Wine Talk

Snooth User: dvogler

Homemade wine

Posted by dvogler, Mar 3, 2014.

I don't utter those words easily (homemade wine). 

Personally, I think it's crap and that there's no such thing as GREAT homemade wine.

I was wondering what some of your stories and/or responses are with and when offered said crap.

I occasionally am offered a bottle (because wine may come up in conversation with acquaintances or clients) and I respectfully and honestly decline it.  Sometimes they'll be incensed, but I just try to tell them it'd be a shame to waste it on me.  Very rarely, one will insist on me trying it on the spot because they're convinced it's as good as anything you could buy.  I don't hold back in these cases.

Anyone have some good stories?


Reply by outthere, Mar 3, 2014.

There are tons of garage wine stories around here. Sometimes these guys kick some serious arse. Williams-Selyem was first produced in a garage in Forestville.


  • 1970’s Burt and Ed begin making wine in a garage in Forestville. Some of their first fruit is from local grower Leno Martinelli; Zinfandel from 84-year old vines grown on Jackass Hill.
  • 1981 Burt and Ed make the winery official (and legal!) and name it Hacienda Del Rio.
  • 1982 The first vintage is produced with the now iconic Williams Selyem label. Burt designs it using a letter press and even mixes his own ink for the labels.
  • 1983 The first commercial release of Hacienda del Rio.
  • 1983 Burt and Ed receive a cease and desist letter from the Hacienda Winery, requesting that they not use the name Hacienda on their label.
  • 1984 The first vintage of Williams Selyem on the label releases. The winery is legally Williams & Selyem.
  • 1985 The first vineyard designate Pinot Noir from the Rochioli Vineyard is released.
  • 1987 The Williams Selyem Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir wins the Sweepstakes Prize (top red wine) at the California State Fair. Their Pinot is voted the best of the 2,136 wines entered by 416 wineries.
  • 1987 Due to the sudden notoriety, demand now exceeds supply. The Williams Selyem ‘waiting list’ develops, as not all those hoping to purchase received the opportunity.
  • 1989 Their single-vineyard designate Pinot Noir wines attract worldwide notoriety. Win Wilson and Jack Daniels, the Napa Valley importers of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti come to Williams Selyem in 1992 to compare wines. 23 bottles later, Williams Selyem holds its own, adding to its rapidly growing world-class reputation.
  • 1989 The crew moves into the Allen facility on Westside Road.
Reply by dvogler, Mar 3, 2014.

OT, you got me there!

I guess I was thinking more along the lines of non-vintner types making it.

I was touring BC's wine region a couple years ago, and although there are big, fancy tasting rooms and resorts, there are also some family-run wineries that have the old corrugated steel airplane-hanger garage with barrels etc.  More than one offered us some barrel tasting of new stuff, which my buddy said was some killer Pinot (ready in a couple years).  But I actually just meant like when people who don't really know your true appreciation of wine, offer you something they made like it was top-notch!

Thanks though for the enlightenment!  You're quite right...there's probably a lot of humble wine that is great.

Reply by JenniferT, Mar 4, 2014.

Diamonds in the rough really though, because for every success story there are 100's (or thousands?!) of people making their own wine at home. It clearly clouds their judgement, or maybe they weren't big wine drinkers with a developed palate anyway.....but the home made wines seem to be varying degrees of crappy. (based on my past,  and sad, experiences). 

OT your story give me faith that the diamonds are indeed out there. :)


Reply by Lucha Vino, Mar 6, 2014.

D - You will appreciate this.  There is a guy on my wife's cyclocross team that is a winemaker.  Sure, I thought.  He would show up at races with bottles of his wine and hand them out to various race winners from her team.  She got a bottle for being the highest placed female racer of the day from their team at one race.  An accomplishment, but not too hard to do considering the small number of women on her team (but I digress).  When we opened the bottle it turned out to be OK.

At the end of the season he hosted a team party at his house.  We ended up going down to the basement/barrel room and I was not expecting to see much.  Lo and behold, there in his basement sat about 8 barrels of wine!  The guy is pretty serious about his operation.  I think his wine is OK, nothing super stellar.  He makes red wines with a few single variety and a blend or two.I would put his wines up against most 10-15 dollar wines.

I have gotten to know a number of Washington winemakers that started in their garages.  Some of them are making outstanding wines. 

You never know what you will find when somebody says they make wine in their garage.



Reply by dvogler, Mar 6, 2014.

Damn!  You guys are starting to play with my mind!  I guess I've just had really bad luck.  I've never tasted a wine (U-brew) that was any good.  Obviously as you (Lucha) and OT have illustrated, there are some serious people doing it.  I raced with a guy here (Italian) who's dad made his own wine.  He bought juice from Napa and made it in these huge glass fermenters (obviously barrels would be much better).  It never got to a point where it was at least a year or two old.  He drank it way too early.  Maybe somewhere here there's someone doing it seriously.  But our liquor laws are so archaic that it's probably not legal.

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