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What's Your Winemaking Story?

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TxBrew

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What is your winemaking story?

When and how did you get involved in the hobby?

What was your first setup like and what is your current setup like?

How many batches have you done?

Where has the hobby taken you?
 

Arne

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Years ago I brought home a dwarf cherry tree. After a few years it went ballistic producing. Kathy got all she wanted for pies and I decided to do something with the rest so they wouldn't go to waste (they don't go to waste the birds get them). Anyway tried making some wine. Don't know where the recipe came from, but managed to make something we could drink. Wasn't the best but decided I could do better. Did some internet research, found this place and Jack kellers got a few books from the library, and started fermenting whatever I could find. More cherries the next year and the wine was better. Kept rolling downhill from there. Have a couple of spiral tablets with wines that have been made. My notes are not the best, but I can usually figure out what was done as they are pretty much all the same after the main ingredients have been added. Just wish I could make a few wines that Kathy wouldn't make the terrible face and say "It has that taste I don't really like." Don't know what the taste is and she can't really tell me either, so I pretty well get to enjoy them myself. Here is to a great winemaking year for you all. Arne.
 

Stressbaby

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I have a greenhouse in which I grow a variety of tropical fruit trees. I needed something to do with the oversupply of starfruit and guava so decided to make wine. I found a recipe online, made guava wine and it was terrific, and I was hooked.

I've made about 96 batches, and of those 90 were made directly from fruit I either grew or collected locally. The others consist of 3 batches of DB, 1 kit, 1 pail, and 1 from California grapes.

What I've found is that it that I enjoy winemaking from grapes much more than fruit winemaking. So this spring I'm installing a vineyard of 120 vines. Hopefully in a few years I'll have more grapes than I can use.
 

NorCal

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Moved into a community that had 20 acres of communal vines. I wanted to be involved, so I joined the vineyard committee and one of the members made his own wine. He showed me the ropes in 2013 and I went independent the next year.
 

Johny99

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Bought 7 acres and found a grape vine growing in what otherwise had been an orchard. Didn't want an orchard, so a vineyard sounded nice:? My wife had been in the wine business most of her career. Those two things led to conversations with local winemakers and next thing you know I started planting, 2008. Next thing you know my dad digs out stuff he had in the 60's when he made dandelion wine. How could I not? I did a couple of kits to see what it was all about then found local fresh grapes and the insanity started!

Now it is the present sleepy time of the year!

IMG_3934.jpg
 

Bodenski

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I have a brother and a brother-in-law who keep posting their homebrew beer adventures on Facebook. I'm not much of a beer drinker, so I made an apple cider. Reading through all the forums on that made me interested in making wine, which I would drink more of. So I figured "why not?"

Everything except the cider has been one gallon batches. One kit (Pinot Noir), and a lot of different country wines (DB, Blackberry port, blueberry, cranberry, cran-apple) and one mead. So far it's been using frozen fruit from Walmart for the most part, but this summer I plan on seeking out fresh fruit for my next batch of experiments.
 
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Ajmassa

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TxBrew, Mr Administrator Sir, kudos on this topic idea. Always intrigued by the story. Anxious to read. And can't wait to post When I have some more free time. (I can be very sentimental on this topic. No judgments)
 

mikewatkins727

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The year was 1968, in the USAF and stationed at Lowry AFB, Denver, CO. One day my supervisor said "Mike, you every make wine? I have this recipe . . ." I bit. First run was Welches grape juice, 1 gal glass jug, 1/4 tsp of bread yeast, several cups of sugar and a balloon. Being in the military I moved a bit so I just tinkered with it for 15 years or so. After retiring from Air Force I wound up in norther CA but didn't have an appropriate building for a cellar. Have since moved back to OH and have built up a nicer setup. I make mostly fruit wines.
 

Mismost

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My Dad could do anything...50 years ago he tried to make a batch of wine with the balloon...wound up with 5 gallons of vinegar...he failed. That he failed at it stuck with me. Couple of years ago I thought I would try it. Started with one gallon beers, then five gallon batches and I am not even a beer drinker...well, I will drink a six pack a year or so even if I don't need too!

Thought wine would be better. Started with 5's of frozen apple and grape...it was OK. Then kits and they were better. Found this site and read all of Joe's Tweaks and haven't looked back. Thirty gallon sitting glass, another 18 gallons waiting on deck...working big kits, then fast drinkers. Have not had to dump a batch yet and Dad really enjoys my products!

To me it's like cooking in slow motion and I love cooking. Love watching the bubbles too. I work out of my house and a lot of days it's just me and the wine....i"m clicking on the computer, it's clicking the airlocks...decent company really.
 
