So you’ve harvested your first wine grapes and you got them ready to be processed in your basement or your garage. Because it is your first time, my advice is to start with a small batch and see how everything works. For instance, if you use 50 pounds of good grapes, you will most likely yield about five gallons of wine. The process of making wine, just like planting and growing the grapes, takes time, research and effort. You only need the basic equipment to start making homemade wine, so you don’t need to worry too much about making huge investments.
The first thing you need to do is put the ripe grape clusters into the vat and crush them. Then you need to make sure that the must won’t start to ferment prematurely, so you will need to add the appropriate number of Campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) to the crushed grapes. A tablet per gallon of wine is enough. What you need to do next is cover the vat with a towel and let the must sit for a day, because the next day you will add a packet of wine yeast and stir it well. You should remove the cluster stems so that the taste and the flavor of the wine wouldn’t be altered during the next week, when the fermentation takes place. Of course, don’t forget that during all this time the vat must stay covered. You’ll notice that a lot of insects will be attracted to it and you don’t want them landing in your delicious wine.
These are the first couple of steps you need to take in order to reach your goal of producing some bottles of great wine that all your family and friends will appreciate. These might even be your first steps toward a successful business. If you think that waiting one week for the fermentation to take place is a lot, then prepare to wait a lot longer until you get your first bottles.
For the next step you will need a wine press to separate the new wine from the skin, pulp and seeds. You can, of course, manage without one, but it will be more difficult for you to get the most of the crushed grapes. You must prepare a clean wine barrel and pour the wine into it, then make sure that air doesn’t reach it. Place the barrel in a cool, dark place for the next three weeks, after which it is time for you to do the first racking. The process of racking consists of separating the wine from the spent yeast and grape bits that fall to the bottom of the barrel. It is a very important process that must be done carefully, because racking is what ensures the clarity of your wine. This is how you must handle it: buy a siphon hose and use it to move the wine into clean carboys, then thoroughly clean the barrel because you’re going to put the wine back in it for the next 2-3 months.
What do you think you will have to do after three months? The second racking, of course, which will be followed by a third racking after another four months. After the last one, if you’ve done everything right, you should get a clear wine that is ready to be aged in carboys or a barrel, deep into your basement, in a dark place, away from any source of heat.
Even though most home winemakers bottle the wine after one year, my advice is to let it rest for at least two years and then think about bottling it. This last process is very easy. All you have to do is siphon the wine into clean bottles and use corks and a corking device to properly seal them. You should consider using labels to make sure you know the year when the wine was made. You’ll see it is very useful when you start making wine each year.
Wine Making Secrets
I recommend you one of the best and most inspiring ebook you could ever find on Internet about wine making: Grape Growing & Wine Making – A Handbook for Beginners.
This is not just an ebook, but a true bible for those who have a vineyard and want to start a business in the wine industry or just learn how to make the perfect wine.