Are wine kits user friendly and the best choice for a first time winemaker?

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arcticsid

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I don't get involved with threads involving kits because I have never made one. I do, however, understand the basic principals of winemaking in general.

But I see more and more questions in here from first time winemakers who bought kits and ran into touble.

Tom pointed out in another thread, that although it is a kit, and everything necessary to brew a batch is included, there are other factors to make it successful. Preperation, temperature, patience, etc.

So my question is this.

Do they give you enough instructions when you open the box to walk a first timer through to the end? Or, do they expect you to have a basic knowledge before you begin?

I assume you experinced makers open the box and throw everything aside except the juice bag and the FPAC and get it going.

If these kits( even beer kits) are user friendly, why do so many newbies have so many problems. Do they give you enough detailed instructions in the "box" or do they just assume there will be someone like you all in these forums to help them along?

I guess, in defence of the kit manufaturers, if I buy a pack of veggie seeds, instructions on how to prepare a garden are not included.

Thoughts?

Troy
 

Tom

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The thing is to read FOLLOW and understand the directions. Yes you can make great wine from kits. Just look at the WineMakers competition 70%+ are kits. The directions are printed so that if you practice temp. Patience and sanitation you will make a good wine. Once you understand the process then you can do other things like TROY !
All kidding aside Troy if you can get your hands on a "good quality" kit give it a try. You will be surprised! :try
 

arcticsid

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I am not afraid to try a kit, and I will. It boils down to money for me personally right now.

My question was directed in behalf of the recent newbies having trouble with kits.

I know alot of trouble the newbies are having, kits or otherwise, is they are jumping in without even trying to educate themselves a little bit. And so I refer back to the vegetable seed example.
 

Tom

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Kits ARE the best way for a newB to make wine. The "mist" kits make a wine that can be bottled in 4-6 weeks. The entry level kits are good for the wine novice (this WAS me :dg) as they are also fast to bottle. Once you get the "method" down then its time to:
Think Out Of The BOX".

That being wine from Juice, Fruit, concentrates and what ever thats fermentable.
 

Racer

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I've been gardening for 20+ years now and only feel I've been getting good at it for the last 5 years now. I've been making wine for 8 years now and still feel like I have a long way to go before I'm really good at it.

First time experience on anything will always raise alot of questions and doubts about things until more experience is gained. And in my case for learning about wine making a few mistakes have been lived thru so far in my time in this hobby.

I don't think wine kits are hard to make or difficult its just hard to read the instructions and be completely comfortable that your doing it right or it is going right the first few times you make a kit(or any wine). Having someone help you with your first attempts helps alot. Thank god for wine making forums!!!!!!!!!
 

arcticsid

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I agree Racer, I quess I was just wondering if some of these kits are being marketed as "foolproof" , and I am sure for the most part they are, but I sure see more and more questions from first time kit makers regarding them.

I just want to see anyone attempting to brew their own to be successful and was wondering if the makers of these kits over advertising this goal..

There was a thread in here a week or so ago and the guy bought a wine kit that said it could be BOTTLED in 7 days, it was a "strong" kit? I forget now.

Just hoping there are not those out there making promises that aren't attainable.
 
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Racer

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I think most kit companies are good honest companies. I do remember the 7 day kit post too though.

At least 1 LHBS near me offers up a "wine making 101" class for new folks that takes you thru all steps necessary to make a kit. I took it myself and really benefited from it.I hate to see people struggle with problems too. Hopefully we all are helping to keep newer folks to hang in there till they too are good and comfortable with our "obsession" er I meant hobby there I think. :d
 

arcticsid

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CPFAN ran a brew on premises shop for a while. I think it was more of a thing in Canada. it would be nice to see something like that here. I live in Fairbanks Alaska, and most people here are reluctant to give out their PO Box number,( let alone join anything), being a census taker here is as scary as those trying to do it in the woods of Kentucky). LOL. Serious though. So getting anyone to join anything here is kinda gonna be word of mouth. I have been here a long time and have earned the trust, shouldn't be to tough. All I want to do is share.

We'll see how things go in the spring. I feel confidant enough to lead a wine making class, though I admit I'd need to call in the reinforcements for the beer. No problem. Got the help I need. Just need the snow to go away.
 
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cpfan

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Troy:

There are some kits that are designed as 7 day kits. They are available mainly from what I consider the secondary kit companies...Wine Kitz, Heron Bay, and Fontana (ABC Cork). I know that some (all?) Wine Kitz FoPs do their kits as 7 day kits. Personally I have no interest in them.

In my opinio, first timers should follow the instruction sheet as close as humanly possible, ignoring comments from store owners, books, internet pages, guys on forums, me, you and everybody else. WHY? Because we all do it slightly differently. We express ourselves differently. We answer questions thinking about the Winexpert instructions when the first timer is reading the Spagnols instructions. Result we confuse the rookies.

Troy, as a former store owner I can tell you that I have dealt with first timers who have made a kit following the instructions, and very much enjoyed the result. As I type, I am recalling one older retired American couple who loved their new hobby, and the wines they were getting from the inexpensive 4-week kits that they made themselves at home. Yes they crossed the border to come to my Canadian store because I was closer than the nearest US one (which was beer oriented anyway).

I have maintained for a long time, that first timers should get a decent equipment kit, and make a good 4-week kit (white cause they can see what is happening).

Sorry this turned into a bit of a diatribe (whatever that means), Steve
 

arcticsid

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I ate some of that diatribe once, farted for a week. Is that another Canadian thing?
LOL
 

arcticsid

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I guess my point is...so many people come in here and think they can mix juice sugar and yeast together (kit, or otherwise), and 4 weeks later expect to be toasting with some sort of world class wine. Peeses me off, I just wonder where these expectations come from. I hope it isn't from these kits you all speak so well of.
 

