Thursday, August 15, 2013

Making Wine for Nearly Nothing

We're wine drinkers in our family. We love it, and have at least a few times a week. Last time I took some wine, I realized we were almost out of wine! Today when I was at the grocery store, I nearly bought some wine for our family to use this week, because it is unthinkable for our stock to be completely depleted.
But then I stopped myself.
We may like wine, but we also hate wasting money. And why buy wine when you can make your own?
For the past 2 years, my family has been making all the wine that we drink. A year ago, we made our last batch of wine, and stored them in two large jerrycans that we got from a restaurant (they used to contain oil). Those two jerrycans lasted all year long, and now are on to their last dregs.
Perfect timing, because grapes are in season, and now we can again make wine as a family.
Practically free wine, other than the cost of sugar and minuscule amount of yeast.
The fermenting vessels we used last year ended up being repurposed into planters, so again I bought 2 large garbage cans made from food grade plastic for 6 dollars a piece. They're the best option because they're a fraction of the price of cheap fermenting buckets, but just as large, and come with a cover. And made of the same materials.

We have a neighbor with many grape vines bursting with organic grapes and she lets anyone who wants help themselves to the abundance there. So our grapes for our wine are free!

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This is how many grapes we picked today, for our first batch of wine. We'll probably end up making 2 more batches.

Once the grapes are picked, the first order of business is to sort through them, taking out the stems, the icky grapes, the bugs, etc... Its a very messy process! See how messy the floor gets in the process? It was mopped just before that! My skirt because a sticky mess, soaked with grape juice. In the pic, Mike is finishing up the last of the sorting out of the grapes...

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We divided the de-stemmed, and then washed grapes into two buckets to make the stomping of them easier. (Yes, we mopped the floor in between!)

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We scrubbed the boy's feet and legs very well, and then Ike and Lee stomped the grapes, mashing them to as fine a pulp as they could... Anneliese looks on, thinking that her brothers are being very silly... And probably just a little jealous that she couldn't be in there also, making a mess.

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When they did as much as they could, we removed the boys, cleaned them up, and then Mike and I mashed the rest of the grapes with our hands, then combined it into one bucket.

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To that, we added some sugar, water, and yeast, and set it aside to ferment for a week or two. We'll be "breaking the cap" twice a day to ensure that there is no mold growing on the top, and that it gets uniformly fermented...

For more details about how we made the wine, see my post on that from 2 years ago.

In the meantime, I'm zonked! That was hard physical labor today!

Are you wine drinkers? Have you ever made or had homemade wine? Do you ferment anything at home?


  1. Did you know that there is yeast already present on the skins? I make my wine without any yeast added. The fermentation takes a little longer, but the taste is cleaner

    1. I've debated doing that, but was concerned that without inoculating it with non wild strains of yeast, it would be more likely to turn into vinegar than if I did with yeast. But you inspired me. I think next batch I'll try inoculating with my ginger bug instead of with store bought yeast.

  2. I make honey wine (or more technically, "mead") with honey I get from my brother in law. I will also throw in whatever fruit I have around to give it a little extra flavour. So far, cherry mead and apple mead.

  3. I am lucky to live where there are stores that allow me to make wine. I buy their juice, toss in the yeast and my job is done until it is time for me to bottle it. It does cost more than yours but I don't have the space and I have cats who are indiscriminate about shedding their hair. It costs more than yours but it is at least 75% cheaper than buying wine.

  4. The wine making looks messy & fun... I am sure my kids would love doing that too! We don't drink wine, but we ferment to make kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, beets, pickles, etc.

  5. We make wine for the passover holidays once a year--without yeast water or sugar and it is heavenly. We would do it the whole year ecxept we find it too labour intensive


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