Your Source For Making Wine and Beer


Friday, March 30, 2007

Makes 5 Gallons

10 pounds amber malt extract

1 pound crystal 20L

1/2 pound German pale 2-row malt

1/2 pound choclate malt

1 ounce perle hops

1 ounce hallertauer hops

1 package yeast (Bavarian lager yeast preferred)

Place crushed grains in water and steep at 155 degrees for 30 minutes

Remove grains and add malt extract

Boil 1 hour, adding Perle hops after 15 minutes.

Add Hallertauer hops 45 minutes into the boil.

Cool wort and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 50 to 55 degrees for 5 days.

Transfer to secondary fermenter and lager for 3 to 4 weeks.

Bottle and age 1 week.

OG 1.072

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Crabapple Wine

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

  • 6 pounds crabapples (about 6 quarts)
  • water
  • 2 campden tablets
  • 1/4 teaspoon pectic enzyme
  • 1 package wine yeast
  • 1 teaspoon nutrients
  • 3 pounds granulated sugar (about 6 3/4 cups)
  • honey

Crush apples -- DO NOT cut seeds open. Place in primary fermentor. Add enough water to cover apples. Crush and stir in campden tablets. Add pectic enzyme and stir well. Let sit overnight.

The next day, add yeast and nutrients. Stir. Leave for 5 days, stirring each day.

On the 6th day, strain and discard apples. Add sugar. Make up to one gallon with water. Specific Gravity should be 1.100. Put into secondary fermentor with an airlock. Three weeks after
fermentation has stopped, siphon off the lees. Mix 1/2 cup honey with 1 cup wine. Stir honey mixture back into the wine. Put back into secondary fermentor. Fermentation should begin again. If it does not, add 1/2 teaspoon nutrients.

If you want a sweet wine, repeat the honey addition one or two more times, until fermentation does not start again when honey is added. For a dry wine, Rack every three months and do not add more honey.

When wine is 6 to 12 months old, bottle. Wine is ready to drink one year after the date the batch was started.

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Basil Wine

Friday, March 16, 2007

  • 1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 11-oz cans frozen 100% white grape concentrate
  • 14 oz granulated sugar (to specific gravity of 1.085)
  • Water to make one gallon
  • 2-1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 1 Campden tablet, finely crushed and dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp tannin
  • 1-1/4 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 pkt Champagne wine yeast

Wash fresh basil leaves and place in nylon straining bag and tie closed. Put all other ingredients except yeast in primary and stir well to dissolve. Cover primary and set aside 6-8 hours.

Add nylon straining bag, activated yeast, recover primary, and set aside for 5 days. Taste
and remove bag and discard leaves if basil flavor is sufficient. If not, leave bag in an extra day.

Recover primary until s.g. drops to 1.015. Transfer liquid to secondary, top up if required and fit
airlock. Ferment to dryness, then rack, top up and refit airlock.

Repeat every 30 days until wine clears and no new sediments form during a 30-day period.

Stabilize and sweeten to taste if desired (if sweetened, wait three weeks for any renewed fermentation to begin) and rack into bottles. Age 3 months before tasting. Serve chilled.

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Building A Grape Trellis

Friday, March 09, 2007

This is a rare Friday post, well actually it is suppose to be yesterday's post. We are in the process of prepacking for a move in a couple of months, so I spent most of my time working on that. I never really knew that I had so many wine and beer bottles laying around the house. So, I filled a bunch of them and will be giving them to my work buds.

I researched quite a few sites and this site from Iowa State is the best one. It is 64 pages long, in PDF format and has lots of pictures. This is the one I would recommend that you read.

If you just want the general idea of a trellis, this little excerpt from the Mother Earth News, sums it up.

Trellis the grapes on a three-wire trellis. Sink 8-foot-long posts 2 feet deep at the end of each row and at 24-foot intervals within each row. That will give you four posts per row. Between the wooden posts, sink 8-foot-long steel fence posts 2 feet deep at 8-foot intervals. Along your 72-foot row you will have a total of four 6-foot-tall wooden posts and six 6-foot-tall steel fence posts. Tightly stretch 13-gauge wire at 40, 52 and 64 inches above the ground. Secure the end posts with earth anchors—large screws with rings on top, twisted into the ground with a bar.

Either one of these articles is worth the read.


Pruning Grapes

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ah, pruning, my favorite gardening activity. I just love taking the saw and hacking things down that have gotten out of hand. In the last post, I talked about planting your grapevines. I found this article on pruning and was one of the most informative of all that I read.

Standing in front of a mass of tangled grape vine and wondering what to do with it can be a scary experience for the novice or even for the more experienced pruner. Keep in mind two essential ideas:

1. Don't be afraid to cut. When you finish, about 90% of last year's growth will be cut.
2. Grape plants are vigorous, and forgiving. Even if you make a mistake, you'll get a chance to fix it next year.

