Yolo County has over 11,000 planted acres of wine grapes and hosts one of the world's premier viticulture and enology programs; Davis is a great place to make wine either commercially or as a hobby.
Grape prices and availability change dramatically from year to year. Don't be afraid to ask a local winery or vineyard if they have any fruit available for home winemakers.
Purple Pearl Vineyards can provide equipment and grapes.
Village Homes has a nice looking vineyard that usually goes unharvested.
http://www.winebusiness.com/classifieds/grapesbulkwine/ Largest grape listing site, usually larger quantities.
http://sacramento.craigslist.org/ When in season Craigslist has a lot of grape offerings.
http://www.brehmvineyards.com Grape brokerage specializing in sales to amateur winemakers.
http://www.winegrapesdirect.com Davis owned company that is focused on selling fresh and frozen pails of grape must and juice as well as providing winemaking instructions and consulting.
Making wine is a relatively simple process of using yeast to convert sugar to alcohol. Like most simple processes there are thousands of pages of research published on the subject and at least as many opinions on how wine should and shouldn't be made. There are also a number of forums and instructional materials available.
- http://www.sachomewine.com Sacramento hosts one of the most active and recognized amateur wine clubs in the world.
- http://www.winepress.us The largest amateur winemaking forum in the world.
- http://morewinemaking.com/content/manuals Free and straightforward winemaking instructions.
- http://alisoncrowe.com Alison Crowe is graduate of the UCD viticulture and enology department as well as the UCD Graduate School of Managment. She has written books for home winemakers has a monthly column in Winemaker Magazine.
The Black Dragon Brewery in Woodland is the closest homebrew shop but is focused on beer and not wine. Same problem with Original Homebrew Outlet in Sac. Your best bet for price and selection is going to come from one of the mail order suppliers.
- http://www.moreflavor.com Largest mail order supplier and also has a showroom in Concord.
- http://www.midwestsupplies.com Another large mail order supplier.
Meyer Lemon Wine Recipe
- Find a Davis resident willing to let you pick their lemon tree. Commence picking the lemon. Juice the lemons into a food grade five gallon bucket or carboy if you have it. Add water to lemon juice to get to an acidity of 3.0 pH or greater. Next add sugar to your lemon water to get to about 10-16% sugar. Buy some yeast. I recommend either a bianus yeast or a distillers yeast as this is not a pleasant environment for them to do their thing and you need a super strong strain. It's good to rehydrate the yeast before pitching and then add a little lemon juice to your culture over the course of a couple hours so that they can get adjusted before going into that harsh delicious lemonade -like environment. Pitch your yeast. Wait. Wait. Wait. You may not not see anything as your fermentation may have died. That's ok. You can try again. It took use three tries to get the yeast to work and feel free to message me with questions if they come up. The yeast hate it in that acid solution so it's good to feed them a little yeast nutrient it you got it. If you don't, well you'll probably be alright too. You want this to ferment slowly in a cool environment. It will ferment slowly because the yeast hate the lemon drink you made and will be very stubborn at turning sugar into alcohol. You want it to ferment cooly (between 55-70 degrees) because that will preserve some of the aromatic esters that you'll be enjoying later. The ferment may go for 1-3 months. You'll know when it's done if you have a hydrometer. If you don't have a hydrometer you can guess its done when you can't see any activity and it tastes dry(not sweet). Now you want to let that settle out for awhile in a container that doesn't have a lot of headspace so it doesn't get over exposed to oxygen, carboys work best. if You have no way of avoiding oxygen exposure (think you should think a little harder) or just proceed to bottling. If you can, wait a couple months for sediment to settle out and consider adding oak chips. Bottling consists of syphoning your wine out of it's current container and into a container for bottling, leaving behind anything on bottom. Now you have to decide if you want still or sparkling lemon wine. If you want still lemon wine bottle as it using clean beer bottles and crown caps. You can backsweeten when you're ready to drink it by adding in a little sugar, though I prefer honey. If you want sparkling lemon wine, as you should, then you need to add a little priming sugar to your wine before you bottle. About 1/2 a teasppon to a to teaspoon per 12 ounce bottle should do it. Wait a month or two and enjoy. But be warned that sometimes people don't realize how much they're drinking when they're sipping on the lemon wine.
