Drew Erickson, Vinegar Maker
Drew’s grandmother Mary taught him that patience in the kitchen is a virtue. This is a lesson he kept in mind as he learned the art and science of home brewing where patience was always rewarded with a tasty beer. Drew’s experience with home brewing sparked an even greater interest in fermentation. After many experiments with sour beers, kraut and cured meats, his attention turned to vinegars. Anyone who loves fermenting, loves the process of making vinegar since it requires two fermentations. The first ferment uses yeast to create alcohol, the second uses a vinegar “mother” to convert the alcohol to acid. You can create vinegar out of many different fruits and juices – apples, pears, grapes. At Clif Family Winery, Drew takes some of our Clif Family Wines and with a bit of patience, converts them to vinegar.
To convert our wine into vinegar we add the wine to a sixty gallon barrel that contains a small portion of a previous batch, known as the “mother”. By only filling the barrels two thirds full we ensure that the bacteria in the mother can breathe oxygen and convert the wine into a tart condiment. Once in the barrel we let it sit, for a year or more, the hole in the top covered with a piece of cloth to allow the barrel to breathe even more oxygen. Occasionally we roll the barrels out into the sun to warm the liquid to the ideal temperature for the acetobacter to thrive. Finally the vinegar is settled and bottled. Once in the bottle the vinegar will mellow for years, getting better with age like a good wine but more stable.
Our Chardonnay vinegar is handcrafted in small batches and aged in
French oak barrels. The result is a lightly flavored and delicate
vinegar with crisp, fruit-forward characteristics.
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