Adventures in Winemaking

So, we made a bumper crop of grapes in July, and naturally our thoughts turned to winemaking. Because, really, just how much jelly CAN one make? From the three varieties we have now, we picked, cleaned, then juiced until we wound up with NINE gallons of juice!


IMG_0837-0We’re not sure what variety this grape is, but they are tiny little grapes that made the most luscious, blush-pink juice; I’m calling them my Champagne grapes. They made gorgeous jelly, (see Cookbook, Condiments for my jelly recipe); can’t wait to make some wine with them.


These are Concord; and below are Thompson Seedless


It took the better part of two days to get all these grapes picked, cleaned, de-stemmed, and another couple of days to get them all steamed. We stored 9 gallons of juice in the freezer until February of 2015, when we decided to start our “Adventures in Wine-Making.”

Arrowhead Vineyards Inaugural Wine Run

For our first attempt, we are trying to produce five gallons of red wine from our Concord juice and five gallons of white wine from our Thompson Seedless juice.
First we assembled all our supplies. Here’s what we found we needed:
1 gallon frozen Concord grape juice, thawed                      From the Brew Hut:
1 gallon frozen Thompson seedless grape juice, thawed            2 5-gallon glass carboys
2 5-gallon orange plastic (Igloo) water canisters                2 fermentation locks
with lids and spigots at the bottom                              2 rubber stoppers
5 gallons bottled spring water (don’t use distilled)             a hydrometer
20 lbs. granulated sugar                                        4 oz. BTF Iodophor Sanitizer
4-cup glass measuring cup 1 oz. Pectin Enzyme Powder
2 metal shish-ka-bob skewers 2 oz. Campden tablets
White kitchen string 4 oz. Fermax Yeast Nutrient
2 4-foot lengths plastic tubing (siphon hose) 3 oz. Acid Blend
1.5 oz. Tannin Powder
2 (5 g.) packets RC212 wine yeast
2 (5 g.) packets D47 wine yeast



Getting Started:
Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015

Clean and sterilize all canisters, tools, and supplies you’ll be using with a solution of one gallon tap water to 2 tbsp. BTF Iodophor Sanitizer. Swish the solution around the canisters and lids, submerse all tools and supplies in the solution and allow to air-dry. Do not towel-dry.


We used two 5-gallon orange water containers as our primary containers. In each sterilized water container, pour 2 gallons of grape juice.
In a four-cup glass measuring cup combine the chemicals; crush the tablets before adding. Add enough water to form slurry; pour into the grape juice and stir with a large long-handled spoon.

For Red(Concord grape juice) For White (Thompson seedless grape juice)

2 ½ tsp. pectin enzyme 8 tsp. acid blend

5 tsp. acid blend 1¼ tsp. tannin

5 tsp. Fermax Yeast Nutrient 5 tsp. Fermax Yeast Nutrien

5 Campden tablets, crushed 5 Campden tables, crushed

In a large pitcher, mix half the sugar and enough water to dissolve it. Add to the grape juice; stir with large long-handled spoon. Repeat with the other half.

For Red (Concord grape juice) For White (Thompson seedless grape juice)

16 cups granulated sugar 12 cups granulated sugar
(about 8 lbs.) (about 6 lbs.)

Add enough water to fill each of the canisters to about 6 inches from the top.
Test with the hydrometer, adding sugar to achieve a Specific Gravity (SG) reading of 1.090.
Cover canisters loosely (we just set the plastic lids on top of the canisters, but didn’t screw them on) and place in a warm, dry area for about 24 hours. We didn’t want them to leak, so we set them inside our foyer closet. We put a beach blanket on the floor and two metal baking sheets on top of that. Then we carefully placed each canister on top of one of the baking dishes. This worked well to capture drips and overflow when we added the yeast and it began fermenting.

Monday, Feb. 9, 2015

Dissolve 2 (5gram) packets of yeast in ½ cup water and stir into the grape juice concoction. The yeast will float to the top, but that’s okay, the fermentation process will begin.

For Red (Concord grape juice) For White (Thompson seedless grape juice)

RC 212 red wine yeast D47 white wine yeast

Cover very loosely (VERY loosely, since fermentation will cause the solution to foam up, possibly over the top) and allow to ferment for 5-7 days or until fermentation has slowed almost to a stop. Do not stir, but check daily. Foaming and fizzing should be happening along with a strong rotting fruit smell, so be prepared (all my coats in the foyer closet smelled like rotten fruit).


Sunday, February 15, 2015 First Racking

Sterilize the glass carboys, stoppers, fermentation locks, funnel, measuring cups, siphon hoses, and shish-ka-bob skewers in iodine solution and allow to air-dry.
Place carboys on low chairs, stools, or on the floor, and place the primary containers on counter-top or table above them.
Float the hydrometer in each of the wine-filled containers and make sure the SG reads 1.040 or less. If not, it’s not ready for racking. Gotta be patient, so wait a few more days.

Crush 5 Campden tablets in a small amount of water and pour into the carboy; repeat with the other carboy.
Using two short lengths of kitchen string, tie one of the shish-ka-bob skewers to one end of one of the siphon hoses, extending the point of the skewer about an inch or so longer that the end of the hose. This will weigh the hose down, but keep it off the bottom and out of the bottom sediment. This is why you can’t use the spigot at the bottom of the canister; it will allow too much air and bottom sediment into the carboy. It’s much better to siphon.
Blow on the other end of the hose, gently blowing air bubbles in the wine, then suck until a siphon starts. Carefully place the end of the hose into the glass carboy (you may want to use the funnel in the carboy, but we didn’t) and let it siphon into the carboy. Make sure to stop before it drains completely, and don’t let any of the bottom sediment transfer to the carboy.


Repeat with the other canister and carboy.
We siphoned a small amount of both into shot glasses just to see what we had:

Red (Concord grape juice) White (Thompson seedless grape juice)

Light pink, watermelon color Cloudy white peach color

Acid tasting, but sort of sweet Tingly acid taste, left an astringent taste on the

Yeasty, fruity smell tongue, not really bitter, but almost

Very little smell



We set the carboys back in the foyer closet on a beach towel and inserted the rubber stoppers. The wine continued to fizz and foam for a few more days, so we waited to put the fermentation locks until the fizzing stopped.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s