Just do Kits?

Discussion in 'General Wine Making Forum' started by bkisel, Jul 22, 2013.

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  1. Jul 23, 2013 #21

    FABulousWines

    FABulousWines

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    Although I am relatively new to this, I consider myself a kit guy. I agree with the sentiment that you can spend a lifetime in the kit realm and never run out of things to try, especially if you consider all the tweaks that are possible. The Argentine Malbec I have now aging already meets or exceeds many of the commercial Mendoza Valley Malbecs I have tried. It is quite exciting.

    However, I am not one to say never. I am curious enough to try just about anything once just for giggles. I guess that is how I got into wine making in the first place! I currently have a DB going, just to see what all the fuss is about. I will no doubt at some point try a "from scratch" fruit wine or two.

    But for the most part, I think I will be quire content with doing high to medium end kits.
     
  2. Jul 23, 2013 #22

    JohnT

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    I do not do kits.

    When I started winemaking, kits were not nearly what they are today. Quite simply, 25 years ago, they tasted nasty.

    I had the chance to taste some of the kit wines being produced by some of the folks here and was shocked to see how far kits have come. Just Plain Shocked! I also have started to see (over the last couple of years) that kits now directly compete with fresh grapes wines in a number of wine competitions.

    I now find that it is a great comfort to know that I can fall back on kits when I retire. Kits mean that I can continue winemaking until the day I die. I can also continue with this obsession no matter where or when I might retire.

    To sum up, I plan on doing the exact opposite of what most expect. I started with whole grapes and will "evolve" to doing kits. Ain't dat a kikindapants?
     
    Rocky likes this.
  3. Jul 23, 2013 #23

    vernsgal

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    I can't wait til next year when my 1st fruit wines are ready! Especially my blackberry :D
     
  4. Jul 23, 2013 #24

    wineforfun

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    I am pretty new to winemaking also. I just made my first kit. Only reason was because I wanted a zinfandel and that was the only way I was going to get it.
    I have mostly been making dragon blood, welches concentrate, mead and other specialty wines. I don't like getting stuck on doing just one type.
     
  5. Jul 27, 2013 #25

    winemaker81

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    Agreed. If you're happy with kits, keep doing it!
     
  6. Jul 27, 2013 #26

    Geronimo

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    I'm sticking to kits for red wine. I know a few vintners and have read a few books. These people learn their grapes over many years of experience and adjust to the harvest. The kits are all that, but we don't need to know the soil, roots, climate etc.

    Juice buckets are likely just a crap shoot. Sure you can do some analysis and make some adjustments but if it was that easy we'd all be down at the bulk produce store buying up lugs of their grapes. Why not?

    For anything but red wine, I don't feel like I need to produce a wine that meets or exceeds a comparable store wine. But the kits still shine for many of these specialty wines. A friend just used a low cost white kit for a base and added blueberry Vintners Harvest fruit puree. A very nice blueberry wine for around $100 / 6 gallons and very little effort.
     
  7. Jul 27, 2013 #27

    FABulousWines

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    Geronimo makes a very good point. I have visited a lot of local wineries and had even thought about starting a second career as a vintner. However, many of the vintners I have spoken to who have started this sort of thing in semi retirement have all stated that they underestimated the amount of time and cost for the upkeep of a good vineyard. That is just not what I want right now; maybe if I was younger and healthier.

    One of the real selling points for me on kits is the ability to get such a diverse variety of great vintages from growing regions all over the world.
     
  8. Jul 27, 2013 #28

    saramc

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    Check out Walkers Fruit Basket in NY. They have a wide variety of 5 gallon hot packed 100% fruit & grape juices, or if you are within driving distance you can even get gallon jugs. The container is dosed with k-meta, acid and brix checked, documented on label. I kept a 5-gallon container in cool basement for seven months before I used it and it was still at same brix, etc & made the best rhubarb wine ever! They typically provide a yeast pkg and instructions. You pay $25-35 shipping for a 5-gal container. Amazing stuff. Short of using bentonite preferment, big bag less than $5, I never spend $ on fining agents, proper temperature mgt, serial racking and aging has ALWAYS taken care of clearing.
    You simply need some pectic enzyme, k-meta, yeast nutrient & sorbate(if backsweetening)..talking $10 if that and you have extra for addl batches. A pkg of SuperKleer is $2-4. MANY commercial wineries buy juice from Walker's and win awards with their wines.

    And www.homewinery.com has a great assortment of 100% grape/fruit concentrates. Very budget friendly and available by the pint for one gallon batches or half gallon jug for up to a five gallon batch. Beats frozen grocery store concentrate hands down, plus cultivar selection is amazing!! Watermelon, pineapple, passionfruit, blueberry, plus many grapes, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  9. Jul 27, 2013 #29

    Marauderer

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    I have been doing wine kits for a couple of years now and really like the quality of wine that it makes. I have so many other things I like to do that I don't want to devote anymore time to my wine making.

