Marc, at least you realize from the begining this is addicting.! No question about it. There are certain steps and procedures that need to be followed when making your own, but when it comes to ingredients( not chemicals or additives) there are really no rules. As you pobably realized by now wine can be made out of many things or a combination.
What are you looking at making? What fruits do you have available or can afford?
Well I was reading about preserving, which led to pickling and fermenting, and fermenting leads to wines pretty fast! To try it out, I made a gallon of honey wine and threw some raspberries in it from the garden (now that I've read a little more I gather that makes it a melomel?) I also had a ton of very sweet cherry tomatoes, so I made 5 gallons with those and some sugar. No real recipes other than very general, no SG measurement or anything like that. I did add some champagne yeast when the natural guys weren't working fast enough. They've been in a secondary for about a month now, I just racked them both, and they're pretty strong tasting. I'll let 'em mellow for a while and bottle them after a few more rackings. I think the honey one is supposed to sit for a while. Now that I've seen how easy fermentation is, I want to do some the "right" way, and I've found plenty of info in books and websites (here is a pretty good place!).
In addition to the newfangled "right" ways, my wife's family is showing me how they made wine in the old country (I recently married into a very Italian family ) We ground up a boatload of grapes which are now in nice plastic wine barrels in the basement, waiting for the natural yeasts to do the job. I asked if they ever bought particular strains of yeast and I think they thought I was crazy Next year when I make a bunch from grapes on my own I'll try with cultured strains, for now I'm just seeing how they've done it for scores of years. Pretty fun, actually! For white wine we've got a blend of French Colombard (13 boxes) and Muscat (2 boxes), should be ~ 40 gallons, and the red a mix of 4 boxes Merlot and 1 box Alicante (probably ~ 12 gallons or so). I think most of the grapes were 36 pounds per box, although a couple were more. The initial SG was ~1.1 on both.
Once these barrels get taken care of, maybe I'll try a small batch of strawberry, since the consensus seems to be that it is ready to drink relatively quickly.
So... yeah. I've been learning a LOT about wine lately.
Thanks for running a friendly and informative community!