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Techniques

Making Port Style Wine from Mustang Grapes

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By far, the most prolific wild grape in Texas is the widely distributed Vitis mustangensis, or Mustang grape. It was historically the major wine grape of early settlers and remains a dominant choice for home winemakers in its distribution area. As popular as the wine is, there is also a great popularity in Port-style Mustang

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Your First Wine Barrel

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After 15 years of making wine, I am finally embarking upon the use of barrels and it is very exciting. Just having the barrels in my homewinery creates an ambiance that is softer, more aromatic and a bit primitive. I’m feeling that my homewinery is now more in sync with the Old World milieu of

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Making Riesling Roundtable

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Ask any wine expert and they will tell you — Riesling deserves its day in the sun. Long touted as one of the most food-friendly wines available, it’s versatility in the winery also cannot be beat. Riesling can be made into a variety of wine styles, from bone dry to icewine, and can be enjoyed

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Small-Space Home Winemaking

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The running gag around our place is that you’ve heard of a microbrewery or microwinery? Well, we have a nanowinery. Our winery is so small (how small is it?) we have to step outside to change our minds. Okay, you’ve heard the jokes, but let’s be real. Not every home winemaker has the luxury of

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Growing Riesling Grapes: Tips from the Pros

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If you live in a place with cooler weather and want to grow a versatile vinifera varietal, Riesling might be your best bet. Think Germany and Austria when you think of a climate for Riesling. In this issue, we asked two Riesling experts to discuss how they grow their grapes and how you can use

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Understanding Oxygen and Oxidation in Winemaking

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As budding winemakers, one important principle we heed is protecting juice (must) and wine from oxygen’s baneful effects. But then we learn that yeast needs a “little” oxygen for a good fermentation, that reds benefit from “some” aeration, and that some white varietals can be subjected to lots of oxygen with no ill-effects while others

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Small Scale Vineyard Spraying

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This article will provide the backyard grape grower with a pragmatic guide to the use of pesticides on a small scale. I will cover an approach to developing a spray program for your vineyard, the spraying equipment, and the calculations determining how much pesticide to apply to your vineyard. Developing Your Program For the purpose

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Chardonnay Winemaking Tips from Burgundy

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Being a lover of Pinot Noir, I am intrigued and mystified by Burgundy. During my visit to Burgundy as part of a film crew working on a television series about wine, I had the chance to visit many world-renowned domaines. I tasted in the cellar from the barrel and of course, I was blown away

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Aging Country Fruit Wines

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Wine is a dynamic chemical soup, constantly changing, evolving, reducing and oxidizing. From the moment it is made, its fate is sealed. Yes, it will improve, mature, reach a peak, and then it will decline and eventually become undrinkable. The best we can do is make it in such a way that it ages gradually,

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Controlling Grapevine Vigor: Tips from the Pros

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One of the biggest challenges to growing grapes — commercially or recreationally — is controlling vine growth, which is known as vigor. If the vines are too productive, or not productive enough, the grapes (and resulting wines) will suffer. Two grape growing experts share some vigor advice for finding a happy medium in your backyard.

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15 Facts About Wine Yeast

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For more than 10 years I have been a home winemaker and for almost that long I have also brewed beer. Before that, I was general manager at a company that sells wine production products — including yeast — to commercial wineries. Through all that time, two facts about yeast most impressed me. First, what

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15 Wine Kits to Try

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Most home winemakers have limits on their winemaking space, equipment, cellar capacity or the ability of their liver to keep up. If you are one of those who has to pick and choose, this article could be a sort of personal bucket list, especially if like a lot of folks you’ve found a “house” wine

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15 Home Vineyard Tips

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One truism in almost everything I do is this: By the end of any project, I am competent to start it properly. Nowhere is this more evident than in viticulture, and backyard vineyards are often a source of great disappointment because we knew so little when we first planted the vines. In the olden days

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15 Keys to Winemaking Success

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As we look back at the many wines we made, we cherish the memories of those winners that amazed our friends and family. But there have been failures too and perhaps some disappointments when we expected that “great” wine to fetch gold at competitions but failed to earn any medals. Have we learned anything from

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15 Wine Styles You Need to Make

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One of the things that makes wine irresistible is the endless variety: every grape, every region, every vintage, every bottle tastes a little different from the last. And so while there is no crime in getting better and better at making one wine or one style, there is much to be learned — and much

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Making Cabernet Franc: Tips from the Pros

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Cabernet Franc can be a very versatile grape to grow in your backyard vineyard — and more forgiving in some ways than Cabernet Sauvignon. But what does it take to make good Cab Franc at home? In this issue, three experts discuss techniques for making Cabernet Franc in the vineyard and in the winery. Terry

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Choosing Corks and Wine Closures

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As I walked about the roomful of wine following April’s WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition judging, I was reminded of how little thought is given to closures. Winemaking problems notwithstanding, this could confirm the fact that I found far too many wines to be oxidized. There were recycled screw caps, both aluminum from wine bottles

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Winemaking by the Numbers

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There are lots of ways to help winemakers learn or refine their craft. Most of those involve lists of equipment and supplies, along with step-by-step or time-based instructions for what to do


White Wine Skin Contact

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Today’s proposed violation takes on one of the dominant conventions of modern white winemaking: no skin contact.


Home Vineyard Experiments

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Bibliographies are traditionally presented at the end of an article, but there is a book that proved so central to the production of this article that it must be given a leading role, a beauty shot and a recommendation for purchase. This seminal work of viticultural research is called Sunlight Into Wine by Dr. Richard

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Wines Two Ways: Oaked and Unoaked

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To Oak, or not to Oak, a phrase I took from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and changed the words around a little. But going a step further and delving into the tools that winemaker’s have in their hip pocket, are all the tools necessary? Some winemakers think they have to follow a certain recipe or protocol

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Performing Bench Trials

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At first glance, bench trials for home winemaking may seem like more trouble than they’re worth. Variously called bench trials, bench tests, or even kitchen table trials, they are focused experiments targeted


2013 WineMaker International Wine Competition Results

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4,564 entries 923 wine flights 2,282 total judging hours 50 American states 8 Canadian provinces 9 Countries From April 19 to 21, 2013, a record total of 4,564 different wines were judged


Small Batch Wine Experiments

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Making small batches of wine at home can be a real labor of love. If you primarily make wine by the barrel it might be easy to take this idea for granted, but making really small batches (less than six gallons let’s say) can take a lot of effort for little gain. For the many

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Maceration Tips and Techniques

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“Maceration,” says the Concise Oxford Dictionary, is to “soften by soaking.” In red winemaking it is so much more! Indeed, maceration may be viewed as the very essence of what distinguishes the making of red wine from that of white wine. With very few minor exceptions, all grapes have colorless pulp. To achieve the color,

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