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dswaddling

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Hi! I'm a retired college professor in Central Ohio and I'm thinking about starting up in wine making after a brief attempt 20 years ago.

Given the excellent table wines that I can buy at the grocery store these days, I'm more interested in trying and learning about different methods and wines than I am in making large quantities. Is it possible to make smaller batches of wine rather than the usual 5-6 gallons per recipe? I don't see smaller ingredient kits available, but I do want to make varietal grape wines.

Any initial advice about making wine in smaller batches or where I should look for more info? Thanks!
 

dessertmaker

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There's loads of microbrewers out there making wine 1 gallon at a time. Unfortunately there aren't any 1 gallon kits to my knowledge.

To get started with 1 gallon is easy. The problem is that 5 bottles of wine disappears so fast when you are brewing its not even funny. I'd recommend buying a basic 5 gallon starter kit and doing a few 1 gallon experiments on the side. That's what I did getting started and I never looked back.

If you are sold on doing just 1 gallon, you will need the following at bare minimum:

Food grade open container like a pot that will hold a little more than 1 gallon.

1 gallon glass wine jug like a Carlo Rossi bottle. Or a whole foods apple cider bottle.

A properly sized rubber bung, preferably one with a hole in it for an airlock.

An airlock. I like the 3 piece kind because they are easy to clean. A lot of people here swear by the bubble airlocks.

Racking cane, food grade tubing and a bottling wand.

Hydrometer and hydrometer test tube.

Cheesecloth

Paint strainer bag or a (unused) women's stocking.

At LEAST 2 OZ Potassium Metabisulfite

A cheap spray bottle for sanitizing

A yeast packet. Be choosy, pay attention to what temperature your wine will be fermenting at and what flavor characteristics you are looking for.

2 OZ of Bentonite

Enough juice concentrate for 1 Gallon OR 12-16 LBS fruit.

Pectin enzyme if you're using fruit.

Please note: ALL of this with the exception of the fruit and 1 gallon containers is typically included in a (5 gallon) starter kit. And it usually comes out cheaper than buying everything individually. So again, starter kit plus 1 gallon wine jug is probably the way to go. This hobby is addicting. You won't use the 1 gallon jug often after you empty your first 5 wine bottles.

A great wine recipe to start with can be found at www.skeeterpee.com. Divide portions by 5 for 1 gallon if memory serves me correctly. It's a great first wine if you don't want to do a 5 gallon kit. (Or even if you do.)

There are sponsors here who sell all this stuff. Or you can do a search for it on amazon.

Mistakes to avoid: SANITIZE EVERYTHING. Don't add anything outside of the recipe for the first 3 months. And even then do lots of bench tests before you add anything. Ask lots of questions here if you're looking to experiment. As Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun." If you're thinking about it, someone here has probably done it and will be happy to help steer you in the right direction.

Good luck!!!
 

Stressbaby

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dswaddling,

If you are willing to listen to a Wolverine... :)

...I make most of my wines in 1 gallon batches. I make "country" wines (nongrape wines) from temperate and tropical fruits I grow. I currently have wine in 4 3 gallon carboys and about ~12 1 gallons carboys.

I like doing it this way, but there are racking challenges to small batches. There is often some volume loss when racking wine. This volume loss is proportionately greater for the 1 gallon batch. It is exacerbated if, for example, you are fining with something like bentonite. This volume loss adds air space at the top of the carboy, and you want to reduce the air space, generally by "topping up" with a similar wine (there are other methods described elsewhere). At first, you may not have any similar wines to use for this purpose.

Another issue is that once the fruit is prepared, the 1 gallon batch takes just as much work as the 3 or 5 gallon batch. As dm says, you may be surprised how fast those 5 bottles disappear.

Finally, doing 1 gal batches sort of forces you into Campden tabs for kmeta because it is very difficult to accurately dose the powder for a 1 gallon batch.

On the plus side, 1 gallon batches are portable and easy to carry; they permit the sort of experimentation you seem to desire. They are great for learning. I would suggest that you find some 375ml bottles. When you bottle each gallon, fill 2-4 375s each time. This permits sampling of the wine in smaller quantities and will extend each 1 gallon batch.

Good to have you here.

Robert
 
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I started off with a one gallon, then more and more, then bought some 3 and 5 gallon.
I like the 3 gallon, its easier to manage and I can split a 6 gallon recipe.
I have various 1 gallon fermenting now..I taste after first racking, and If i like it...I write down what i did, what, etc..then can make a larger recipe later.
 

FABulousWines

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If you are interested in varietal grape kit wines, then 6 gallons is pretty much the defacto standard.

I've read that bit about 6 gallons not being more difficult than 1 gallon and it is pretty much true. However, a 6 gallon carboy does weigh quite a bit more than 1 gallon. And 6 gallons means having to bottle 30 vs. just 5. If that is your concern and your budget permits, I would recommend looking into the All In One Wine Pump system. It allows you to pump from a full carboy on the floor and also has a bottling attachment that makes bottling a short chore. If you use glass carboys exclusively you will never have to lift a carboy ever.
 

dswaddling

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That's great advice. Thank you!

Stressbaby: I have great respect for Wolverines. (I'm just a Northwestern Wildcat trapped in this desolate land of Buckeyes.)

Another question... Is there any way to preserve left over ingredients from a 5-gal kit if I did split the recipe?
 

