This is out 3rd time making wine (first 1 gallon, 2nd 2.5 gallon) and now we feel confident to scale higher to 4 gallons. One benefit of making wine from kits or raw ingredients, is that it helps you to sharpen your wine making abilities. Grape harvest comes only once a year, but we want to make wine more than once a year :- )
4 lb of White grapes ( Rio King ) Costco $10
2 lb of strawberries, Costco $4
(3) White Grape Langers frozen fruit concentrates $2 each
we cleaned well and blended all the grapes and berries and added to the fermentation bucket along with the frozen juice, top it off with water to 4 gallons and added 9 cups of sugar. We added 4 campden tablets ( 1 for each gallon of wine ) and left it sit overnight – recommended blend time is 12 to 24 hours – then add the yeast.
The campden will kill off any wild yeasts, molds, bad things… the next day we dehydrated the packet of yeast and added to the fermentor. To help prevent any spills because of active fermentation, we put the fermentation bucket inside another tub.
We will check on the fermentation a week into it and add any clarifiers in primary and later in secondary. In end, we check the pH and stabilize the wine and bottle.
More updates and pics later…
4 gallons of delicious wine for $20 / think about that :- ) – Cheers!!
So this is not in any way official with any movie or anything like that, this is a pretty darn good red base wine, but I wanted to call it a Hobbit Red Wine, because in my imagination, I envision, that hobbits would be drinking something like this. The cost of the ingredients is also inexpensive ($10 ~ $12) and in the end it produced about 2.0 gallons of wine after all the racking stages / if this is your first time making wine, keep your batch size small – there are all kinds of learning curves, as making wine is different from brewing beer, so before you scale up, learn and observe.
Of course you want your fermentor and anything touching your ingredients to be clean and sanitized.
Take your grapes, disconnect from the vines and clean them well, put into a blender and blend that all up into a slurry – you can skip blending if you want, by just squeezing the juice out, but we think this makes a more complex wine and there really isn’t enough grapes used to cause any issues with tannings from the skins / which normally would be if you were using a lot of grapes, that’s why you gently squeeze them out. You will add this slurry to your fermentor.
Again, have a clean container, bucket or final fermentor and add that in there, along with your water and frozen concentrate juice.
After you mix the (water, grapes juice, frozen concentrate), take a brix reading with a refractometer and then use a lookup chart to see how much more sugar to backfill for your desired end product. There is not enough residual sugar coming from the grapes + frozen concentrate to make a 14% or 16% wine. You can change this ratio by buying more grapes or more frozen concentrate – but the costs go up.
1 bag of grapes from your local grocery store, in our case it was the “Red Seedless Raising Rouge Sans” grapes – you can get more than 1 bag, but the costs go up
3 frozen concentrates ( 100% juice ) from red grapes, brand: Langers – each is 11.5 fl oz – you simply add these contents with the grapes
yeast – dry yeast Lalvin K1-V1116 – rehydrate in luke warm water and add to the final fermentor
tip: because we used blended skins, we don’t put an air lock, we simply put some tinfoil over the fermentor output and that is good enough, we never had any contamination, the positive pressure of the fermentation will let co2 gas out and nothing in… Once the bulk of the active fermentation is over, when you rack to the secondary – you can put an air lock on it, some people use baloons. If you don’t follow this tip, the skins can clog up the air lock, block it up and then give you nice art work on your ceiling, if you want grape art work – go for it.
For fining agents we use Bentomine, a natural clay in the secondary, but you can use it in both primary and secondary. Once all the fermentation is over and done, we add a crushed tablet of campden – this will kill off any remaining yeast and help to condition the wine. You want all the fermentation to be done before bottling wine, because if not, the bottles would carbonate and maybe explode.
primary fermentation 3 weeks
secondary 3 weeks
if you want the wine to by crystal clear, you can do another stage and consider other fining agents as well
That’s all we do, you can do more complicated steps and add more things into it, check your pH, etc… but we keep it hobbit style like and simple.
Wine is ready to drink after a few months of aging, you can cellar your wine as well.
After brewing beer for almost 10 years, it was time to do something different. 4 year ago I planted my first grape plant – I choose the variety of Steuben – which is a hybrid grape a mix of French and American grapevines, making for good flavor, adds spice, sweetness, hints of honey.
Since this was a small batch, I kept things simple, here are the steps employed:
remove the grapes from the vines
wash the grapes
puree them in a blender, mix with some warm water – so the blender works
take a specific gravity reading of the grapes after blending, for us it was 1.035
you can tell if the grape is ready to harvest by doing just that, but we didn’t want to take changes with weather (being this was the first year)
put all the grapes into your fermentation vessel – that you have sanitized and cleaned
of course you want to premix the sugar with warm water to dissolve it before adding it to the fermentation vessel
mix all that into the fermentation vessel, mix it good and take a gravity reading again – using a refractometer
leave some head room for the fermentation of course
dehydrate your yeast packet in a separate container with some luke warm water and add that into your fermentation vessel – mix it all up, add your blow off tube
you are done!
Ferment away from sunlight, and somewhere where you have consistent non-swinging temperatures, read the requirements for the yeast that you have used, but 70 ~ 80 F should work.
Make wine is fairly easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or fancy expensive equipment, at least for home wine.
If you are going to make larger batches of wine using more traditional methods which are less sanitary, then its a good idea to use Campden tablets – to kill off any wild yeasts, then 24 hours later you can add your yeast.
Update: After 20 days, we transferred the wine into secondary fermentation, leaving all the grape skins behind, the purpose of this stage is to finish off the fermentation and allow the wine to settle, leaving any debris to settle on the bottom of the fermentor. After about two weeks, we want to decant again, leaving any sediment behind.
At this stage you want to check the pH of the Wine and adjust it (you can check the pH before fermentation as well or after or during ) – wine pH should between 3.2 and 3.6 / this allows the wine to be stored and aged in bottles for a long time without going bad as bacteria doesn’t like acidic environments.
Another test you want to check for is the Percentage of the acidity of your wine, there is a lookup chart that you want your wine to fall into depending on the wine you are making ( white wine, red, fruit wine, etc… ), for a red wine, you want to acidity to be about 60% – and you can buy a testing kit at a brew store or online for that step.
Since we are very new to this – I encourage anyone to read more about it and search for useful Youtube videos on all stages of wine making, we posted one youtube link below, cheers!