Looking to stock up on quality flavourful red or white wines for the summer entertaining season, but reluctant to shell out a pile of money at one time? Have you considered how easy it can be to create your own premium wines or ciders at a fraction of the cost of store-bought bottles?
Brian Ross, winemaster and founder of Willow Point Wines U-Vin, educates people often on this subject. He still enjoys sharing the possibilities of kit wines and other specialty products with customers, even after 21 years helping people make wine in Campbell River.
“You come in and bottle it, take it home and put it in your wine cellar,” he says, describing the ideal situation. A cool central closet or other unused space with consistent temperatures is next best. “It’s good to drink at bottling time, but it’s even better with age. The key is for the first year, start twice as much wine as you think you’ll need, then maintain your supply.”
You’ve got many choices
While there are many different varietals to work with, Brian’s “showcase kits” are those that feature crushed grapes. “The kits ferment on skins and seeds and pull out some of the more complex flavours. They need a little time to age, but they turn out wonderfully.”
You can make your own Amarone-style red, a full-bodied oaked wine that starts at about $36 in retail stores, but works out to roughly $6 a bottle using the kit, Brian says. Among the other high-end red kits available are Chilean Carménère, an Argentinian Malbec and an Italian Rosso Fortissimo.
You may think the ability to win awards is limited to the wineries, but not so. Aged wines created by Brian and available in non-aged form through Willow Point Wines have earned over 30 medals in WineMaker Magazine’s International Amateur Winemakers Wine Competition. But as Brian says, “some of our customers let it age, and they drink really nice wine!”
You can customize your kit
Depending on your taste, Brian can help you create wines with greater or less alcohol content, add more carbonation or fruit to create coolers or sparkling wine, and make it as dry or sweet as you like.
The Niagara Mist kits are ideal for making coolers, he says, with flavours like strawberry, dragonfruit, peach, lime and raspberry available. His new ginger beer recipe is also proving quite popular and uses fresh ingredients including ginger, lemon, lime and cane sugar.
Travel incentive for your winemaking
To celebrate 21 years in business, Brian is offering anyone who starts a kit in April or May entry into a draw for seven nights at an all-inclusive resort near Puerto Vallarta. Ask for more details!