Originally Posted by Picobrew
Just started making wine, haven't even drank my first bottle yet (it is aging) but I'm wondering how to up my game. So far, we have done two WinExpert kits (Zinfandel/Shiraz and Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel), and I'm wondering where to take it from here. I am pretty comfortable with all-grain beer brewing, but am not nearly as comfortable with wine (drinking or making). I live in the Willamette Valley, so I am near a bunch of wineries and vineyards, but I don't even know what options are available to me as a home wine maker.
Do people buy juice from vineyards? Do you heavily modify kits? Do you start getting grapes and pressing them? Help me geek out here.
You have lots of choices! I wouldn't modify kits- it wouldn't really be worth the trouble, in my opinion. You could buy buckets of grape juice, if that's available to you. In that case, you'd want to learn a bit about malolactic fermentation and ph. Some juice pails are already adjusted for ph and ready to have the yeast added, I believe. I'm not sure, since in the midwest we don't really have fresh juice available. You may have places that can even press grapes for you, if you buy grapes in 100 pound lots, for example.
If you have access to other fruits, you could make "country wines". That's what I mostly do- make wine out of blueberries, strawberries, etc. You can make wine out of just about anything, when it comes right down to it. My best wine is an oaked chokecherry wine, but my crabapple wine is probably my second best. I do a kit or two a year, to have red table wines as well as my country wines.