Winemaking Tip: Protect the Counters

Winemaking Tip: Rubber Mat On Kitchen CounterIt’s been about 14 months since I started making wine (one of the best hobbies ever!). In that time I made about 70 gallons or a little over 360 bottles. And saved a lot of money too!

We live in Florida (the land with no cellars/basements and almost everyone uses salt-water softeners), so my wine making production line gets hauled into and out of the kitchen almost weekly.

One wine making tip/trick I can share that my wife “taught” me was to protect her kitchen counters and floor for that matter. After scratching her non-scratchable counters up pretty good, she suggested I use those rubber type mats you might put in your kitchen drawers or cabinets!! No more unhappy wife.

Also, while in my early learning stages I really spilled quite of bit until she threw down some old worn out “pool” towels. Yes, I now know the difference between “pool” towels and “guest” towels.

In closing, I was surprised to read many negative comments on the website on using distilled water. Using our tap water, again which is water-softened, is definitely NOT recommended; I only use distilled water and I airlock my primaries 100% of the time. I never had a slow/stuck fermentation or had any issues with using distilled water. I always use yeast nutrients and/or energizers, and primaries with at LEAST 20-25% head room plus I stir, stir, stir during primary and aerate when racking secondary. My fermentation temps are always between 68-78F.

Thanks for your great store, website and tips.

Name: Matt S.
State: Florida

Game Of Making Wine

Pouring Homemade WineBegan the game when I was 16 yrs. old when I began making wine out of pumpkins. It’s amazing the aroma you get, especially when you use the actual wine yeast carried out before as a starter. Today in a preiod of one month I can produce 100 litres having reiceved enough knowledge form this website. Big up kraus. Lets enjoy the game.

Name: Tamale Peter

Watermelon Wine Help!

I’m making watermelon wine and would like to give it strong melon flavor. I have been racking my brain thinking how to do this since you can’t boil it down, because it said to kill the flavor. So after giving it a lot of thought, this is what i was thinking, can I add a finshed bottle, of the same type of wine i’m making would this help or hurt . 2nd idea is to dehydrate the watermelon and make watermelon power. Then take the powder and add it in the place of, or with the sugar. and use fresh melon juice has the recipe calls for. keep in mine im trying to make a powerful melon taste but dry not to sweet. Thank you for your time to help a noobie like me .

Name: Jason
State: nc

Accidental Blueberry Port

I’ve been your customer since I was 16 (over 30 years), and have been making wines off and on all those years. Since a number of farms in our region are growing wine grapes, I’m making wine more seriously than ever before. I grow my own blueberries, and since I grew up making fruit wines, I always have at least one fruit or mead wine processing. 4 years ago the first blueberry wine I ever tried turned out fabulous, so the next year I tried to repeat my success . . . but it was not to be the same. The specific gravity would not reduce enough to my liking, and I had started the wine 13 months earlier. I cultured a champagne yeast and slowing added wine to it, until I had a gallon fermenting nicely, then added it to the remaining 4 gallons of sweet blueberry wine. The specific gravity lowered further, but, at that point (it was now 20 months since I started the wine!), I considered taking it further to a port. It was about 14% alcohol, so I added very good, neutral grain vodka (not potato vodka because I have an allergy to potatoes) to raise the alcohol content to about 18% at bottling. I bottled in tall cobalt bottles and dipped the corked tops in blue wax. Because I had oaked the port in the carboy after the champagne yeast ferment had quieted, I also put a toasted oak chips in each bottle to continue the deepening of the flavor. Though it took about 20 months from start to bottle, the port because a delicious “accident!”

Name: Jenny (Hoag) Young
State: Illinois


Read More Customer Stories And About Other Winemaking Topics,


I added sulfites to my primary fermentation, do I need to add more before bottling

I am making 5 plus gallons of pear wine and in my recipe it called for 2 sulfite tablets per gallon so I added 10 crushed tablet. Should I add more sulfite after my secondary fermentation before bottling? I have never done that before. Thanks, Mary from St. Louis.

Name: Mary Chapman
State: Missouri

Wine That Bubbles Like Champaign

I made some wine with wild honey and fresh cherries. I let it ferment for 6 months, racking every month until May of this year. All wine was a very clear cherry color and no sign of fermentation. At bottling time I added wine conditioner and 5 campden tablets. Today I opened a bottle and it blew like Champaign. My question is what in the world happened and can I take the wine out of the bottles and put it back in a fermenter or what should I do? I am afraid that the bottles are going to blow up. The wine is in flip top bottles.

