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How To Start Making Wine

By Ed Kraus

A Clear Guide For The Overwhelmed Beginner

I received an email not too long ago that rather disturbed me. It was from an individual who had been pondering about whether or not they wanted to start making their own wine. They had just been to our web site, looking through the endless selection of supplies, equipment, ingredients, recipes and such.

The email stated that they had been thinking about making wine off and on for several months, but after finding our site and looking through it they now felt very "intimidated" by the whole idea. "So many different kinds of ingredients, yeasts, containers, testers.... I just feel overwhelmed." But, the part of the email that really got me is when they said, "I don't think this is something I really want to do".

As you might imagine my heart just sank with those words. It has always been our intentions to promote home wine making, not be a reason for someone to shy away.

But, after I thought about it I was able to see how the first-time visitor might be "intimidated". Without a doubt there are a lot of different products, a lot of little pieces to what seems to be--for the beginning winemaker, anyway--a very big puzzle.

If the email mentioned above seems like something you could have written--in other words, you're thinking about making wine but feel a little overwhelmed--then this article's for you.


PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

The Ingredients:
Here's something to start out with that will eliminate a lot of the confusion right from the start. A lot of the products we offer are seldom needed to make wine. This statement may seem a little counter productive for someone trying to sell wine making supplies, but it's true.

For example, the following items: Calcium Carbonate, Acid Reducing Crystals, Lactose, Magnesium Sulfate, Instant Anti-Foam, Ascorbic Acid, and many others, are ingredients that are used in unique situations, not all the time. And, they are certainly not items that you need to concern yourself with as a beginner.

There are just a hand-full of ingredients that are used on a regular basis when making wine. They are: Acid Blend, Yeast Nutrient, Yeast Energizer, Tannin, Pectic Enzyme, Campden Tablets and Yeast. These seven simple ingredients will allow you to make 95 percent of the wines you could ever imagine making.

Secondly, we do offer what would be considered "ingredient kits." These are packages that contain all of the ingredients needed to produce 6 gallons of wine. They come with the juice, the yeast, nutrients... the same type of ingredients as mentioned above--all pre-measured in separate little packets.

Just follow the directions that comes with the ingredient kit and put in the individual packets as they are called for. It's that simple. They come with directions that are clear, complete and concise. They assume you know absolutely nothing about what you are doing and that it's the first time you have ever made wine.

While these ingredient kits are designed in such a way to be easy and simple to use, their quality is superior enough to keep even the old pros coming back to them. The wines they produce are simply remarkable and provide quite a surprise for the unsuspecting, first-time winemaker.

Currently, we offer 200 different ingredient kits across 11 different brands. So, selection is not an issue. Everything from a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon to a crisp Peach Chardonnay is available. Here are four of the more popular brands:

Niagara Mist:
This is a wonderful line of ingredient kits that produce grape and fruit blends. Some examples are, Strawberry-Zinfandel or Cranberry-Shiraz.

California Connoisseur:
These ingredient kits include packaged juices from grapes grown in California such as: Zinfandel, Beaujolais, Merlot and so on.

European Select:
These ingredient kits include packaged juices from grapes grown throughout various regions in Europe. They include such types as: Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, Chianti and so on.

KenRidge Classic:
These ingredient kits are similar to the European Select and California Connoisseur kits, but they come in a larger package that consist of a blend of pure juice and concentrate.


The Equipment:
When it comes to the equipment you will need, we have: containers, hydrometers, jugs, hoses, brushes... it goes on and on. And, again the issue for the beginning winemaker is the same, "What do I need if I'm just starting out?"

A simple way to answer this question is to look at our starter kits. They include not only the ingredients but the equipment as well. We call them "Necessities Boxes". This is because we don't try to sell you everything under the sun, but rather the essentials that you will need--the necessities.

We have three different Necessities Boxes to choose from, depending on what you want to accomplish. They are as follows:

California Connoisseur Necessities Box:
This is a collection of equipment that would be appropriate for making wine with any of our boxed ingredient kits mentioned earlier. We call it the "California Connoisseur" Necessities Box because it includes your choice of ingredient kit from that particular brand. But, it will also work just as well later on for any of the other ingredient kits mentioned earlier in this article.

SunCal Necessities Box:
This kit has all the the items necessary to make wine using our SunCal juices. These juices are not ingredient kits, but rather, cans of concentrate juice on its own. The SunCal Necessities Box provides the additional ingredients and equipment necessary to make wine using these juices.

Your Fruit! Necessities Box:
If packaged juices are not how you are looking to make wine, then we have the "Your Fruit! Necessities Box". It contains all the equipment and ingredients you will need for making wine using your own fruit. It has a recipe book with over 100 different wine recipes: apricot, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, elderberry, gooseberry, strawberry, to name a few.

Price Savings: What also makes these kits so attractive is that all three are offered at a special, introductory price. This represents a saving to you of 15% to 25% off the individual prices.


OTHER RESOURCES FOR THE BEGINNER:

Here is some other helpful information for the beginning winemaker that will help to get you on the right track. You don't necessarily need to read them all, but you might look at one or two that seem interesting to you.

"Getting Started In Home Wine Making"

"Home Wine Making With Fruits"

"Five Fundamentals To Keeping Your Wine Making On Track"


While you are here, check out our wine making supplies and wine making equipment.



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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.