Erin Doman on February 17, 2016 1 Comment Enthusiasts across the globe are starting to turn away from traditional store bought bottles of wine and are beginning to dabble in the art of making homemade wine. On the surface, the process may seem extremely intimidating and overwhelming. After all, mass produced wines come from multi-acre-large vineyards and require teams of people for each step of the winemaking process, none of which you probably have access to. However, creating a delicious and unique varietal may be much easier than you think. Homemade versions possess no pressure for a perfect or marketable product, and throughout the process, you are able to create a variety that perfectly satisfies your pallet. The only goal is to share a good bottle with friends and family. Here are a few things that can help you get started on your home winemaking adventure. 1. Finding Grapes Grapes are the most important element of the process. You have likely overheard or entered a conversation on the success of a particular crop during a plentiful year. The price of a bottle is largely dependent upon the quality of the fruit. It may be tempting to grow your own grapes. However, growing your own grapes can be a significant struggle with a lot of blood, sweat and tears (and time, land and money). If you are prepared for this struggle, then certainly go for it, but know that there are plenty of other ways to find the quality fruit you require. Try asking around at some local vineyards if they can help you out. Some vineyards will allow people to purchase a small allotment of grapes once they have picked the vines themselves. However, you may not want to simply take the leftovers. If you want to look elsewhere, there are many smaller growers that sell fruit, and you can find out about potential sources through word of mouth, and some organizations provide hobbyists with lists of grape sources. Overall, look for quality and be open to the variety. 2. Starting Small As a beginning winemaker, you do not want to get in over your head. It can be an extensive process, and it requires a lot of time and care. As such, be careful not to commit to too much and completely overwhelm yourself. Instead begin with one or two 7-gallon jugs and the equipment recommended for your batch size. Once you have tested out a small batch, you can determine if you are ready for everything involved. As you get started, there are also a number of resources that can help you with your first wine. Joining a club or organization with other makers can help you understand and address potential issues. It can also be helpful to attend fairs and talk to growers from larger vineyards. Once you have some knowledge and experience, you can begin to tackle bigger projects. 3. The Science of Fermentation While the specific recipes and techniques may vary, winemaking boils down to the act of fermentation. Therefore, the most important thing to understand when crafting your own recipe is the science behind fermentation. Ultimately, the formula for alcoholic beverages comes down to the sugar and yeast levels ultimately equally the carbon dioxide and alcohol levels in the final product. Therefore, wine is created through the interaction between the sugar in grapes and yeast. During fermentation, you need to be careful to prevent contamination from additional yeasts and toxins in the air. To prevent this you need to put an airlock on your vessel, which allows carbon dioxide to escape without letting oxygen in. After the alcohol level has reached roughly 14 percent, your beverage is ready to be bottled and enjoyed. 4. Importance of Yeast Because yeast is an essential part of the fermentation process, you want to understand it and make sure you are using the correct variety. Yeast is a naturally occurring particle that multiples when it comes into contact with food in a moist and warm environment. While some yeasts result in the creation of a tasty glass, some result in a terrible tasting product. Therefore, when you are creating your wine, you want to make sure that you are promoting the delicious yeast while muting the less desirable kind. 5. Be Creative When making wine at home, you have the opportunity to add a little more variety and creativity and the opportunity to really put your personality into your product. Because grapes are expensive and hard to come by, you want to be open to the varieties that you use. As such, you can utilize new grapes as well as combine various different types to create an interesting red or white blend. In addition, you can add different herbs and flowers to your batches, creating new and interesting flavors. While staying true to the yeast and sugar recipe, you can incorporate various herbs and extracts to your blends. Half of the fun of creating a homemade product is the experimentation. 6. Handling Expense Unfortunately, buying the right equipment and crafting your own varietal can be an expensive endeavor. However, joining an organization that supports home production can be beneficial in minimizing expense. These groups can provide lists for the best places to buy winemaking supplies and may even offer coupons and discounts. In addition, they can help you with guidance and advice to make sure that you create the best product available without wasting money. 7. A Little More Help & Guidance The basics may still seem a little overwhelming and confusing. If you are not ready to fully dive in quite yet, there are many winemaking kits that can be purchased to help you get started. Some provide everything you need while others simply provide the right yeast packet and instructions to get you going. Additionally, some vineyards and bars offer courses that you can attend to get hands on experience with the direct guidance of an expert. Once you have gotten your hands dirty with these starters, you may be more prepared to tackle the process on your own. 8. Share Your Hard Work Once you have finally created the perfect bottle, it is time to share your success. The best part of the process is inviting friends and family over to share a glass. Your new wine can also make the perfect host/hostess gift when you attend a party, and many enthusiasts trade with other hobbyists, exchanging tips along with varietals. In the end, sharing your product is the best part of the endeavor. While at first the winemaking process may seem a little overwhelming, it can be a fun and rewarding task. You just need some good grapes, a little yeast, a touch of guidance and some good friends to share it with.