Anyone make wine?

JohnDeereGalSeptember 19, 2012

We planted three varieties of grapes last year. I made jelly with them this year and I gave the rest to a few neighbors for them to make jelly but next year I'd like to try wine.

Has anyone done it? Do you have a good source for the equipment? Does it have to be a certain kind of grape? How do I know what variety I have since I don't recall?

Thanks for any advice anyone may have.

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This question just opened my memory bank & is making me miss my Dad. My Dad used to make wine. I wish I could give you some pointers, but I was just a kid. I know he had some kind of press b/c that is still in my Mom's basement.

Here is what I do remember -- Although I was very willing, the adults would not let me stomp the grapes with my feet. I tried, but they just refused to let me,lol. I know they bought some grapes but we also went out hunting for wild grapes. I remember being taken to huge fields of dandelions. There my brothers & I were cut loose to pick as many dandelion heads as possible so they could make dandelion wine. I also remember many, many gallon jugs of wine stored in the basement. It was good stuff (based on the few sips I was allowed).

Hope someone with experience answers your question b/c now I am very curious about the process.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:10AM
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I've made wine from several different fruits/flowers, although aficionados would insist that real wine is only made from grapes.

Leeners online can provide you with the help you need. It seems to me we bought our first carboys from them. They carry yeasts, hydrometers and such like, as do many other purveyors.

As to grape varieties, if your extension service is unable to help, just use an old-fashioned plonk recipe (obtainable at beaucoup sites online). Of course, your palate must, necessarily, be unsophisticated to appreciate plonk, or so I'm told.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Thanks Deborah, I'll check out Leeners. We have honey bees and I picked up a book on meads and wines using honey too. Looks like a lot of fun.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 3:34PM
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Wine kit on the way - thanks again!!!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 3:44PM
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I've made wine from wild black raspberries, wild wineberries with currants, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and dandelions.

Totally beginner's luck, but one year I entered three wines in a homemade wine judging and swept 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Fruit category plus got Best in Show. It was quite a surprise (to say the least).

I think this year I'm going to dig out all the carboys and stuff, and make some elderberry wine. Since I just unearthed almost 20 pounds in the freezer...

I like Jack Keller's Web site - lots of recipes, resources, etc. and just plain interesting reading.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jack Keller's Site for Winemaking

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 5:13PM
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JohnDeereGal, you're welcome. Please let us know how it turns out.

Malna, thanks for the Jack Keller site.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 5:57PM
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That's impressive malna! Thanks for the link too!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 6:07PM
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Back in 1983, my DH and I had just bought a new place with 1 1/2 acres. There were black raspberries everywhere, two seckel pear trees, a mulberry tree and tons of wild grapes. We decided to make some wild grape wine in what we figured was the old fashioned way - wild grape juice, sugar to taste in two old sterilized wine bottles with balloons on top. Well, all I can say is that was the best tasting wine we'd ever had. We had one bottle that we served on Thanksgiving that year and my sister-in-law (from a wealthy family) liked it so much, she asked if we'd put some in a plastic cup for her. They were visiting her grandmother after leaving our house and said grandma would dearly love it. We tried the same thing the next year with a carboy, the other fancy stuff and wine yeast and wound up with vinegar. In 1987 we bought the 21 acres we still live on now and its always had lots and lots of wild grape vines, but a desease went through a year or two before we bought the place and the grapevines have never produced. Most years I've had lots and lots of Autumn Olives and have thought about making wine with them, but I think I would go back to the old fashioned way to do it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 12:42AM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

bcscye...what do you mean by the "old-fashioned" way? I'm not much of a wine drinker, and don't want to invest time and money into wine-making supplies, but I do have some wild berries and such that I would like to try as a wine, if there was a simple way of doing small amounts without much investment.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 4:27PM
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Sorry my response to you is so late, Jill, but I've not only been on a trip, I caught a stomach bug so have been down for a few days. All I did with the wild grapes was to extract the juice then add enough sugar to make it a very pleasant tasting grape juice. We put it in two sterilized dark wine bottles, put a balloon over the mouth of each bottle and set them in a back bedroom which was in the dark (earth sheltered home at the time). We did keep an eye on them. I can't remember how long we left them like that, but I think it was until they were done fermenting. Then we very carefully decanted them into fresh sterilized wine bottles and corked them. We stored them so the corked mouth was pointed downward so the wine kept them covered on the inside. It's worth giving it a try and I think I'm going to do it again this year with Autumn Olive berries and some concord juice from one of the wineries in Indianapolis. When they start making each of their wines, they allow so much of the juice of those particular grapes to be sold to the public for $10 a gallon. Great for promoting home brewing plus making jellies. Oh yes, I used a hand strainer that looks like a perforated pot with a revolving handle on top that stirs blades around to separate the juice from the grapes and it was terrible. I'm having a brain space right now and can't think of the name of it. Now I have a berry shield for my Victorio Strainer so it will be a lot easier.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 6:22PM
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jill2761(Southeast Texas)

Thanks! Sorry you were under the weather.

That sounds like an interesting (and easy) way to make wine. Do you think it could be done with Pear Juice that has already been canned? There is no added sugar...just juice.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 6:33PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

I make wine on a fairly regular basis. I've got hard cider, Oregon Grape and pear wines fermenting now.

Grapes have lots of natural yeasts that promote fermentation. I don't know that you'd have that with canned pear juice.
You can still make wine, but you'll need to purchase some wine yeast (under $2.00). Look for home brew or fermenting supplies in your area. A glass gallon wine jug is a great way to start. Pick up a stopper/bubbler at the brew store too (about $1.25 here).

