Making Wine for the first time, by Jim Wiskerchen

Last year I made the fateful decision to start my own business, My Wine Helper, which is a wine marketing and event planning business in Arizona. In the same stroke, I decided to try my hand at making wine for the first time.  Learning about and drinking wine is one of my life’s greatest passions.  I’ve worked in the retail wine business in Arizona for 15 years.  In that time, I have traveled to many wine regions throughout the world and met and learned from a great many people equally as passionate about wine. You could say that I’ve caught the wine bug, big time!

In my travels I’ve seen the winemaking process probably a hundred times. Let me tell you, until you actually get down and dirty and involved with the process it is hard to fully understand and appreciate all the money, hard work, and patience involved.   I now understand more intimately the heartache that a grower feels when a crop is damaged by frost or the cost involved in purchasing and selecting the right oak barrels and grapes to produce a certain result.

I am blessed having had the opportunity to taste many great wines over the years, thereby developing knowledge about what a great wine is even supposed to taste like.  Working in the industry, I’m also fortunate to know people that can now assist me to realize my dream of making a wine that I can call my own.

One of the hardest parts about the winemaking process is the sheer time it takes to make great wine. In some ways making wine is like childbirth.  Nine months of development in the womb I liken to secondary fermentation i.e, aging the wine in oak barrels. Bottling the wine is like birth but usually without the same level of pain.  My wine is still resting comfortably in barrel but I can only imagine that there is an amazing amount of pride involved after the wine is bottled and released to your friends and family. I can imagine it must be impossibly hard to hear other people say negative things about your child or finished wine.  With newborn babies people typically don’t say things like, “That is the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen”, at least not to your face.

I certainly have a deeper respect for what winemakers go through as a result of making my own wine.  I always try to be respectful about other people’s wine, even if I don’t like them.  I’ll make a comment like, “That wine is not right for my taste”.  Most often I just use descriptors about a wine and not make any personal judgments.  Now that the shoe is on my foot, I have a deeper respect of what the winemaker goes through in making any wine.

Making wine was one of those last unfinished goals in my wine career.  Like all addictions/hobbies, I’m sure I will now want to make wine every year, start my own label and build a beautiful winery. That little bit of knowledge is dangerous and now I feel empowered to do more and isn’t that how addictions always start! There are many wines that I enjoy drinking.  Now that I know I can make them the only thing stopping me are those bags full of cash.  If you happen to be a cork dork like me, I would highly recommend making your own wine at least once in your life.  Be forewarned, making wine is highly addictive, they’re like potato chips, you can’t eat just one.


Jim Wiskerchen-Owner

See Jim talking about some Arizona Wine at a wine tasting: CLICK HERE

One comment

  1. Jim,
    You have a great point, unless you’ve broken your back picking in the morning, worked through the afternoon crushing, then spent the night cleaning up the equipment so you can start it all over again the next morning. You really don’t understand winemaking, and that’s the “easy” part. Taking care of the new wine with punchdowns then racking after primary fermentation, topping up the barrels… The list goes on and on.

    It’s a labor of love to be sure.


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