The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.
- Michael Al



Jeff and I love wine. Fancy wine. Cheap wine. Box wine. Fruit wine. I don't really care, there's something about a glass of wine that just makes anything a tiny bit more special. 

I was stunned by the price of wine in Grand Cayman, so I calculated how much wine I would want to carry along for a trip to the Caribbean... and then tried to figure out what I'd have to leave behind to accommodate that much wine.  :(

So, my crazy solution was to make my own.

Beginner's Class - Winemaking in Tropical Places - Oct 7, 2019 Annapolis, MD

Course Description: There is nothing better than enjoying a nice glass of wine with friends as the sun sets while at anchor in the Caribbean, but how do you store (and afford) enough wine on your boat to make sure there is always a supply available?  What if you could make your own along your voyage with the supplies available to you? You may not find grapes in the local market but how great would mango wine taste!  Lauren Brush will walk you step by step through the simple process of basic winemaking. You’ll leave class with information about supplies, techniques and recipes so you can enjoy your own tasty wine made from local fruits, flowers and vegetables in as little as a month.

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I'll be teaching a class on winemaking at Cruisers University in association with the Annapolis Fall Sailboat Show. 

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What the heck are those?

Another discovery along the paddle route - a small tree covered in apricot-colored rose-hip-looking fruits. I pulled one loose and tasted it... ACK! The most incredible example of "dry" as in the opposite of "sweet" that I've ever run into. Did you ever taste a crabapple and feel your cheeks suck in and your teeth feel fuzzy? This was way worse. I had just tried my first wild persimmon, and learned why you wait until they're falling-off-the-tree-ripe. I waited and waited and late in the fall gathered a bunch over several trips, freezing each batch until I had enough to process for wine. Alas, somewhere I must have gotten some under-ripe ones in the pulp. It was still too bitter to use. Next year I'll try the tips in the link below!


Memories in a Bottle

The best thing about making my own wine, is sharing it with friends and family. So coming up with creative names and labels makes wine gifts especially fun and meaningful. My first special wine was a batch of Shiraz intended for Sonnet's christening (that batch didn't go so well!). I ended up blending my experimental paw paw wine with some of our traditional post-kayaking tipple - peach chardonnay, aka "Paddle Juice." The result was a really unique way to capture some of wonderful memories.


There was an unusual scent in the air...

... that fall of 2017 as Jeff and I were kayaking  with friends in Maryland along the C&O Canal near Violette's Lock. Then I noticed some odd pear-sized fruit in some of the short trees along the route. Hmmm. Something from my childhood of devouring anything related to wild edibles tingled. A quick internet search confirmed that these were paw paws. Next trip we tried a few but no one was excited about the odd texture. But then I thought of trying to make paw paw wine. My friends and I gathered paw paws on our next paddle (which involved some aquatic gymnastics to get in & out of kayaks and trying not to lose our shoes in the oozy mud). I followed Jack Keller's recipe. The wine had a really lovely tropical scent and delicate flavor - kinda banana and pineapple. Highly recommended!