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Wine Kit vs Wine Grape Juice Bucket?

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Throwdown

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Hi everyone, I'm new to winemaking over last 2 months or so and currently have 18 gallons from kits in the works (another one or two ready to go when I find more time). So far, loving my new hobby... except for all the patience, which is why I'm going to try to leave all of what I have started in carboys for as long as I can manage...

Anyways, I searched but couldn't seem to find a definitive answer. I'm not ready to step up to grapes, but I know some local brew stores over the next 1-2 months are having 6 gallon buckets of all grape juice ordered. What are the trade offs of using a 6 gallon bucket of grape juice? They seem to be priced in the 50-65 dollar range which for that output is pretty reasonable for what I would think to be potentially a better product as I would not be taking a concentrate and adding water (even the 2 WE Eclipse kits I've done thus far, Super Tuscan and Pinot Noir needed water). Pricing wise, this is less expensive than most kits with the exception of the cheap kits for 40ish.

The potential downfall I would think are that there could of course be variances in what you are getting, you would need your own yeast and other ingredients (but that is pretty cheap and I already have bought most for other recipes I plan to do), and some of the bolder reds don't have grape skins like the higher end kits.

Am I missing anything? Besides that buckets are not always available year round, seems like a no brainer to try as the process seems to be the same if not easier... bring bucket home, it's already at volume, get up to temp, pitch yeast, let ferment and take my readings. Any good guides out there for juice buckets? What are your thoughts?
 

Whitehrs

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I new, since the spring this year. but I am trying to find buckets near where I am. I would love to try a bucket.. So I would say get a bucket of good juice and go crazy.. Then wait a year or two to crack the bottles.. Next year same thing. This leaves you free to play around with stuff the rest of the year..
 

Noontime

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You hit the main difference...you don't know what you're getting. The kit manufacturers know where their grapes are coming from and have long term relationships, so they get consistent fruit. Your juice buckets may not have that consistency (I'm guessing it would depend on the supplier). The other related issue is the brix and ph... kits are adjusted appropriately, but your juice bucket may need adjustments. We did one bucket once and it came out OK...nothing great (pinot grigio). You also make a good point about red wines and grape solids... you won't be able to make a big red without the solids. There's certainly no reason NOT to try it, and you don't have to worry about any off flavors from concentrates.
 

Mismost

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Throwdown, to quote a politician "What difference does it make"? You're new to the sport, so do you really think you could tell the difference? I'm pretty new myself and doubt I could.

BUT...you seem to really want to try a bucket and I say ROCK ON BROTHER! Let 'er rip, getter done Son! I think for money, it is a cheap lesson...and then you will know more about it next time around. That's what I like about this game, we get to try new stuff...it may good, it may be bad, but it's ours.

The nearest buckets I have found are a 6 hour drive one way to Dallas...ain't gonna happen when FedEx will just sit the kit box on my porch! Go for it...but, we wanna hear all about it if you do!
 

Whitehrs

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My nearest is Dallas as well. About 5 hours west.. I am looking for someone who is closer. I think that little rock may have a guy who might be open to starting a club to buy option.
 

Noontime

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By the way Throwdown... great idea to start a few at the same time. It's my experience that wines need at least a year to really show what they're going to be like (and will get better over a few years and then start declining depending on storage). Although you can certainly enjoy them young, the more you have the longer you can let them mature. Your first few batches you'll burn through quick unless you have super human will power, so building up your "cellar" early is genius.
 

Throwdown

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By the way Throwdown... great idea to start a few at the same time. It's my experience that wines need at least a year to really show what they're going to be like (and will get better over a few years and then start declining depending on storage). Although you can certainly enjoy them young, the more you have the longer you can let them mature. Your first few batches you'll burn through quick unless you have super human will power, so building up your "cellar" early is genius.
Thanks -- I'll have to show my wife that comment :) I don't know if she yet agrees on my daily boxes, line of carboys and equipment and multiple going kits at the same time yet as genius.

But thanks everyone for the input, I don't know if anyone would have talked me out of trying it anyways, but you certainly solidified my decision to start a few of these as they arrive. I am going to also see if it possible to get a small selection of grapes from each type. They are selling them by the lug for those who wish to make from grapes of the same variety. Here's a link for those interested:

Looking at picking up Old Vine Zin and Cab Sauv (still deciding) from the CA shipments this month: https://www.keystonehomebrew.com/central-valley-grapes-juice/

and then a Montepulciano and something else from the Italian shipment in Oct : http://www.keystonehomebrew.com/authentic-italian-grape-juice/

Time to buy more carboys!
 

Scooter68

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My other half has mellowed some with aging - on the issue of my wine making. I am taking a 2-3 month break between batches. Good chance to gather my thoughts, read more and plan out future efforts. I have 3 cans of prepared (3 gallon batch cans) for Zinfandel, White Zinfandel, and a Reisling. Haven't made any grape based wines yet - been all fruits so far (Apple, Apricot, Blackberry, Black Rasberry, Black Currant, Blueberry, Peach, And Strawberry). Have enough Blueberries and BlackBerries for a few more small batches through the winter.

Point - after long lead in - The other half often views new hobbies as a waste of time until they see the end products as worthwhile. I found early on that she doesn't 'appreciate' the unusual flavors of wine 'in the making' so I now don't even offer to let her taste things until they are aged a bit and the edge is off. As other keep posting, many of us do special batches or completely adjust our batches for our families desires. After all if a friend really likes a very dry red wine and that's not on my list of wines I want to make, there are plenty great beverage stores where they can go to fulfill there desire. Peace on the home-front pays far bigger dividends.
 
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