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Why Not Make Wine From Your Garden?

Updated on January 9, 2017

Home Wine Making? Why Not?

When confronted with a large amount of very nice plums from my aged plum tree, it seemed like a good idea to try to make wine with them. This was something I'd never done before, so it was a bit of an adventure!

Of course, I knew absolutely nothing about wine making, nor did I have any of the necessary equipment, but then, I always have to jump in at the deep end.....

Most photos are my own, and all rights are reserved.

Plums.
Plums. | Source

Winemaking - Getting Started

The first thing to do was assemble the equipment. Here's a list of what is the absolute mimimum you'll need to make your own brew. By the way, it's not the cheapest of hobbies!

Equipment

  • A bucket with a lid
  • A demijohn
  • A syphon
  • A long bottlebrush
  • Some empty bottles
  • Length of muslin
  • A funnel
  • Some bungs or stoppers
  • Airlocks
  • A very large saucepan

Ingredients

  • Wine yeast
  • Yeast nutrient
  • Campden tablets
  • Sugar
  • Steriliser
  • The fruit or vegetable you're using

There are other things which might be necessary, but it all depends on the recipe for the wine you are making. Sometimes you may need the saucepan to boil the main ingredient, or to boil water to pour over the fruit, sometimes not.

Syphon, Brush & Bottle.
Syphon, Brush & Bottle. | Source

Getting The Gear - ....and Getting Started

Finding out how to make wine from my plums was the easy part; finding a shop which sold the things I'd need wasn't. There seemed to be a shortage of them in my area.

Eventually, I found one a few kilometres away, and purchased most of what I needed. The lidded bucket was a bit of a problem, but I found one in the baby section of a large department store.

Sterilising all the equipment is quite time consuming, but is very necessary if you want to keep your wine free of infections.

Equipment You'll Need

Premium Wine Making Equipment Kit - with Auto-Syphon
Premium Wine Making Equipment Kit - with Auto-Syphon

Pretty much everything you'll need to get started.

 

The Next Stage.....

Washing and chopping the plums was easy, and they were sliced up and put in the bucket. The sugar was put in also, and the water boiled, and poured over the plums. The bucket was then lidded, and the mix was left alone for a couple of days. This is the aerobic part of the procedure, as air is added when you open the bucket to stir the mix.

When it was time, the mixture was strained - another bucket comes in handy - and returned to the bucket. Time to add the yeast, and the yeast nutrient. There are other things you can add, such as citric or tannic acid, but I'm sticking to the very basics here.

For 5 litres of wine, I used 1 sachet of red wine yeast, and a small amount of yeast nutrient. Also added was 1 Campden tablet, to assist with sterilisation. The bucket was lidded again, for another few days, to start fermentation proper.

My kitchen was a huge mess - I can't work without getting wet, or spilling something. Note to self: Get an apron! This had better be worthwhile........

Wine in the demijohn.
Wine in the demijohn. | Source

The Anaerobic Phase

After a few days fermenting, and being stirred occasionally, it was time to move the wine to the demijohn to start the anaerobic (no air in the container) phase of the wine making. Of course, once again, all the implements used had to be sterilised to prevent mould or any other infection getting into the wine.

This was another messy process - the mix had to be strained through muslin to remove any fruit pulp. Once this was done, the specific gravity was measured with the hydrometer, and the mixture was poured into the demijohn. In the picture, you can see the liquid is quite cloudy; this is normal for this stage.

A bunge is fitted into the neck of the demijohn and an airlock is placed into the bung. A small amount of sterilised water is in the airlock to prevent air and infection getting into the container. This is the phase where no air gets into the mix, and fermentation proper commences. Usually, I stash the demijohn in a quiet place where it won't be disturbed.

The picture is one of my latest wines just after being put into the demijohn.

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The lees or dregs.
The lees or dregs. | Source

Racking The Wine

After a few weeks, it was time to rack the wine. This is when it is syphoned out of the demijohn, leaving behind the 'lees', or sludge at the bottom of the container. The container is then sterilised again.

It's useful to take the specific gravity again here, using the hydrometer. This measures the alcohol content of the wine. A good hydrometer will tell you when the wine is ready to bottle, and if it is sweet or dry. I tend to go for the sweet type.

