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Gifford Grape Vine – Care For Veterans very own wine!

At Care for Veterans, the art of winemaking took a unique turn when volunteer gardener Wilma suggested utilising the grapes from Gifford House’s vine.

Bob Jones, an amateur winemaker, embraced the challenge, marking the beginning of a remarkable journey. Bob, with the help of volunteers like Paul Hardy, transformed these grapes into three distinct wines, each with its own character, represented by different coloured tops and varying alcohol contents.

The Process

Firstly, the grapes were cleaned and washed to remove leaves, spiders, insects and anything else that wasn’t wanted.

Then, all stalks were removed from the grapes, which were then crushed by stamping on them; the traditional way of making wine, to produce a mixture of juice, pulp, pips and grape skins.

This all went into a fermenting tub, where other ingredients such as yeast were added. This was then left to ferment for about 14 days. Including the skins in this process gives a darker liquid.

When a lack of bubbles indicates that the fermentation has finished, the wine juice is strained, leaving behind the ‘lees’ (this is the spent yeast, skins and pips). This process is called racking.

The container with the wine is left to stand and clear, ready for filtering and bottling.

The dark wine has a very low alcoholic content, as very little additional sugar was added to the juice. Other methods are to discard the grape skins for a lighter-coloured wine or to add more sugar for a higher alcohol content. You can also stop the fermenting process early to get a sweeter wine, or let the yeast naturally die off when the alcohol level exceeds the tolerance of the yeast.

The Wine

The grapes were picked in September of 2023, which was completed by Paul (a volunteer gardener).

In total, 85 bottles of wine were made, with three different types to be gifted to Care For Veterans.CEO Kate Schroder was delighted to accept the gift on behalf of Care For Veterans and said it would be great to serve it Christmas day for the residents, as well as for other special occasions.

Three different variations were produced. A black top, very much like a red wine (this was named Red Wine), a red top, similar to a sherry (named an orange wine) and a gold and red top which was similar to a dry Rosé (and subsequently named Pink Wine).

The Tasting

Bob came to talk with residents in November 2023, explaining the process of making the wine.

Care For Veteran residents Carol Bennet and Andy Dickinson had the opportunity to taste the wine too.

It was a fantastic experience which everyone seemed to enjoy. Our volunteers, Paul, Wilma and Jean also had the opportunity to taste the wine too.

Thank you to our volunteers who took the time to enable this to happen, as well as Bob Jones for creating the wine and explaining the process to us all.

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