of fresh picked and cleaned Elderberries

The idea for making home-made wine deepened this Christmas holiday when a friend shared some of her wonderful apple liquor with us.  When I asked where she bought it I was given a typical Hill Billy response… ” At the getten place”. Meaning that she was not telling me who or where the wonderful “hooch” coming from. Years of moon shining  and prohibition in these mountains still make folks around here suspicious of sharing this kind of information.When I asked if their was more for sale I just got a laugh and a ” Maybe”… meaning if I had enough money I might be able to get some but mostly I should just enjoy the evening and forget about getting my hands on this hand-made treasure.  This just sparked the fire and the thoughts began, “I can make this, I am sure I can do this”!

After talking with several people I have compiled at list of what a  beginner wine maker needs and what is just handy to have to make two simple wines over the course of the summer. I will include this list at the bottom of this post. The two wines I hope to make are Dandelion wine with out a grape base and Elderberry wine.  I see no reason to make myself sick so I will not use grapes in these two versions. I also will make about 5 gallons of Apple cider vinegar with the same ingredients and containers. I also find that using fresh and  free ingredients makes this project cost-effective. This project should only cost a dollar or two a bottle when done with an end result of 10 gallons of wine and 5 gallons of vinegar.

I also recommend reading about fermentation and what you can achieved just in your own kitchen. I have found vast amounts of help through reading and on the internet that will help me as I progress through this new adventure.

me with experimental wine bottle

me with experimental wine bottle

This is  a photo of all the basic equipment is all I need to start a small batch of home-made wine.

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

basic supplies for small batch home wine making

In this photo I have two five gallon buckets, a five gallon carboy with filtered water, 10 feet of 3/8 inside diameter vinyl  hose, One universal stopper for carboy with hole for air lock, air lock, 3 packages of yeast, 12 bottles with screw tops.  The three other items that you may want to add to your list that I still need to pick up sometime in a future shopping trip are.

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

potassium -sorbate to stop fermentation

This additive stops fermentation so you can add sweeteners if the wine is to dry.

these tablets are added to preserve the wine and prevent bacteria growth to keep wine from turning to vineger

Campden tablets

The Campden tablets prevent wild yeast and bacteria from growing in the wine. This will stop mold growth and wine from turning to vinegar. A must have if you are making hard apple cider and many grape wines with low acid content.

Hydrometer and tube

Hydrometer and tube

Then lastly a Hydrometer to measure the alcohol/ sugar content of the wine so you have enough sugar for fermentation and to track of the amount of finished alcohol per batch.

With all of this new never used equipment I would say I have about 100 dollars in everything inculding shipping. Some of these things we got local and some we ordered on-line. I am making one more trip to a local store in the next couple of weeks to get the campden tablets and hydrometer for the dandelion wine. The potassium-sorbate I will not need until I make the Elderberry wine later in the summer, it will needed when I add additional sweeteners and I hope to use organic honey for my sweetener.dandelionwine

I am still learning and with friends from a local winery maybe I can skip some of the most common made mistakes and share them here with all of you. So tomorrow I head over to Lambert’s vintage wines to get some first hand tips and recommendations from a family that started their vineyard in their kitchen a decade ago and now have a thriving business. I hope  to share some of the beautiful photos from their winery and interview one of the owners. Maybe by the fall I will have a well stocked shelf of home make wines like these and some custom labels to go one them.

Categories: apple cider vinger, Apples, Elderberry, fermentation, Foraging, home brewing, organic drinks, organic foods, wine, wine, winery tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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