free stats
Home Made Wine recipes.
Sussex Grown Red Grape Wine

Remember before starting to sterilise all of your equipment using Sodium metabisulpide or crushed campden tablets as directed on the first page of this section.


Produce of the 2004 growing season and ripened on the South of the Southdown's, Over wintered in the freezer and now we have time to make our wine.23.01.05
The fruit are removed from the freezer and allowed to thaw naturally. All stalks are removed and the fruit gently washed.
Having been placed in a large bucket they are sprinkled with the powder from two crushed campden tables which will kill off any wild yeasts that are present on the fruit.
When fully thawed the grapes are crushed.

Although there appeared to be a lot of grapes on the vine when they were picked they only weighed 10.1/2 lbs although when crushed there was sufficient juice to make a gallon which should give us 6 bottles, not bad for the first main crop.

The grapes have been completely crushed with no water added at all, It can be seen on the Hydrometer the SG of the juice of the grapes is just under 1040, and we need to bring this up to 1090 if we are to achieve a alcohol level of 12%, We therefore need to add sugar which on this occasion we will dissolve in some of the drained of grape juice.

As a guide for every 2.1/2 ounces of sugar we add the SG will be raised by 5 on the hydrometer therefore we need to add 10 x 2.5 = 25 ozs to raise the sg to 190. However as a safe guard I'm going to add the 20 ozs first then take another reading on the hydrometer as the natural sugar released by the fruit may yet increase as the fruit is crushed further.

It can be seen which the extra sweetness from the grapes and the sugar added the SG is now 1090. which is ideal for starting our wine. We therefore need now to take a small amount of the juice to add to our yeast starter.

Because this is a special wine, being the first time I have ever used whole grapes I am going to use a special yeast more suited to red wine making, numerous yeasts are on the shelf at Johnson's Home Wine although I normally use a standard wine yeast. Preparation is the same although this yeast does not create the foam normally associated with the other yeast I use, and I am using all juice in which the start the yeast and no water.

The temperature of the mixture needs to be between 30 & 35C. any cooler and it will fail to start any warmer and you are likely to kill the yeast, So use a thermometer to check before you add the Dry yeast granules.

All we need to do now is allow the yeast starter to get going , when we see it's working add it to a larger quantity of the grape juice , when that's working well add it to your main mixture which at this stage will remain in the bucket with crushed grapes as well as skins. It is from the skins of the grapes that the tannin required will come, and so in this instance they will remain for up to 10 days.

Having added the yeast starter to our mixture we now need to keep the mixture at an even temperature between 30. to 35 degrees Centigrade, stirring the mixture at least twice a day.

24th January 05 Now I would like to have been able to tell you that the yeast added 24 hours ago to the main ferment had got going. BUT it hasn't, in fact it hasn't started the main ferment at all and so I will have to prepare a New yeast starter this time using general purpose wine yeast. Although I followed the instruction on the packet of the Girvin wine yeast the yeast failed to grow & multiply when added to the main material of the ferment. This is not an uncommon event in wine making and is a job to explain. However I am going to use a different tactic this time, which I have proved works to get difficult wines started.
I am going to prepare another yeast starter and then when its working well, slowly add small quantities of the juice to it. Slowly building up the quantity of juice that is working then split the juice into two and add more juice to the two working vessels, in all cases allowing the ferment to really take hold before adding any extra juice. Eventually we will have more juice working than not, we can then add the working juice, to the remaining none working, along with the skins and I'm confident that all will then be well. Then the fermentation process will be underway.
26th Jan 05
Well starting the fermentation process on this juice was harder that I though, It took me nearly 48 hours to get the wine started and even then it was only after adding Red Grape 100% juice purchased from lidles superstore @68pence a litre. So we now have a 50/50 juice home grown grapes and commercial grapes Either way the Wine is now under way and as a result of adding more juice we now have twice as much as was originally intended. It would have been interesting to see what quality of wine was produced by the home grown grapes alone but it wasn't to be and rather that ditch the none fermenting juice it was salvaged by adding the commercial grape juice. In my experience these failed ferments can always be salvaged but it does take time and ingenuity to work out the solution and finally get them started.
Of course having got it going when now need to adjust the sugar to ensure that we still get a good alcohol level. Having kept records of the process I can do this tomorrow which will allow the fermentation process to be come well established. which judging by the action in the airlock it is now doing. 2
Some of you, if wine makers yourself may be wondering how the temperature is controlled at this time of year January. I have salvaged the element and base unit complete with connecting cable out of an old slow cooker 3 I have placed a aluminium sheet on that which conducts the heat which is then controlled by the original slow cooker thermostat, this sensitive control allows one or two demijohns of juice to be kept at wine making temperatures 30-35 degrees C throughout the fermentation period.

