Written by Guest Author, Daniel Kearney, Bayview Culinary Services.
If you happen to stroll through Bayview’s Plaza level and do a double-take, trust your senses. Yes, there’s winemaking going on down there.
Tom Morgan and eight other residents discovered their mutual passion in 2019, and have since pumped out 140 bottles of merlot.
Not that Morgan anticipated any of this when he moved into Bayview that same year. But he takes a philosophical approach to this unexpected twist – and it applies to his teachings on the art of oenology, too.
“Change is the nature of winemaking,” Morgan, the vintner, says.
He’s teaching a crew of wine-making enthusiasts. Their classroom? A small room with white walls and just a couple shelves in Bayview’s Plaza Level. It contains an assortment of five-gallon jugs, funnels, rubber stoppers and four jugs of cloudy liquid on its way to fermenting into a crisp Pinot Grigio. (The cloudiness comes from sediment that has yet to settle.)
Dottie Neufeld, one of Morgan’s eight students, peers at the jugs with a slight frown. “We are having a bit of a challenge with this attempt,” she admits. But Neufeld is buoyed by the success that she and the other amateur winemakers had two years ago with their Merlot.
The Bayview vintners bottled and labelled it with two watercolors, one of Seattle’s skyline and the other of Mount Rainier, painted by resident Susan Towle.
To test their product, Neufeld asked her nephew, a brewer in Oregon, for his professional opinion. The verdict: thumbs up.
“He said it’s a good table wine.” For Neufeld, a beginning in the venture that some spend their whole lives learning, that was high praise.
But the wine might never have existed without Morgan, who thought he was retired from the vintner business when he moved into Bayview. He’d handed off his winemaking equipment to a former neighbor.
That didn’t last long.
“We asked him nicely if he could recover the equipment, and he quickly did so,” laughs Neufeld.
Today, the equipment sits at Bayview. And its pinot-in-progress has just moved from the primary fermentation stage into the secondary.
The number one principle in winemaking, Morgan explains, is evaporation of sugar. When two-thirds of the sugar is gone, the primary stage ends and the secondary stage begins. (For the scientifically inclined, an aerobic process becomes an anaerobic one – when oxygen must be kept out of the wine.)
The Bayview crew had successfully reduced their sugar content from a 21 on the Brix scale (which measures this) to a 7 – time for the second stage. The group added yeast and a nutrient that catalyzes the yeast’s growth to the jugs, and sealed them. Now, they wait.