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Techniques

Winemaking Tips from Virginia Winemakers

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Four centuries after it was first believed wine grapes would be an agricultural staple in Virginia, early prophecies are a reality. Virginia is quickly emerging as an up and coming wine region in America, with wines that have received national and international attention. In 1619, Jamestown settlers saw the potential for winemaking in the colony.

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Making Country Wine from Berries

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Summer is the time for berries, and that means berry wines. Loaded with flavor and unique aromas, chilled berry wines on warm summer afternoons lend credence to the lyrics, “It’s summertime, and the living is easy . . .” Here are 15 summer berries suitable for wine that you can ferment as soon as the

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Urban Winemaking: Tips from the Pros

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Making wine away from winemaking regions is becoming more popular. As these pros will tell you, urban winemaking comes with unique benefits and challenges. Jared Brandt and his wife, Tracey, are the owners and winemakers of Donkey and Goat in Berkeley, California. The Brandts craft their natural wines from Rhône varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

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Bâtonnage Winemaking Techniques

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You want to add extra body and mouthfeel to your wines, or perhaps enhance those buttery or yeasty aromas and flavors in your barrel-fermented Chardonnay? Or maybe even round out those sharp tannins in young reds? Then you may want to consider lees stirring, or what the French call bâtonnage, the technique of stirring dead

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Making Chambourcin Wine: Tips from the Pros

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Developed commercially 50 years ago, Chambourcin is a versatile grape that is most prevalently grown in the Mid-Atlantic. Producing deep red colors and strong aromas, Chambourcin grapes are used either to stand-alone or in blended wines that run the gamut from dinner wines to dessert wines to sparkling wines. Rick Hall joined Chateau Morrisette in

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The Science of Food and Wine Pairing

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“Carignane and goat cheese,” said Tony Ross, wine educator at Passalacqua Winery near Healdsburg, California. During a judging session for a local home wine competition, Tony and I were on the same panel. Between entries, I mentioned working on this “Techniques” column on pairing and he gave me his favorite recommendation. I went on to

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Malolactic Fermentation Timing

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Home Winemakers, Let’s Take a Vote: Those of you who put your wines through malolactic fermentation only after the alcoholic fermentation is complete, raise your hands. Now those of you who do both at the same time, in order to get it all over with, raise your hands. Congratulations: Both teams are right — depending.

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Top 100 Wine Kits 2013

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Over 50 experienced judges evaluated a total of 2,725 wine kit entries as part of the 2013 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. This large collection of kit entries was sent into the competition from across North America originating from 8 Canadian provinces and all 50 American states. The 2,725 wine kit entries were entered in

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Sparkling Techniques

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There is nothing as refreshing and enjoyable as a chilled bottle of mousseux (foamy), or fine bubbly. No longer are sparkling wines simply uncorked to celebrate a new year or a kid’s college graduation. Consumers are finally discovering this exquisite style of wine with global consumption that is now growing at twice the rate of

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Meritage Roundtable: Tips on Making Bordeaux-Style Blends in the New World

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The name Meritage is a blend of the words merit and heritage (and pronounced to rhyme with the latter). But beyond a commitment to using the same grapes as those used in the great wines of Bordeaux, making a Meritage blend is mostly a matter of a winemaker’s own tastes and preferences. Like most things

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Making Sparkling Wine: Tips from the Pros

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These three pros offer up tips to make your own sparkling wine at home. Steve DiFrancesco is the Winemaker for Glenora Wine Cellars in Dundee, New York. If you’re going for a classic elegance in your sparkling wine you want very delicate flavors from the grapes because the effervescence is going to elevate the aromatics;

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Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Way to Better Wine Kits

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I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of veteran winemakers at a guided wine tasting I conducted this fall. Together, they had made dozens of batches of wine, were using advanced techniques and had won medals; most recently two gold, one silver and three bronze medals between them in the WineMaker International Amateur

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Higher Alcohol Off-Odors in Wine

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Did you ever create a wine that seemed more viscous than your typical wine, or which may have exhibited heavier fruity odors, or perhaps a solvent-like smell? The culprits may well be higher alcohols, also called fusel oils; all wines contain some at various concentrations. Higher alcohols in small concentrations can contribute positive aromatic characteristics

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Fining Your Way to Clear Wine

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Fining of wine is the addition of one substance to remove another. It is a diverse subject with several classes of materials involved in its use and lots of different intended outcomes.

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Build a Carboy Cleaner

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I learned quickly during my early days of cleaning up after myself in the winery that a carboy brush is designed to spackle the walls, surrounding cabinets and the user with undesirable crustiness from within the carboy interior. Sure, a brush does a good job of cleaning the major gunk out, and it’s cheap, but

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Design your Home Winery

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We have had many customers at Blichmann Engineering ask about using our fermenters for winemaking, which is why I decided that I needed to learn more about making wine. My first batch of whole fruit red wine was a classic disaster resulting in a large stain on the carpet in my basement. I was woefully

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Grapevine Pruning Fundamentals

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Pruning is the removal of portions of the vine. Training is the arrangement of the vine parts both immediately after pruning and as the vine grows. The trellis is the physical structure upon which the vine grows. All three of the above elements are used to optimize the vine’s performance. The goal is to balance

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Making Sangiovese: Tips from the Pros

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Sangiovese is primarily associated with wines from Italy, especially from the Tuscany region. However, there are also a number of vineyards in the New World growing Sangiovese. The 2012 California Grape Crush Report shows winemakers in the state crushed 9,400 tons of Sangiovese. Here are two pros who contributed to that number. Steven Kirby is

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Managing Minerals in Winemaking

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Mineral deficiencies or excesses can become sources of frustration for amateur winemakers because minerals, metals and other ionic substances cannot be easily measured and their role in biochemical and chemical reactions can be quite complex. One of the most remarkable and visible effects of these substances are tartrate crystals resulting from wine containing a high

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Pairing Yeast with Grape

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Start with the grapes. Whether you make wine at home from fresh grapes, juice, or frozen must, there are many influences over the quality and character of your wine. Grape variety itself is perhaps most significant for the wine style choices you make. Unless you grow your own grapes — and in some cases, even

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Making the Transition from Home Winemaker to Pro Winemaker

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In the life of the amateur winemaker, there may come a time when the idea of starting a commercial winery pops up. Making wine can be a gratifying and engaging career, so


Yeast Impact on Wine Aroma and Flavor

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If you are of the opinion that yeast selection does not matter and that the only role of yeast is to convert sugar into ethyl alcohol (ethanol), you may have been missing


Perfecting Pinot Grigio

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Pinot Grigio is everywhere, flooding every supermarket wine aisle and all over the wine lists at restaurants that don’t give much thought to their wine lists. It’s the single biggest (by volume) import category into the US. The annual crop in California has increased by 1000 percent in the last decade, positioning it second only

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Cool Climate Winemaking Tips from Ontario

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There is no better way to get to know a wine region than paying a visit and chatting up the winery management and their staff. It is then that you can learn more about the hard work and dedication that goes into making great wine. I recently visited Prince Edward County (PEC) in Ontario, Canada

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Wine Evaluation: Tips from the Pros

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To make good wine one must understand what good wine is and, alternatively, understand and be able to detect wine faults. Anyone can learn to evaluate wine, and as a winemaker it is critical to be able to identify wine faults. If you want to learn where to begin, taking tips from these pros is

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