I am seriously looking at making my own wine …my only hesitation is a concern that I can only produce a very mediocre wine .. one that does not come close to commercial wine offerings (I have a 200 bottle cellar and enjoy wines from around the world). So understanding there are no guarantees and I am responsible for making the wine, can one make a comparable wine to mid range commercial offerings? Also, assuming that is my goal, which homemade wine kits would you recommend that could achieve this?
Thank you for the great question… This is a concern that many individuals contemplating making their own wine have. How I would answer your question has changed fairly dramatically over the past 20 years or 30 years to today.
First, A Little Story… Please Bare With Me.
In the 60’s home wine making in America was primarily a way to make good use of the abundant fruit around on the farm. A farmer would pick a bucket of raspberries… He’d look down a the raspberries… Then he’d remember all the of raspberry jam he already had in his cellar… Learning how to make your own wine out of some raspberries seemed to make good sense.
In the 70’s making wine slowly changed from a way to put excess fruit to practical use, to a way to have fun with it as a hobby. Home winemakers could dress up their bottles with wine bottle labels and pass them out to family and friends as a personalized wine gift. There were a couple of companies producing wine concentrates for the home wine making market during this time, but their selections were pretty scant. Most of the wine was still being made from fresh fruits.
In the 80’s home wine making changed in a big way for the United States. Several Canadian wine kit producers that had been dramatically growing their market up north of the boarder (thanks to high Canadian alcohol taxes), decided to expand their markets even further by delving into the U.S. market. This filled a big void for the U.S. home winemaker that desperately need to be filled. Over time the selection and quality of homemade wine kits began to improve. Not only were there country winemakers making their fruit wines, but now there were a lot of wine lovers and wine enthusiasts coming on to the home wine making scene.
In the 90’s it was more of the same. Different Canadian wine kit producers fought for market share in both Canada and the U.S. Some companies fought harder than others, and as a result there was some consolidation among the industry. The producers that remained standing began focusing on how they could make their product better than their competitors’.
By 2000 the quality of concentrates had risen to a point of excellence. Wine kit producers not only improved their production methods, but they were also seeking higher quality grapes from different parts of the world. During this decade a wider breadth of quality became readily available to the home winemaker. You could spend anywhere from $30 to $200 for the concentrated grape juice to make five or six gallons of wine.
This is the end of part I of this two part series. In part II we’ll finish answering the question about how good these homemade wine kits are.
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.