Wining allowed

Local wine aficionados got a hands-on lesson on the wine-making process that began in January and culminated in October with a grape-crushing party at Deukmejian Wilderness Park. Stuart and Marie Byles, the Stone Barn Conservancy's husband-and-wife wine-making team, led classes on wine making for about 10 months at the park and at their La Crescenta home for those interested not just in wine tasting but also in what it takes to create a palatable vino.

Alicante bouschet grapes are grown at the city-owned vineyard at Deukmejian Wilderness Park and these are made into wine and bottled under the Stone Barn Dunsmore Creek label. Amateur vintners who showed up to the weekend meetings at the park got a taste of what it takes to create the wine by helping to clear and trim last year's old vines, placing netting around the growing grapes and finally harvesting the juicy, ripe grapes.

Some visitors were brave enough to get their hands and arms stained a rich, deep purple when crushing the relatively small harvest, which will make about 40 bottles of wine, Byles said. Last year’s crop yielded a more respectable 140 bottles. Byles also showed those interested how wine is racked, or filtered, to remove sediment.

Once the wine fermented for about one week, it was transferred to 5-gallon glass bottles to continue the process for about a year, until the 2011 vintage is ready for bottling next October. And then drinking.

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