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brixmitch

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Hello all - my daughter got me a very barebones kit for Christmas last year. Made a 1
gallon batch of cab sauv, which turned out okay.
I suspect it would've been better had I known I needed a thermometer, hydrometer, filter and etc. A very barebones kit indeed.
Going to buy some more equipment and try again with another juice-bag kit.
I'll probably be asking a lot of total noob questions, so thanks in advance for the benefits of your wisdom and experience.
 
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Welcome to our little corner of the internet.

Just so you know, of the items you listed, the only one that I would consider a must have is a hydrometer. Temperature, if you are comfortable, the yeast probably are as well (most yeasts are happy between about 60F and 80F), so I seldom take a temperature. Filter, not needed, really. Many commercially available wines aren't filtered, most are, but only once they are nearly clear already, filtering provides sparkle, not clearing. Barebones kits work great. Used one for probably the first two or three years I made wines.
 

toadie

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Welcome! Another suggestion might be to start with some frozen fruit (housed in a fine mesh bag to prevent messy filtering), some sugar to give you a bit more alcohol and maybe a little water. This is called "Country Wine" and can give you something decent to drink while also being a cheaper way to gain some experience. There is a lot of info on this site to get you started in that direction. Cheers!
 

my wine

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Welcome to WMT! That wine drinking experience will come in handy after your first several dozen gallons of home made wine.
 

brixmitch

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Welcome to our little corner of the internet.

Just so you know, of the items you listed, the only one that I would consider a must have is a hydrometer. Temperature, if you are comfortable, the yeast probably are as well (most yeasts are happy between about 60F and 80F), so I seldom take a temperature. Filter, not needed, really. Many commercially available wines aren't filtered, most are, but only once they are nearly clear already, filtering provides sparkle, not clearing. Barebones kits work great. Used one for probably the first two or three years I made wines.

Thank you! Greatly appreciate your insight.
The filtering is primarily due to my ineptness in siphoning the wine into bottles, picked up quite a bit of lees in the process. I'd like to get a siphon / bottle filler / filter combo if such a beast exists.

Any recommendations on web stores for basic equipment - I'm in California. There area lot of homebrew stores but not many wine making places near me.

Thanks!
 

ThunderFred

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I thought the same thing about a filter when I first started. I was impatient like every other newbie and wanted it to be perfect right away. Now I own a filter that I never use. Bulk aging for a year and racking every three months to a clean carboy clears it right up. No sweat if a little transfers over, you'll miss it the next racking.

I'd suggest spending that filter money on extra carboys and even extra kits so you have enough long term supply in process to keep up with demand. It's hard to be patient in the beginning. That's a near universal truth in this hobby.
 
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Thank you! Greatly appreciate your insight.
The filtering is primarily due to my ineptness in siphoning the wine into bottles, picked up quite a bit of lees in the process. I'd like to get a siphon / bottle filler / filter combo if such a beast exists.

Any recommendations on web stores for basic equipment - I'm in California. There area lot of homebrew stores but not many wine making places near me.

Thanks!

As was said above, don't worry about picking up some of the lees, I always do and next rack get less and next less, etc. Filters really are for use on clear wine and just to polish them, not to remove lots of junk. Time and patience do wonders for wine. And that's a hard thing to do when you start out.

I wish I could help you with winemaking stores in California, I'm way too far away in Missouri. @NorCal or one of the others from the area may be able to provide some advice.
 

CDrew

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Any recommendations on web stores for basic equipment - I'm in California. There area lot of homebrew stores but not many wine making places near me.

You really could not be in a better place to be a home wine maker. Where in California are you? I started out like you. Wine enthusiast, guys at work had a group wine making effort going and I signed on in 2016. It's a great hobby because 99% of the time, you can just stand by and let the wine make itself, and after a few years, you can start to drink the product. I can say, that my wine has improved every year. There's a natural learning process we all go through and making a few mistakes is not the worst thing.

The best place to get most things you will need is MoreWine. Lodi Wine Labs is also good, just not as comprehensive. Lots of other places too but MoreWine is the standout. Also check out MoreWine's bible of home winemaking-I promise the best reference for home wine making you will ever get for free:


The first 1/3 of this is the basics of making red wine and the last 2/3 is why you do what you do in the first 1/3. It's surprisingly well done. Also on their website are dozens of other tips, tricks, advice etc. They also have a similar white wine manual.

Another good source of newby info is the Home Winemaking Channel on YouTube. If you follow his journey, he started out small, but now has a vineyard, makes wine from grapes, and has the best explanation of Acid and sulfite titrations on the internet.

