Thursday, April 4 - Winers

The giant winemakers of California bottle the fruit of the vine in huge stainless steel plants. But when they bottle the muscadine wine in Jackson, Louisiana, it's a loving, hands-on operation.

At Feliciana Cellars they are readying the vintage for this weekend's wine festival. You could say it's graduation day at Feliciana Cellars. After the September harvest came months of tender loving care, aging, fermenting, stabilization, and now the wine is going into the bottles.

For me, it looks like graduation day, but winemaker Tim Jobe has an entirely different take on the situation. For him, it's more like the first day of school. Tim has raised up this wine from infancy till it has gotten old enough and mature enough to leave the nest. It's kind of a sad day for him. He says, "Bottling for me is the end of it all. It's when it goes out the door. Now it's going out to be sold."

For Tim, winemaking is the perfect marriage between chemistry and art. "If you don't taste it, blend it and make it into something that people are going to be able to drink, it's going to sit on the shelf and not be sold anywhere." They almost never have that problem here.

The entire bottling effort is the work of Tim and only two helpers. The bottles are put in the cases upside down to keep the corks wet. That keeps the wine from aging too fast in the bottle. Tim Jobe says you should always store your wine bottles on their sides for the same reason.

The wine festival is this weekend in Jackson, Louisiana. In addition to wine tasting, there will be food, music -- and even an amateur winemakers competition. Admission is five bucks.