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What's Your Winemaking Story?

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Trevor7

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A co-worker broke out a bottle of Tempranillo that he made one evening before dinner and after the first sip, my curiosity was piqued. He introduced me to the hobby. I did 6 kits last year, and am ready to launch my 2nd of 2018. My start into grapes and/or juice will hopefully happen at harvest time this year. Like @benchmstr, I enjoy drinking my product.
 

Doug’s wines

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For the last several years, I was in a high travel job. For example one year I spent only 32 nights at home. I enjoyed wine with dinner as I traveled internationally and began to realize how much nuance and variety was in the wine world. Because I was traveling so much, my wife began to travel with me and we began to seek out vineyards and wineries around the globe as our “down time hobby” while traveling. Eventually all good things come to an end and after about 8 years I am no longer in that global role (to be honest, it was killing me) so I decided that I would try to replicate some of the wines I’ve tasted. I’ve mainly been doing higher end kits (En Primeur, Eclipse) that interest us, and recently ordered a bunch of cheap kits to try my hand at tweaking (thanks @joeswine for hooking me). I’m hoping to do some fresh grapes this year or at least a few juice buckets. Given I know what so many of these wines should taste like, I’m not sure yet that my kits are going to hit the mark, but I am hopeful that a little more age might get them there.
 

Monty Knapp

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Drank local wine for several years - Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, in the 80's and 90's.
Decided to try making wine myself, but only used recipes, usually based on Welch's concentrates. Just followed the recipe without any real understanding of the process. The only instrument I used was a hydrometer. Some turned out good, most didn't.
The local community college offered classes on wine, but held them off campus since we would be sampling the wines. Learned a lot about wines and could no longer stand the taste of my homemade wines, after 3 semesters of good wine. So I quit making wine and started collecting wine usually purchased from area wine shops.
Traveled to places like Italy, England, and France and brought back many bottles of wine before it became prohibited.
After I retired 3.5 years ago I found that kits were available that contained juice from the best wine regions of the world, so I decided to give it another try. Only been at it this time for about 1 year. Made a low end Merlot from Winexpert (Vintners Reserve). Wasn't thrilled with it, but now that's it's a year old, it's passable.
Made a Winexpert Eclipse kit - Sauvignon Blanc. It turned out great.
Right now I have a Winexpert Eclipse Shiraz (Barossa Valley, Australia) bulk aging and just started a Winexpert Eclipse Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington). Next is an RJS Super Tuscan.
In between these kits I've made five 3 gallon batches of Dragon's Blood wine using different fruits. Very happy with them all.
Enjoying winemaking much more the second time around because I'm making good wine. This time I've tried to learn much more about the process and using more testing equipment and test kits - hydrometer, pH meter, TA titration kit, and SO2 kit.
AND I'm becoming very popular with my friends!
 
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skyfire322

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A few years ago, I was jobless and came across a Craigslist job posting for a 'wine educator'. I decided to apply, and got the job! I worked in the tasting room for a few months, and during crush time, I'd help the winemaker. The more and more we talked, the more and more I got interested in the actual winemaking process; particularly the science behind it.

That next spring, they moved me downstairs and had the job title of cellar assistant. Ultimately they had to let me go because of financial reasons, and I ended up moving to Indiana where I now work in Tech Support. I never lost that passion for winemaking, and ended up purchasing the beginner kits.

I'm currently on my second homemade batch and I only have one carboy, but once I move into the new house next month, I plan on expanding just a little bit. My ultimate dream is to run my own vineyard, but I don't think that'll ever be possible. One can dream though! :)
 

wildhair

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I was actually thinking about this the other day - wondering how other folks got into this. I enjoyed reading the stories (yes, I read them all) and I guess my story is similar to many. I love to spend time outdoors, to garden and ride motorcycles - all those things brought me here. I like to gather wild edibles - besides my meat, I pick berries & other plants for teas and food. I like to grow most of my own food in a fairly large garden with numerous fruit trees and bushes. And when my wife I would tour on the motorcycle, or just ride around WI - we would stop and various small wineries around the state & country and do tastings. And we would bring back a few bottles for later. A small local winery made a wide variety of "non-grape" wines, and being the person that always takes the road less traveled - I acquired a taste for these country wines. He made a Fox Grape wine - which took me back.

What is your winemaking story?
My story starts way, way, way back - I had a neighbor that made wine. I was maybe 8 years old, but he would let me in his basement and I would watch him once in a while. Nice guy, but he passed away when I was still young. His wife gave me his old 'recipe book" - his notes, I guess - but my parents kept it and somewhere thru the ages and the moves ~ it got lost. I remember there was a recipe for Dandelion Wine and several others.
Then , when I was about 11 - I came across a huge patch of fox grapes & I picked as many as I could carry home. Not knowing anything about wine making, I mashed them up in a container and put a lid on it. It fermented as God intended and it sure smelled like alcohol. I was smart enough to pour it thru a sieve - but not smart enough to add sugar, I guess. I remember taking to the guy that ran the liquor store in town and asked him taste it. LOL After some extreme facial expressions, "Needs sugar" was about all he said. Then I got caught trying to take some to school - and that was the end of that batch. My next batch was apple cider wine and I incorporated the most important lessons I learned ~
1. It needs to be sweeter
2. Make wine where my parents won't find it.
For my next experiment, I poured a packet of bread yeast into a full gallon of apple cider and hid it in a field behind my house. When I checked on it a couple days later - it had gone from crystal clear to very cloudy. As soon as I twisted the cap - a geyser of "wine" shot into the air, maybe 10 feet high at first - and continued until completely emptying the jug. Thus ended my prepubescent wine making. For a few decades, at least. Girls, jobs, school, family, etc - all became higher priorities.
Fast forward to just a few years ago - kids are grown and gone, things are quieter. After an especially productive couple years of black raspberries and apples - I had enough jam to last last thru Armageddon. I also had ample supplies of apple butter, apple pie filling, dried apples, canned blackberries, canned cherries, and more in the freezer. Now with just 2 of us - we could not consume it all in a year. Being of Scottish decent - I was determined that NOTHING I grew be wasted. So - when God gives you lots of black raspberries - you make black raspberry wine.

