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Crush and squeeze time for local wine-makers

By KATRINA SMITH

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - The sound of crushing grapes this time of year is music to the ears of people who love to make wine.

Local wine makers arrived bright and early over the weekend at Warner Sales and Service on Greenway New London Road in the outer district of Rome over the weekend to pick up 60 thousand tons of grapes.

Thirty different varieties, including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, and Alicante, are just a few of the blends that will be made from these grapes.

Something the average person might not know is that wine varieties are named for the grape from which they derive. These wine-makers use their knowledge of the flavor and acid content of each grape to create the perfect blend for their wine.

It's a tradition that dates back decades, even centuries for some.

Mark Peters, the owner of Bottom of the Barrel, is the person who brings it all together.

"A lot of the passion is the heritage," Peters said. "You get an Italian heritage or a Bosnian heritage, and it's part of their culture."

Each and every wine maker has his or her own technique and preference, but there's one common goal, creating the perfect concoction, and one that will age well.

Patrice Joslin of Utica has been making wine for about 15 years and uses three different grapes to create a blend, then ages the wine in either Hungarian or French oak.

She says the choices of grapes work well together and the the oak gives the wines a different flavor as well.

"The Zin, the Cab gives it a full-bodied flavor, and the Merlot gives it a sweetness," Joslin said.

The price of California grapes jumped about ten percent this year. That's got economists projecting a 12 percent price hike in 2012 vintages in stores, but saving money is not why these people make their own wine.

Len Gratch, of Rome says he makes wine simply because he likes doing it.

"It's probably less expensive than buying wine, but there are less chemicals," Gratch said.

And it's that purity of purpose that drives these artists of the grape.

"It's the smell, it's the time of year, it's really everything," Gratch said. "It's thinking about the fermentation, that starts maybe about five to seven days after you crush. You look forward to that, you anticipate it, and it's all worth it."

It will be two years before their grapes make their way through fermentation, into a bottle and onto the table, but the aroma, the bouquet, and the pride of creating your one wine from start to finish, they all agree, is well worth the work and the wait.

If you're interested in making wine and ordering grapes from Bottom of the Barrel, which is located in Oneida, you can check it out on Facebook or go to their website.

The company imports grapes for home winemakers from Chile and Italy as well.

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