I have several friends who over the years have made their own wine, schnapps , sherry’s and flavored liquors. I just never thought that I would be one of them. About a year ago I realized that I use a lot of wine to cook with. So I decided to make my own for half the cost. I do not regularly drink red wine as I am allergic to something in the tannin’s of the red grapes but love a lighter and sweater white wine with dinner or when out with friends. So why not make home-made wines to drink and cook with. My home-made wines would keep me from getting allergic headache and would still be pleasant to cook with. West Virginia is also over run with natural wild ingredients that cost very little to make into a favorable wines.
The idea for making home-made wine deepened this Christmas holiday when a friend shared some of her wonderful apple liquor with us. When I asked where she bought it I was given a typical Hill Billy response… ” At the getten place”. Meaning that she was not telling me who or where the wonderful “hooch” coming from. Years of moon shining and prohibition in these mountains still make folks around here suspicious of sharing this kind of information.When I asked if their was more for sale I just got a laugh and a ” Maybe”… meaning if I had enough money I might be able to get some but mostly I should just enjoy the evening and forget about getting my hands on this hand-made treasure. This just sparked the fire and the thoughts began, “I can make this, I am sure I can do this”!
After talking with several people I have compiled at list of what a beginner wine maker needs and what is just handy to have to make two simple wines over the course of the summer. I will include this list at the bottom of this post. The two wines I hope to make are Dandelion wine with out a grape base and Elderberry wine. I see no reason to make myself sick so I will not use grapes in these two versions. I also will make about 5 gallons of Apple cider vinegar with the same ingredients and containers. I also find that using fresh and free ingredients makes this project cost-effective. This project should only cost a dollar or two a bottle when done with an end result of 10 gallons of wine and 5 gallons of vinegar.
I also recommend reading about fermentation and what you can achieved just in your own kitchen. I have found vast amounts of help through reading and on the internet that will help me as I progress through this new adventure.
This is a photo of all the basic equipment is all I need to start a small batch of home-made wine.
In this photo I have two five gallon buckets, a five gallon carboy with filtered water, 10 feet of 3/8 inside diameter vinyl hose, One universal stopper for carboy with hole for air lock, air lock, 3 packages of yeast, 12 bottles with screw tops. The three other items that you may want to add to your list that I still need to pick up sometime in a future shopping trip are.
This additive stops fermentation so you can add sweeteners if the wine is to dry.
The Campden tablets prevent wild yeast and bacteria from growing in the wine. This will stop mold growth and wine from turning to vinegar. A must have if you are making hard apple cider and many grape wines with low acid content.
Then lastly a Hydrometer to measure the alcohol/ sugar content of the wine so you have enough sugar for fermentation and to track of the amount of finished alcohol per batch.
With all of this new never used equipment I would say I have about 100 dollars in everything inculding shipping. Some of these things we got local and some we ordered on-line. I am making one more trip to a local store in the next couple of weeks to get the campden tablets and hydrometer for the dandelion wine. The potassium-sorbate I will not need until I make the Elderberry wine later in the summer, it will needed when I add additional sweeteners and I hope to use organic honey for my sweetener.
I am still learning and with friends from a local winery maybe I can skip some of the most common made mistakes and share them here with all of you. So tomorrow I head over to Lambert’s vintage wines to get some first hand tips and recommendations from a family that started their vineyard in their kitchen a decade ago and now have a thriving business. I hope to share some of the beautiful photos from their winery and interview one of the owners. Maybe by the fall I will have a well stocked shelf of home make wines like these and some custom labels to go one them.