Name: Red Gordon
State: Texas

Home-Made Wine Making Experience

A friend had given me a wine-making recipe that I have used for several years. It doesn’t call for special yeast’s, but one regular pack of bread yeast. One quart of Cranberry Juice; two cans of Concentrated Grape Juice; One pound of white cane sugar. Plus one gallon glass jug, rubber cork & economy-lock.
I dissolved the yeast first, place in the jug first. Then I semi-dissolve the sugar in the juices, and place that in the jug. Fill the rest of the jug with water to an inch below the neck of the jug. The rubber cork with a hole thru it, place in the top of the jug. Fill the economy-lock half-full of water and place it in the hole of the cork.
It takes one month to brew.
During that time of brewing, I go to the bars in town, asking the bartenders for any empties of whiskey or wine bottles (especially the dark brown and green bottles). Never the clear glass bottles!! Those clear bottles turn my grape wine brown in color and taste like raisin wine.
I clean out the bottles by using the hottest water to sterile the bottles. It also makes it easy to clean the labels off the bottles.
( Of the bottles that I collect from the bars, I try to make sure that each bottle has it’s screw-on cap.)
Try these suggestions:
Change the Concentrate Grape Juice for White Apple Juice, and change the Cranberry Juice for White Grape Juice.
Change the cranberry juice to raspberry juice and grape juice to cherry juice.


Name: Jerry Schachterle
State: Michigan

Homemade Grape Crusher

I discovered this grape crusher on line two years ago and fabricated my own version. I can crush 5 gallons of grapes in 2-3 minutes using my drill. Check out the last image which is a video of Steve’s unit.

I left off the de-stemming tray and just set the crusher right on a 6 gallon plastic bucket.

I encourage all with a few simple woodworking skills to study the photos and make their own. Very inexpensive and superior to any manual (i.e. foot crushing) process.

Name: Phillip Deal
State: South Carolina

Family Traditions

I grew up in a small steel town northwest of Pittsburgh. Most of the Italian families I knew made homemade wine and mine was no different. My Grandfather even grew his own grapes. No matter what the occasion was or which family’s house we were in, there was always wine on the table.

My own making wine story began about 15 years ago. Having moved across the country to California, and although wine was plentiful here, I missed having that glass of homemade with dinner and friends. Quite often the airlines found me transporting gallons of wine back from family visits. This sufficed until my father became a little older, making less wine every year. Not wanting this family tradition to be forgotten, I decided to take my children, Matthew and Cara back to Pennsylvania and let them see how Grandpa made his wine.

My parents, Mario and Rose, showed the kids how to crush the grapes, press the mash, and transfer the wine to the barrels. Start to finish, even sampling the juice at each stage.
It wasn’t all work, especially when Cara asked Grandma how they mashed the grapes in the “olden days”. My mom was glad to oblige her with her own tub of grapes to stomp with her feet! It was fun to see my dad joking with the kids, have them open the mash barrel to take a deep breath just like when I was little.

We have been making wine ever since, and that familiar bottle of homemade wine is at all of our gatherings. My dad has since passed away; my kids are older now and have little time to spend helping me make wine. Their appreciation for what they were able to experience will come with maturity. My children got to experience an integral part of their family heritage that they’ll never forget. Maybe when they move away they too will take some of Dad’s homemade wine after a visit. And someday they too will bring their kids to see how Grandpa makes his wine.

Name: Anthony Ulizio
State: ca

Bob’s Wine

I make red, and rarely white wines and Champagne in a simple way. Once, I noticed that if you use a little late ripened grapes you get a full body, quite sweeter wine, but lower in quantity because as the grapes ripen they loose moisture or water content. However, after storing this wines for a few years they tend to taste like something between sherry and brandy, and if you have oak mellowed them they taste like port+brandy+bread. But, the wines are very, very smooth and you can always taste grapes in them (sort of currant^ish). Once I added a little black peppers to my glass and it felt delicious and warm. It sounds funny, but it is very true.

Now the question is: I feel terrible to make people taste because they always call it in one shot “sweeter” or “light,” while in fact, they are very heavy and could be consumed half to two third of a glass over two cubes of ice and give you a slight alcohol feeling if you drink empty stomach.

Name: Bobby Mistry
State: New Jersey