The Winepod unit arrived on July 15, 2008. It weighs more than 200 pounds, but I managed to get it down to the basement. I cut up the cardboard packing materials. I then rolled the Winepod over the cardboard panels across the lawn, moving a piece of cardboard forward as I progressed towards the bilco doors. I slid it down the stairs over the cardboard panels and rolled it into position in the basement.
My computer terminal is located upstairs in the office. I tested the USB wireless dongle. Even though the Winepod was only 15 feet away, the intervening floor caused intermittent signal failure. So I moved the Winepod closer to the office and ran the 15 foot USB cable through a hole next to the radiator and up to my computer. I might have trusted the wireless dongle if I was going to be on site more often to trouble check, but since part of my goal is to monitor the wine fermentation using remote access over the internet, I needed a reliable connection.
After a straw vote of myself, my [now ex-wife] and my co-workers, I decided that the my first batch of wine will be Riesling. Riesling grapes grow exceptionally well in upstate New York in a region known as the Finger Lakes (near Cornell University). Riesling, as a white wine, is not fermented on the skins, rather it is fermented as juice. This being my first time making wine, I aim to minimize complexity in the fermentation process.
Next up, I had to locate a supplier of Riesling grapes. I wanted a supplier who would crush the grapes and provide them to me as fresh juice at harvest time. I found Fall Bright on the internet. They are located next to Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes.
Fall Bright crushes the Riesling, refrigerates and adds SO2. I ordered 16 gallons of Riesling juice for pick-up on the harvest date, October 18, 2008. I also reserved 4 Better Bottle carboys and various other wine making supplies including airlocks, tubing, a racking wand, yeast, Campden tablets, oak chips, a wine thief, a hydrometer, and a thermometer.
I met Greg Snell and Joanna Hirt at the Wine 2.0 event in NYC. Greg was very friendly and offered his assistance. I told him about my plan to make Riesling. He offered a few tips and asked me to give him a call closer to when I plan to pick up the juice.