hesitant to start... some questions for you!

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Dec 28, 2008
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Hello, I'm interested in making my own wine at home but I'm a little skeptical! My wife and I drink wine almost every day so an everyday wine I could make would be great and fun to make. I have the below questions... please let me know your thoughts/advice.

* can the wine produced at home really be good or should I not set expectations to high? any nationally distributed brand any one here would compare their product to?

*can i get decent product from concentrate or is juice going to get me a much better wine?

*where do you recommend I get the wine kit from and concentrate or juice from? I've found EC Kraus, Williams Brewing and beer-wine in a search but figure one of them likely gives a much better concentrate or juice.

Presumably you live in the US. Perhaps in Georgia. The best thing for you to do is visit a local home brew shop (LHBS). I don't know of any in Georgia. But if you give us a rough location (fill in the Control Panel), perhaps somebody will know.


-as a rule, I prefer my home made wine (from kits) to commercial wines. your tastes may differ

-the kits that I tend to make are a juice/concentrate combination (more juice than concentrate)

- EC Kraus and beer-wine are distributors not manufacturers (AFAIK). Not sure about Williams. IMO, the best kit makers are (alphabetically) Cellar Craft, RJ Spagnols, Vineco, and Winexpert. Some people would add Heron Bay to that list, and maybe some others. There are numerous online retailers if you cannot locate a LHBS.

Sounds like you drink more wine than me. We're not really daily drinkers. I have 5 kits on the go at the moment (30 bottles per kit). And have five more ordered for January to March delivery. We also make our own beer from easy-to-make kits.

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I too drink some wine most days [more wine on the weekend lol]

My Opinion about wine kits is SO FAR they are as good as what I buy at wineries & the state store! Like CPFAN said - sometimes mine is better..

As for Juice [from cans], I have 2 started but will see what I think of it when finished!
I finished a port kit that I think I could have done a better job with a few months ago. Last night we tried some and it was great. We actually liked it much better than a couple of commercial versions that we had been drinking.
I'm a rooky also and my suggestions are:
Give all the information you can(ie your location, type of kit, ect)
Ask lots of questions
Follow directions exactly
And above all patience, patience, patience. it is amazing what just 30 days will do to the appearance of a wine

There are some very knowledgeable winemakers here and very willing to help steer us in the right direction

* can the wine produced at home really be good or should I not set expectations to high? any nationally distributed brand any one here would compare their product to?

Well I am from the netherlands so not sure if that counts :p

Now I do not make wine from kits. I make it from fresh fruit like apples, strawberies, elderberry etc etc etc.

I will compare my wine indeed to any shop bought wine !!!
We never buy wine anymore since a long long time.

Thanks for the info thus far guys. Off of Steve's recommendations I found some local home brew stores in my area, Atlanta. I actually didn't think they sold this stuff at local shops and only online so that was a pleasant surprise. The clerk told me she had made good wines comparable to $10-$15 bottles. That's all I'm really hoping for and have plenty of patience, I'm happy to let it sit for 6 mos as long as the end product is good. My fear is investing the money in the equipment and concentrate/juice and getting an awful result.

Luc, my father immigrated from Holland(Wateringen) and he too made wine, although it was back in the 1970's... i recall the strawberry wine he made. they said it was never very good, so that may lend itself to my skepticism.
I have made mant kits and many fruit wines and a few meads and there were only a few pout of all of them that didnt beat a commercial wine in my opinion. Some of them I would compare to wines of a much higher caliber then $10-15. My Amarone for example is way better then the cheapest bottle that I could find which was $64 and that was nasty. I had a sip at a wine tasting at a liquor store that was just a little better then mine and that bottle was $97. There are a lot of different opinions out there and different tastes to. I like a big full in your face red while others like a mellow everyday drinking wine. For the later of the 2 you will be very happy with the cheaper kits, me myself aint happy unless its a grape skin kit which really adds tons of tannin and body.
Gawine your right about Steve having a good suggestion on finding a local store to go to.When you were there did they say if they have a winemaking class you can attend? One of the places close to me has a class night ever so often that has a small charge but allows you to see how to make a kit from beginning to end. Thats a great way to see if you like the idea of making your wines from kits.

