Cruising down Commercial Street in Aransas Pass one day on my way from Port Aransas to Rockport, I spied “somethingsomethingsomethingWINERY.” Winery? In Aransas Pass? Do we even grow grapes around here?
Well, we do, but that’s another story. What’s going on at A Wine of Mine Winery begins after grapes have been grown. It’s a way to make your own wine with all of the fun and very little work… and even the work is fun.
At A Wine of Mine, you make your own wine, crafted to your specific taste and bottled with your label.
First, you select a winemaking kit from over 100 varieties ranging from Chardonnay to Cabernet and everywhere in between. The kit includes wine-grape juice, bentonite and yeast and flavorings. Bentonite is a clarifying agent that pulls the proteins from the grape, and the yeast creates the fermentation. Some of the wine varieties call for additional fruit juices and flavors. Those are included in the kit. You mix the kit’s contents with filtered water.
Wait for It
Next, you wait. It takes two to six weeks for the mixture to ferment. You don’t have to wait in the A Wine of Mine winery, although you could. It’s a charming shop and owner Alice Sloan is gregarious and enthusiastic. While you’re waiting, you could spend some time designing a custom label for your creation. Or, if that sounds too much like work, you can choose from a selection of stock labels.
Once the fermentation is complete, you return to the winery to decant your wine into carboys — large jugs. They’re then moved into A Wine of Mine’s cellar. You wait a little more: two to four weeks or even longer, depending on what kind of wine you’re making, while the fermented mixture ages and sediments settle to the bottom of the jugs.
Have a Corking Good Time!
Finally, it’s time to bottle, cork, cap and label the wine. The mystery of how the cork gets in the bottle and how the sleeve gets snugged over is revealed. (How the cork gets out of the bottle is up to you.). You’ll be making about 30 bottles. If that sounds like work, you can invite some friends and make a party out of it, which many people do.
And there you have it: A Wine of Mine — or, well, actually, Yours. And yes, your handcrafted wines are less expensive than what you would buy in a store, since you’ve done some of the work. They can also be lower in sulfites than most other wines. As for the taste, I got to sample several, including some “fruit mist” varieties, and each was more delicious than the last.
Think you might like more than one type of wine in your batch of 30? Then bring a friend or two. You can each make 30 bottles, then mix and match.
Why Aransas Pass?
So how did Alice Sloan come to own a winery in Aransas Pass? Most recently from the Missouri Ozarks, 35 years ago Alice lived in Portland. When she finally retired, she moved to San Antonio for a while. Then she decided to return to the Coastal Bend, be a full-time RVer and just relax. Apparently, relaxation is overrated. She got restless, as did her A Wine of Mine partner, Al Sproessig. Al is originally from Minnesota, where the “kit winery” is quite popular. Alice says it’s a Canadian concept. Due to cross-border regulations, it’s difficult to transport wine between the US and Canada. But it’s no problem at all to transport a kit of the ingredients to make wine.
The winery sounded like fun to Alice who during her career had been involved in event planning and community activity management. She liked the idea of having something that would make Aransas Pass a destination rather than just a city to pass through on the way to somewhere else. “I see the winery as the last pearl on the string on the way to the Island,” she says. So in April, 2011, she and Al began the lengthy process of getting the necessary approval and licensing from all the agencies concerned, starting at the federal level and working their way to the local level. A Wine of Mine had its grand opening January 20th and 21st, 2012. Future plans include getting the right licensing so that they can sell wine by the bottle, and to join with local merchants to organize events that will draw people to Aransas Pass.
For more information, look for A Wine of Mine on Facebook. Visit the Web site at awineofminewinery.com. Call (361) 944-9463, send an email to email@example.com or just stop by the winery at 264 S. Commercial Street in Aransas Pass. I’ll see you there.