New Shipment of Grape Crushers and Presses


We recently announced a new stock of seasonal presses and crushers. Presses and crushers are integral to the winemaking process, and ensure that grapes and fruit crush properly before fermentation. For the current season, E.C. Kraus has fully stocked this highly in demand product.
Crushers and presses are used to break the skin of grapes or fruit in order to properly extract juices for fermentation. The crushing process is integral to the success of the wine batch, and requires careful attention to properly de-stem and crush skins. Modern crushers and presses provide both manual and motorized options, ensuring that the crushing process is completed thoroughly and accurately.
While traditionally grapes have been stomped or crushed by hand, contemporary presses allow winemakers to crush large proportions of fruit with minimal time and effort. Late spring is a common time for grape picking and crushing, which promises to deliver fully crafted by wine by the peak summer months.
We place a strong focus on innovation and maintaining status as a complete home wine and beer supplier. We recently added new kegging systems, and the introduction of new wine juice kits continues to be a step towards future expansion. Currently, we offer a wide selection of crushers and presses from leading manufacturers in addition to our reliable supply of wine making kits and beer brewing supplies. Check ’em out today!

Natural vs. Synthetic Corks

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When you think of breaking out a bottle of wine, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Many think of the traditional cork ‘pop’ as a signal of a freshly cracked bottle of wine. But would your wine be just as enjoyable without this symbolic introduction? Today, synthetic wine corks are becoming a popular option over the traditional form of natural corks. There is a great debate over the pros and cons of synthetic and natural corks. For the home wine maker, this can be an important decision. While the home wine making process develops integral flavor profiles, bottling and aging are also primary considerations for developing and maintaining flavor. Before pulling out the wine making kits, read five things you need to know when deciding between a synthetic or natural cork for your homemade wine.
 
1. Cork Taint. Cork taint occurs in natural corks due to a chemical compound called trichloroanisole (TCA). Cork taint can be very disappointing, as it can spoil wine that has been aging for years. Cork taint occurs in approximately 3-15 percent of all bottled wine.
 
2. Sealing. One of the primary concerns with bottled wine is consistency in keeping the cork snug. Glass bottles naturally expand and contract based on temperature and environment, and natural corks will expand and contract along with the bottle. Synthetic corks don’t offer this benefit, and can easily become too loose, letting in too much air, or too tight, rendering bottles unable to be opened.
 
3. Air. While corks need to remain snug, a little bit of natural oxygen is necessary for the wine to age properly. Oxygen allows the natural chemical reactions in wine to occur, producing the aging flavors that are developed over time. Synthetic corks prevent oxygen from reaching the wine, meaning synthetically corked wine technically doesn’t experience the aging process. However, the benefit of synthetic corks is that it does prevent wine from over-oxidation, another primary concern during the aging process.
 
4. Environmentally friendly bottling.  Natural cork is derived from the bark of cork trees, which is actually a very environmentally friendly process. The bark is a renewable resource that grows back over time. Cork bark is striped every ten years, and each individual tree can produce bark for up to 200 years. Cork trees also provide lots of environmental benefits, such as trapping harmful carbon dioxide and lessening pollution.
 
5. Cost. The cost of synthetic corks is substantially lower, one of the reasons that many commercial bottles are now adopting this trend. Today, approximately 9% of all bottles of commercially packed wine use a synthetic cork, and these numbers continue to quickly rise.
 
As you may see, there are pros and cons for using each type of cork. There are many debates over which cork type is best suited for a specific wine type, and as we divulge here, it is hard to come to a conclusive answer. Being aware of the pros and cons will allow you to make an informative decision on how you want to approach your next bottling process. Making careful choices, from the type of wine making equipment used to the appropriate type of cork, will allow you to successfully create the wine of your dreams.

Homegrown Grapes for Wine Making

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Whether you are an old pro at home wine making or just getting started, there is so much potential to create your own signature flavors and creations. Many wine-makers enjoy doing so by growing their own batch of grapes. Homegrown grapes are a growing trend in wine making, and a great way to get more involved in the flavor creation process.
 
