Sheila is a Winemaker Extraordinaire
Norfolk Wine-Makers Guild Appeals for New Members
Good quality wine for
under £1 a bottle may sound like a pipedream but to members of the
Norfolk Winemakers Guild it is a reality.
The Guild, which meets in
Hethersett Village Hall on the third Wednesday of the month (except for
August and December), has launched a recruitment drive to encourage more
people to take up the winemaking hobby and literally enjoy the fruits of
A few years ago home winemaking was all the rage according to keen club member and Hethersett resident Sheila Coleman: “Now young people don’t seem to have the patience. They go into a supermarket and get a bottle off the shelf for £3.99 and can drink it immediately.”
Sheila, however, has
found winemaking to be the ideal hobby. To produce the perfect bottle
takes an element of time and patience but the results can be very
rewarding as Sheila has found in the 20 years since she took up
Unbelievably Sheila makes
gallons of wine without being able to smell or taste it following a number
of serious operations before and after a brain tumour 30 years ago.
The tasting is left to
husband Brian who is always willing to help, although he admits he has
never made a single drop himself. “I leave that to Sheila. I just help
out by tasting it. Much of the wine is made from pure fruit juice and I
have to say we never seem to suffer from colds. I think that’s due to
the fruit content of the wines,” he said.
Sheila makes gallons of
home made wine at a time – using a variety of ingredients including
orange juice and fruit either bought or picked themselves. Sheila says
that virtually anything that has a juice can be used providing it isn’t
poisonous. The couple regularly tap a beech tree in their garden to make
sap wine and have also used rose petals, rose hips, figs and even oak
Typically to make five
bottles of top class home made wine from orange juice can cost as little
as £2.50 and that includes the cost of the yeast and other nutrients.
This cost comes down even more when Sheila picks blackcurrants,
blackberries and other fruit herself.
The fruit juice is mixed
with sugar and yeast and other nutrients and allowed to ferment and settle
before the residue is “racked off” and the process continues. Normally
from the start to having something to drink will take approximately 10
weeks although the Coleman’s prefer to leave theirs a little longer. In
the past winemaking has involved leaving cloth covered buckets of juice
around the house. This is no longer necessary thanks to the introduction
of special wine-making steamers.
Sheila, who like husband
Brian is 79 years of age, has been a member of the Norfolk Winemakers
Guild for many years after the Hethersett Vintners group disbanded. She is
also a former club secretary. The NWG was founded in 1958 and originally
met in Norwich Assembly Rooms. It will be celebrating its golden jubilee
“The cost of hiring
facilities in Norwich rose and there was a problem parking and somebody
suggested we should move to Hethersett Village Hall which is a very
pleasant venue. We are keen to encourage some new people to come along and
see what we do,” Sheila said.
The club has a full
programme throughout the year that includes speakers on both wine-related
and non wine-related topics. The club also has outings – this year they
went to the end of the pier show at Cromer. Each meeting features a wine
competition and home made varieties are often compared against commercial
Coming meetings include
the club’s agm in the Humphrey Back room at Hethersett Village Hall on
January 9th, a talk by Malcolm Cooper about Norfolk Wherry sailing boats
on February 20th and a talk by Peter Cook about Nelson’s Navy on March
The Winemakers’ Guild
currently attracts members from Hingham, Hethersett, Sprowston, Taverham,
Costessey, Heartsease, Thorpe End, Wymondham and Long Stratton.
Anybody interested in
joining the group can turn up on club evenings or obtain more details from
Sheila and Brian Coleman on 01603 811184.