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Season of wine

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 10:23 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 10:35 a.m. CDT
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Waterman Winery and Vineyards co-owner Alexa Tuntland helps guide de-stemmed grapes into a press at the winery in Waterman, Ill. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Waterman Winery and Vineyards co-owner Terrie Tuntland uses a 1/4 ton press to squeeze juice out of grapes at the winery in Waterman, Ill. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Waterman Winery and Vineyards co-owner Terrie Tuntland dumps grapes into a crusher/ de-stemmer at the winery in Waterman, Ill. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Waterman Winery and Vineyards co-owner Terrie Tuntland (left) pours freshly-pressed grape juice through a strainer held by his wife Alexa Tuntland into a 130 gallon stainless steel holding tank at the winery in Waterman, Ill. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Waterman Winery and Vineyards co-owner Clem Stiely at the winery in Waterman, Ill. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013.
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(Curtis Clegg - cclegg@shawmedia.com)
David Brantley of DeKalb holds up a bunch of grapes he just pruned from the vine at Waterman Winery and Vineyards in Waterman, Ill. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013.

WATERMAN – Waterman Winery and Vineyards is in the midst of its 10th harvest season.

Co-owner Terrie Tuntland said the winery's humble beginnings started as a challenge.

"They said grapes won't grow around here, but my father said that in agriculture, you should always try new things," he said.

The 2013 harvest began on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

"Most of these are French-American hybrid grapes that are suited for this climate," said Terrie's wife, Alexa Tuntland, another co-owner.

Through early September, the winery's owners and a handful of seasonal employees will hand-pick 40 varieties of grapes on the winery's 12 acres of vineyards. On the same day, the grapes will be crushed and the stems removed and the juice pressed from the grape skins and poured into 130-gallon stainless steel drums. The Tuntlands add sugar, if needed, and yeast, and let the juice ferment.

Fermentation normally takes about a month, but the harvest is not bottled until the following spring. Most of the winery's 20 varieties of wine are sold at the vineyard or at local retailers. Demand varies, but Alexa Tuntland said the local-foods movement is a help.

"It has been up and down over the years, but I think it's on the way up now," she said. "A lot of people want to buy locally-made goods."

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