CBell

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Keep in mind that you can buy a 1 gallon 'equip kit' with all the supplies and chemicals you should need, to spare you the expense o buying them individually

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/1-gallon-wine-from-fruit-kit.html

However, ingredient kits are a bit more tricky. As in, it would be easy enough to freeze 5/6 o the juice from a 6 gallon kit, but all the additives come in a packet to dump in, so you'd need to measure out all your own chemicals and not use the ones included in the kit. Seems like a lot o extra work
 

FABulousWines

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Another alternative to consider if you are thinking about splitting kits might be to use 3 gallon carboys. It would be pretty simple to halve the ingredients. I have never done this, but I think that might be a good compromise, whatcha think?
 

DoctorCAD

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One thing to consider...it takes just as much work to make 1 gallon as it does to make 6 gallons.
Spending 6 months on a wine that only yields 5 bottles just seems to be such a waste to me. I actually quit making fruit wines just for that reason, unless I can get enough stuff to make 5 or 6 gallons.
 

BobR

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(I'm just a Northwestern Wildcat trapped in this desolate land of Buckeyes.)

A good friend of mine was a Northwestern Mildcat graduate also. He retired a few years ago after teaching at Univ of Utah. The rest of his family still lives in the Chicagoland area.

There are some good point made here. I just bottled one gallon of strawberry wine. On one hand, if I had it to do over again I'd at least go with 5 gallons. Just as much work in this one gallon as I had in 6 gallons of Concord and as mentioned, I ended up with only five bottles of strawberry. On the other hand, I don't think that this strawberry turned out okay, so if it does not mellow out in the next six months while bottle aging, I'll probably just dump it. If I do that, I'll be happy that I am not dumping 5 or 6 gallons down the drain. :slp
 

BernardSmith

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Hi dswaddling and welcome. There seems to me to be another possibility that no one has mentioned. If you go to your local wine and beer making supply store the people running the place may know of other folk who live locally who are equally interested in making only smaller batches. Two or three people with the same approach might be willing to work together to share the same varietal and so perhaps one month you agree to look after the primary for a couple of weeks and then divi it up and the next month someone else does this or you might divide up the 6 gallons from day one and work with one or two gallons, but that said, I agree with what just about everyone else has said: making one gallon involves the same effort as making six but the percentage losses at racking seem to be greater when you make smaller batches.
 

dswaddling

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All great input! The reason I'm hesitant to make 5 gal batches is that--based on my experience years ago--if I'm successful, I just can't drink it that fast and I hated pouring it out! (I know, this reveals a possible serious problem regarding the number of friends I have to give it away to, but I'm still working with my analyst on that.) I think I'm going to do a little of each... Full batches for the stuff I know I can use (if it's good) and play around with some smaller batches just for the "experiments."

BobR: Please "watch it" with the Mildcat label. They were certainly like that when I was there, but they're getting better now, won't you agree?
 

CBell

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Dswaddling, you shouldn't need to 'throw it out' because you can't drink it fast enough! Many corks will age things 5+ years! If you can't drink 25 bottles in 5 years I can certainly give you some drinking lessons! Or you can ship your extra wine directly to me
 

BobR

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BobR: Please "watch it" with the Mildcat label. They were certainly like that when I was there, but they're getting better now, won't you agree?
Yeah, in recent years, they have had some good teams. I'm for anyone who can beat Illinois. The biting Illini
 
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Rocky

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Hey, DSW, welcome to the forum. By the way, I like your shoe stores. :)

I have made Muscat from a 5 gallon kit sold by Williams brewing company. The kit comes with two cans of concentrate, each capable of producing 2.5 gallons. They also sell a 2.5 gallon kit that comes with 1 can of concentrate. I have not tried any other of their varieties but they seem to get some good reviews. Here is a link to their website: http://www.williamsbrewing.com/CALIFORNIA-WINE-KITS-C35.aspx.

Where do you live in the Columbus area? I am in Powell.
 

Stressbaby

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BobR: Please "watch it" with the Mildcat label. They were certainly like that when I was there, but they're getting better now, won't you agree?
Indeed, over the last couple of years, NW has played some good football and further, is bringing in some some of the top football recruiting classes in the B1G, right behind Ohio and Michigan. You have a good coach, hopefully you can keep him.
 

dangerdave

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Another central Ohioan! Perfect!

If you think there are a lot of excellent table wines at the grocery store, wait until you make your own! You'll never go back! I haven't been back to that department since I tasted my first Dragon Bood.
 

salcoco

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If you want to stay with one gallon , Google "Jack Keller winemaking" his site has
many, many wine recipes one gallon in size. Many using what you can find in a grocery store or fruit market that make wines very tasty. Good way to start and get the techniques down before going for larger quantities.
 

dswaddling

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If you are interested in varietal grape kit wines, then 6 gallons is pretty much the defacto standard.

I've read that bit about 6 gallons not being more difficult than 1 gallon and it is pretty much true. However, a 6 gallon carboy does weigh quite a bit more than 1 gallon. And 6 gallons means having to bottle 30 vs. just 5. If that is your concern and your budget permits, I would recommend looking into the All In One Wine Pump system. It allows you to pump from a full carboy on the floor and also has a bottling attachment that makes bottling a short chore. If you use glass carboys exclusively you will never have to lift a carboy ever.
What do you mean by specifying GLASS carboys? Does this pump system not work with plastic carboys (which would be lighter, right)?
 

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