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Grape Stomper on Equipment



Basically, Winemaking involves four steps:

  1. Processing the ingredients
  2. Fermenting
  3. Bottling
  4. Aging
The equipment necessary for winemaking depends a bit on how involved you'd like to be in the hobby. Many winemakers produce their wine from concentrated wine grape juices, where the first step is already taken care of. These concentrates are reconstituted in the fermentor, the yeast is added, and the wine ferments. By this method, the size and amount of equipment needed is kept to a minimum, and a source of fresh, seasonal fruit is not necessary. Beginning and intermediate winemakers like to use concentrates because they are easy to use and reasonably fool-proof. Apartment dwellers like them because the equipment they require takes up little (precious) space. And advanced winemakers like concentrates because they are available everywhere year-round, as opposed to fresh fruits and grapes which have their growing areas and only seasonal availablity.

Fermentation of wine requires a fermentor (usually 5 to 6 gallons in size). Think of it taking up about as much space as the tank on a drinking water cooler. In fact, the standard storage vessel for winemaking, the 5 gallon glass carboy, is a basically just a glass version of those water tanks. Because the wine is transfered from one container to another during fermentation, at least two containers of this size are required. The ideal setup for a 5 gallon batch is two 5 gallon glass carboys and one glass or plastic fermentor of at least 6 gallons. So the space required is not too great. Although many winemakers dedicate part of their garage or basement to winemaking, the floor of a closet will work just as well!

Bottles may be purchased new, but you can re-use any of your standard commercial wine bottles, as long as you keep them clean and sterilize them before use. A 5 gallon batch of wine produces two cases of wine, or 24 bottles (750 ml size). Along with your new or used bottles, you'll need good new corks and a corker to insert them. With your fermentation equipment, bottles, and corking supplies, you've have all you need! You can find packeged equipment kits at most brew and wine supply houses.

Naturally, most winemakers eventually want to make wine with their local fruits or grapes. Because fresh fruit winemaking involves both the juice and the pulp, some larger equipment is necessary for this method. Generally, a 10 gallon primary fermentor is large enough to accomodate a 5 gallon batch of fruit/grape wine. Once primary fermentation is over, the pulp is removed, and the wine can be transfered to the same carboys used in concentrate winemaking. Switching from concentrates to fresh ingredients requres only a small additional investment.

WHAT EQUIPMENT WILL YOU NEED TO MAKE WINE?

Concentrate Winemaking System

With a `concentrate wine making system', the fermentation is started in the primary fermenter. The yeast is allowed to ferment for a period of 7-10 days before it is transferring it into the first carboy using the bottling tubing attached to the spigot. The spigot is located high enough to eliminate most of the yeast sediment. Once the wine is transferred to the carboy, the wine will continue to ferment for approximately 30 days before fermentation is completed. Clarity is achieved over the next 4-9 months by racking the wine every 30-60 days to eliminate the sediment. White and rose wines can be bottled between 5 & 9 months while red wines can be bottled between 6-12 months.
If extended aging is not desirable, clarity can be improved by "fining" the wine or filtering it.
At bottling, the wine can be transferred from the carboy into the bottling bucket (primary fermenter) where it can be sweetened to your own taste preference prior to dispensing it into bottles. Bottling is accomplished by attaching tubing to the spigot and the filler, which will control the flow into the bottles.

Most Concentrate Winemaking Kits contain the following:

  • 7 gallon Primary Fermenter & lid
  • Bottling Spigot
  • 5 gallon Glass Carboy
  • Carboy Brush
  • Airlock
  • # 7 drilled Stopper
  • Hydrometer
  • Racking Tube
  • 5' Siphoning Tubing or "Wine Thief"
  • Bottle Filler
  • Bottling Tubing
  • Instruction Book
  • Fresh Fruit Winemaking System

    The differences in the "concentrate" and the "fresh fruit" systems start with the handling of the fruit. Because there is a desire to keep the fruit in the "must", a larger fermenter is needed as well as a fruit bag to retain the fruit and aid in its easy removal at the end of the primary fermentation.

    With a `fresh fruit wine making system', the fermentation is started in the primary fermenter. The yeast is allowed to ferment for a period of 7-10 days before it is racked into the first carboy. The "must" should be stirred twice a day, morning and night to prevent the wine from turning to vinegar. During the time that the "must" is in the primary fermenter, you'll want to keep the plastic sheet secured by string to prevent airborne contaminates and fruit flies or knats from harming the wine. At the end of the primary fermentation, the fruit bag should be removed and as much of the juice pressed from it as possible. The wine can then be transferred to the first glass carboy by use of the racking tube and the 5 feet of tubing. Once the wine is transferred to the first carboy, the fruit wine will continue to ferment for approximately 30-45 days before fermentation is completed. Some winemakers will want to bottle the wine after 2-4 months; however, the quality of the wine will greatly improve if patients can be maintained and the wine is allowed to clear on its own through the racking process. Bottling most fruit wines no sooner than 6 months is highly recommended. Of coarse, clarity can be improved by "fining" the wine or by filtering, but keep in mind that filtering may reduce the flavor and the depth of color.

    At bottling, the wine can be transferred from the carboy into the primary fermenter where it can be stabilized and sweetened to your own taste preference prior to dispensing it into the individual bottles. Bottling will be accomplished by use of the racking tube, the siphoning flexible tubing and the tubing clamp to control the flow.

    Most Fresh Fruit Winemaking Kits contain the following:

  • 2) 7 gallon Primary Fermenter & lid
  • 2) Airlocks
  • 2) Nylon Fruit Bag w/drawstring
  • 2) 5 gallon Glass Carboy
  • # 7 drilled Stoppers
  • Hydrometer
  • Racking Tube
  • 5' Siphoning Tubing or "Wine Thief"
  • Bottle Filler
  • Bottling Tubing
  • Instruction Book
  • Can you really make good wine at home?

    Wines made from wine grape concentrate are very consistent, and usually produce a perfectly acceptable table wine--comparable, to an $8 wine out of California.

    Homemade fruit and grape wines are more susceptible to the whims of weather and the influence of the winemaking process. However, with good weather, quality ingredients, and careful winemaking methods, truly good wine can be produced. When you consider that homemade wine costs roughly $2 per bottle, or less, economy becomes another incentive to make your own wine.

    Whether from a concentrate or fresh fruit, wine just tastes better when you make it yourself!

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