Many folks only know of vermouth as ‘other part’ of a martini. The dusty, little-known bottle on the shelf of almost every bar might be identified by a single tasting note: dry or sweet. But, oh, all the things vermouth can be!
Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine, meaning: wine with extra booze and extra flavor. Bringing together wine, spirits, botanicals, and (sometimes) a sweetener, well-made vermouth is complex and many-layered, worthy of a fancy glass and contemplative sipping.
This fall, I collaborated with a farmer (and friend) named Sam and my partner, Alex, to make vermouth from scratch. We harvested the grapes, pressed the juice, and fermented it into wine. We soaked botanicals in brandy to extract their aromas, and added these tinctures and honey to the wine. We bottled it up, pressed in the corks, and drew our own labels. In a matter of months, we had made our own vermouth, named for Sam’s family farm and the road running alongside it.
Here are photographs from every step of our journey, from midnight grape harvest to tasting and bottling.
From Grapes to Wine
From Wine to Vermouth