Teamsterjohn

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Im a newbie to wine making, and im on my 3rd kit as of yesterday. First kit where you only made 6 bottles, thats when I got the bug in this hobby. Each kit was a little more work then the one before, but still very simple. I think that the problems you my be seeing in some of the post are people like myself that want to make a better wine, so we ask alot of questions, trying to understand everything, and also trying to inprove on the kit. Thats just my opinion.
 

rawlus

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at an avg per bottle cost of between $1.50-$3.00 i don't think kits are over-promising what they can deliver. kits are by definition a shortcut, a value-minded way to create wine at home without the need for expensive equipment or facilities and without having to make the investment of time and care into making wine from scratch/grapes.

i think there are more questions now partly because there are more people getting into making their own wine either exclusively or to supplement the wine they purchase. wine consumption continues to rise in the US, but in many areas, so too do taxes on alcohol beverages..

i think kits are pretty easy to finish out with minimal equipment, but exposure to forums where juice and grape winemakers also post exposes beginners to questions they never thought of. all of a sudden, you have beginning kit winemakers buying Ph meters and acid titration kits.. lol. more knowledge leads to more questions, curiosity, etc.
 

cpfan

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I hope it isn't from these kits you all speak so well of.
So tell me how many ads have you seen from wine kit makers. Other than Winemaker magazine, and internet wine making forums, I have never seen any. So I doubt that many new wine makers have seen any ads from kit companies.

But in some areas there are ads from retailers. And personally I think that some retailers do over-sell the kits that they sell. Heck I think that some posters on these forums over-sell the kits that they have made. You may have seen somebody requesting a recommendation for a white wine being told to make an amarone cause it's the best.

Fortunately in Canada, many people will have a friend/relative/neighbour you makes wine either at home or a Ferment on Premises, so will have an opportunity to try kit wine. Certainly I had friends who had made wine before I started, although they didn't have any at the time so I couldn't try any. Not so true in the USA.

Steve
 

arcticsid

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My question isn't about quality. I was questioning mostly instructions that come with kits.

I agree with John and Raw. I now see where the questions asked about kits aren't so much a problem with the instructions provided, but other aspects of brewing that enter the equation.
 

pittspur

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Troy,
I can certainly speak from a "newbie" point of view. I started this "hobsession" at the start of this year. I am currently bulk aging a WE Riesling kit and Ed Wort's Apfelwein. The kit instructions are NOT detailed enough for the first time wine-maker. I read a bunch on this site and other places to understand how to make wine before I started and I was still a bit confused. The instructions are a 1 page flyer - certainly not enough info if you just went out and bought the wine kit and a basic equipment kit. I had to read the instructions many times. Not because they are not straight forward, but more so because I didn't fully understand the terminology. For me, I also learn by doing, so it was one thing to read the instructions, but another to put them into practice. This site was extremely helpful and I did ask several basic questions that were not clear to me. I also did ask a question about the quality of wine that comes from the kits. I did not have the impression that I would make some "World Class" wine out of the box, I just wanted to know if I would be able to make a decent wine that I would not be embarrassed to give away. My expectations from the kit were mostly built on a guy I know who makes wine and this forum. I hope this gives you another perspective from a newbie. BTW, I'm pretty sure I am hooked.
 

arcticsid

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Sure hear you PITT. Based on the questions I hear in here from new kit makers, I always figured the instructions were vague. Glad we have a forum like this with experienced wine/beer makers to help along the way. As far as "world class", that was more of a sarcastic comment, they say some VERY fine wine can be made with these kits, I hope your turns out to be one of them.
 

cpfan

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Sure hear you PITT. Based on the questions I hear in here from new kit makers, I always figured the instructions were vague. Glad we have a forum like this with experienced wine/beer makers to help along the way. As far as "world class", that was more of a sarcastic comment, they say some VERY fine wine can be made with these kits, I hope your turns out to be one of them.
Troy:

Have you ever read the instructions for one of the kits? They are available on line. Even though you are now experienced, it would give you some idea of how difficult (or easy) they are to follow.

Steve
 

arcticsid

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I hear you Steve, and i will look, but understand my comments are based on what I read from new kit makers, and I can most certainly see where the confusion lies.

For example, well before I decided to make my own wine I knew that yeast should be re hydrated, but sounds like most of these kits ay just sprinkle it on top. Sure it could, and should work, but even as an amateur wine maker I know that is not the best option. So here I am a newbie, I spend a bunch of money on a kit thinking the instructions provided will get me home, then I come to find out they didn't show me the right road.

Please dont get me wrong, I am in no way bashing these kits, and I am sure I will be making one before long. I just wish the instructions would be a little more specific. The first time I ever flew an airplane I was pretty new, my first landing was even worse, all three times I bounced, if I would have had a little better explenation from the get go, I may have only bounced twice!!!!!

:tz
 
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cpfan

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For example, well before I decided to make my own wine I knew that yeast should be re hydrated, but sounds like most of these kits ay just sprinkle it on top. Sure it could, and should work, but even as an amateur wine maker I know that is not the best option. So here I am a newbie, I spend a bunch of money on a kit thinking the instructions provided will get me home, then I come to find out they didn't show me the right road.
Sorry Troy but I don't agree with you. Sprinkling the yeast on top works for me, and millions of others. I'm pretty sure that more wine kits are made in the FoPs of Canada than anywhere else, and I'll bet that very few (if any) rehydrate the yeast, and fewer make a starter. It's an extra step that's not required.

BTW, I'm sure it helps if the other conditions are in great shape, ie temperature, must well stirred, etc etc.

Steve
 
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