Meet a Green Bay Racker: Al Hendricks

1: Introducing: Al Hendricks

  1. When did you join the Rackers and what got you started?

At my age memory is a thing of the past but I would have to say at least 13 years ago. I know it was a few years before Mike Conard talk me into starting a wine contest which we have been holding, with the help of many of our members, for 10 years. The first one was held at Trout Creak Winery which was a long way out. We then were able to talk Duck Creak Winery owner, Jim Ploetz, into holding it at his Winery and we just completed the ninth contest there this year. Had to skip one year due to Corvid. I joined the Rackers in hope to broaden my knowledge on wine making, and I believe I have. Received many good ideas to improve my wine so I could receive first place at our contest.

  1. What do you brew (beer, wine, cider, etc.) and how is it packaged and served?

I am a wine guy. Tried brewing beer once and had a disaster. Was adding the hops and I guess my kettle was not big enough because I had a serious boil over. Good thing I was doing this outdoors so no real damage but then figure I better stick with making wine. I have made both cider and meads but since I really enjoy drinking wine, that is mainly what I brew. With wine, it is a bottling process which can be time consuming but I purchase a Buon Vino automatic filler(200 bph) and a floor corker so not bad.

  1. How long have you been brewing and describe your brewing system?

I retired from running an industrial paint company back in 1999. I started making wine about that time to stay out of my wife’s hair but still find plenty of time for golf and fishing. I ferment basically in plastic pails, either 3 or 5 gallons at a time. Mostly local grapes, fruit, and some kits. The entire process from start to finish will take any where from 3 months to a year depending on the type of wine. After the initial ferment I will generally rack the wine 3 to 4 times and then filter using a minijet system before bottling.

  1. Where do you brew?

I have a walkout ranch home so use about a quarter of the lower area as my winery. Usually have about 200 bottles of wine bottled and ready to drink stored in wine racks built in closets.

  1. How often do you brew; is there a certain schedule you have or is it by season?

I am fermenting wine just about any time but when using local grapes, it is in September. Fruit I always freeze before using since that seems to produce more juice so that can be fermented whenever I get the urge as I can with kits. Of course, as Paul Chambers will tell you my famous is the Rhubarb wine. First bottle I brought to a Rackers meeting I dropped in the parking lot, and he stated, that was the best place for it.

  1. What aspects of your hobby would you like to improve upon?

I am always looking for that special blend of fruit that makes a wining wine.

  1. What advice would you pass on to others considering this hobby:

Wine making requires patience. As previously mentioned, start to finish before you get to drink, is 3 months to a year. When wine is fermented to completion, it will be dry but if you like a sweeter wine, remember it can be back sweetened before bottling. Cleaning and sanitation are most important. As a professional wine making told me, When you think it is clean enough, clean one more time.

  1. What have I forgotten to ask, is there something else you’d like to share?

Wine making can be very enjoyable. When someone tells you “Boy that is a great tasting wine” you will feel great. Then when you enter the wine in a contest and you receive BEST OF SHOW, you will be on top of the world. What other hobby can provide joy in making and then consuming.

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