For those of us who want cheap Alcohol without the hassle of showing an ID:
NOTE: Attempt this only at your own risk. I have a feeling you may go blind (the other cause).
- 1 Can frozen juice concentrate (defrosted)
- 1 Packet Yeast (wine yeast. Please don't use bread yeast or beer yeast. They don't produce enough alcohol, and they give off other compounds that interfere. If for some reason you don't want to be bothered with wine yeast, make beer.)
- 1 Cup Sugar
- Juice (preferably matching that of the concentrate)
Okay, so here's the deal. Get some sort of container for your wine, perhaps juice jugs, or anything that can be decently sealed up. I don't suggest using a bucket.
Next, mix in all the ingredients and stir 'em up, real good like.
Cover the top of the container (and really, the best is a jug) with plastic wrap and a rubber band. You want to keep all of the oxygen out, but you want excess carbon dioxide to escape. Sealing it airtight is not a good plan, unless you are trying to carbonate the wine.
Wait two weeks for fermentation, then strain out the yeast and chill! In my experience, the best batches have also stayed in the fridge for a few days to settle. Also, the best flavors that I've enjoyed are Cranberry and Cran-Raspberry, so I would suggest going with those. You can try your own, but just keep in mind that it could end in disaster. Trust me, don't try apple.
Note: It's a good idea to put it somewhere like the garage or hall closet... after a few days your brew will exude the smell of fermentation!!
(More on this later... I have to make sure of the sugar/juice amounts)
I had a friend who made wine in gas containers that he bought at the AM/PM. They are huge and sealable. Also, for sweeter wine, you can try making it out of Kool Aid and adding the yeast to that and don't let it ferment too long. It will be less alcoholic, but sweeter to the taste, so it can be a trade off. When I worked for a winery, we used cold settling to get the yeast out of solution. A coffee filter should help to get rid of the yeast after that. A bit of shaking can also help make your wine better to stir up your yeast. That nasty smell (rotten egg-ish) comes from the yeast, so don't breathe deeply, it stinks. —RohiniJasavala
This is a pretty sad page considering the fine enology program at UCD. If you want a real class about this, see Classic UC Davis Courses. Anyway, here are some points to be aware of:
- It's highly unlikely that you will make anything that will cause blindness. This is a tale from the times of prohibition, when bootleggers would sometimes use old car radiators in their distillation process (ethylene glycol anyone?), as well as a variety of other toxic chemicals. Bad news. There's also a bit of Methanol produced in fermentation, but the concentration is ridiculously low. If you're not distilling the beverage (increasing the Alcohol concentration through removal of water), then there's no problem. Even if you were to distill, it wouldn't be too tough to get rid of the Methanol.
- For the sake of sanitation and peace of mind, don't ferment in non-food-grade containers (e.g. gas cans). This just has "bad idea" written all over it.
- When you're ready to really get started making something, head on over to a brew shop. I'd recommend The Original Homebrew Outlet in Sacramento. They have all the supplies you need to get started with wine OR beer at very reasonable prices (~$100 for super-deluxe beer equipment kit). They also have a very helpful and knowledgeable staff. At the very least, you can get a food grade bucket to put your frozen juice in..(yuck)
- I've never been carded in a brew shop. And I've been to quite a few in California and Washington. The ingredients aren't regulated, the staff doesn't care how old you are (unless you're 12 or something... college-age is fine), and they're usually very nice people.
- If you're interested in distillation, check http://www.homedistiller.org, http://www.brewhaus.com, and then http://www.moonshine-still.com/. The last has two very nice distillation apparatus designs. Illegal in the states, but what's to stop you from reading up on it?
2008-06-22 15:46:15 I found recently that the Purple Pearl Winery will provide customers with the fixin's for winemaking. This place has always been a wonderful winery in my opinion, as the proprietors are always helpful and fun to talk to. Check 'em out! —JoePomidor