Making Homemade Wine

I’ve been dying for some time to try making homemade wine. For the past four years, my cousins in New Jersey have been making some wonderful, earthy and natural, no-sulfites-added red wines.This past weekend we finally got the chance to join them in the wine-making process.

Sangiovese Wine

This was to be their biggest batch yet being that more friends and family got in on the wine making this year. 32 cases of California grapes, in total about 1200 lbs were picked up from Prospero’s in Pleasantville, NY.

Sangiovese grapes

Types & amounts of grapes for this batch:

  • 18 cases of Sangiovese
  • 6 Barbera
  • 6 Merlot
  • 2 Thompson

Good grapes, yeast and time

As it was described to me,¬†Sangiovese grapes will be the main flavor profile. The others, Barbera and Merlot, are to add body and volume. The two cases of Thompson are used for their sweetness as my cousins don’t add extra sugar to the mix which goes along with their “no additives” process. Just good grapes, yeast and an investment in time. Of course we won’t be tasting this vintage until after it’s bottled next year.

Grapes in crusher detail
Grapes going through the Crusher

Small-batch artisan wine

Being homemade this wine will have a shorter shelf-life; probably about a few years stored in proper conditions. I don’t mind a bit as we are regular imbibers. Small-batch artisan wine produced with care and without any unnecessary additives, like sulfites is something special. I have never gotten a hangover or headache from drinking my cousin’s wine. And I have to say it’s taste and flavor is better than anything we’ve ever bought at a store.

Now I have to admit here that I rarely buy a bottle of wine that costs more than say $15, so maybe a more expensive wine will taste as good as theirs? Maybe. My cousins have figured their wine to be about $4 a bottle after capital equipment costs. So I’m thinking farmstead winery .

Sangiovese in the crusher.
Crushed grapes going into the primary fermenter

The grapes will get mixed in the primary fermenter with yeast and will be allowed to sit for about a week. Afterwards it will be pressed and placed in oak barrels to soak, condense and mature.

Oak barrels

Will I try New York State grown grapes at some point? Absolutely. This is just the process they follow including sourcing grapes they have used over the years with excellent results.

So it seems a long way off but next year will be a post about the wine tasting – I hope to see you then… in the journey!

You can view more photos of Making Homemade Wine on Flickr.

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