Fifty years is pretty good legs for 79-year-old homemade winemaker Colin Weatherall, whose legacy is a cellar bursting with a growing variety of bottled nectars from apricot and blackberry to pineapple or beetroot.
His sprawling, tree-trunk-thick grapevine was planted 30 years ago, and he still has bottles of his first grape vintage in 2004.
‘‘I pick the grapes the week before May Day and use a potato masher on each berry,’’ Mr Weatherall said.
‘‘With six-gallon barrels, I used to add yeast, three pounds of sugar and a gallon of water to four pounds of fruit, but ended up with about 100 gallons [of finished wine] that way, so now just I use pure fruit with less sugar.’’
Fermentation takes three months before bottling to age, and by separating juice from skins and pulp, Mr Weatherall makes both red and white wine to about 14% alcohol volume from the same harvest.
Mr Weatherall arrived in Milton from Inch Clutha in 1952 and worked at the woollen mill.
He started brewing beer shortly after getting married in 1965 and made his first wine from hawthorn berries in 1972 after trying his brother’s homemade efforts. Cheese and wine evenings became a go-to for celebration for the Weatheralls.
For decades Mr Weatherall sponsored wine for community group fundraisers, and supplied wine for 10 family weddings and reunions.
His scrapbooks count scores of awards from brewers’ competitions and A&P shows, and include candid connoisseur reviews nosing everything from reisling to sherry and medicine.
‘‘Last year’s [grapes] was the heaviest crop ever with 120 bottles of maybe the best wine I’ve made.
‘‘But this year is looking very good, too.’’
Weatherall wines sometime entice with racy labels and Mr Weatherall says his personal collection is a cellar of least 2500 litres, selected from the best of more than 40 varieties, secreted away somewhere among 200m of shelving for his one-of-a-kind bottle collection.
‘‘If I drink a bottle of wine a day, I might be able to finish them all in about 10 years,’’ he said.