Turns out, as weekend activities go, learning how to make wine ranks well above weeding the garden but below "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
Delicato Family Vineyards held its annual home winemaking workshop Saturday afternoon in its Manteca visitors center.
The workshop is offered on two consecutive weekends in late August and early September just in time for the grape harvest, or "crush," as it is known.
Some 60 intrepid home bottlers arrived -- some failed home fermenters, others first-time enthusiasts -- to learn how to turn grapes into wine.
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Delicato tasting room manager Richard Foote has led the two-hour crash course for five years.
He warned that he is not a chemist and that instruction was simple: "You get what you pay for."
The class was free.
But those in attendance weren't scared off by the warning, nor that the class wouldn't be hands-on. There wasn't a grape in sight, except for those bottled and fermented to perfection across the room in the gift shop.
"Is winemaking completely simple? No," Foote said. "But I'm confident you'll be able to make five gallons of wine that tastes pretty good."
"Pretty good" was a technical term, as Foote joked that the three classifications for do-it-yourself wine were "Yuk," "Hey, that's not bad" and "That's pretty good."
Twenty minutes into the lecture, two students fled because of the heat or the lack of free samples.
Students who stayed received a run-through on equipment from presses to hydrometers and acid test kits.
They learned how a bucket could become a primary fermenter and that yeast is a winemaker's best friend and oxygen her worst enemy.
During an intermission, many students wandered over to the tasting room where they continued their education. No word on whether extra credit was given to the most studious sippers.
Manteca resident Adrienne Lewis came with two girlfriends. Curiosity had turned her from a drinker into a potential maker.
"It's something different, an interesting hobby," she said. "You can start out small and determine how far you want to go."
As the class continued, talk intensified into the use of sulfur dioxide and potassium metabisulphite, siphons and fermentation locks.
"The best thing about your wine is, if you like the way it tastes, then it's great wine," Foote said, encouraging his pupils while telling them it would take eight months to a year from start to finish.
The workshop also was a way to drum up sales of the winery's grape juice, which is available 10 days each year. This year the sale is Sept. 19-28. Each gallon costs $3.10 and can be used to make wine.
At the end of the workshop, Lewis was confident she could make her own vintage. Her friend, Renee Parker, tapped the box of wine she had just purchased.
"This way is the easiest."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2284.