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I am often asked while tending the White Squirrel Winery tasting room, “How did this all begin”? And because time passes so quickly or because I honestly forget , the questions cause me to pause , “Was that last year, or the year before… when was it”? There are no books or maps written to help direct or navigate the course I chose. Home Winemaking for dummies was an early read but fell short as I progressed.

winemaking 101

Why I did it, and what moved me to do it, I have no idea, but in my late 20’s I ordered my first home winemaking kit.  It included a 5-gallon plastic bucket and lid, an air-lock, a #10 can of grape concentrate, wine yeast, various chemicals and an instruction sheet ( Beginning to end, it took about four months of fermenting, racking, fining and then bottling. I anxiously shared with friends and received comments like, “Not bad,” and, “That’s pretty good”. The process seemed pretty easy, and with my past success, I ordered another kit and started two more batches.

what was I thinkin

After taking the easy road and making mediocre wine using various grape concentrates, in 1999 I planted my first 50 vines. And, because I liked the name, the first varietal I planted was a French-hybrid called Chancellor. Aside from growing a Muscadine and Concord, this was my first attempt to grow an actual wine grape. I was inundated with mold, fungus, insects and rot. A visit from the local agriculture extension office pointed out that my trellis was wrong, the vine spacing was wrong and the direction the vines were planted in was wrong.

the harder I work, the luckier I get

The harder I work, the luckier I get“, is a quote my grandfather Charles Sanderson always threw out at me. At times, it was discouraging but more often focused my drive. And in this case, I would not be deterred. I pulled up the vines and started all over. In the next year or so, I bought a small wine press, a grape crusher, and a 30-gallon stainless steel tank, and continued to make wine with my new Steuben grapes and blackberries. And now, 30-years later, I still use the grapes from those vines and that 30-gallon tank. But this was only the beginning.

1998 Chenin Blanc

Wine Club Pick-Up Party
Saturday, June 6th, 2020 will be Wine Club pick-up day at White Squirrel Winery. This quarter we will have a taco bar for Club Members plus 1 guest, $10 for non-members, and live music by Scott Allen Shell‎, from Union City.

*Lunch for Members only will begin at 12:00-3pm, and for non-members, our regular opening hours at 1pm.

*Music will be from 2:00-6pm.

Mark your calendar for this fun-filled day!

Schedule · Saturday, June 6, 2020:

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM for Wine Club Members-Only plus 1 Guest Taco Bar-eat free

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Non-Members may eat at Taco Bar for $10 starting at 1pm & enjoy the music for free from 2-6pm

2:00 PM – 6:00 PM Music by Scott Allen Shell

Easter morning 2007, many blooming fruit crops like grapes, peaches and apples were destroyed by 3-days of 25-degree early morning freezing temperatures. Ironically, April 15th, 2020, the Wednesday morning after Easter… it happened again.

5:00 a.m., a 26-degree early morning temperatures totally destroyed all green tissue, including blooms on our 20 acres of grapes. Once this occurs, most grape vines will set a 2nd set of blooms and produce 25-50% of the initial crop. Unfortunately, the European vinifera grape Syrah will not do that. I have 650 Syrah plants and was hoping for 7-8,000 pounds of these wonderful, peppery, dark purple grapes. This year they will receive the weekly sprays, all the vine training and all the mowing… but will produce no grapes.

Here is the possible bright side of the coin. Theoretically (Bill’s theory), the energy of the plant will be directed to the remaining crop. I am hoping the smaller cropload will produce a sweeter and tastier grape and thus produce a more robust, full-flavored and superior wine. So, keep your eye out and get ready for the White Squirrel 2020 vintage.