Different grapes prosper in different regions, so before getting started it’s important to carefully research which grapes will grow optimally in your specific location and climate. One popular type is vitis vinifera, a grape that produces popular flavors such as Chardonnay, Merlot, White Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Vitis vinifera derives from a European grape family, and is commonly found in areas such as the Pacific Northwest, California, and Mid-Atlantic regions with milder climates. For colder or wetter climates, alternate grape options are often found. Vitis labrusca grapes are a common type of grape less vulnerable to cold, and may be successfully grown in northern regions.
 
Now, for the grape growing. After you have researched the best type of grapes to successfully grow in your region, get started with planting vines. The best time of the year to plant vines is early spring. Vines generally take about three years to mature and bear fruit, so be prepared with some patience. Make sure to pick a very sunny location, with good soil drainage. Nutrient poor soil is optimal for grapes, because smaller, undernourished grapes produce the most flavorful wines. After planting vines, ensure that trellises are at least six feet high. As the vine continues to grow, prune and train the vine carefully and correctly.
 
You will see your vine blossom and mature over several years, until it finally bears fruit. Approximately ten pounds of grapes produce a gallon of wine, meaning ten to twenty vines are needed to produce a smaller batch of wine. Growing grapes is a rewarding aspect of wine making, and allows you to create distinct, authentic flavoring. Remember, great grapes make great wine. While the harvest process is important in developing strong flavors, it is just important to carefully store grapes prior to wine making. Once you get down the basics of growing grapes, break out the wine making kits, and get started on learning how to use your wine making equipment to develop your own signature creation!

Springtime Wines

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Springtime is finally in full gear, and before we know it summer will be right around the corner. With the season warming up, we thought it was appropriate to share some of our favorite springtime wines (and food pairings!). So pull out the wine making kits, sit back, and relax as we spill our best-kept springtime secrets for wine.
 
Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc and other Sauvignon blends make the perfect springtime wine. Sauvignon blends have become exceedingly popular due to their extensive variety and unmatched quality for an unbeatable price. Sauvignon blends generally give off a hint of citrus, lime, and crisp fruits, while always providing a fresh taste. Pairs well with light springtime meals including: seafood dishes, asparagus, and goat cheese.
 
Prosecco: Often a summertime favorite, Prosecco is a soft wine loved by many. Similar in taste to champagne, but with less of an edge, Prosecco is a charming and sparkling alternative. Drink poolside and mix with an assortment of fresh berries and fruits!
 
Pinot Grigio: Quality Pinot Grigio is a must-have for summer. This minerally white wine is light but not too thin. We suggest pairing this crisp wine with an Italian meal, preferably light pastas or with tomato-based sauces.
 
Grüner Veltliner:This white wine has an unmatched crisp-ness that is toned down with fruit flavors such as nectarine and grapefruit. Some versions are light-bodied, while others produce a more concentrated richness. This wine matches best with foods with an Asian influence, such as noodles, salad dishes, and spring rolls.
 
Spring is a great time of the year to pull out the wine making equipment, and create a seasonal favorite of your own. Mix and match to find your very own perfect wine pairing. Trouble figuring out what to do for a springtime recipe? Check out our recipe page to get started. Happy wine making!

