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Wine lover? This may be your new favorite hobby

By: Leslie Massey, leslie.massey@gazette.com
March 31, 2016 Updated: April 8, 2016 at 3:59 pm
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Fermentations Customer Mike Price; photo by Fermentations

Whether you're a wine aficionado or an occasional wine sipper, crafting your own wine is rewarding, exciting, and easier than you think.

Family-owned and operated, Fermentations Home Winemaking Center is a haven for wine lovers as well as folks who appreciate the quest of DIY.  A simple but captivating art form, the result is a bundle of your favorite wine to take home and savor.

Stumbling upon the charm and social benefits of wine-making classes, the owners of Fermentations, Tim and Brenda Christensen, unintentionally discovered an engaging hobby that turned into a lifestyle. Subsequently, they designed a fun, entertaining, and fulfilling approach for wine drinkers at every level to indulge in producing their own wine.

“In 2005 our Bible study group was looking for something social to do together,” said Brenda.  “We signed up for wine-making classes and it became a hobby for us.  One day Tim said he thought we should open a wine-making center, and I said ‘Sure, ok,’ thinking it was a joke.”

Launching Fermentations in 2011, the Christensens continued to develop their business and absorb as much wine wisdom as possible.  In 2014 they eagerly relocated to a larger location, and last year they expanded that space to accommodate even more activities and merchandise.

“We are a hobby shop,” Tim said, “not a winery. All of the wine made is for personal enjoyment and cannot be sold – customers can’t make any money from it.” Federal and Colorado laws permit individuals of legal drinking age to make up to 100 gallons of wine or beer, for personal consumption – at home or in a winemaking center.  Two adults per household can make up to 200 gallons per year, tax free.

With over 130 selections of winemaking kits to choose from, each wine-maker is sure to find the special one that satisfies their palate. Fermentations also stocks all of the necessary equipment for making wine in your own home.

At the Fermentations location, Tim and Brenda are happy to let you make the most of their facility and equipment while imparting expert knowledge and courteous winemaking guidance.

Fermentations wine-maker Mike Price enjoys a great sense of accomplishment making his own wine, and also enjoys spending time with Tim and Brenda

"It's a relaxing hobby for my retirement," said Price. "My experiences at other shops in Colorado Springs weren't what I expected - they didn't show the level of professionalism that Fermentations has in their products, people, and facility."

Make a batch yourself, or invite a group to share a wine-making quest together. Birthday groups, bridal showers, date nights, or just the chance to enjoy something new, group classes are just the thing for a fun and unique adventure packed with quality interaction and an unforgettable experience. 

“We have a variety of groups coming in together,” said Brenda.  “They have a lot of fun working collectively to make the wine, and then divide up the bottles among them when it’s done.” 

The Cloud Chicks, Diane Brown, Karen Cloud, and Missy Cloud, recently finished up their wine-making foray, bottling 30 bottles of their own Pinot Noir. 

“We’ve had so much fun,” said Diane Brown.  “And the wine is really good.”

One of the Cloud Chicks was gifted a wine making class for her birthday and decided they should do it as a group – and as they were completing this project, they were making plans for their next batch.

“We all really enjoyed doing it together,” said Karen. “Tim has been wonderful explaining the process and the reason for each step.  We have really learned a lot the whole way.”

Winemaking centers like Fermentations are considered an extension of your home, and the wine is your property from start to finish.  In five easy steps, you make approximately 30 bottles of wine which is ready to go home in about six to eight weeks. 

Step One is mixing the ingredients (premium juice, water & yeast) to begin primary fermentation, requiring about 45 minutes.

Step Two is transferring your wine-in-progress to a glass carboy, which takes about 15 minutes. Step Three takes about 15 to 20 minutes, adding the "stabilizing and fining agents," which prevents oxidation, clarifies your wine, and prevents renewed fermentation of the wine.

Step Four is transferring your wine while leaving the remaining sediment behind, making your wine clear enough to bottle, around 15 minutes.

And Step Five the final step, is bottling!  You need to allow 90 minutes to fill, cork and label your bottles and then take your finished masterpiece home.

The Fermentations “Wine Exploration Experience” provides a chance to discover wines from all over the world.  Typically hosted three time per year, these private events require reservations and last about eight weeks.

And if wine’s not your thing, but a homemade cold brew is more your style – Fermentations has you covered too.  Anything you need to brew your own signature draft is on-hand at the store - including equipment and beer kits, as well as a recently added full-service grain room, complete with 15 Base Malts, 40+ Specialty Malts, and two mills (one Barley Crusher and one Brewery Series Professional mill).  If you’re feeling creative you can add orange peel, spices, candy sugar and more hops to personalize your beer.

In four easy steps, from boiling the wort, to pitching the yeast, fermenting and bottling, your custom brew is ready to take home in about three weeks.  Beer making classes are rewarding, intriguing, and another great way to spend time with friends.

Making your own wine is not only fun and rewarding, it also provides better value, and fewer preservatives (sulfites) than commercial wine.  All you have to do is enjoy the journey. Stop by Fermentations and let Tim and Brenda introduce you to your new favorite hobby.

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