    The only thing that could make me do other than a kit is if I could find a recipe and the ingredients to make a "Sauterne" wine. Anyone know of one??
     
  10. Jul 28, 2013 #30

    BobF

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    Great point Barry and exactly where I've been for a while. Other interests are taking priority and I'm not sad about it. :)
     
  11. Jul 28, 2013 #31

    Geronimo

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    Sauternes is a region in Bordeaux known for it's white Muscadelle/Muscat dessert wines with unique flavors due to noble rot. Look at the bottom of this map. I think what you're asking for is a rare white that can costs hundreds of $$$ from this region, correct? Since they fight to produce every drop of that wine, I can't imagine they'd ever source the juice to kit makers. The noble rot is extremely hard to predict so production is really spotty.

    http://www.terroir-france.com/picts/bordeaux_map.gif
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2013
  12. Jul 28, 2013 #32

    cimbaliw

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    BK, there probably is no need to make a command decision between kits and traditional wine making. Eight months ago I also was trying to "do the math," now I just make wine. I do mostly kits because of time and convenience.

    I'm not sure, at this time, that the extra work involved with fruit fits my schedule although I trust everyone here when they quote a more robust experience with both taste and personal satisfaction. On the other hand straying from kits to make simple stuff like skeeter pee, Dragon's Blood and Ed Wort's Apfelwein has taught me a lot and expanded my comfort zone. The Joeswine tweaks are further expanding my arsenal. I encourage you to kick back and enjoy the journey and answers to such questions will present themselves.
     
  13. Jul 28, 2013 #33

    Marauderer

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    Geronimo, You are absolutely correct. Any Sauterne you buy that isn't a premium usually has a very poor taste to me. I remember back in the late 60's and early 70's everyone was making a Sauterne. E&G, and all the other inexpensive producers had one. I had a Swiss Fondue recipe that used Sauterne and it has really spoiled me. I have been using my Liebfraumilch that I have been making from kits and it has turned out really well. I take a long time on a kit, about three months or more and age a minimum of 12 months and it is very smooth.
     
  14. Jul 28, 2013 #34

    Marauderer

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    Bob, it sounds like you are really enjoying life's journey!!:D
     
  15. Jul 28, 2013 #35

    jensmith

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    Never did a kit. One day I will get rich and run out of free or cheep fruit and try one. Kinda hard to pay $60-150 for a kit when I can make a super nice fruit wine for $10 a five galleon batch.... Or even if I pay for fruit it still cost me less then $50 a batch. Besides, I don't like most store bought grape wines. Most kits are just grapes, or flavored grape wine. I do want to try a kit, just out of curiosity! I have plenty of freinds who would dispose of anything I did not like:)
     
  16. Jul 28, 2013 #36

    RCGoodin

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    You want a great kit that is affordable, try this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001ELJK1E/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

    I just bottled this after a year in the carboy. My wife said it's the best I've made yet and I've made plenty of them. I'm on a subscription with Amazon, so this kit cost me about $75.00. You can't get the 15% subscription anymore. I think today it's 5%. Still a good deal. The cheapest commercial Amarone, in my area, is $47.00 a bottle. A friend said he is going to pay for the next kit, I will process it, and we'll spit the bottles. My cost gets very cheap for 15 bottles then.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2018
  17. Jul 28, 2013 #37

    Geronimo

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    Wow you're the first person I've ever heard actually taste a wine from one of these buckets. I wonder how they can do it? A 23 liter kit shipped for under $90 which is typically less than 16 liter (more like the 12 liter) kits.
     
  18. Jul 28, 2013 #38

    Marauderer

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    RC, I am just like that. When I found out that each step wasn't time critical sometimes it just sits and clarifies while I am out and about for weeks.:D
     
  19. Jul 28, 2013 #39

    RCGoodin

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    I'm fermenting my second Barbaresco. My first Barbaresco just turned 1 1/2 years in the bottle. I'd say it's as good as my expensive Stag's Leap Merlot. My wife is fine with all the whites I've done from Amazon also.

    I think my next order from Amazon is going to be a Pinot Noir.

    Also, check out their Ice Wine. I have Canadians stating it's as good as any $90 bottle in Canada.
     
  20. Jul 28, 2013 #40

    cimbaliw

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    Thanks for the link RC, I've not tried a juice bucket yet and it looks like this will be the first! Gotta love the free shipping with Amazon Prime.

    BC
     

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