Birthday Planning for a Winemaker

As many Texans can attest, wine is not something that tourists have historically flocked to Texas for in the past. Yet, with the recent expansion of Texas vineyards, this has recently begun to change. The commercial winemaking scene in Texas has become a rapidly growing business, and with that the interest in winemaking among amateurs has also risen. There continue to be more and more retailers selling grapes, wine kits, and winemaking supplies to home winemakers. However, even though there are an abundance of options, that is not to say deciding which wine supplies to start a new hobby off with has become any easier.

I have a friend who always talked about wanting to make his own wine. He discussed where he would make it in his house, and how it would work, but never got around to doing it. Like many of us who love the idea of making our own wine, he never knew where to start. So one year for his birthday, I came up with the idea to put together a birthday package to get him started on home winemaking. Not a winemaker myself, I started by doing some research on the basic tools and ingredients he would need. I thought it would be easy to figure out what to buy for his gift, I mean there must not be that many options, right? I was wrong.

When starting to do research on what to buy, so many links with information on different ingredients and winemaking tools came up on the screen. This much information can be overwhelming. So I took a deep breath and decided to try to narrow my search. I started with a wine kit and decided the first thing I needed to do was learn the differences between fully concentrated grape juice kits and partially concentrated kits. After doing some more reading, both seemed like something that my friend would enjoy learning about and working with at his home. Though I thought that a fully concentrated grape juice kit would be best for his gift. When it came to wine style, I knew I wanted a red table wine, but the options were mesmerizing. So many brands with various blends and varietal options.

I ended up making notes about many different wine kits that I could bring with me to the local winemaker supply retailer in case they didn’t have my first choice or as many options as I found on the Internet. Then I was on to learning about what supplies he would need. I rounded out my shopping list with some basics, such as a 1-gallon (4-L) jug, measuring cups, and a primary fermenter. I couldn’t afford to buy everything he would need to make wine, but it would be enough to get him started and enjoy himself.

It took a lot longer to learn what I needed to know about winemaking to fill out my shopping list. Thankfully, I got to the store with a good idea of what I needed, and I made it there on time. In the end I went to a large wine supply store and bought a fully concentrated grape juice Pinot Noir wine kit that made 5 gallons (19 L). I knew my friend would enjoy his birthday gift.

Finally, the research and shopping was over and I was confident my hard work would result in putting a big smile on his face. All I had to do now was get home, add the birthday card, and give my friend his gift. As I arrived home my cell rang and I smiled when I saw my friend’s name on my phone.

“Guess, what” he said after exchanging greetings. “I bought myself a birthday gift. A wine kit!”