Making Wine from the Biblical Garden
After the High Holy Days, on Sunday, October 27, we will be making wine in the synagogue’s kitchen. I have ordered three 36-pound boxes of grapes which – when added to the grapes from our Biblical Garden (13.6 ounces) – will make more than six gallons of wine. That will be enough for approximately 70 half bottles.
Making wine is a five-step process: crushing the grapes, placing them in a fermenter with yeast for about a week (called "primary fermentation"), siphoning the wine into a glass vessel to allow residue to settle out for three to four weeks (called "racking"), aging the wine, and lastly, bottling. The wine should be ready for consumption by the late spring 2020.
I have arranged through a friend of mine to use his grape press to crush the grapes. But to crush the grapes, volunteers are needed to de-stem the grapes plus work the grape press. Ten volunteers are needed. If interested, please contact me. We plan to start at 2:00 pm on October 27th. Please wear old clothes since at times it can become a little messy. It will take about two hours. Sorry, there are not enough grapes to do it the “Lucy and Ethel” way by stomping on the grapes with bare feet.
For bottling, I will need several volunteers to wash the bottles and fill them. After bottling, we shall hold a wine tasting with cheese and crackers with bottles distributed to the congregation on a first-come-first-served basis. By law, the wine cannot be sold, but contributions can be made in advance to the Temple Sinai Wine Fund!
Other News from the Biblical Garden
Everything planted with few exceptions has grown and thrived. The produce I planted – potato onions and bush beans have been harvested. They will be distributed to a local food pantry. The herbs planted – mint, coriander, sorrel, fennel, sage, rosemary, marjoram, hyssop, sorrel will also go to a place where they will help people. The horseradish root has produced leaves and, come Passover 2020, the root will be dug up and a portion of the root will be sliced off. This root piece will then be cut up for bitter herbs for the Seder. Then, the horseradish root will be replanted for use in 2021.
The willow tree is a graft with the willow portion grafted onto a mother tree. The mother tree decided to send shoots through the willow branches; they have been removed. So, now the willow graft is thriving.
Thanks to Rabbi Jeff, I have been in contact with various biblical gardeners and they have help me identify plantings done by Catherine Walters, ז׳׳ל. I've also benefitted from their expertise in learning to tend our garden.
In the fall and spring I plan to incorporate the seven species set forth in Deuteronomy – pomegranate, wheat, barley, olive, honey, fig and grape. In the garden, we already have a fig tree and grape vine. Two of my neighbors are beekeepers and I planned to borrow a hive from one of them to install on the Temple grounds. I tried to plant wheat and barley, but failed because I planted them too late. Early next spring, I will plant these two crops plus flax. The pomegranate tree and olive tree have been ordered. During the winter, the olive tree will be grown in a planter which will be kept inside during the winter and outside in warm weather. I also plan to plant myrtle, garlic and crocuses this fall. Next year I will continue planting bush beans and onions to be distributed to a food pantry.
Michael Schlesinger is Temple Sinai’s Biblical Gardener. Mike has been gardening since he was eight years old. He used to grow grape vines and make wine when he lived in California. He now tends to our garden, continuing the traditions started by Catherine Walters.