Hobby winemaking trend takes off in Colorado Springs

January 8, 2014 Updated: January 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm
photo - Brenda and Tim Christensen are the owners of the Fermentations, a business that teaches how to make wine at home. December 3, 2013.(The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)
Brenda and Tim Christensen are the owners of the Fermentations, a business that teaches how to make wine at home. December 3, 2013.(The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) 

In the age of DIY, why not give winemaking a go?

Don't own acres of vineyards, you say? No French-oak barrels stacked in your basement? Come on, this is the 21st century, and where there's a will, there's either a kit you can buy online or a store you can go to for supplies.

And if you'd rather not try this at home, you can even make your custom wine in a winery-like environment. This trend, already popular across the country, is catching on in the Pikes Peak region. There are five places. The newest is Fermentations, 6820 N. Academy Blvd., owned by Tim and Brenda Christensen. They opened their store in 2011.

The couple was inspired to open a winemaking business after attending a winemaking class with members of their church group.

"We were looking for something social to do," Tim said. "We heard about classes offered at Wine-Crafters & Homebrew Supplies and signed up for the class. That was in 2005."

Duane Lujan, owner of Wine-Crafters & Homebrew Supplies, 625 Paonia St., has been in the wine kit and brewing business since 1996. Back then, he mostly sold beer-brewing ingredients and equipment. It wasn't long before he added winemaking equipment and kits.

The Christensens' business is similar to Lujan's. They carry everything you can think of to make winemaking fun and successful. You can buy a kit and all the equipment and make the wine at home. Or, even better, you can buy the kit and make the wine at the store. There you do the mixing and then check in on your project during the different stages of the process, until you finally get to bottle, label and take the wine home. The Christensens baby-sit the wine for you.

Here's how it works. You can make a batch of wine for yourself or invite a group to make wine together. It will cost you from $199 to $299 to make about 30 bottles of wine, depending on the type. It will be ready to bottle in about six to eight weeks, again depending on the type you make.

Stage one is the primary fermentation, which takes about two weeks. Then you'll come back to the store for stage two, which is the secondary fermentation where you add more ingredients to the jug of wine, also taking about two weeks. In stage three, you'll add some ingredients to stabilize the wine and wait another two weeks. Next you'll vacuum-pump the wine into jars and wait for the wine to clarify - two more weeks. Stage five is bottling day.

"One thing about this," said Marty Payne, who was bottling a batch of wine at the store recently with his wife, Debbie, "he (Tim) will not let you screw up."

During the short time the Christensens have been in business, they have sold some 600 kits. Originally, this was to be Brenda's day job while Tim worked at an architectural firm. It wasn't long before he left that job to keep up with the demand of hobby winemakers.

"I love seeing people get a light in their eyes with the pride of having made something," he said. "Showing people a new hobby is my passion. I want to see the process go well. We want customers to be happy."

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