From the families who have made their own wine for years to the newest generation of winemakers, Pittsburgh delivers the grapes! The areas most popular vendors are Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, Premier Produce, and Consumers Fresh Produce all located in the Strip District.
Ron Casertano, Enologist with Consumer Fresh Produce for 27 years, tells me the grape harvest was early this year with California grapes arriving in early September. The season usually ends on Columbus Day, but with high supply and demand, the fall grape season will run through the end of October.
Loyal CFP Winemaking customers Rudy Ranallo, along with his friends and family, let me spend the day as they pressed their grapes, filled their jugs with juice, and ate a beautiful pasta dinner!
Ranallo says his process is, “The same as my dad’s [process]. Let the grapes ferment for 7 days, stirring them everyday. Press the grapes and bottle the juice. After six weeks, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we remove the sediment, and let the fermenting continue until Easter.”
No preservatives, no fancy measuring gadgets, just tradition and instinct.
The guys juiced 200 gallons into carboys on one Sunday afternoon.
This year the family streamlined their process buy purchasing a de-stemmer machine.
As was my experience with the Ranallo family, Casertano described the why behind homemade winemaking, “People like to get together and have fun making wine. They eat, laugh, and enjoy! It is an event.”
It sure was and we had a blast!
Because of Pittsburgh’s big interest and little winemaking knowledge, Casertano says there is definitely a market for a how- to class. Wine classes will be offered at Consumers Fresh Produce in the Spring for round 2- South American grapes season in the Spring!
You still have a week or two to buy some juice.
A big thank you to the Ranallo family for your time and hospitality! I can’t wait to come back for the tasting!