I mentioned earlier that I had not made wine from whole grapes before, one of the things I have noticed and cannot explain is that although the juice was almost green even though it came from black grapes, 1 when the yeast is added to the juice it turns quite red, so we could finish up with a nice Rose wine after all, but lets not count our chickens just yet, join me again tomorrow I will let you know how things are going.

27th January 05
This ferment has now really taken off. I decided so as to make the whole thing worthwhile and bearing in mind that we have had to blend commercial 100% grape juice with the juice from home grown grapes to get it to ferment at all ,we might as well balance up the quantities and make it 50/50.
50 % commercial juice and 50% juice from home grown grapes, to that end I have today added a further 1.5 litres of commercial juice and added extra sugar to maintain the expected alcohol level of 12% + -. This I did by measuring the SG of the commercial juice which was 1070. The original start point of the main ferment was 1090. So I needed to add sugar to bring the commercial juice up the the same start point. I have added a total of 4.5 litres commercial juice, so I needed to add sufficient sugar to raise the SG of that juice by a further 20 on the scale of the hydrometer. We are already aware that 2.1/4 ozs of sugar raises the SG by approx five 5 points on the hydrometer scale in One gallon of wine. So I added 4 x 2.1/4 ozs which = a further 9 ozs of sugar. The only thing I did different was that I used castor sugar which dissolves easier in the wine juice which in this case only needed to be heated slightly to dissolve the sugar. The two demijohns complete which the heater, have now been banned to the garage, as the fermentation process causes quite a smell which needs to be kept well away from the house. I will report again towards the start of next week when I expect to be able to tell you that the wine is nearing completion as far as the fermentation stage is concerned.
29th January
As I predicted the ferment is nearly finished, I am now feeding the wine small amounts of dissolved sugar to ensure that the maximum alcohol level is reached. Today I have added a further 4 1/2 ozs of caster sugar dissolved in the wine mixture, I do not anticipate having to add anymore and I feel sure the ferment will completely cease and the wine will start to clear in the next week. the speed at which this wine has fermented attributed to the balance which we were finally able to reach and the even temperature at which the mixture has been kept.
30th January A confirmation that the ferment is nearly complete, the alcohol level is such that it is now killing off the yeast, DO not add sugar at this stage because the remaining yeast will not be able to absorb it, and your wine will be finish up too sweet. Leave the wine to kill off all the remaining yeast, which will be indicated as the wine will start to clear.
The lees A could be removed but at this stage I do not want to disturb the wine as the yeast will continue to absorb small amounts of the remaining sugar, all the time there are small bubbles coming up to the surface and the air lock is working some yeast is still alive and sugar is being absorbed.

Leave for a few more days and then we can decant into clean demijohns, leaving the lees, dead yeast and fruit partials behind. Having this taken this photograph it's back to the garage as the ferment is still giving off unwanted smells.

3rd February 05
Several days have passed since we decanted the wine off the biggest of the less, Having been placed in a clean demijohn the wine has been left in the garage in the cool, as can be seen there is already a further layer of lees at the bottom of the demijohn, within a couple of days the decanting of the wine will be repeated until it is finally clear and shiny, we could of course add finings to clear the wine but if it will clear on it's own then there is little point, I will however add fermentation stopper to ensure the wine does not re-start to ferment at a later stage and a crushed campden tablet to each gallon to ensure any wild yeasts that may be present are killed.

May 26th 2008
We have hit a cold snap and although the wine is still fermenting things have slowed considerably, no problem given time the ferment will complete and we wil;l be presented with the white wine promised.

This page will be continued as our wine progresses.

Sorry folks I said I'd add to the page as the wine progressed? So what happened? Well it was excellent wine shared with the grower of the grapes, so good in fact I forgot to add to the page.

Don't drink then drive

Back to Homepage