Make Winethe Walker's Way

1Drawing off Before Fermentation

  1. When you get your juice home, you should inoculate with Potassium Metabisulfite (1/4 tsp. per 5 gallons). This will help eliminate any wild yeasts and bacteria that may be present in the juice, providing a sterile environment for your commercial yeast to begin working in. Also, you should siphon off about 2/3 to 3/4 of a gallon of juice into a small jug, creating a large headspace in your container helping to avoid a messy overflow during the violent stage of fermentation.

2Preparing Your Yeast

  1. Wine experts are divided on the necessity of this procedure. Just sprinkling the dry yeast into your juice can give you a successful fermentation. However, hydrating your yeast according to the directions on the packet can help reduce the time it takes for your wine to begin fermenting. This could be important if you choose not to inoculate your juice with Potassium Metabisulfite prior to fermentation.

3Violent Stage of Fermentation

  1. The initial 7 to 14 days after fermentation begins is commonly referred to as the “violent stage.” Most wines will go through this phase with low to moderate amounts of foam being produced. Periodically, some wines (usually reds) may ferment so vigorously that the foam could be pushed up into the airlock causing the wine to overflow and splatter on everything around it. Some yeast strains can produce a more active fermentation than others. Allowing more headspace in the container, and using anti-foam can be beneficial in preventing this from happening.

4Pouring Back

  1. After the initial or violent stage of fermentation is over (7 to 14 days), the partial gallon of juice you drew off before adding the yeast should be added back to the carboy. This will reduce the space in the neck of the carboy and help prevent the chance of oxidation. As fermentation slows, less CO2 gas is being produced. By creating a smaller “headspace” in the carboy, less CO2 gas in necessary to keep the air from coming in contact with your wine.


  1. When fermentation has completed, you should rack your wine off the sediment. If you have a bottle of last year’s vintage, you should top off your wine and bring the level up into the neck of the carboy. This will reduce the “headspace” while your wine clears over the next few months. The addition of Potassium Metabisulfite at the time of racking, along with topping off your carboy, will help prevent the possibility of oxidation.


  1. Over time, your wine should clear on it’s own. However, using a fining (clarifying) agent can help you achieve virtually crystal clear wine sooner. Bentonite and sparkloid are two types of fining agents that can clear up most of the “hazes” you may experience, giving you that professional look in your finished homemade wine.

7 Sweetening

  1. By itself, this juice will ferment out to a dry wine. We recommend you bottle it dry and sweeten it upon consumption. Make a simple sugar syrup by heating 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar, and then allow it to cool. Make enough so you can have extra on hand for future use. Then, add the syrup to the wine until the desired sweetness is reached. This can be done by the glass or by the bottle. By doing this, several different styles of wine can be consumed from the same batch. (Note: if bottling sweetened wine for future use, the addition of Potassium Sorbate and Potassium Metabisulfite should be used to help stabilize the wine and inhibit renewed fermentation.)

8The Final Product

  1. Home winemaking can be an enjoyable hobby for just about anyone. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or an “old pro,” you can create a fine wine. With a little practice, you can create something you will be proud to give away, or serve to your friends. Homemade wine makes a great gift idea for the holidays, and is relatively inexpensive when you divide the cost per bottle. The satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself can be very rewarding.

*Sulfite, Yeast, and Oxidation

  1. The earth’s atmosphere abounds with all kinds of yeast, molds, and bacteria. Oxygen encourages the growth of these micro-organisms. That is why it is so important to protect your wine from exposure to air. During fermentation, enough carbon dioxide gas is produced to help protect your wine. However, when fermentation is complete and you plan to rack, it will once again be necessary to add Potassium Metabisulfite because most of the protective properties that were present in the juice will have dissipated.


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