Top 10 Reasons to Make Your Own Wine

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  1. It’s easy- By simply following the instructions provided in wine making kits, you’re bound to make some tasty wine. Once you master the steps, the instructions will seem pointless- they will be stored in your expert wine making brain!  
  2. Save money- Imagine never having to buy wine again. Once you have all of the equipment for home wine making, making additional batches is inexpensive. Say goodbye to the liquor store and hello to all of the money you’ll be saving!
  3. Homemade wine has health benefits- Once you become more advanced, you can experiment with the ingredients a bit if you wish. You can choose to add less sugar or less alcohol, making your wine healthier.
  4. You can choose its flavors- When you choose your own wine recipes; you have the ability to give it its own special taste.  You can add flavors such as dried Elderflower to enhance the taste and smells of your creation.
  5. Great activity to reduce stress- Winemaking is both relaxing and enjoyable. Taking the time out of your hectic schedule for a leisure activity is a healthy way to reduce stress.
  6. Always have something to bring to an event or party- Depending on the size of your barrel or carboy, a batch of wine can produce anywhere from 25-100 bottles of wine. Anytime you go to an event or party, you’ll be sure to have the most popular contribution or gift.
  7. Gives you something to talk about- Winemaking is cool; it’s as simple as that. Everyone will want to know about your new hobby and find it fascinating your making your own wine. It is a great conversation starter for when you’re with friends or on a first date!
  8. Make new friends- Winemakers around the globe love sharing their ideas and stories with others, which is why it is a great community to be a part of. There are countless blogs and forums of winemakers, where you’ll enjoy chatting about your mutual hobby. There are also plenty of wine making events where making new friends is impossible not to do!
  9. Benefit your Health – Studies have shown that drinking red wine in moderation (approximately one or two glasses per day) can have numerous health benefits. Red wine has been shown to benefit heart health, protect against certain cancers, and lower cholesterol.
  10. Win awards – If you think you have the best skills around (and of course the best wine making equipment around); there are plenty of contests for home winemakers. These events provide for a great place to make new friends, win prizes, money, and recognition!

The Science and Art of Home Wine & Beer

Step in your local grocery store, stroll down to the beer and wine aisles and take a good look. Some of the words that come to mind: vast, impressive, confusing, overwhelming. Why is this bottle $59 dollars and this one is $11? What do the labels really mean? How do you know where to begin?
You don’t need a sommelier to help you navigate the world of wine. And, just because one brand of beer had a funny Superbowl commercial doesn’t mean it’s any better than the rest. If you really want to drink the best beer and wine you’ll ever have, you can brew beer and make wine at home, yourself, for pennies on what you’d spend at the store.
You Don’t Have to Grow Grapes
Home Wine Making and Beer Brewing making doesn’t mean you need a field of grapes or hops in your backyard. Like any chef preparing a quality meal, you can buy top-quality ingredients, as well as beer brewing kits and wine-making equipment. Home brewing will give you a unique experience, a one-of-a-kind perspective on the process, and a point of pride when you’re done. All you need are the right ingredients, some bottles, and the desire and time.
You Can Get Cheap Beer and Wine Anywhere
You may find other kits that let you make your own beer and wine with very little effort. Don’t forget, what you get out of it is only what you put into it. Don’t go for quick — choose quality.
It’s a Science and an Art 
Like any good recipe, wine and beer making requires you to follow a rigid set of directions to ensure success. The art lies in the subtle nuances that you create to make it your own. You need to learn the rules before you know when to break them. There are recipes for beer and wine all over the Internet. There are even websites devoted to each one. Take the time and study how the pros do it. E.C. Kraus has detailed instructions that can turn you into an expert in no time.
Patience is a Virtue but Waiting is Hard
When you have created your masterpiece, you still need to let nature do its work. Complex chemical reactions turning sugar into alcohol take time. Your perseverance will be greatly rewarded.
Indulge Your Ego
Aside from the joy of drinking your homemade beverages, some say naming your brew and creating your own labels is the most fun. Since glass bottle can easily be recycled, and even washed and reused, there is no reason not to house your spirits in quality containers with a bright colorful label proclaiming yourself as the proud brew master.
Get Started
Now that you are ready to start, E.C. Kraus can walk you through the steps. E.C. Kraus has an extensive selection of home wine making supplies and equipment along with beer brewing kits. With more than 40 years of experience under our belts, we can answer any questions you may have. In no time at all, you’ll be making beer and wine with your own hands

Getting Legs on Your Wine: Does it Really Happen?

