Straight off the Vine

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Stanley Turner loves making wine.

Crafting wines is a hobby for the Vaucluse resident. He uses white muscadine grapes, or scuppernongs, to make white wine and red muscadine grapes to make red wine. He also ferments blackberries to make a dry blackberry wine.

"I experimented with pears and watermelon, but I figured there's a reason people have been making wine from grapes for centuries," he said.

He got a taste of muscadine wine as a child and liked it. In 1998, Mr. Turner decided to take up wine making after picking wild muscadines in his back yard.

"I started with wild fruit, then planted my own muscadine vines," he said.

Mr. Turner shares his hobby with friends and family, who help with the bottling. Whenever he has enough wine ready to bottle, he makes a few phone calls.

"It's a working party, and the workers are paid with wine," he said.

"Filling bottles with about 60 gallons of wine is a lot more than one person could do. We just have fun."

In September, Mr. Turner held a working party to bottle white and red wine for his son Derrick's wedding, which was Saturday.

With loud music playing in Mr. Turner's garage, nearly 50 people scraped old labels off, sterilized, filled and corked nearly 300 bottles of wine.

Because he would have to get a license to sell the wine, Mr. Turner keeps it simple and applies a certain joy de vivre philosophy to his hobby.

"I use the wine for gifts and for parties," he said. "We usually have a fall party with karaoke and food for about 120 people and lots of wine."

His helpers are more than happy to aid in the drinking. In his 10 years of making wine, Mr. Turner has rarely had a bottle get older than 4 years.

Which is just as well:

"I don't recommend people keep the wine too long; about two years is the maximum," he said.

THE WINE LIST

Here's how Stanley Turner crafts his wine:


- He crushes the fruit and puts the juice and remnants into a primary (open-air) fermentation tank for 5-6 days.


- As the fermentation slows, he puts the liquid into 5-gallon covered glass carboys to start the secondary fermentation for 10-12 days.


- Then he transfers the wine into different carboys, filtering out any remnants in the bottom of the old containers.


- He adds sugar to make the wine either dry or semi-sweet.


- He then ages the wine for six months. Mr. Turner says the longer it ages, the more mellow the wine.


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