White Widow Notes
At both Windsor Run and Shadow Springs Winery we like to play. Yes, we have all the respectable expected standards for which many people are seeking, but, we also have several other “offerings” for those adventurous souls who just can’t help wandering off the beaten path in search of the unknown and exciting. And from those “offerings” we’ve gained a loyal following of adventurers, prince and rogue alike, who appreciate our endeavors in the creative beverage arts field.
Having both excellent quality, as well as interesting varieties of grapes with which to work makes a winemaker’s job a joy. When the old alarm clock goes off each morning, it’s more like having to head off to the playground as opposed to down to the factory.
At harvest we encounter lots of grapes. Lot’s of grapes. The white grapes come in first, and are pressed in our winepress to extract the juice, which in turn is fermented to make white wine. The remaining grape skins are then deposited outside of the winery in large bins, to be removed for composting. As harvest is an incredibly busy time for both those in the vineyard and in the winery, sometimes the bins of skins are not always picked up immediately.
Early on in our distilled spirits voyage, we noticed when arriving at work early in the morning, that the Traminette grape skins from the previous day’s pressing still smelled very, very good. For the uninitiated, Traminette is a hybrid grape from German parentage, which is much easier to grow, and easier from which to make a great wine than some of its German cousins like Riesling and Gerwertztraminer, who like it a bit cooler and dryer than our corner of the South affords.
Two days later, upon arrival, it was noticed that those Traminette skins still retained all that great character we had come to expect from the wine pressed from them. This did not escape notice. If the aroma lingered, than perhaps the flavor did too.
The following harvest, a new paradigm was in effect. Rather than compost the Traminette skins, we kept them, rehydrated them with water, and added some sugar to compensate that was depleted from that which was extracted from their previous pressing. We added yeast, then stood back and watched with eager anticipation. Upon the completion of fermentation, we found what resulted compared favorably to our actual Traminette wine.
You know what’s coming next…it was off to the still! From the first few drops out of the condenser, we knew we were onto something special. People entering the building on distilling day, complemented us on how nice it smelled, but it wasn’t because we had hung a zillion little rearview mirror, pine tree air fresheners all over the building. It was the Traminette!
While the liquor distilled from the Traminette was (in our humble opinion) quite exquisite, preliminary tastings included favorable comparisons to…get this…good Tequila. Subsequent to that, we have made a Margarita wine from a Traminette base, which when poured from a frozen slushy machine into a salt rimmed glass, makes one think they’re hearing Mariachi music when there is none until one sojourns about a thousand miles south of here, and across the Rio Grande.
Because our processing methods were as unique and unorthodox as many of our wine products, we found that we weren’t permitted to classify our flavorful spirit as either a brandy or a grappa. It was mandated from the great halls of power above us that we give our product a fanciful name, and, that we be assigned to the little known category of “Distilled Spirits Specialty….”
…which we took to mean, our White Widow is in a class by itself. Well, almost by itself, its other siblings, our Killer Bee and Shadow Hawk reside at the same address. Not saying anything, but just saying, “unique” and “unorthodox” in a world over crowded with same old-same old, sounds kind of refreshing doesn’t it?
Whether sipped straight, like a good blanco Tequila, or mixed into one’s favorite cocktail, our White Widow aims to please and always hits its mark.