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Boatboy24

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memojo

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First Post

I started making wine in 2006 and probably have made over 35 batches, from 1 Gal. to 6 Gal..My first was Welches and was pretty good if I must say so. Probably my most interesting of all was my Carrot Wine.
I have been competing at the local fair with my wines for about 8 years. I have several 1st. place ribbons and a Reserve Grand Champion, Chocolate Raspberry, (kit). I received a Grand Champion rosette for a Dandelion the second year I entered. This was a lot of work and will probably not make anymore. Too old to scoot around on the ground to get the petals, takes 44 lightly packed cups of petals to make a 6 Gal. batch. One secret to collecting the petals...pick the dandelion at mid day (full bloom) and pick no more than you can process that day. Don't refrigerate. You don't need to try and collect and process the petals all in one day...process and measure and put in the freezer until you have accumulated 44 cups.
I primarily make fruit wines. I don't pay for any fruit I get for the taking, ....donating a bottle or 2 to fruit grower.
 

styxx3805

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6 yr veteran

What is your winemaking story?Moved into my current place with established Concord and Lebanon grape vines. Made my first wine of both kinds mixed. It was OK. Nothing to brag about. Then I took my rhubarb and strawberries and made a batch. And wow it was really good. My friend had currants that went to waste every year so I tried that and my alcohol content was10%. Then a bumper crop year of blackberries into wine they went. Excellent and everybody loves it. This year I only picked the Concord and their sugar content was high, used have to sugar and have a 13% alcohol . Wonderful wine soon to go into bottles.

When and how did you get involved in the hobby?Started making wine with dandelions with my grandmother in the 1980's. Dabbled here and there, cherry wine, elderberry, choke cherry and elderberry.

What was your first setup like and what is your current setup like?For many years just did a gallon at a time with home made tube coming out of top of lid into Mason jar with water.

How many batches have you done?Never really kept track of how many batches I've made, but since moving in here in 2011, I do 1 or 2 different kinds ever year.

Where has the hobby taken you? I now have 2 6 gallon carbouys 2 3 gallon and several 1 gallons. I have a room in the basement dedicated to wine making with all my supplies at hand. I've invested in a press to make things easier. I love making wine and drinking it too. And having a cold room to store my wine in is a blessing. Wonderful hobby to get involved in and look forward to trying different fruits in the future
 

winojoe

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What is your winemaking story?
...read below

When and how did you get involved in the hobby?
I started making both wine and beer in January of 2002. Started with wine kits, and then quickly graduated to Fresh Grape Juice in the Fall of 2002. Being from Detroit area, I searched for local fresh grape juice. Not being able to find any, I set my sights on Canada and found a place called Erie Shore Vineyards. I was only a 20 minute drive after crossing the Ambassador Bridge. I bought 5 gallon buckets of freshly-pressed Baco Noir, Vidal and Riesling. They turned out great. Especially the Baco Noir, which was like drinking a meal. It was very bold. So, I went back for more the following season (2003). The price per bucket went up, but I bought the juice anyway. I went back there the next season (2004) and was really surprised that the price went up significantly. Five buckets cost me $300+. That was when I decided to continue my search in the U.S.A.

I found a place in Detroit called California Wine Grapes Company, and bought a bucket of juice from them. They were not friendly people. Actually, rather nasty to the customers. Guess that comes with being the only place in town to purchase buckets of grape juice. Because of this, I continued my search to find another place.

It is now the fall of 2005, and I found a place near Youngstown, Ohio called Luva Bella Juice Company. It was 4 hours away. After talking to a bunch of guys in my homebrewing club (I joined a brewing club in 2002, called The Pontiac Brew Tribe), I took the trip to get 20 buckets. We split the cost of fuel amongst the 20 buckets. I did this for the Spring (Chilean Juice) and Fall (California and Italian Juice) for the next couple years. The owner of the place, Frank, kept telling me he needed someone to start a business in Michigan selling his juice. In 2007, my wife and I decided to give it a try. So, we created a company (Macomb Vintner Supply LLC) and started taking orders that Fall. We sold exactly 300 buckets of grape juice out of my garage. The business rapidly expanded. Two years later, in the Fall of 2009, we had to find somewhere else since the garage could not handle the quantities, and the subdivision rules "forbid" running a business out of the house. I cut a deal with a friend who had a building and paid him to use it on a few certain weekends of the year. He went out of business in 2012, so I had to get my own building. We are now up to 5+ truck loads of grape juice each year selling both buckets and drums. This includes both Spring and Fall. Customers are home winemakers, wineries, meaderies and breweries.

What was your first setup like and what is your current setup like?
First set-up was as basic as one could get.
Current set-up is more sophisticated (I am an electrical/computer engineer by trade). It includes enolmatic bottle filler, pneumatic corker (modified italian floor corker), stainless VV tank, etc. Not much to really automate with wine, but you should see the automation on the beer brewing set-up.

How many batches have you done?
I lost count.

Where has the hobby taken you?
My wife and I are opening a winery. It is located in Sterling Heights, Michigan (a northern burb of Detroit). Name of the winery is: Buon Amici Winery, and should be fully operational by April 2017


I believe the achievements made in my life are by the grace of God, and treating the customers with the respect they deserve.
 
