Making Wine at Home: Part 1

I was JUST talking to someone this past weekend in Palm Springs (was it you Sasha?) about making wine at home. She asked if it was possible and how to go about doing it. I said YES, definitely possible. But how exactly? That I wasn’t as sure about. Where do you source the grapes? What kind of equipment is necessary? Could you ferment without having to add yeasts?

No less than a day later, I saw that my friend Jessica was stomping her first batch of grapes in her kitchen in LA! So, I asked her if she would document the process for all of us.

Sunday, September 25…

“Part 1 was sorting and stomping the grenache grapes (from Mud Creek Ranch) We are not innoculating with yeast and hope that it will do so naturally (we have some of Willy‘s sourdough starter in the room and hopefully having that near by will help it get going.)”

When they started, the fruit came in at 24 brix (a measure of sugar levels). Jessica and Willy aren’t using a yeast starter but her buddy Mark Ryan decided to use a little.  As of Thursday the 29th, she says Mark’s batch now “has a furious fermentation going and is at 16 brix.” Jessica and Willy’s batch is still chugging along though and is now at 19. PS- you can measure brix with a refractometer. Drop that word in a casual convo and sound really smart.

Mud Creek Ranch is a certified organic farm located in Santa Paula that Jessica gets a lot of fruit from for her FANTASTIC jams (I’ve been putting the Strawberry Rose on my oatmeal every morning!) They’re at the Hollywood and Santa Monica farmer’s markets if you want to get in on what they’re putting down. They happen to grow wine grapes as well and she asked them is she could get some. Being the super nice people they are, they brought some to the Sunday Hollywood market for her!

Jessica getting her hands dirty. Literally.

Kelli getting her feet dirty…

Well, sort of. They wore socks to protect the juice from potential funky feet situations. Ladies- the grapes thank you, I think? After crushing they transferred the juice and skins to larger beer fermenters and are leaving the skins to macerate until the brix read 0 and no longer need to do any punch downs.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to see all the pics and read about their progress!

  • Daniel
    September 29, 2011

    so far…. looking good 🙂

  • Irma
    September 29, 2011

    How exciting. I can’t wait to read more about it!

  • Kelli
    September 30, 2011

    Actually, we can’t wait until it gets to zero brix. We’ll have to transfer it to the aging canister around 6 brix…Sept 30 and we’re at 11 brix…

  • Scott
    October 4, 2011

    Cool project.

    Its very interesting to hear that they are running two batches: one with a yeast starter (did they say what kind of yeast they used?) and one without, and both are chugging along ok.

  • Mark
    October 4, 2011


    We used a Lalvin RC212 winemaking yeast and a small amount of sulfur.

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