Airdrie Echo Wednesday Sept 14, 2011 Scott Mitchell, Editor
Twenty years ago, Joe Mein took on the task of making wine himself. After starting with winemaking kits in Ontario and British Columbia – to varying degrees of success – he settled in Airdrie 11 years ago and finally found a system he liked at The Home Vintner in North West Calgary. He took some classes; made some kits; and now, more than 20 winemaking awards later, he’s a distinguished winemaker, who makes his home at the Airdrie Home Vintner store on Main Street.
“I don’t know how many kits I’ve made….80 to 85 kits, maybe,” he surmised. “All different types. I make both red and white. Old world and new world, Australian, New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Austria.”
He retired in 1999 from owning and running a management consulting company. That gave him time to work on his craft, as well as travel and sample wine from all over Europe.
“I guess in white I’m very fond of an Austria wine called Gruner Veltliner,” Mein said. “I think I won a Silver medal for that last year, as a matter of fact. And in red, I’d probably say an Italian Amarone. I’ve made a whole spectra of wines. I couldn’t name them all!”
He recently won a Gold medal at the Airdrie Fall Fair for a Chardonnay from Argentina. He also took a Third Ribbon for one of his favourites, an Amarone.
Mein and his wife enjoy wine with dinner,so it was obvious what he does with the 10 kits he makes a year. “Drink it,” he laughed. But there’s satisfaction in the process and the outcome,not just the taste, he added. “The satisfaction is getting a wine with very low chemical content,” Mein said. “It doesn’t have the extreme preservatives that commercial wine has. There’s certain preservatives in the wine and that’s what gives a lot of people headaches. You’re able to produce a good wine at a reasonable cost. Amarone, for example…..liquor store prices would run anywhere from $32 up to $50 a bottle. I can make a bottle from a kit for $5.”