Hometown Farmer: Tucker Hill Vineyards
HINTON, IA —
The grape vines look pretty bare and lately it seems like spring isn't warming up, but if you head on over to Tucker Hill Vineyards in Hinton there's still plenty to see.
Barry Dittmer has always enjoyed a good glass of wine, but a simple gift got him hooked on making the stuff.
"My family got me a home wine making kit," said Dittmer. "I started off with six gallons of chardonnay and I just dabbled with it from there on and it just took off."
He planted an acre of grapes back 2001 and after a lot of growing Tucker Hill Vineyards officially opened in 2009.
In 2013 Barry will be turning those seven varieties of grapes into more than a dozen types of wine.
The process of getting those grapes from field to bottle begin with the press.
"Dump the grapes on the top, put the lid on and start squeezing it down," said Dittmer, demonstrating his wine press.
After that the juice ferments then it's a matter of waiting.
"We just let it sit here and age," said Dittmer.
Depending on the grape, that process can take up to two years.
From there it's off to the filling station.
"(We can) fill a bottle in about 22 seconds," said Dittmer.
But to close it all up, how does that big cork fit into the bottle?
It takes some finesse, and special equipment.
"The cork takes up that whole space and as you pull the handle down, it squeezes it from all sides," said Dittmer, demonstrating a bottle corking device.
After that you press on a label and you've got some fine Tucker Hill wine.
Even though it's a long process, Barry doesn't mind the wait.
"It's not really hard for me because I get to sample it," said Dittmer.
He's doing what he loves and getting a few rewards, too.
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