Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wine. With actual grapes.

Steve the automechanic has a very dim opinion of my car husbandry. Our poor old Holden went flat about six weeks ago. The RACV fella came and said the battery was some vestige from the Keating era. He sold us a new one. Three days later, the new one was flat too. I saw this as an opportunity not to drive anywhere for a month. Which was perfectly lovely, with the exception of the morning I signed up to be on the La Trot picket line from 7am. After a month of being carless and fancy-free, finally, on Friday morning, with visiting parents-in-law about to descend from the north, I called the RACV again. A new fella came. I shouldn't have left the battery empty for so long. He recharged it. I lugged the car two kilometres up the road to Steve, who did some expensive things to the alternator, revived the battery a bit more, and then advised me, in terms not so much insistent as pleading, to drive it every day for a week until the battery is back in business. I think he's hoping I'll form sensible new motoring habits. And indeed I would, were driving not (a) expensive, (b) polluting, (c) unconducive to the little bit of exercise I could otherwise get between stints of sedentary work, (d) potentially lethal, (e) incompatible with the reading I do on public transport, and (f) detrimental to the rambling-down-alleys-sampling-stray-bits-of-edible-botany lifestyle.

The fact is, I shouldn't own a car. I should be sharing one with a dozen other drivers: once a fortnight I should have it to buy sacks of chookfood or take Harriet and Bea Cat to the vet or ferry the menagerie to Mum's place for the weekend. Organising a communal automobile arrangement (one where noone minds that I leave the boot festooned with bits of stray lucerne hay and mushroom compost) is one of my long term ambitions. In the meantime, I am driving the car every day for a week. Blah.

The one thing that makes me feel better about driving is acquiring some ridiculously large quantity of biomass while I have the wheels to carry it with: 17 sacks of horse poo, a couple of bales of straw, 50kg of exotic barley for the brewmeister. So as I was taking the car for its constitutional pootle yesterday, I was relieved to spy a man standing on St Georges Road just south of Bell St, surrounded by towering boxes of grapes.

We came home with a massive carton of these lovelies:

Grenache grapes, from Wildwood vineyard in Bulla. 

One of my longterm career ambitions has been grape-treading. Tragically, I couldn't be bothered sterilising the bathtub, so we resorted to our trusty fruit press (an absurdly spendy bit of equipment that we mostly use to crush the honey out of honeycomb, but which was also integral to Operation Cider Y2K13, Operation Feijoa Wine Y2K13, and Operation Pear Juice, and which I am pleased to use as often as possible so as to reduce the cost per use ratio from heinous to ... less heinous).

The result was many, many litres of grenache juice, which is currently sitting in a carboy with a dash of sodium metabisulphite to kill any rogue bacteria. The hydrometer reading (a measurement of sugar content) tells us that we're heading dangerously into dessert wine territory with this stuff. I'll let you know in a year.

Meanwhile, it turns out that pressing grapes results not only in grape juice, but pressed grapes. The chooks were rapturous for about five minutes and now never want to see a grape again.

Here's hoping the citizens of the compost bin have a longer grape tolerance.


  1. Smiles. And, as a non driver, I love your reasons for not being a fan of the beasts.

  2. Thanks, EC. I am all in favour of non-drivers.

  3. Oh, Alexis, how I wish I could carpool with you. EXACT same with our dear old Magna. Which I do actually love to drive, just about once every two months, which means I have killed more batteries than you have had hot dinners. BUT THE WINE. Am tempted to drive down and demand a tasting (next year, natch). Bonza.

  4. Poor old car batteries. I've actually gone and procured an electric battery trickle charger which I think I'll be able to use to juice-up the battery when the car's not needed for ten days in a row. (I didn't actually confess this to the automechanic, and maybe it's not a good idea for some reason. People who know these things, please speak now.)

    I would LOVE so much for you and UK to visit for ferment-sampling purposes one of these days. No guarantees that the wine will be worth the trip, though. xx