We have a new obsession in our house, learning about ways that we can be more self-sufficient. We have a long way to go, but we are always looking for ways we can make the products we like to use. Last year, probably while enjoying a glass a wine, we started talking about making our own alcohol. We researched a little bit, and discovered that after buying a little bit of equipment, home winemaking is fairly easy and can be done with tons of different produce. We’ve become a little bit obsessed really.
There are lots of books with recipes and directions, we have a few. We have also found Jack Keller’s Winemaking Website to be very helpful and it has millions of recipes! We also use Winemakers Depot to buy many of our winemaking supplies, they are an internet supplier who happens to live right near us.
So far we have made wine from:
A mix of apples growing in our yard
Peaches from our yard
Local apple juice from Haggen
Locally roasted coffee
Strawberries from Boxx Berry Farm
Cherries from Eastern Washington
Dandelions from our yard
Pears that were given to us
Carrots from Half Acre Farm
Blueberries from Boxx Berry Farm
Each recipe varies slightly, but they all follow the same basic steps.
Start with fresh flowers, vegetables, herbs, or fruit like these strawberries
Add them to a food safe container and mash the fruit
Add the remainder of the ingredients. In this case, the recipe called for raisins. Usually you also have to add water, sugar, and a few other special wine ingredients. After the wine has cooled to room temperature, you add the yeast. The wine stays in this container for around a week, needing daily stirring. It smells great during this stage and makes a lot of noise as the yeast is eating all of the sugar.
Place wine in a carboy with an air-lock for several months. It will need to be re-racked several times, usually about every 30 days, to separate the wine from the sediment. Re-racking just consists of siphoning the wine from one carboy to another and leaving the bottom inch of gunk in the old carboy.
When the wine has cleared and the fermentation has completely stopped, it can be bottled. We used old wine bottles and beer bottles and made our own labels. We like the size of a beer bottle because it holds just enough wine for 2 glasses, just enough to celebrate a special occasion!
Then comes the hard part, letting it age at least another 6 months to a year. Winemaking is a long-term investment, no quick product here. Last August, we opened an early bottle of our first apple wine that was left over from our makings last year. So far, we have been drinking more of the first batch of apple wine and the peach wine we made (a little bit early on both) and they are delicious!