Equipment

  • 1 bucket of juice
  • 2 five-gallon glass carboys (fermenters)
  • Carboy brush
  • Carboy handle (optional but recommended)
  • 1 gallon glass jug
  • 1 Hydrometer (determines alcohol by density)
  • 1 Bottle filler
  • Siphon set-up (racking cane and 5 feet of flexible hose
  • 2 no. 6.5 drilled rubber stoppers (for carboy fermenters)
  • 1 no. 6 drilled rubber stoppers (for 1-gallon jug)
  • 2 airlocks
  • 30 corks
  • 2 Cases of 750 ml bottles
  • 2 packet of yeast

Instructions

To kill the wild yeast found in grape juice, add 1 campden tablet per gallon or ¼ tsp. of metabisulphite to 6 gallons of juice. Allow the juice to sit for six to twelve hours before adding yeast.

Take your first hydrometer reading. It indicates how much fermentable sugars are available for the yeast to consume. Write down this reading so you can calculate your alcohol percentage.

When you are ready to add your yeast, measure 2 oz. of water for each 5-gram packet of yeast. Bring the water to a boil and then allow to cool in a Pyrex measuring cup. Once the water has cooled to 95F, add the yeast and cover the cup with aluminum foil. Allow it to it sit without stirring for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir with a sanitized spoon to dissolve the yeast.

Next, add the yeast into the juice bucket and mix thoroughly either by stirring with a sanitized spoon or shaking the bucket vigorously. Place a piece of heavy duty plastic wrap over bucket, securing it with a rubber band or Bungee cord.

Let it ferment until the hydrometer reading is below 1.030, usually within 1 week. By this point the fermentation will shows signs of slowing.

Siphon (see below) the wine from the bucket into a sanitized and sulphited (see below) 5 gallon glass fermenter. Since you are starting with six gallons, siphon the remaining wine into a gallon jug. Both should be topped with an airlock which, when partially filled with water, allows fermentation gas to escape but keeps out wine-spoiling oxygen and bacteria.

In a month or two you will need to siphon the wine from the 5 gallon fermenter into another sanitized and sulphited 5 gallon glass fermenter and top off with some of the leftover gallon. You may want to repeat this again in another three months when a good amount of sediment (about an inch) is sitting on the bottom of the fermenter.

When the wine is completely done fermenting and the hydrometer reading is down to .990, it is time to bottle. Sulphite your bottles and siphon equipment. The easiest way to fill bottle your wine is to hook up the filler to your siphon equipment. After the bottles are filled, cork and allow to sit upright for 3 to 5 days. Thereafter, store wine bottles on their sides.

Try the wine periodically throughout the first few months to see how the flavors progress. Flavors generally improve the most in the first few months while more subtle changes develop in the months and years that follow.

Sanitizing and Sulphiting

To sanitize your equipment we recommend filling a bucket and carboy with 5 gallons of water, add 2 oz. of bleach, and soak for 15 minutes. Rinse the equipment with water until you can no longer smell bleach, then sanitize with sulphite stock solution.

To mix up a stock sulphite solution, add 2 oz. sulphite powder (potassium metabisulfite) to each gallon of water. Rinse all equipment with this stock solution. Do not rinse with water.

If you are unsure whether a piece of equipment is sanitized, re-sanitize it and sulphite again. It’s better to take the extra time to ensure everything comes out right.

Siphoning

Siphoning relies on the full vessel being higher than the highest point of the empty container. Before you siphon your wine, place the full carboy on a surface higher than the empty carboy. Allow the yeast to settle after moving the carboy; a day or so is ideal. Sanitize and sulphite your equipment: a 5 gallon glass carboy, a 1-gallon jug, airlocks and rubber stoppers, racking cane and flexible tubing.

Using the Auto-Siphon (about $9) is the easiest way to start a siphon. The next best way to start a siphon is to completely fill the racking cane and attached flex tubing with water. Cover the flexible tubing end securely with your thumb to prevent the water from draining out. Next insert the cane into the wine carboy, being careful not to disturb the sediment at the bottom. To start the siphon, release your thumb and allow the water to flow into a separate glass. Once the wine is flowing through the tubing, lower the tubing to the bottom of the empty 5 gallon carboy. Avoid splashing.

Top off any extra space in the 5 gallon carboy with the extra wine in the 1-gallon jug. Clean out the now empty carboy and allow to drain upside down. Once dry, plug with a solid rubber stopper or cover with plastic wrap so the next time you need to siphon it only needs to be sanitized and sulphited.