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A few weeks ago I attended a dinner party hosted by my wife’s employer who happens to be a successful facial plastic surgeon in the upscale city of Annapolis, Maryland. Immersed in a room that is occupied by many, many people with careers way more distinguished than my own, I’ve decided to lay back and let my wife do her rounds of mingling.  As I’m standing next to a window overlooking the Severn River (beautiful at sunset, I do recommend the view) I found a lot of these people swirling their wine glasses around.  Now, I don’t claim to be a wine enthusiast by any stretch of the word, my wife takes that role, but I have had a few glasses here and there.  I usually just drink it and not think too much about it, though I should put more thought into what goes into the wine.  (From what I understand wine making is a very precise and intricate process). However, I’ve seen this action done by people who know their wine and I’ve always wondered what the purpose was.   Is it a technique to “jumpstart” the wine?  Does it activate something in it? Or is it just a nervous twitch that people in uncomfortable situations tend to subconsciously do.
I asked my wife and she gave me a two part answer.  First she told me that wine, being somewhat organic in nature, needs to breath and the action of swirling allows the wine to open up and release flavor.  Ok, makes sense I suppose, but her second answer sounded a little less scientific.  She told me that legs are a sign of good wine.
Come again?
Legs? 
She proceeded to say that when you swirl the glass around, the wine will leave tear like residue on the on the glass resembling “legs”, thus indicating a high quality wine.  Ok gotcha, wait a minute.. Why would that indicate good wine?  This was the extent to which she could answer; she couldn’t get into the science of it.  So my inquiring mind needed to know what about leggy wine made it superior to its counterpart.  For the record, I tend to listen to whatever my wife says but sometimes it’s fun to call her on her bluff.
After a little bit of research and investigation I came up with some tasty nuggets.  The myth that “legs” or “tears” in wine indicate high quality is just that, myth.  They are in no way an indication of high quality product.  The reality is that “legs” or “tears” in wine are a product of the level of ethanol in the wine, higher levels of ethanol, roughly 12% or higher, will result in this effect.  There are physics and science that go into this explanation, which I will spare you and just give you meat and potatoes.  As you swirl your glass of wine around, the wine goes up the side of the glass.  The two primary components of wine are alcohol (ethanol) and water. Alcohol evaporates faster than water.  As it evaporates, gravity takes over leaving the remaining water to run down the glass in tears. The residue is observable because the differences in how light is refracted by both water and alcohol.  This effect is known as the Gibbs-Marangoni effect, and is named after two scientists whom investigated this phenomenon.
There you have it, this myth has been busted.  However, there is a sliver of truth to this.  Quality of wine is in the eye of the beholder (especially if the beholders make wine at home) and if you value a wine that’s a little more potent, than “legs”, can be one of your best friends.

