The Adequate Winemaker?

I’ve threatened to make wine for over a year now.  My wife decided that it would be something she would like to make only recently.  Just before the winter holiday, I mentioned to her that James Spencer of Basic Brewing was putting out a winemaking DVD and that I’d like to see how winemaking was done.  I was sure that most of the equipment would already be in the house, but I felt that I needed to see the entire process before I invested $70-$110+ in a wine ingredient kit.

After watching the DVD, I realized that all I needed to start making wine was a larger primary fermenter, a corker, and well…a wine kit.  Most wine kits available, make six US gallons of wine and there needs to be room in the fermenter for the foam that is produced during fermentation.  My six gallon Better Bottles would not hold any of said foam, so I needed a seven or eight gallon vessel for primary fermentation.  According to the instructions in the wine kit and the DVD, once most of the fermentation is complete, the wine needs to be racked (transferred) to a six gallon vessel to finish and clarify.  I would be able to use one of my Better Bottles for this “secondary” fermentation vessel.  I already have the various airlocks, stoppers, racking equipment, and tubing as well as a wine/beer thief to draw samples and a hydrometer.  We decided that we’d worry about the 30 or so bottles and corker until later in the process.  So we were all set to make wine.

What kind of wine do I like?  What kind of wine does my wife like?  Luckily, we both like the same kinds so far.  We’re not extremely knowledgeable about wine, but we have tried many different types and have settled on a few that we enjoy.  Mostly we like the fruity, rich flavors of Pinot Noir and the spicy woody character of Shiraz (or Syrah depending on where it’s from).  We’ve found that Rieslings are also quite good in warmer months.

We went to a homebrew and winemaking shop in Louisville, called Winemakers and Beermakers Supply and talked quite a bit with the proprietor about what we’d need (just to be sure we had our brains wrapped around this endeavor).  The shop was a homebrewer’s (and now apparently winemaker’s) dream and had all the equipment and ingredients we’d need.  Plus, talking with the proprietor was a delight for my wife and me.

We purchased a eight gallon fermenter, a nifty tool called a Mix-stir (attach to a drill to stir and whip the ingredients) and a Vintner’s Reserve Shiraz kit.

Last Saturday night, my wife and I made wine!  Well, we at that point just made grape juice with yeast in it, but soon it would be wine.  I was surprised at how simple the initial process was.  In brewing, the initial preparation can take me 4+ hours but this only took about an hour.  My wife enjoyed helping and I enjoyed teaching her how to read a hydrometer.

Today we are going to check the gravity to see if it is time to rack to the secondary fermenter.  The fermentation has settled down and there’s not much activity in the airlock so I suppose that it has reached the required gravity (1.010).

So far, it has been an enjoyable experience.  It’s fun to see my wife excited about helping create this wine and we certainly enjoyed meeting the folks at the Winemakers and Beermakers Supply.  I’ll post the progress as we go in this new adventure…

The Adequate Brewer


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One Response to “The Adequate Winemaker?”

  1. James Says:

    Thanks for the mention. Happy winemaking!

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