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dvivster

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Avid hard cider brewer

I began innocently ordering a little juice brewing pack from Amazon. It was just a packet of yeast and fermenter to add to a bottle of juice. That's what led me to learning about real hard cider brewing and visiting my local wine shop. I have brewed many great batches and my next experiment will be with hopped cider,
 

BABRU

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Black Raspberry Wine

About 7 years ago our visiting friend sitting poolside suggested that the black raspberries growing behind the pool would make a fine wine. Seems he had been raised in a wine making family and had been making his own wine for years. I picked about 30 pounds of raspberries and went shopping for sugar while he went home for a primary, airlock and misc. additives. Soon I had wine fermenting under the back yard oak tree. He returned several weeks later and we transferred it to a 6 gallon jug that I moved into the kitchen for about a year or so while I saved wine bottles and waited for his return to show me the bottling process. We bottled 30 and drank about 2. That turned out to be a great first wine and now I make about 7 to 9 six gallon batches a year, 1 or two from black raspberries, 4 or 5 from fresh juice and 2 or 3 from kits. I make my raspberry and juice wines to be dry, allowing them to clear naturally in the secondary by racking 3 or 4 times over about a year's time. I currently have 6 - 6 gallon carboys in various stages with 2 that will be ready for bottling in April (juice from Chile). I make sweet wines from kits for friends who prefer the sweeter wines. Boosting an Island Mist kit with a liter of juice concentrate and 3 - 4 pounds of sugar makes wines that are very popular with the sweet wine folks. I made a chocolate raspberry wine expert desert wine that goes real fast too. I bottled it in standard 750ml bottles which was probably a mistake because it turns out to be a relatively expensive bottle of high power wine. Currently there are about 360 bottles in the cellar of about 10 different types. Since family has found the cellar it has become increasingly more difficult to keep various wines in stock. But that's ok.
 

ohgeo

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I started home brewing beer in 2012. Had excellent batches so I decided to branch out into wine. I have fruit trees at my home and always had excess fruit with no purpose. So in late 2012 I started a 5 gallon batch of pear wine and 1 gal plum wine from my grandmother's tree. Unfortunately those first batches turned sour because I let the airlocks go dry, forgetting about the carboys in the basement. I vowed to never let that happen again!

Two years later I met my fiancee. We both love wine. So the winemaking started up again. That Fall we had about 40 gallons going at once. Pear wine, apple and honey wine, concord grape wine, Dragon's Blood, Tropical Daze. It's all turned out good. I got serious about the science and technique. Last season we started some blueberry wine and an apple wine. Fruit production was bad on my trees so it was a slow Fall. Next season we are going to get juice from the local wineries to expand our variety of wine styles.

As for equipment I started with the basics. Haven't got too fancy but added a vacuum pump for degassing, and a floor corker for bottling. And of course more carboys. You can never have enough!

We definitely have the winemaking bug. Chris and I love to cook, so winemaking is a natural extension of that. We like to try new recipes and modify them to our tastes. We've visited so many wineries we've lost count. We've even started to source some land with the intention of starting a small winery.

I love this hobby!
 

wpt-me

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I started back in the early '70's when they made those little plastic jugs kits in the dept. stores.
Life got in the way and got away from doing it. Several years ago G.F. got a wine making kit for
Christmas.I enjoy making a kit now and then, but really have fun doing different fruit juices.
Most interesting wine ever made was a rose hip made from can of puree.

Bill
 

Merrywine

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For me the adventures in fermentation started with a batch of sour kraut that I made in a glass gallon pickle jar. The idea of making beer at home had hatched several years before, but a lack of space and time prevented me from doing any until about 2 years ago.

So the kraut was successful I had drilled a hole in the lid for a bung and airlock. (Why buy why we can DIY?) I used this jar for my first small mead. I chose mead because it seemed pretty straight forward and the ingreduant list was short. It was very drinkable and following a couple more batches of tasty mead, beer and gallon wine kits followed.

Right now I have a Merlot bulk aging about ready for bottling and a mulberry (fruit I harvested the fruit) mead in secondary. Had a very sweet Cyser for gift giving this past Christmas and find my friends and family enjoy these, and I certainly can't drink all of the end product myself! :ib

So will I ever be a great wine maker with my own fruit trees or vineyard? Probably not, but I am enjoying myself and after about 2.5 years in the hobby I've only had one mixed fruit cider that is just not drinkable.
 

milehiscott

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My parents had 2 Concord grape vines in the back yard. One year we had more jelly than we could handle sitting in the pantry. My parents had some friends over for a summer gathering. One of them looked at the vines and asked, “What do you do with these? Make wine?” The next day my dad and I found a store and began learning how to make wine. We did this for a number of years until my dad developed a sulfide allergy.
Now, many years later, I have my own home and family and I miss fermenting things. So, I have recently resumed the hobby. My wife and daughter are not sure what they think of the process, but my wife likes the end product.
Due to age, I have had to replace some of the equipment. So my gear is somewhat cobbled together. I have only used fresh fruit in the past. This year I bought a kit for the first time. Right now I have 6 gallons of Merlot finishing.
 

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