If the wine is too dry, a small amount of liquid sugar, or glycerine may be added to the mix. I like to use glycerine, as it smooths the finished product. The wine is then returned to the demijohn for further fermentation.

Racking may be done several times over a few months. The best wine I ever made was when I actually forgot it, and didn't rack for about three or four months, so it was very well fermented when I finally got around to it.

If there are bubbles of gas coming through the water in the airlock, then fermentation is still taking place, and the wine remains in the demijohn until this stops.

Once you are satisfied that the wine has finished fermenting, it can be bottled, and put away to mature for as long as that particular wine needs. Some wines won't last.

E.C. Kraus Alcohol Hydrometer
E.C. Kraus Alcohol Hydrometer

You'll need one of these to test the alcohol level, or specific gravity, and to see when your brew is ready to bottle.

 

Bottling The Wine

Wine storage.
Wine storage. | Source

Bottling the wine is my favourite part - it means the hard work is over, and the fun part is coming. Of course, sterilising the wine bottles, and getting the wine into them is another messy business for me.

I've actually tried corking the bottles, but found it quite difficult, so I prefer to use screw top bottles for my wines.

There is a danger of bottles exploding if fermentation continues in the bottles - that's why it's important to be sure that it's finished before bottling the wine. As an added safety measure, I use an old fridge, out in the garage, as a storage for my bottled product. To date, there hasn't been a problem.

The photo shows the current stock of home made wines.

Ready to drink.
Ready to drink. | Source

The Finished Product!

The photo is my plum wine, not as crystal clear as I'd like, but very tasty all the same. Plum wine is notoriously difficult to get really clear, and I'm certainly no expert. It was very enjoyable to sit and watch TV with a glass of it to hand!

I used to give a lot of my wines away, but my partner says keep it for ourselves; He must like it. :-)

July, 2014: Have just opened a 2 litre bottle of 2010 vintage plum wine, and it is absolutely beautiful. Perfect with desert, or just to sit and enjoy a glass or two. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the 2012 parsley variety, and that bottle has just gone down the kitchen sink - back to the drawing board for that one. I must have kept it too long.

Your Comments Please

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    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      I've also heard about exploding wine bottle, but so far it hasn't happened to me. You need to wait until fermentation is over before bottling, and it happens more with sparkling wines, so I've heard. For safety, I store my wine in an old non-working fridge in the garage. Thanks for dropping by.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Enjoyed reading about your experience and the tips and warnings about the fermentation process. I've heard horror stories about exploding bottles of wine although it's never happened to me personally. Your end result looks good enough to drink!

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 3 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I've never made my own wine, but your photos brought back memories of my Dad who often had a demijohn bubbling by the hearth.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      There is a process of making wine with rice :)

    • Kazee LM profile image

      Kay Collier 4 years ago from Australia

      Well done Snakesmum, never heard of Plum Wine...looks delicious.

    • clevergirlname profile image

      clevergirlname 4 years ago

      How very exciting- I had not put much thought into making wine from home but I do love wine!

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      Love making wine, and have made it from grapes, blackberries, honey and dandelions. Some were wonderful, others not so much. One of the most serendipitous events was on discovering that unpasturized apple cider in my fridge had begun fermenting. I cleaned out a gallon jug, racked that from the container in the fridge, and slapped a fermentation lock in it so fast your head could spin. It was a chancy endeavor, but the result was wonderful hard cider.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      Yum - I love seeing all those bottles with the different labels. Plum wine sounds wonderful.

    • profile image

      RoSelou 4 years ago

      @Snakesmum: Great news for me. Thanks.

    • Snakesmum profile image
      Author

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @RoSelou: Yes, any fruit can be used to make wine, and some vegetables too!

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      I've, made my own wine in Spain from my own grapes. There is nothing quite so satisfying. My sister constantly makes her own wine in England, White, Red and Rose and has done for a few years, she loves it and hers tastes really good, and of course saves money.

    • profile image

      RoSelou 4 years ago

      We don't have plum in our area, can i make a wine out from any fruit? your lens gives me an idea.