My name is Amy Jones and my husband, Austin, is a homebrew/pro consultant at Texas Brewing.  I’m sure you’ve seen him around or he’s helped you out.  You can’t miss the big red beard.

 

I’m here to talk today about winemaking.  I started making wine about a year ago.  With my husband being a brewer--both a homebrewer and pro brewer--I’ve seen all there is into making beer.  I’ve helped him out quite a bit over the years, but I really wanted to do something for myself.  By then, I had talked to Stubby a little bit about winemaking and it sounded like something I could really get into. 

 

The first thing I did was go to one of his winemaking classes.  It is a really great opportunity to see the process of making wine from kits, often including some hands on experience.  Stubby goes through each step and discusses everything he’s doing in detail.  After that class, I realized it was definitely something I wanted to try for myself.

 

I had a World Wineyard kit that I got from Texas Brewing.  It is one of the less expensive wine kits, so I thought it would be a great one to try first.  It was a Chardonnay.  I also needed to get a wine equipment kit so that I would have all the proper tools I needed to make the wine.  The equipment kits come with a six gallon bucket, a six gallon carboy, a spoon, and lots of other items that are necessary to make wine.  I was really excited to get started.

 

The first time I made the Chardonnay, I had Austin help me, mostly because a 6 gallon bucket full of liquid is heavy (over 50 pounds).  He was really great about me doing pretty much everything by myself.  The first major thing you need to do is clean and sanitize your equipment.  In that first step, all you’re really going to need is your bucket, spoon, hydrometer and airlock.  I like to use an extra bucket as my sanitizing bucket.  I used PBW (or another cleaning agent, like Craft Meister Tabs) to get the bucket really clean, then I used Star San to sanitize it.  I dumped the sanitizer into my sanitizing bucket after I cleaned it out with PBW.  Then, I put my spoon in the sanitizer and was ready to start making wine.

 

The wine kits come with easy, step-by-step instructions that tell you exactly what you need to do.  I followed them exactly, put my lid on the bucket, stuck my airlock in the lid, and it was ready for fermentation.  It took around thirty minutes.  I was so proud! It was so easy!

 

Over the next week, you could really see it bubbling away in the airlock.  It also smells very strongly of sulfur, so be prepared for that in that first week.  After about 7 days, I checked the gravity to make sure it was where it should be, and then I was ready for step 2.  I sanitized everything I needed, including a 6 gallon carboy because it was ready for transferring to a secondary fermenter.  I put my bucket on the counter--actually Austin did--sanitized my hose and auto-siphon, and siphoned my wine from the bucket to the carboy.  Now, for this step, each wine kit is a little different.  Some will simple have you transfer and others will have you transfer, then dump in your clarifying agents and de-gas your wine.  Just read the instructions and make sure you follow them.  After I transferred the wine, I put the airlock in the carboy and let it sit for another week.

 

At this point it was time to bottle.  I had Austin help me with this too because it goes a lot faster with two people.  We sanitized all the bottles, then I would fill them and he would cap them.  I think I got about 28 or 29 bottles out of that batch.  It will vary, but most of the time you will get between 25 and 30 bottles of wine from a 6 gallon kit.  Then I put them back into the boxes and stored them in a cool place. Depending on the kit, you probably need to give them a month or two until they are completely ready to drink.  I like to drink some each month to see how they age.

 

And that’s making wine!  I didn’t go into a lot of detail because I simply wanted you to know how easy it is to do.  As long as you follow the instructions and make sure everything is really sanitized, you will be a pro at making wine.

 

Pretty soon I will be doing a winemaking podcast with the guys of Texas Brewing where I will go into more detail of the process, so be on the lookout for that. And be sure to check out the other podcasts too!

 

If you have any questions about wine kits, wine equipment kits, or anything about wine, ask the guys at Texas Brewing or if you see me around, feel free to ask me.  Thanks for reading!

 

-Amy

A lover of a great wine or beer, Amy has visited numerous wineries and spent many years around zymurgists, including both beer and wine producers that range from pro to amateur. She is a contributing writer for our blog and a member of the Texas Brewing Inc. family.