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RylanJacobs

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Hi all,

I have finally decided to pursue wine as a hobby and am looking into kits. I’ve seen lots of recommendations, but I need some help narrowing it down.

This will be my first foray into winemaking/brewing and I will need to start from scratch with equipment. I’ve seen beginner kits from Master Vintner, but I am unsure which one is best for me. Any specific recommendations as to which kit I should buy for my first time? I’m looking to make a Merlot and/or Chardonnay.

Also, any recommendations on grape winemaking books or other material to help me get started?

Thanks and I’m looking forward to becoming a member of this community!

Rylan
 

Old Corker

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@RylanJacobs Welcome to the forum. If it’s your first ever time fermenting a beverage I recommend you start with a white wine kit. Wine Expert and RJS are the most popular brands and you really can’t go wrong with either. Finer Wine Kits are new to the market with a different approach that require they be kept cold through delivery. Whites have fewer ingredients, a slightly simpler process and will be ready to drink faster. I also recommend a starter kit that handles the 6 gallon ingredient kits. Finally I recommend you get the highest end kit you can afford. It just gives you a better chance at making something you will like. IMO. Just remember to have fun and lean on the wealth of knowledge you will find here.
 

winemaker81

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@RylanJacobs, welcome to WMT!

Purchase a hardware kit that contains the following items: 8 Gallon Bucket with Lid, 5 or 6 Gallon Carboy, Double Lever Bottle Corker, Hydrometer, Spring Loaded Bottle Filler, Auto-Siphon Starter, 5 Feet of Siphon Tubing, Bottle Brush, Carboy Brush, Air Locks, No. 2 Drilled Stopper (for bucket), Drilled Carboy Stopper, 24-inch Heat-Resistant Spoon, Wine Thief.

The items I marked (corker, siphon) are often upgrade items. Lower end corkers are a PITA to use for large batches -- folks who make large batches typically use a floor corker, but a double-lever corker is fine for starting out. The Auto-Siphon Starter is a racking cane with a built-in pump for starting siphons. Trust me -- you want this as it makes life much easier.

You can go cheaper on equipment, but you'll use everything in the list, and typically the complete set is at a better price point.

Regarding kits?

I made the Winexpert Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and Australian Chardonnay Reserve (10 liter) kits a year ago and am very pleased with both. I have a Finer Wine Kits Barbera in production (it's a month into the process) and the preliminary taste indicates it's going to come out well.

Note: my comments regarding the Barbera need to be taken in the context of a very green wine. At 1 month old a wine tastes very little like it will a year later. However, I've been making wine long enough that I can make a reasonable prediction regarding a wine's potential early in its lifespan.

The low end Winexpert and RJ Spagnols make decent wine. The mid-range kits make better wine, although I'm not convinced the high-end kits are worth the premium cost. I've had some come out great while others were no better than the mid-range kits. YMMV

FWKs are new so we do not have long term evidence. However, folks that started kits last fall have very positive reviews. Note these kits are not pasteurized and are shipped cold. If you buy one you must be prepared to refrigerate, freeze, or start the kit immediately.
 

heatherd

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Lukaswine

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Hi all,

I have finally decided to pursue wine as a hobby and am looking into kits. I’ve seen lots of recommendations, but I need some help narrowing it down.

This will be my first foray into winemaking/brewing and I will need to start from scratch with equipment. I’ve seen beginner kits from Master Vintner, but I am unsure which one is best for me. Any specific recommendations as to which kit I should buy for my first time? I’m looking to make a Merlot and/or Chardonnay.

Also, any recommendations on grape winemaking books or other material to help me get started?

Thanks and I’m looking forward to becoming a member of this community!

Rylan
I enjoy the hobby immensely! I have made five kits since 2015. However, last year I found this forum which is extraordinary! I was totally blind throughout the first five kits. I watched many videos on YouTube. But the forum has lots of experts with solid advice. You will become well informed and understand the "why" to the steps in instructions in the kits. I didn't know the why I just followed them. I made some good though.

