Leigh Erwin: Making A California Chardonnay Wine Kit

California Chardonnay made from wine kitHi everyone!

I’m excited to finally be making a new batch of wine after a couple of weeks hiatus. I’m partially nervous, though, because I’m making the Cellar Craft Sterling California Chardonnay wine kit again, and if you recall last time I tried to do that, I messed up big time in regards to the fermentation temperature.

This time, however, I am prepared! I have the heating pad all set up and am not going to touch it at all until fermentation is complete.

To start the Chardonnay wine kit off, I ended up using tap water as if you recall from an earlier post I wrote, the tap water here where I live doesn’t give off any sort of chlorine smell and I’m pretty positive it’s winemaking worthy. I remember making a red wine in the past with straight tap water and it came out just fine, so hopefully the same will be true for this white.

Primary fermentation for this Chardonnay wine kit went very smoothly. I followed all instructions that came with the wine kit to the letter and made sure the temperature of the wine was never too low.

Secondary fermentation came right on schedule for this Chardonnay (day 7), though I did notice it still smelled a bit yeasty. Cue flashbacks from the screwed up batch….

Anyway, since there is still yeast doing their thing in there, I was not at all concerned about the yeasty smell and crossed my fingers that it could complete secondary instead of getting stuck like it did last time. Actually, I don’t think it even made it out of primary fermentation last time, but I digress…

The end of secondary fermentation, however, did not come exactly on time as the instructions suggested it probably would. Instead of finishing up on Day 20 as the instructions indicated, I didn’t move on to the degassing stage until Day 24. I actually think I may have made a slight mistake at this point though, as I think I stopped secondary 0.002 specific gravity points too soon, according to my wine hydrometer.Shop Wine Kits

See, the instructions said: “Targets: Sterling Reds, Showcase Reds & Whites: <0.998 or Sterling Whites: <0.996.” The specific gravity I noted on Day 24 was 0.998, so quickly looking at the Target values, I thought I had been working with the Showcase White and that 0.998 was correct. Well, turns out I read it a little too quickly and had forgotten that I was actually working with the Sterling White, so I shouldn’t have moved onto the next step until the specific gravity was 0.996. Oopsie. I hope that doesn’t come back to bite me.

The wine didn’t smell nearly as yeasty any more, though I thought I might still be able to smell a little bit. I should note: my sense of smell might be a little heightened right now since I am pregnant (surprise!), so I’m hoping it’s still going to be OK and whatever yeasts might still be in there will fall out during the clearing stage.
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leigh_erwin_bioMy name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad – and the ugly.

One thought on “Leigh Erwin: Making A California Chardonnay Wine Kit

  1. The amount of sulfite added to the wine concentrate by the manufacturer should be plenty to deal with the low levels of chlorinating agents in tap water.

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