Our own label

Our dining feature this month, “Uncorking a label,” brought to mind an occasion for our art director Jill Ziesemer and me, giving us firsthand experience in this artistic task.Heeter Wine bottle

My grandfather, Samuel C. Nichols — a carpenter, wallpaper hanger and all around handyman — built a house in Racine where my family lived until I was about 5. While my childhood years were spent at our new home in Sturtevant, Grandpa’s house remained home to Grandma Nichols and long-term tenants in the second-floor apartments. While in college, Mom and Dad sold our Sturtevant home and returned to the family homestead.

Through the years, the Racine house retained a multitude of family items in the basement and attic (large enough to be an apartment on its own). My mother was a pack rat; an obsession which I must admit I fight. So, making a long story short, when the house was finally sold in the 1990s, it took months to sort through items to decide what was important to keep.

Near the water meter in the basement, my younger brother, George, found a five-gallon carboy of cherry juice that had been hand squeezed by Grandpa. He had wanted to make wine, but never did. And my dad likewise, had the desire, but not the determination. So, the liquid remained squirreled away for more than half a century. George decided to take the cherry juice back to his home in Colorado where it again remained in deep storage for several years.

A few years back, George called with a request and a pledge of my oath of secrecy. He found a winemaker in Fort Collins, Colo. that would take the juice, test it for use and make a wine. He wanted to have it bottled and surprise my brother, Robert, and sister, Marjorie, with a Christmas present.

Thus enters Jill and her artistic skills aided by my research into old family photos and papers. And, pictured here is the result of our attempt at labeling a product which represents family history, memories and love.

And by the way, the cherry juice turned into a nice Sherry.

—Ruth Ann Heeter, managing editor

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