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Old 11-23-2010, 10:36 PM   #1
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Default Wine from scratch

My buddy at work said he has baskets and baskets of grapes "still on the vine" in his backyard that I'm welcome to have. I was hoping to make some wine with them. I've made several batches using kits but I've never attempted it from scratch.

I was wondering how you go about sterilizing the grape juice and whether or not you ferment using the entire grape: skin, pulp and juice, I believe they're concord grapes. Other then that I should be able to go to my local brewing shop and buy some yeast, bennonite, clearing agent and perhaps some toasted oak or something smiler correct?

Anything else I should know about wine making from scratch?

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Old 11-23-2010, 10:49 PM   #2
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Campden tablets will sterilize the juice. Just be sure to wait a few days after using campden to pitch the yeast. My wine-knowledge is pretty limited, but I'd assume you discard the pulp and skin, unless you want to make grappa (and why would you?).

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Old 11-23-2010, 11:05 PM   #3
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Concord grapes make an ok wine. Not great. If you've had Mogen David, the concord version, it's like that. I do it, along with catawba grapes, and it's good. But not at all like a commercial table wine.

I find that the best info on grapes comes from Jack Keller's website- here are some links:
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Old 11-24-2010, 01:41 AM   #4
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Short of taste, the biggest difference between table fruit and wine fruit is the sugar content and acidity level. Both of which can be adjusted.
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Old 11-27-2010, 03:55 PM   #5
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Where are you located? If you've had a good hard freeze where you are, the grapes will have a VERY high sugar concentration. Keep this in mind when you start making this wine. In other words, check your gravity before adding any sugar.

Also, concord can make a very good sweet red wine. Unfortunately a lot of people don't think so because so many cut rate wine companies push out barrels of crappy concord that tastes like nyquil.

Yes, you do can ferment on the skins, but only for a day or two. I would not put these on oak chips. Some grapes do take to oaking, but if you don't know what these are, I wouldn't try it. Here is a recipe/process I've used for mystery grapes before and it has worked for me well.

Rinse grapes in water to get the dirt and bird poop off of them. Put them in a fermentation bag, toss them in a fermenting bucket and smash the heck out of them. Check your gravity, add water or white sugar until you hit a gravity between 1.090-1.100. Smash and sprinkle one campden tablet per gallon of juice. Leave bucket loosely covered overnight. The next day, add pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, and the yeast of your choice. Cover and let it do it's thing for a day. After 24-48 hours, pull out the bag of grape goo, lightly squeeze out the excess juice, stir it, and recover. After a week, rack to secondary. Keep in mind, once it's done fermenting, you can always kill the yeast using a wine stabilizer and sweeten it to your liking. This is pretty similar to the jackkellar recipe, so I recommend looking at that before doing anything.
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Old 11-29-2010, 02:20 AM   #6
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All of the above is good advice. If you are picking more than ~50 lbs, I would rent a crusher-destemmer to remove the stems and pop the grapes. I've never rinsed the grapes before pressing, not sure about this. I only wait one day to add the sulfites. Punch the cap down twice a day (crust that forms on the top of the fermentation vessel, I use my stainless spoon). For red wine grapes, I leave the skins on up to about 3 weeks, or until the cap falls. Every wine maker has his preference on how long to wait until pressing. On that note, I also rent a basket press that has a screen inside it to press the wine off the skins & seeds. Rack once or twice before cold stabilizing in a cool place like your garage (if in a cold area). This will precipitate the tartaric acid crystals. Rack in spring & add oak chips (not in your case probably). Keep everything sterile & good luck! Also, I would get a good wine making book like From Vines to Wines by Jeff Smith.

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