Reflecting on my first year of wine making only to suffer my first major wine disaster

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Senior Member
Feb 15, 2021
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So Monday morning I woke up before my alarm and was having trouble getting back to sleep. My mind turned to wine. It had been a nice weekend including lots of wine stuff: I received 3 different kits from Label Peelers. On Friday a Marselan Limited Edition kit from WinExpert arrived. I was fascinated by the descriptions of the varietal, a Cab. S/Grenache hybrid, and I'd ordered it months ago. It is shelf stable so I just looked at the instructions (never having done a WE kit, only RJS and FWK kits) and tucked it away. On Sunday, two Finer Wine Kits arrrived, a Zin and Pinot, as I could not resist the recent free shipping offer.

My brewery / winery was pretty much at capacity with 8 wines and 3 beers fermenting or bulk aging. So to make room I bottled my Finer Wine Kit Barbera from 2020 harvest (sadly not offered this year), it was super promising at bottling. Then, before I moved a FWK Syrah Forte into that vacated carboy, which freed up my Speidel 30L for starting the Zinfandel Forte, I first did a next-to-last rack on my 2nd kit ever, an RJS EP Amarone and it tasted like it would finally be ready for bottling when I needed to repeat this shifting process in order to start the Pinot. But for now I froze the Pinot and a single skin pack. I got the Zin Forte soaking, adding a bit more water to target a 13.5% abv, I also used just one skin pack (and half the seed pack), saving the other skin pack and seeds for the Pinot, and I made the yeast starter. I am hoping to enjoy the Zin and Pinot in 6-12 months, so getting one Forte and one Tavola and sharing the skins and seeds seemed like a reasonable plan.

It dawned on my that my very first kit had been started on Super Bowl Sunday of 2021, an RJS International Cru Nebbiolo, and here I was a year later having basically filled a dozen carboys or fermenters with 5-6.5 gallon batches of wine. In just one year since then I have bought 10 more wine kits, started 8, and bottled 4 kits. I also picked grapes last Fall for the first time filling 2 carboys with Mourvedre first run and a 3rd carboy with second run/more pressed wine from the same grapes. I have learned quite a bit in the last year, most of it here on WMT.

Then the alarm sounded, I got ready to go for a morning walk in Golden Gate Park with my wife. I opened the door to our garage and saw carnage, red wine sitting in a pool on the concrete floor. Thankfully no broken carboy. But I saw that two boxes of bottled wine had tumbled down. The problem was I was storing them in boxes on their side (to keep the corks moist), but had stacked them 3 cases high, and the cardboard cases were made for fatter bottles, but filled with many skinnier Bordeaux sized bottles. So the stacking had led to the cardboard cases bending under the weight to fill the empty space, and eventually the top case falling on the ground, and sort of tipping the middle case over as it went. Lots of glass shards and wine to get off the floor, but I was somewhat relieved to have lost only 7 bottles of homemade wine (my first guess was a full case). But I was super sad that it was the FWK Super Tuscan from 2020, which tasted great at bottling and included Sangiovese which was not available in 2021. Wish it had been the RJS Super Tuscan or Nebbiolo instead. Live and learn I guess. I have a nice big wine rack inside our house but it is full of commercial wines. Guess I need to drink those down or figure out more storage solutions to keep the home made wines on their side, but for now I'm storing it upright and only stacking cases 2 high or sideways and only 1 high.


Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers
Sep 19, 2013
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near Milwaukee
I had not remembered the title of this post (as I got interrupted between opening the thread and starting to read). So I was reading your first two paragraphs, with a big smile on my face. Then I got to the third paragraph and the smile got wiped off my face. Sorry for your loss!
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Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Nov 30, 2021
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NE Wisconsin
Sorry man 😥 What’s the proper etiquette for mourning such a loss? Is there a standard waiting period that is appropriate before you make another wine? 🤔

Check out the “storing empty wine bottles” thread for pics of some nice totes you could use to store bottles on their sides… they are stackable too.

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