Walter Finlayson lived most of his life in New York State.
Walter Finlayson was born in Burlington, VT.
Walter Finlayson loved to spend his summers in Maine.
In the summer Dad used to enjoy a cordial before dinner, but nothing tasted as good as his own Homemade brew! The recipe was simple: some kind of fruit–usually berries, sugar and pure grain alcohol. First he found a clear-glass gallon (or more) container; then he plopped in the washed berries, plenty of sugar and poured in the alcohol. He would insert or create his own stopper and place it in a sunny spot–on a window ledge or even outside on a porch step–to ferment for about six weeks. How he loved holding it up to the sunlight to check on its deepening color.
But since NY State placed a hefty tax on alcoholic beverages the trick was to find pure grain alcohol at an affordable price for a school teacher. Dad would smirk when he announced that he was heading 12 miles west to cross the CT border–where the tax on alcohol was considerably less. Ah–the lure of cheaper booze…
To finish the fermenting process: When Dad judged the brew to be strong enough he would pour it through several layers of cheesecloth (thoroughly soaked in cold water to remove any textile taste) which captured the seeds, skins and vines, while permitting the liquid sunshine to filter through into a deep bowl below. Then it was merely a matter of ladling and funneling the liquid into pre-sterilized bottles or a cute decanter. Boy, was he proud of his “Summer Wine.”