Any vintners on the boards? We're nearing harvest time....

This’ll be my second year of making wine. Last year I made my first batch of pear wine and it turned out pretty good (dry and a little high in alcohol-13.5%), 'cept it might have been a little high in the acid deptartment (I’d get mild heart burn after a couple of glasses).
This year I want to try to catch the fruit a little earlier and juice it.
I`ve got a pear tree, two apple trees and a very large grape vine that could probably support about a six gallon batch of wine.
I’ve also got Kiwi, but I doubt they could be used to make wine…
I’m entertaining thoughts about mixing fruit. Maybe grape/pear or apple/grape, or some such combination. Anyone have any experience or helpful hints for the beginning vintner? Any good links/message boards would be appreciated too.

Or, you could just brag about your past successes and throw some tips my way. :smiley:

Bottling and making the costum labels on the printer was a hoot, and the whole setup including the startup ingredients was less than $100.

Well, this’ll be my fourteenth year of making wine professionally, so I might be able to answer some questions for you. It sounds like you were pretty successful the first time around, so what is it you want help with?

Did you add acid to this? I don’t think of pears as being a high-acid fruit. Make sure you’re tasting the juice before you make any additions or corrections, and let your palate guide you rather than relying on recipes or other instructions. If it doesn’t taste right before you start, it’s not going to be any better when it’s finished.

There’s a guy down the road who brings me samples of his homemade wines from time to time, usually wants me to test alcohol content. The more memorable efforts involved parsnips, celery, and Lipton’s tea. Fortunately they weren’t all in the same batch.

Thanks for posting.

One of my questions is going to be; Can you mix fruit to make a blended wine?. If so, how and when do you mix the fruits (before you start or after each fruit has become wine).
Why was the pear wine appear acidic?, And how and when do I knock down the acid content. I don’t think I added any acid to the wine, but I can’t remember for sure, the starter kit came with the ingredients and I added them per the recipe which I don’t have in front of me right now.

I did taste test the wine all along the process but I just sampled enough to get an idea, like maybe a teaspoon per day, not enough to really tell if it would be acidic or not.

I’m going to have to get a few more carboys this year because I’ll have several batches going at once. The good thing is I’ve got a really good supply store for wine making about five miles from my house.

WCStyles- what makes you a professional? Do you make more than X amount of gallons of wine per year and therefore need a permit or some such thing? Sounds like a cool gig. I could definitely get into that. Everyone that tried the first batch liked it (or so they say) I made about 20 bottles and gave most of them away as Christmas gifts.
I froze six gallons of pear juice from last years pears, could I use that to make wine this year too, or should I wait for the current crop to ripen?

I understand that Lissa and ShirleyUjest make their own wine too (from searching old threads).
You guys have any comments?

Sure, you can mix fruits. It would be easiest for you just to blend the juices before you start.

I wouldn’t think that pears would require any sort of acid reduction. I can only speculate that one of the ingredients in the kit was some sort of acid (probably tartaric). Once you have a few batches under your belt, you’ll start getting an idea when to follow recipe instructions and when they can be safely ignored.

The frozen juice should be fine. If you start the wine now, it’ll give you something to drink during harvest!

I work at a commercial winery producing around 3500 cases per year, where I’m responsible for every aspect of production from vineyard management to bottling. My business card says, “Winemaker”.


I believe I’ve got Concord grapes growing on the vine right now, any recipes for such a grape that you would recommend?

What’s really crazy is that the guy that owned the house before me allowed the grapes to grow up and into the nearest apple tree via the fence that supports the vine and the branches of the apple tree that bend down towards the fence.
Visitors don’t even notice the vines extending from the fence to the apple tree branches unless I point them out. So, at first glance, it looks like I have an apple/grape tree. Kinda cool, except I need a twelve foot step ladder to get to the grapes.

When should grapes be picked and juiced?

As grapes ripen, sugar levels are rising and acidity is falling. The time to pick is when the fruit seems to have the right balance. You can rely on your palate to tell you when this is. Of course threatening weather or animal depredation sometimes helps to speed the decision along. Deer are a big problem here; but if your fruit’s twelve feet up in an apple tree, you shouldn’t have to worry about anything but birds.

You might want to get hold of a book called “From Vines to Wines” by Jeff Cox. It’s a good resource for the home winemaker in that it provides guidance more than a set of instructions. Helped pique my interest in the business back in the late 80’s.

WCStyles, my BIL used to be the winemaker at Commonwealth, that wouldn’t be where you are now, by chance? He’s up in Long Island now, and started his own large contract winery and is the winemaker for another winery.

If you have too many you could always send some down to me in Florida :). We seldom get Concords even during picking season.

Vintners in the SF Bay Area might want to take a look at CrushPad.
Crushpad is a community winery located in the heart of San Francisco. At Crushpad you can create your own ultra premium wines without moving to wine country and building a winery. Whether you are a professional winemaker looking for custom crush or a wine enthusiast that wants to make your own wine for the first time, Crushpad is for you.

Pretty nifty.

Only if you promise to make wine out of them. :wink:

Why no Concords in Florida?, climate thing?

I took a close look at the vines last night and the grapes look Extremely healthy. Must be all the rain we got this spring.

Yes, it’s definitely a climate thing. Even if you could grow them I wouldnt think the soil and the climate would support the crispness required.

But to tell the truth, I’ve never had Concord wine! And I don’t particularly like non-sweet wines, but I would imagine Concord wine would be semi-sweet but probably the best non-sweet wine I ever tasted.

But fresh Concord grapes straight from the vine into my mouth…mmmmm.

Do you mean Dominion? I don’t think there’s ever been a “Commonwealth” winery in VA. At any rate, that ain’t it. Your BIL named Harold, by any chance?

And Ludovic, Concords are really a northern variety. My only experience with the grape is the one vine in my backyard that I try to ignore so I don’t take my work home with me. I usually make jelly from it if the deer don’t get to it first. (They have a four-year winning streak at this point.)

Bah, obviously you know they aren’t a Florida thing. Guess it would behoove me to read a little more closely before responding.

Wah!!! The little local store where I purchase my wine making things is going out of business.

I went by today to get some yeast, nutrient, fermentation locks, and so on, and found out that unless he finds a buyer by September, he’s closing down. He’s retired, and wants to spend more time at a winter home in Texas.

Ale-n-Vino is a one stop shopping place for any brewing or fermenting needs. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it. I’m going to be assisting my boss to make apple wine(I’m experienced at it, he isn’t) and needed to get some more stuff. I think I’m going to advise my boss to get the 5-gallon fermentation bottle , plus two or three cases of bottles for the finished product.

Damn! Don’t these wonderful little places know they aren’t supposed to change?

Dominion, that’s it. He worked at Commonwealth in MA before that. Not Harold, Russell. He’s an Aussie.