We started making our own wine about 20 years ago. I don't drink wine but always wanted to try my hand at it. My motto is: If it can be done, I'm gonna try it! So, I visited with the local vintner from Post Wineries in Arkansas. He basically told me how to do it. Now everyone loves our wines.
We make mainly Concord grape, but have also made purple muscadine, white muscadine, blackberry, strawberry, elderberry, choke-cherry, blueberry, mustang grape, pear & watermelon wines in the past.
The 3 enemies of wine are: Heat, light & air. So, pick a cool place to do it, keep covered tightly & keep
1Pick your grapes when they are at their ripest but not starting to dry out on vine.
2Stem & wash the grapes.
3Run through a Victorio strainer with a grape spiral & the pumpkin screen attached. Or, if you are up to it, play like Lucy & stomp with clean feet or squeeze by hand, but I don't recommend the feet!
Don't squeeze with anything that will cause the seeds to be broken. They contain tannin & this has a very bitter taste & will ruin your wine. The Victorio strainer does not do this, nor does by hand do it.
4Place in clean 5 gallon bucket, the juice & all the seeds, pulp & skins. Only fill up to about 5" from top, as it will work & rise.
5Crush a campden tablet with mortar & pestle. In a drinking glass, put about 1 cup of tepid water, the Campden tablet & one package of Montrachet yeast. Stir & let set for about 5 minutes.
6Now, pour into the grape squeezings. Using a clean hand & arm, stir the bucket good to incorporate the yeast mixture well.
7Place black plastic trash bag on top of pail & secure with rubber band string. Place pail in a dark cool place. Put a heavy piece of cardboard under it in case of spillage.
8We start ours in the am hours. This will ferment in the pail for about 4 days. Each day at the same time & twice a day, you will need to stir it with your hand & really good to keep all the squeezings working.
So, we start ours at say 7:00 am & then every day for the next 4 days, we stir it at 7:00am & 7:00pm
9After 4 days, using the mesh bag, squeeze the mash into clean 6 gallon pail. Discard the squeezin's.Take the alcohol potential level with the hydrometer. It should be 0% at this time. You want to bring it up to around 12%-13%. We have found that it takes about 2# sugar to each gallon of liquid to do this. You should have about 3 gallons of liquid after squeezing. Add 2 gallons of the spring water with it to make 5 gallons of liquid. Therefore, you should need 10# sugar to the 5 gallons of liquid.
Stir with a long handled wooden spoon until all sugar is dissolved. At this time, take another reading. It should read about 12%-13% alcohol potential.
10Place funnel on 5 gallon carbouy & pour the wine into the carbouy. It will not all fit. You need to leave room for it to work. Just bring it up to the last line before the neck of carbouy (refer to picture). Place the stopper in it. In the airlock valve, drop in one campden tablet & then the little percolator thing. Fill this half full with spring or distilled water. Place the lid on airlock valve & place the valve in the cork on bottle. It should start to perk rather quickly. Now, just put in cool, dark place for about 1 month.
11After 1 month, it will slow down or stop all together perking. Ours was perking once per minute when we racked it.
This means all your sugar has been turned into alcohol. You are going to RACK the wine now to get it going again. To do this, you will strain it into a 5 gallon pail that has a tea towel over the top with your string/rubber band tie. Indent it slightly in the middle like a pool. Pour wine through this to strain.
12Take your potential alcohol level reading again. It should read 0% again or close. You will need to bring it back up to 10%. Don't add more water, but do add enough sugar to bring it back up. Stir until dissolved.
So, if it's reading 0%, you will need about 10# of sugar to the 5 gallons of liquid to do this. If it reads 2% to start with, use about 8# & then check it until you have it where you need it.
13Pour back into clean carbouy & replace the same airlock & place in cool dark place. Allow to work until it stops the perking process. This could take up to a few months.
14When the perking stops, pour wine into 5 gallon pail.
15Follow directions on your bentonite & add to wine in pail.
Also, mix 1/2 tsp. per gallon of Potassium Sorbate. Follow directions on bottle for mixing it. Add to wine also.
16Return to clean carbouy & place airlock back on. Let set for at least 24 hours, but 2 days is better.
17Now, you are ready to bottle. Strain wine into 5 gallon pail that is covered with tea towel again & pour wine into pail.
18Now, using a funnel, & small pan, but not aluminum or cast iron, pour the wine into bottles & cork or use the screw on lids. Store in cool dark place. It is ready to drink. Enjoy!