@winemaker81 describes what you need for starter equipment and what kits to purchase. You will accumulate more equipment as you make more wine. Be sure of that. When you use wine skins expect to wait much longer to drink the wine after bottling it. I never made whites or rose wines.

I just started three days ago with two Finer Wine Kits , The Cab and Super Tuscan. It is exciting to see what is happening during the fermenting process. I still have questions....LOL!

I read and re-read this website Getting Started! | RJS Craft Winemaking . Many brew and wine making supplies companies throughout the country, including the Greater Seattle area have gone out of business. Several of them had how to make wine videos which I am sure you can fine on YouTube. I took me seven months before I made my first kit after I got the initial equipment supply kit as a gift.
www.labelpeelers.com is a go to online store. Excellent customer service.

Good luck and enjoy the process.......always be sanitizing !!
 

Khristyjeff

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" I also recommend a starter kit that handles the 6 gallon ingredient kits. Finally I recommend you get the highest end kit you can afford. It just gives you a better chance at making something you will like. IMO."

I agree with this. My first kit was a lowest end Master Vintner Red. I figured if I messed it up I wasn't out much $. Disappointed. But in hindsight, kits are pretty foolproof if directions are followed. Also, like @Old Corker said, whites will be ready to enjoy faster and tend to be easier with fewer ingredients (e.g. no grape skins and oftentimes no oak chips.)
 

RylanJacobs

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Thank you so much to everyone for your replies! This has been extremely helpful. I’m sure I’ll be posting more in the future as I start winemaking! Thanks!
 

RylanJacobs

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@RylanJacobs, welcome to WMT!

Purchase a hardware kit that contains the following items: 8 Gallon Bucket with Lid, 5 or 6 Gallon Carboy, Double Lever Bottle Corker, Hydrometer, Spring Loaded Bottle Filler, Auto-Siphon Starter, 5 Feet of Siphon Tubing, Bottle Brush, Carboy Brush, Air Locks, No. 2 Drilled Stopper (for bucket), Drilled Carboy Stopper, 24-inch Heat-Resistant Spoon, Wine Thief.

The items I marked (corker, siphon) are often upgrade items. Lower end corkers are a PITA to use for large batches -- folks who make large batches typically use a floor corker, but a double-lever corker is fine for starting out. The Auto-Siphon Starter is a racking cane with a built-in pump for starting siphons. Trust me -- you want this as it makes life much easier.

You can go cheaper on equipment, but you'll use everything in the list, and typically the complete set is at a better price point.

Regarding kits?

I made the Winexpert Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and Australian Chardonnay Reserve (10 liter) kits a year ago and am very pleased with both. I have a Finer Wine Kits Barbera in production (it's a month into the process) and the preliminary taste indicates it's going to come out well.

Note: my comments regarding the Barbera need to be taken in the context of a very green wine. At 1 month old a wine tastes very little like it will a year later. However, I've been making wine long enough that I can make a reasonable prediction regarding a wine's potential early in its lifespan.

The low end Winexpert and RJ Spagnols make decent wine. The mid-range kits make better wine, although I'm not convinced the high-end kits are worth the premium cost. I've had some come out great while others were no better than the mid-range kits. YMMV

FWKs are new so we do not have long term evidence. However, folks that started kits last fall have very positive reviews. Note these kits are not pasteurized and are shipped cold. If you buy one you must be prepared to refrigerate, freeze, or start the kit immediately.
Hi,
Thank you so much for your reply! Would you be able to give me some examples of a “mid-range” kit?

thanks!
Rylan
 

winemaker81

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Thank you so much for your reply! Would you be able to give me some examples of a “mid-range” kit?
Using Winexpert as an example, they have 14 liter Private Reserve ($$$), 10 liter Reserve ($$) and 8 liter Classic kits. The liters indicates the amount of juice+concentrate in the kit. The larger the number, the more juice, which is better. The Reserve kits are mid-range. Yearly WE makes a Limited Edition set of kits that are 14 liter ($$$)

RJ Spagnols has their versions of these, as do other vendors. The only vendor I know of that doesn't have different levels is Finer Wine Kits.
 
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