With that said, you can approach your pruning in a spirit of learning and adventure, not panic. Grapes are best pruned in spring (February/March, or even as late as early April) because if pruned too early a hard frost in late winter can damage the canes and buds.

Starting Young Plants Off Right

When you get your new grape plant it probably will not be pruned; instead you will find a vigorous root system and a lot of bare shoots rising out of the top. At planting time in spring you should reduce these numerous shoots to one, and cut it back to three buds (Step 1). After planting, the vine will begin to grow, and push out new green shoots. When these shoots are 8-12" long, choose the best one and support it by tying to a stake at top and bottom. Look for a strongly growing shoot, upright or nearly so, coming directly out of the old stem (not from the underground root system). Remove the other shoots (Step 2).
Pruning Young Plants Sketch
As the shoot grows throughout its first summer, continue tying it up the stake to keep it straight and prevent breaking in the wind. This shoot will be your permanent trunk, lasting the whole life of the vine, so it pays to keep it as straight and upright as possible.

First Dormant Pruning

Your first-year vine should have reached to or above the first trellis wire (about 30") during the previous season's growth. If it hasn't, cut it back again to 3 buds, and repeat the previous year's treatment. This may seem drastic, but necessary to establish a sound trunk. Most plants are vigorous and will reach the wire easily. If the last year's shoot just reaches the wire or a few inches beyond, cut it at the first bud above the wire and tie the shoot to the stake and the wire (A). If the shoot is longer, tie it to the stake and wire, cut the vine four or five buds beyond the tie, bend the remaining length of shoot down to the wire and tie (B). Very vigorous shoots may go well above the wire and put out strong side laterals. Choose the two laterals that are closest to the wire, tie to the wire, and prune to 3-5 buds. Tie the main stem to the wire and stake, and cut just above the side laterals (C).
First Dormant Pruning Sketch
During the summer, train the new shoots up to the next wire, and remove any new shoots that sprout from the root area or lower trunk.

To read more of this article, visit this Washington State University site.


Planting Grapes

Thursday, March 01, 2007

With Spring just around the corner, 19 days to be exact, I thought it would be a good time to start talking about plants that can be grown to make beer or wine with. So for must of the month of March, I'll be covering how to plant and care for grapes and hops. I will also do a post on making your own malted barley. So first up, planting your grapes.

Selecting a site

Growing grapes well requires a long-term commitment. Vines require several years from time of planting to first harvested crop, and they normally do not reach full production until the fifth or sixth year. Grape plants can survive for 50 to 100 years, provided you care for them properly. Thus, it’s important to consider carefully both site selection and site preparation before you plant.

The first step toward consistent production of high-quality fruit is choosing a sunny location. Avoid frosty areas, as new shoot growth in April and May is very susceptible to frost injury. Sheltered home surroundings and sites usually are warmer. If possible, choose a sloping area, especially a south or southwest slope, because they generally have higher temperatures and are less likely to get frost.

In addition, if you plant in a row that goes in a north–south direction, the fruit and leaves will be better exposed to sunlight than in east–west rows; this way, you’ll produce better quality fruit.


Grapes grow on a wide variety of soil types. An important soil factor is drainage. Your grape plants won’t grow well if you have heavy clay soils with poor drainage or soils with an impervious subsoil claypan.

The soil should be free of perennial weeds and well tilled before you plant. You can improve the organic matter content of heavy clay soil by incorporating sawdust, manure, or compost; use only well-decomposed (rotted) material.

Don’t place compost directly in the planting hole; instead, incorporate it into soil in the whole planting area. You usually don’t need to add fertilizer at planting time.


Plant grapes in early spring as soon as you can work the soil. When you buy dormant, bare-root plants, make sure roots don’t dry out before planting. If you’re transplanting from a propagation bed or nursery, dig plants carefully to avoid breaking roots.

At planting, prune off all broken roots, trim very long roots, and prune off all but one vigorous cane from nursery-bought plants. Prune the cane back to two buds before planting. Set plants in a hole large enough to spread roots without bending them and to the same depth they were grown in the nursery.

Firm soil well around roots to remove air pockets, and water thoroughly. Leave a slight depression around the base of the plant to make watering easier. Irrigate plants as required.

Young grapevines can’t compete with weeds or established lawn grass for water and nutrients. Keep the planting free of all weeds. Cultivate shallowly, no deeper than 1 to 3 inches, to avoid injuring roots.


The spacing between rows depends in part on the training and trellis system you choose. In backyard plantings, 9 feet generally is suitable.

Spacing within the row depends on the cultivar you plant and the training system you use. Space European cultivars (Vitis vinifera) 6 to 7 feet apart. You can set American cultivars (V. labrusca) 7 to 8 feet apart in the row, because they are more vigorous (have longer internodes).

You can read more of this article at the Oregon State University's Ag Extension. The original article was written by Bernadine C. Strik, Extension berry crops specialist, Oregon State University.



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