Add some sugar to your juice, dissolve well.
Sprinkle yeast into about 1/4 c. of warm water and stir to dissolve. Dump into the juice. Put into glass jug.
Place the stopper on top and store in a cool place(60-70 degrees if possible). Wait a couple of months.
You can then choose to rack it or not.

Racking is simply siphoning off the clear stuff and leaving the cloudy dregs at the bottom. I rack into a new glass jug and top it off with a bit of fresh juice. This can be done every couple of months as needed. Or not.

When fermentation is done (bubbler no longer releasing gasses/bubbles), you can then bottle and cork or just drink it right from the gallon jar (remove stopper and replace with screw on lid). If you didn't rack it, you'll end up with a cloudy wine. Tastes fine, but not as pretty.

It's very important that everything is sterile (jugs, bowls, tools, etc.). The brew store also sells a powdered solution for sterilizing.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Deanna, I need to pick your brain about pear wine. I have a pear tree that consistently yields a lot of pears, and Dad and I decided to make pear wine this year, but it is not working out all that well. Getting the juice out of them has been a challenge! I have no idea what type of pears I have, but the are hard, even when ripe and yellow. The only way I have been able to extract juice is to first freeze them, then press them, but even that yields not too much juice. Maybe I will message you to see how you do yours.

On a different note, I did secure this from dad this weekend. His father made it, and they used it to press cider. Worked great to press the pears, although I think I may have turned the crank one too many times. Oops.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:03PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Here's the recipe I used.

Pear Wine
(one gallon)

7-8 lbs. pears
2 lb. white sugar (or until specific gravity is 1.085)
1 lb. light raisins (or 1 c. grape concentrate. use white grape to maintain color)
2 tsp. acid blend
1 tsp. nutrient powder
1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme powder
1 campden tablet
1/2 tsp. anti-oxident powder (I omitted)
Enough water to make 1 gallon
Lalvin EC1118 or other champagne yeast

Crush and press pears if possible and use only the juice. If this is not possible, crush the fruit and ferment on the pulp. Chop the raisins if using.

Put all ingredients except yeast and anti-oxident powder in primary fermenter (i.e. big tote or safe).
Cover lightly with lid or plastic sheet to keep out dust, etc. This is your "must".

24 hours later, add the yeast.
Must should be at about 70 degrees.

Ferment 4-5 days after fermentation becomes apparent (bubbling, frothy). Stir daily.

After fermentation time (or when specific gravity is 1.040), rack into gallon jar and attach fermentation lock (bubbler thingy that allows the gasses to escape and no air in). Rack again in one week, two weeks and four weeks to clean jar. Then rack every 2 months or until wine is clear with no sediment on the bottom.

Age 6 months. Add 1/2 tsp. of anti-oxident powder before bottling. Should yield a wine with approx. 11% content.

Hope this is helpful!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 1:26PM
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Thank you Deanna! Have you made this wine before, or is this year your first time? Curious if it turns out sweeter, on the dry side, or somewhere in the middle :) Did you use the raisins, or the grape juice concentrate? One last question, any recollection about how much juice you had vs water? Say 50% each, or was the mixture say 70 percent juice? Like I said, I'm having a heck of a time getting the juice out of my pears - they are just not juicy! Thanks again!!!!!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 5:36PM
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The kit came Thursday and I started my first batch yesterday. It's bubbling and bubbling. I chose a Cab and ordered the kit for it. I think I'll use a few kits and perfect my technique before I start to use my own grapes but by next summer, I should be ready.

Can anyone explain how to use the Hydrometer?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 5:38PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Varies depending on which model you have. The simple floating stick model is the easiest but can be difficult to get an accurate reading so practice a bit using just water till you get the hang of reading it. Article linked below covers most of the points.


Here is a link that might be useful: Using your hydrometer

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:07PM
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So I see it floats, does it require any specific volume of liquid or must you wait any specific time before taking a reading?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:10PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The article I linked tells you how to test it. it needs to be a deep enough container that will hold a couple of cups of water deep enough so the instrument can float freely.

For the wine, once you have tested the hydrometer to make sure it works and is accurate, then you measure the mix immediately after mixing it, note the measurement and then monitor it regularly until the reading reach the desired level of fermentation.

Note the charts given in the article and what each of the readings is telling about the process as it proceeds.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 8:23PM
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I make wine this is a pear wine on my youtube channel:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:17PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

As a beginner, I would suggest that you visit a wine/beer making store. Need certain supplies : sterilizer, yeast, filter, pump, clarifier, finisher (to kill any remaining yeast before bottling), Cork, corker, bottles (unless you have saved your own), ...etc. It is something that you will learn by doing it for couple of times.

I have made wine both from fresh grapes and grape juice concentrate (from wine shop and grocery store).

You will need a food grade bucker, with special lid that you can mount automatic vent / air lock on its. Then later on you will need a carboy to transfer the fully fermented, filtered brew into it.

There are a lot of little things. You can google and youTube and get info.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:10AM
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I have a very old housekeeping manual that has a recipe for making champagne out of elderberry blossoms. I have always wanted to try it, but it says to use the old fashioned bottles with the ceramic caps and the metal latches, which are practically impossible to find these days, unless you buy imported sodas or designer beers and re-use the empties. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:29PM
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You need a Roma tomato strainer to juice your grapes,works wonders on grapes and tomatoes to extract the max juice,run the fruit through at least twice,finished products are a bowl of juice and a pile of seeds and skins.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:46PM
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