When and how did you get involved in the hobby?
After my childhood failures, I decided I needed to do some more research if I was going to make something drinkable.. Being fond of blackberry brandy - I decided to try to make some of that. I came across this incredibly easy sounding recipe on the internet ~
https://delishably.com/beverages/The-Best-Homemade-Blackberry-Brandy-Recipe
And it was actually very drinkable!

What was your first setup like and what is your current setup like?
So I picked up a couple books, then bought a basic kit - (carboy, hydrometer, primary fermenter, a couple airlocks, a corker, etc.) and started saving fruit. Soon I needed more....of everything. First a ph meter, then more carboys, more bottles, more airlocks, more storage space, a special counter to work on & cabinet to store stuff in, more books............. and on it grows.

How many batches have you done?
I didn't really get started until fall of 2016, but I started 10 batches that year. Spring of 2017, I made Dandelion Wine and started saving fruit & herbs from the garden. My wife got very sick last summer and fall, so it wasn't until she was well on her way to recovery that I was able to start making wine again. From just before Christmas to now I have 15 different wines in carboys and still have several more I want to start before spring & summer and the picking season begins.


Where has the hobby taken you?
Hmmmm - it hasn't "taken" me anywhere, but I have enjoyed learning something new. It allows me to make unique & interesting wines from the things I grow and things I harvest from the woods. Staghorn Sumac and Goldenrod wines are on the agenda for this year. You won't find those in the local wine shop!
Now, as we ride around on the bike - we have more appreciation of the nuances and differences in the different wines - which makes the wine stops even more interesting.
Gardener, outdoorsman, motorcyclist and now winemaker.
Well, that got longer than I intended. :dg
 

winemanden

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When I was in lodgings the landlady's 70 yr old Mum showed me how to make Old fashioned country wine, she had a cellar full of the stuff. I was married 1956 , and made my first wine in 57. I made a gallon of Beetroot, bottled it the way she showed me with corks loosely fitted. It was put on a shelf in the larder under the stairs until it was safe to push the corks home. We were listening to a radio show one evening, when from the direction of the larder, was a Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang. When the larder door was opened a cloud of white dust came out, blasted off the ceiling by the corks. My wife banned me after that, but I filtered the wine and recorked it. 18 months later we tasted a bottle the Father in Law had kept in his cold larder and the ban was lifted. I've been making it ever since. A wonderful hobby.

C J J Berry published his First steps in WInemaking in 1960, a lot of his recipes seem based on old country style wines but updated a bit.

By the way I updated my methods as I went along. No more drama, except for beer, but that,s another story.
 

winggolder33

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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?
Been making wine 30 years, about 150 gallons a year.. most bottled dry, a few semi or sweet for neophyte friends. Musician friends and self drink it all. Make colorful labels on computer. Have 15 Norton vines and 300 blackberry vines in backyard. I buy many pounds of grapes at area vinyards. Dp
 

Reign

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Been making beer since 1979 so I thought I would make some wine. Kits so far just to get the process down. I like it so far. I met a fellow beer maker and he had a huge inventory of home made wine. I think he makes more wine than beer by the look of it.
 

Chris Gibbs

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I grew up in the country in Georgia, and both of my grandparents had farms. Everyone I knew grew muscadines and scuppernongs, but everyone I knew was also southern Baptist. So we ate a lot of fresh grapes and muscadine jelly. I moved to the suburbs of Houston and once I bought a house, I planted some of the muscadine vines that reminded me of my youth. For the first couple of years we just ate fresh grapes and made jelly, but there was always a few pounds of grapes in the freezer left over. Last year I decided to try making a muscadine wine. I made only one gallon and I used a plastic milk jug as a fermenter. I recycled whiskey and bourbon bottles with t-corks to bottle. I didn't think too much of it at first, and I've always been a whiskey drinker myself. But one bottle made it to about 9 months old and it was absolutely amazing!

I now have a few glass carboys of different sizes and the basic wine making equipment. I've got one 6 gallon batch of Dragon's Blood under my belt and another in primary now. I've also got a little over 4 gallons of muscadine watermelon in secondary that I plan on bulk ageing to at least 8 months. I'm looking forward to this years muscadine harvest, as there will be much less jelly!!

Like some other posts here, this hobby has brought my wife and I closer. We visit wineries and vineyards wherever we travel, and we are both looking forward to leaving the 'burbs and retiring on a small vineyard. Hopefully in east Texas and hopefully native grape varieties.
 

iridium

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What is your winemaking story?

Started last year. Looking for something to be creative and realized I prefer wine over beer. I got involved when I got a master vintner small batch kit for my birthday with a cabernet sauvignon kit. Found this forum and then spent many happy hours reading various threads and learning even as I followed the directions on the kit. Since then, and I am not sure how, my carboys have multiplied, and I have added two different fermentation buckets.

For what I do, I have stuck to kits when it comes to grapes. So far all have turned out well. I am excited to get further into fruit winemaking and have tried an apple, blackberry and peach. I have access to a lot of free/cheap fruit and this seems like a great way to experiment.

I have done 4 batches with another four bulk aging. The hobby is just getting started, but what I like most is a flurry of activity and then months of ignoring it so I can do a lot of other things with life.

I also want to thank many on this forum for their advice and information. I hope to provide some back some day.
 

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