Making wine from fresh grape juice is relatively easy! There is no need to crush, de-stem or press the grapes, which saves time and eliminates the need for specialized equipment. Here are some simple instructions to follow once you purchase your grape juice. Be sure to also check out our answers to Common Winemaking Questions. Both files can also be downloaded as a Word document.
1. Take juice home and open lid. Place indoors where it is at least 65 degrees. Room temperature is fine. Take a hydrometer reading and record the result.
2. Add ¼ teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulfite (“sulfite”) to each 6 gallon pail of juice by measuring out the sulfite powder and dissolving it in a little warm water and then stirring it into the juice. Do not add more sulfite than this amount.
3. When the juice reaches at least 60 degrees, add 1 packet of yeast for every 6 gallons of juice. Sprinkle dry yeast evenly across the surface of the juice. Do not stir. Replace lid on pail loosely but do not seal. Primary fermentation will begin in 24 – 36 hours and will be complete in 6 – 10 days.
4. On the 3rd day, dissolve 1 tsp of yeast nutrient per gallon of wine in a little bit of water. Stir into the wine.
5. After 6 – 10 days, you will see the fermentation slow down. At this point you may rack all of it it into a clean carboy or demijohn and place an airlock on the vessel. Make sure the fermenter is filled to within 1 – 2 inches of the stopper (keep some extra wine handy for topping up). See the back of this page for information regarding malolactic fermentation.
6. Wait about 2 to 4 weeks for the secondary fermentation to finish. Completion can be confirmed with a hydrometer (approximately 0.995 specific gravity).
7. You may now rack the juice off the sediment into a clean carboy or demijohn. Add ¼ teaspoon of sulfite (dissolved) to each 6 gallons, again ensuring that the fermenter is filled to within 1 – 2 inches of the stopper. We recommend bulk-aging the wine for at least 3 months for whites, longer for reds. Resist the temptation to bottle too soon!
8. Before bottling, confirm that the wine is clear, de-gassed, finished fermenting, and of course make sure it tastes and smells good. Add an additional dose of dissolved sulfite – this time, ½ teaspoon per 6 gallons. (Note: sulfite levels are particularly important if your wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation.)