Sunday, August 28, 2011

good advice for homemade winemakers

photo by Renee Wilkinson of
This is the time of year when you either do or you procrastinate and you don't do.

We have been doing so much lately- but little that's relevant to this blog.  Our adventure into the world of purchasing foreclosed property and landlordship has drained most of our resources for other more enjoyable pursuits. The kids get our spare time, then there's not a lot left.

One thing that my good friend Stefan and I have been talking about since last spring is making plum wine.  He is also a busy guy with two kids and another on the way, so it's no surprise that two busy dads have been unable to get together and make something like this happen.  This isn't one of those wife-approved things do do either, being as we'd probably be consuming a fair deal of fermented beverages while we are picking fruit and making the aforementioned wine.

I was hoping to blog about it, so I was more than a bit bummed out that we haven't made it happen.  So I was even more surprised, in a happy good way, when I looked up another urban homesteading blog that I like to check in at once in a while- and she had written a post on making plum wine!  Really recently too-- and she's just at the stage of transferring it to the carboy right now, so it should be interesting to follow.  See it here at

I love the article, but I'll also add some things I would do differently:  I'd not use the yeast energizer, the yeast nutrient, acid blend or tannin.  Pectic enzyme is probably useful with plums, and the yeast is essential.  I'm always a bit skeptical when walking into the wine and beer supply store and the clerk reccommends a whole chemistry set of goodies to purchase.  Most of it isn't necessary.  I'd add some frozen grape juice for tannin and acidity as well as a bit of lemon or unsweetened cranberry juice.

Fruit ferments.  If you've ever kept unpasteurized apple cider for a few days, you know how easy it is to ferment fruit.  It just happens on its own.  Give it better yeast and it ferments longer and better.  But yeast energizer?  I'd leave it alone.

My younger brother makes some really good wines, and he uses yeast nutrient, so I probably shouldn't pan that so hard.  I've had a couple fermenatations get 'stuck' while fermenting in my basement over the winter, and nutrient may have helped.  Warmer temperatures would have helped too, so it's hard to pin it on any one thing.

What I do know is that my best wines have been made without chemicals- even the sulfur dioxide that all the books recommend.  I outline it a bit in this earlier post on mulberry wine.

If Stefan and I ever get around to making a batch, I'll post it up.  For now see Renee's wine at hipchickdigs and tell me if you brew something up.


  1. Hi Jeff,

    Another great post--I read all of them, even if I don't comment all the time! I know you're busy, but dig this chick's blog has a timely post for busy, engaged people. Be sure to follow the link to her article in mama digs. I love her blog--it's mostly about raising her family and not too much about gardening, but the writing's solid and I love her perspective. I will definitely check out hipchickdigs, too!



  2. Thanks Jodi,

    I always enjoy your comments too. Reader comments are really what make doing this worthwhile.

    I've been checking in at Compost Cowgirls here and there too (it's ok to self-promote by the way- I've done it sorta shamelessly on certain other blogs). I liked the declaration that this has been the worst gardening year ever. It sort of has been, although the later part of summer seems to be making up for it.

    Glad you like dig this chick too-- I found it via hipchickdigs and have become a little bit addicted to it. Her kids are about the same age as mine, so its fun to see what they do. Her photography is so much better than mine- I feel embarrassed. I suppose it's something to aspire to.

  3. I'm not a wine maker, but my husband is. Don't skip the nutrient. I don't really remember why, but I remember a lot of swearing when it happened.