The grape escape

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amateur winemaking

With a love of unusual varieties, Dr Jane Boroky of St Peters Dental Clinic in South Australia is an award-winning amateur winemaker.

“I saw a patient a few years ago that had a lot of acid erosion on his teeth. I asked if it was caused by wine tasting and he was amazed that I had identified his hobby. He invited me to his amateur winemaking club to give a talk on winemaker’s erosion. The talk went well; I handed out tubes of toothpaste afterwards and encouraged everyone to keep enjoying their hobby. They were quite an eclectic bunch and invited me back to learn how to make wine with an experienced winemaker. To cut a long story short, I’ve been a member of the club for the past 10 years.

“When making wine, we form a syndicate of six or seven people who work together. The first wine we made was a sparkling white. It’s actually quite a complex process. First you make a still wine and then you have to sparkle it up with double fermentation. All the wine is made at our homes but it’s not for commercial gain. We just share it among the group.

“When a syndicate gets together, we buy grapes from a vineyard. The type of grape depends on the type of wine you want to make. The grapes are crushed, usually in someone’s garage, and all the stalks and stems are removed. The grapes are pressed a few days later, yeast is added, and there’s other chemistry involved such as controlling spoilage, adjusting pH and titratable acidity if needed. At the end of a month or two, you’ve got wine. Fifteen kilograms of grapes will make a dozen bottles of wine.

“Two years ago, I was awarded first and second prizes at the Australian National Amateur Winemakers and Brewers competition. My sparkling Petit Verdot was very well received. I like making wine from emerging varieties—grapes such as sangiovese, nebbiolo, montepulciano and fiano. You can always go to the bottle shop and buy a decent shiraz, but the emerging varieties are more interesting and challenging to me.

“I’ve always loved crafty pursuits, and winemaking is a great creative outlet. Our syndicate is called the Welland Seven because I live at Welland. Our label is Doll’s House after the first little house I owned. A lot of the people in the winemaking club are of Italian and Greek heritage and they’re also making their own sauces and sausages. They’re pickling fruit and vegetables. You start to get involved with all these traditional food enterprises and it’s just wonderful. A get-together with homemade wine and food is a feast to be remembered.” 

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