Wine lover becoming winemaker

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Kevin B

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Hello all,

My name is Kevin and I currently live in Carlisle, PA. I am originally from California central coast and have lived all over the US serving our military. As a California native I learned to love wine early. I have had a chance to drink some amazing CA wines and developed a deep love for those bold Zins from the Lodi region.

I have lived on the east coast for the last 3 years and have had a hard time finding wines with the deep complexity of some of those available at home. (Though I have founds some local wines I really like) I decided that if I couldn't find the wines I like then I might as well try my hand at making them.

I have been making wine for a little over a year now and have stuck to kits. I have made 5 in my first year and each turned out really well. This year I plan to at least double my production and venture into wine from fresh juice and source some local grapes this fall. I have a lot to learn and still know very little, but like with each other hobby I get into, I do as much reading and studying as I can to improve my knowledge. This forum has been a huge help since the beginning and will be so for as long as I continue my winemaking journey.

Cheers all and thanks for the help!
 

Rice_Guy

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Welcome to WMT
Complexity is a balancing act, some comes from growing, some is variety, some from process decisions and I would say a lot is dumb luck as a good crop year. There is a tool called a “wine flavor wheel”, this may help you put names on flavors which can help in learning how to control this world.
 

TD Fermenting

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Welcome to the community. I am in the same experience place as you are, and have found a lot of help here at WMT. We had our first visit to Paso Robles and SLO right before the pandemic shut everything down and really enjoyed all of it! I actually started with “The way to make wine” by Sheridan Warwick which had been gathering dust for a while. After reading it I started with some kits this summer, then found “Techniques in Home Winemaking” by Daniel Pambianchi and some online classes. Being on the west coast I’m lucky to have access to some great frozen must from WineGrapesDirect and have both a Sauv Blanc and Cab Sauv in production from grapes now. I’m not sure I can get the rest of my life organized enough to work with fresh grapes next fall, but that is the ultimate goal ( beyond learning, sharing, and tasty wine). No real duds so far and family and friends are drinking it so life could be a whole lot worse!
Thanks again to all the members who share and contribute!
 

BernardSmith

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Hiya, Kevin B - and welcome.
Your local home brew store may be able to obtain for you manageable quantities of fresh grapes even from the west coast. I live in upstate NY and my LHBS was able to get me a few lugs of Sangiovese grapes from California this fall.
 

Kevin B

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Thanks for the reply! Paso Robles has some amazing Cabs! I have also looked at winegrapesdirect and look to grab some frozen sauv blanc from them as well. I am a big white wine drinker in the summer so Sauv Blanc is my jam... not a huge fan of buttery Chards. I like the crispness and citrus notes in Sauvs. I am also looking to get my hands on some local Albarino grapes. A few vineyards grow them here. They also produce heavily in Cab Franc so looking to work with that also.

Will check out thise books you mentioned. Thanks for the suggestions.

Cheers
 

Kevin B

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Thanks! I do plan to do the research early to see what I may be able to get my hands on out here. Would love Lodi, Paso, and Amador/El Dorado grapea.
 

Glidewaves

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Kevin,
Have you looked up Gino Pinto in Hammonton NJ? I buy grapes from them in the Spring (Chile & S. Africa) and of course in the Fall they have a great selection from CA. I'm in MD and started a couple years ago and am pretty pleased with their fruit.
 

CDrew

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Thanks for the reply! Paso Robles has some amazing Cabs! I have also looked at winegrapesdirect and look to grab some frozen sauv blanc from them as well. I am a big white wine drinker in the summer so Sauv Blanc is my jam... not a huge fan of buttery Chards. I like the crispness and citrus notes in Sauvs. I am also looking to get my hands on some local Albarino grapes. A few vineyards grow them here. They also produce heavily in Cab Franc so looking to work with that also.

And I can highly recommend WGD and their Sauvignon Blanc. If you check my 2020 thread, you'll see I used their SB and it's already turned into a nice wine, I'm just waiting for it to clear, and plan to bottle in the spring. When you order from them, ask for the 2 box packaging which is better insulated and I think less likely to be damaged.

And you may have seen Morewine's wine making guides which are a fantastic free resource:


 

Kevin B

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@CDrew thanks for the reply. Just read through your 2020 thread and looks like you have been busy! Your remarks on the WGD customer service and quality sold me. I had looked into them but was sort of on the fence. I will be interested to see how that Sauv Blanc/Semillon blend turns out.
 

TD Fermenting

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@Kevin B, I have been very happy with WGD service and product. I have some of their 2020 Sauv Blanc sur lies in a 5 Gal carboy and will clarify and bottle in the next 3 weeks. I have a 5 gal pail of Cab Suav that fermented in a week, added MLB when SpGr was done to 1.010 and then hand-pressed with a mesh bag. Yield was only just over 3 gallons, so its all in 1 gallon carboys and with oak cubes right now, hopefully going through slow MLF. I realize that a real press will get me more juice, but went with the free-run hypothesis as a convenient excuse. Will likely buy a press ($110 on amazon, $40 to rent at my local HBS) for next batches.
No real airlock bobbles, but tiny bubbles on the oak cubes in the neck of the carboys. Planning on letting in sit on oak for at least three months and then checking on MLF either with test strips or chromatography.
The one learning point for me was that 5 gal of grapes is not close to 5 gal of wine, and I didn't want to top with that much extraneous wine so I went to 1 gallon carboys.
Will get multiple juice pails next time (prob 3 to fill 2 x 5 gallon Carboys) and end up with a blend after primary fermentation, which is the goal anyhow. Any other thoughts appreciated!
 

Kevin B

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Thanks for the info regarding WGD. I will definitely be trying that Sauve Blanc. Good point about being aware of how much wine will actually be produced. Seeing as I have all 6 gallon Carboys it looks like I will meed to grab me a 5 gallon. I too am looking to buy a press as I move into fresh grape wine. I am not a fan of adding a ton of other wine (aka store bought) to top up either. I want my end product to be all my own. I am looking at getting the AIO pump to pull a vacuum on carboys to eliminate O2 in the headspace for that reason.
 

CDrew

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For the white wine at least, you can use the buckets for primary. The lids seal very well. So drill a hole and fit an airlock.

WGD ships a bit over 5 gallons, so on racking it exactly fills a 5 gallon carbon.
 
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