Comparing my homemade wine to store bought wine? Yes mine do taste as good as some commercial ones do.I even have a few medals from competitons that tell me I'm not just kidding myself too.Keep looking into this great hobby. I hope you like it and get hooked on making your own wine too!

glad you found a store with a clerk that has made wine (some are more beer oriented). The 'sit for 6 months advice' is great. Winemakers need to learn patience.

Do you recall what kit brands they sell?

Check out your local Freecycle and kijiji and craigslist for equipment. You may be able to get some deals there. The standard kits make 6 US gallons. Some folks will have 5 US gallon carboys.

Here is the address of an RJ Spagnols retailer. If this is your retailer, I would start with a Grand Cru or Vino del Vida wine kit. Then graduate to Cru Select, and then if you want to higher end the grape skin kits like Cellar Classic Winery Series or En Primeur. All of the above are RJ Spagnols kits.


United States
wow, the idea of producing something better than a low end bottle is real exciting. We drink columbia crest merlot as an everday wine, it'd be great to do something on my own comparable or better. i've been expanding and trying some rioja's too lately. cab sauvignon we like as well of course.

I noticed a 6 gallon kit for sale somewhere online for less than the 5 gallon kit. I found that odd.

The local store I've only spoken to on the phone thus far, I hope to swing by there one of these days and check out what they have and hear some more and perhaps taste some samples if they have their own home made wines on hand. the local store did mention the kits that have the skins... how much more work is that? just separating the skins i assume? I'm all for spending a little more and waiting a little longer to get a great product.. it would be well worth it.

I'm optimistic that I'll enjoy the hobby.. just went to sonoma this past Oct and had an outstanding tour at Benziger where Terroir and natural wine making sans pesticides is a big deal. Loved the smell of the wine being produced and the earthiness of the whole process.
Grape skin kits - start today - enjoy at Christmas 2010 or later - yes two years

If you use the fermenting bags supplied with the kit its just a matter of putting the skins in the bag when you start the kit and pulling the bag out at the recommended time and squeezing the goodness ut of it into your wine. They do take longer to come around but the end result is well worth the wait. My recommendation is to do 2 kits, 1 being an early drinker and the other being a high end kit and letting it age properly. I dont kno of any 5 gallon wine kits so not sure what you are referring to!
Possibly confusion because 5 Imperial gallons = 6 US gallons = 23 litres.

I'm hesitant to get started because my major concern is similar in that I like full body wines and rich tannins. My mother-in-law gave me a kit with a white zin concentrate. I don't want to get turned off of making wine with my first go. However, I do think I should get a process down before I get more creative (and expensive) with my ingredients. If I can make something that I can drink (and not have to CHOKE down) then I will feel like it has been a success.

Someone said something about a "brew belt?" I plan to use my basement which is 60-65 degrees. Is this essentially a heater that "hugs" the primary and secondary fermentation container?

Maybe you should make the white zin and see if your mother-in-law can choke it down.

Unfortunately, full bodied wines with rich tannins generally means some of the big grape skin kits. And they require a year PLUS of aging.

If you have access to Cellar Craft kits, look at their 12 litre reds with grape skins. In the Winexpert family think about Vintners Reserve World Vineyards reds or Selection Original.

Let us know what brands are readily available (eg the brand of the White Zin). ANd a little bit about which reds you like. I'm guessing you're not a Pinot Noir drinker.

You are correct. I'm not much of a Pinot Noir drinker. I can sit with a descent bottle of merlot just about anytime. Cabs are nice depending on the finish. Valpolicellas can also be tasty, etc, etc. The White zin is SUNCAL...not super. I've even thought about adding some local strawberries to help it out a bit but, again, I'm a rookie and don't want to ruin a new experience.

My other problem is I live in an area where there are limited vintner resources. There are a couple other stores, etc, that I have yet to check out. I'll keep updating the further I go along. I do think I need that belt that heats the fermentor because my basement is just too cool.

Personally I would avoid the SunCal products. Other threads indicate that their instructions are less than satisfactory. Maybe learn from another brand, and then try the Suncal. Or study another brand's instructions before starting the Suncal.

What product instructions do you recommend learning from? Can I find them online? I'm looking for cost-effective options. Again, where I live...it would require at least a 1 hour drive to find anything usable.

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