Let me recommend you do a kit to get down the basic mechanics of fermentation, racking, sterile process etc. But come next fall you will have access to real grapes and can immediately graduate to making wine from grapes. It adds a few steps-picking, crushing, pressing, racking but you will be able to make excellent wine right out of the gate. Or if you've done a kit, consider buying a couple of pails of frozen grape must from Wine Grapes Direct-again, a practice run with the idea you're teaching yourself the basics and preparing for next harvest season which is August through October. Though my 1 experience with their pails says the quality is first rate.

How much do you plan to make in a year? I think most kits and juice pails make 5ish gallons. So get a 5 gallon carboy, a 3 gallon carboy and 3 1 gallon jugs and 2 1/2 gallon jugs. That will get you going. Another good source of 4 Liter (slightly bigger than 1 gal) jugs is our friend Carlo Rossi. Excellent jugs that come with wine inside that is...safe to drink.:i
 
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brixmitch

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You really could not be in a better place to be a home wine maker. Where in California are you? I started out like you. Wine enthusiast, guys at work had a group wine making effort going and I signed on in 2016. It's a great hobby because 99% of the time, you can just stand by and let the wine make itself, and after a few years, you can start to drink the product. I can say, that my wine has improved every year. There's a natural learning process we all go through and making a few mistakes is not the worst thing.

The best place to get most things you will need is MoreWine. Lodi Wine Labs is also good, just not as comprehensive. Lots of other places too but MoreWine is the standout. Also check out MoreWine's bible of home winemaking-I promise the best reference for home wine making you will ever get for free:


The first 1/3 of this is the basics of making red wine and the last 2/3 is why you do what you do in the first 1/3. It's surprisingly well done. Also on their website are dozens of other tips, tricks, advice etc. They also have a similar white wine manual.

Another good source of newby info is the Home Winemaking Channel on YouTube. If you follow his journey, he started out small, but now has a vineyard, makes wine from grapes, and has the best explanation of Acid and sulfite titrations on the internet.

Let me recommend you do a kit to get down the basic mechanics of fermentation, racking, sterile process etc. But come next fall you will have access to real grapes and can immediately graduate to making wine from grapes. It adds a few steps-picking, crushing, pressing, racking but you will be able to make excellent wine right out of the gate. Or if you've done a kit, consider buying a couple of pails of frozen grape must from Wine Grapes Direct-again, a practice run with the idea you're teaching yourself the basics and preparing for next harvest season which is August through October. Though my 1 experience with their pails says the quality is first rate.

How much do you plan to make in a year? I think most kits and juice pails make 5ish gallons. So get a 5 gallon carboy, a 3 gallon carboy and 3 gallon jugs and 2 1/2 gallon jugs. That will get you going. Another good source of 4 Liter (slightly bigger than 1 gal) jugs is our friend Carlo Rossi. Excellent jugs that come with wine inside that is...safe to drink.:i
Great info - thanks!
I'm in LA - the South Bay area.
How many gallons? Well, the next batch will be 1 gallon. After that, who knows?
 

brixmitch

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I thought the same thing about a filter when I first started. I was impatient like every other newbie and wanted it to be perfect right away. Now I own a filter that I never use. Bulk aging for a year and racking every three months to a clean carboy clears it right up. No sweat if a little transfers over, you'll miss it the next racking.

I'd suggest spending that filter money on extra carboys and even extra kits so you have enough long term supply in process to keep up with demand. It's hard to be patient in the beginning. That's a near universal truth in this hobby.
Sound advice, thanks!
 

NorCal

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Hello all - my daughter got me a very barebones kit for Christmas last year. Made a 1
gallon batch of cab sauv, which turned out okay.
I suspect it would've been better had I known I needed a thermometer, hydrometer, filter and etc. A very barebones kit indeed.
Going to buy some more equipment and try again with another juice-bag kit.
I'll probably be asking a lot of total noob questions, so thanks in advance for the benefits of your wisdom and experience.
Welcome, even if you are a Dodger fan. @CDrew had some great recommendations. I buy all my supplies online and all my equipment on Craigslist, eBay or Amazon.
 

crushday

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I'd like to get a siphon / bottle filler / filter combo if such a beast exists.
You should check out the all-in-one wine pump. Many of us have, use and love this unit. The owner of the company, Steve, is not only a great guy but extremely helpful and will answer any question you have. I, and many others, would highly recommend: Wine Pump | All in One Wine Pump
 

Michael T

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Welcome to WMT! I am also a fresh face in the apiary, so therefore a 'new bee'. The members here are extremely helpful with all my questions. Couldn't be a better place on the interwebs to learn about the art and craft of winemaking.
 

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