The Crush, August 2020

Vermouth making has become an annual tradition for my friend Sam and me. Once we had harvested the grapes that he and his team spent all year growing, it was my responsibility to turn them into wine, vermouth’s base ingredient. The first step in making wine is wresting the juice from the grapes. Last year,…

Grape Harvest, August 2020

The vines ripened in the final days of August this year, and when the grapes call, I must go. Sam, my friend who grows wine grapes, graciously let me harvest over 100 pounds of chardonnay on the evening before his last night of harvest. I drove to his family’s farm in the delta near Sacramento…

Z Line Vermouth: The Botanicals

Vermouth: Aromatized and Fortified Wine Vermouth can be aromatized with any botanical product, which makes for a vast and rich field of possible flavors. When I set out to collaborate on a vermouth with family friend and farmer Sam Merwin, I knew the botanicals would tell a story: a story of his family’s farm and…

Vermouth Storytelling: ASFS 2020

It has become a familiar feeling in 2020: the wrenching heartbreak of hearing a long-awaited in-person gathering has been cancelled.  Even if one knows it to be the only choice, it stings to mourn the loss of one more thing. That’s why I was delighted when when my favorite annual Food Studies conference was moved…

Decisions, Decisions: Winemaking

Before I could make Z Line Vermouth, I needed wine (vermouth’s base ingredient). Though a total novice, I hoped to make the wine myself. My friend Sam is a fourth generation farmer who has started growing chardonnay grapes under contract in the last five years.  Sam graciously allowed me to harvest 100 pounds of grapes…