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Making wine and mead in SW Ontario, Canada

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embici

Junior
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Greetings.
After enjoying reading posts on here for a little while I thought I'd introduce myself.
I started wine-making around 1999/2000 when I was a student living on a tight budget. A friend who'd been making wine for years introduced me to it and we made many, many kits together over a few years. If memory serves we started with Wine Art which then became Wine Kitz. She swore they were the best in the country at the time. I collected pieces of equipment here and there when things were on sale and I eventually started dabbling in making fruit wines.
I felt we developed a method to producing a very decent wine with those kits. We bulk aged for a long time and often used the 19l carboys instead of the 23l (less diluted). We'd add tannins or wood chips from time-to-time as well. That said, I didn't feel we ever got a wine that was better than a cheap table wine from the store, but it was the best kit-wine we'd ever had.
That hobby only lasted a few years until I got a job and decided I could afford to buy wine.
After taking up beekeeping in 2014 or so I decided to dust off some of those gallon jugs and carboys and make some mead. The results were decent and my mead-drinking friends think my mead is pretty good (flavourings I've used: crab apple, hibiscus flower, mixed berries and dandelion flowers). Unfortunately, most people I know don't like mead at all so I've scaled back production.
Earlier this year I had my cousin's homemade wine and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It was possibly the best homemade wine I'd tasted. He produces on a much bigger scale than I ever did, using several demijohns. His technique is to stir up the juice (Festa juices, in case anyone knows them) and let it ferment away with periodic racking. It sounded even easier than a kit to me. If memory serves he blended Alicante and Zinfandel juices.
I decided to give it a try with the juices available in my town, which are mostly marketed to the large local Italian-Canadian community. I bought Regina juices' Chardonnay and it is bulk aging in my carboy at the moment. I thought white would be better to start with and if I get good results, next year I'd try a red.
The vendor's advice was also simple, like my cousin's. No taking initial gravity, no camden tablets, etc. Just stir and rack when necessary.
I hope it works.
In addition, I've seen some youtubers making beer. It doesn't look that difficult and doesn't seem to require much additional equipment.I'm tempted to give that a go as well, once I see how this Chardonnay does.
If anyone has similar experience with grape juices, meads, beer etc., I'd be happy to hear from you.
 

sour_grapes

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Sounds like you have lots of good experience already! Welcome to Winemakingtalk!
 

Arne

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Just for fun, get your hydrometer out and get a reading when you are starting. You might find it handy to know later on and you can figure the final abv from it and the final reading. Welcome to the forum. Arne.
 

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