Health Benefits of Wine

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Wine is a refreshing indulgence at the end of a long work day, a delectable pairing with a succulent steak, and new studies show that it can even be a key to a happy and healthy lifestyle.  Home Wine Making is shown to increase happiness in many people because the tangible outcome of the project is quite rewarding, and well, tasty. Because of the fact that making wine at home in superior volumes produces more bottles than might be necessary for one home, people often give their wine as a thoughtful gift to a loved one, bring a bottle out to dinner, or use it for cooking; all positive things that have shown to increase contentment in one’s life. Confidence, happiness, fulfillment, and serenity all have shown to play an essential function in our physical well-being. When it comes to wine’s health benefits, the amount you’re drinking matters significantly. Studies show woman that drink one glass of wine a day and men that drinks two glasses a day can reap the vast health benefits, but if they drink more than that, they will lose those benefits and certain health risks may increase.
In addition to increasing happiness, wine has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and slow the progression of certain neurological degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. Red wine has a certain phytochemical called resveratrol, which shows a remarkable propensity to reduce risk of various types of cancer because of the way they interact with other phytochemicals already in our bodies.  Red wine provides more resveratrol compared to white wine, due to the difference in the wine making methods. When making white wine, the grapes skin is removed before fermentation, while it is left on longer while making red wines, which allows it to have a greater concentration of resveratrol. Studies also show that moderate amounts of alcohol can raise your good cholesterol which thins your blood, reducing the likelihood of complications such as blood clots and strokes.
If those benefits alone weren’t convincing enough to either set up your first wine making kit or simply pour yourself a glass, new studies are showing that wine can also lead to weight loss in many cases. If you’ve ever felt guilty while sipping on a glass of wine while on a diet, stress no more. Though wine does pack up to 150 calories per glass, it may encourage your body to burn extra calories for as long as 90 minutes after you down a glass. Many people, especially woman, subconsciously substitute a glass of wine for a snack or dessert, so it actually could be cutting your caloric intake per day. Research has shown that people who drink wine on a daily basis have lower body mass than those who only indulge once in a blue moon. Sensible wine drinkers generally have narrower waists and less abdominal fat than people who drink liquor.
If by now you aren’t currently enjoying a glass of chardonnay or pino noir, the list of benefits continues. Wine can help improve your memory and build better bones. It can even prevent against certain bacteria and prevent infections such as salmonella. So go ahead, pour yourself that glass of wine. Self control is the most important thing when consuming alcohol, because drinking in excess essentially erases the benefits in wine and replaces them with a long list of health risks and dangers. Happy wine making… and drinking!

Home Wine Making: Beginning your Next Passion

It was not always like this – staring out the window at the orchard as your memories of the creaking steps fade away into the quiet of the house. With the kids grown up and moved on, you need not focus on a quiet home, reflecting on memories of noises and activity long since past. It’s time to get neck-deep into the creation of new memories, and there’s little better place to begin than just in sight of the house, amongst the grapevines. What may have lain dormant for some years can now be a new source of creative passion.
With the grapes available, as well as more space in the house than in the past, there’s plenty of incentive to get into a new pastime – making your own wine! Plus, there will be less distractions to your concentration on flavors, as the kids won’t be there to demand emergency band-aid applications for their latest playtime wounds.
With your full attention devoted to creating wine with subtle nuances and exquisite natural flavors, it won’t be long before you’re churning out libations that will be the talk of the neighborhood. It’s fine and good to think that you can single-handedly manage to knock Sonoma county off the winemaking map – competition really does make things better for all concerned – but you’ll need help. Becoming an experienced winemaker involves a lot of time and effort. Making mistakes is an inevitable byproduct of the process. To speed your efforts towards making quaffable wines, you’ll do best to learn from some folks who have managed to notch some experience onto their belts. You could go it alone, but by the time you’ve made enough mistakes and learned enough to manage to create some delicious varietals, you might not have time to age them properly and enjoy them!
Skilled assistance is available from practiced winemakers E.C. Kraus, who know the ins and outs of every step of the process. It’s always nice to have the knowledgeable eye of a master next to you as you delve into any new undertaking. This helps to prevent your learning incorrect things at the outset, thus avoiding mistakes that could set you back more than one season.
And who has time to learn the fine art of winemaking by their lonesome? E.C. Kraus has over 40 years of winemaking experience to assist you as you learn how to make wine, how to grow grapes, and everything else you need to know to improve the vino that you pour at your table! Not convinced that you can create a wine that’s as good as that offered on the shelves of your local wine shop? You might surprise yourself. Try this on for size: every new brand label that’s for sale at the store began with someone, much as yourself, who was convinced that their grapes were ready for public consumption. What pours forth from that realization is merely testament to your dedication and effort.

Making Beverages to Match any Occasion

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Beautiful days are made by combining the best of the things that you like to do. There are some things that can make a beautiful day even more memorable, a touch more personal and excellent. How about if you were offering hand crafted drinks to your pals; able to describe the creative process behind each subtly nuanced flavor? What if you could do that without visiting a microbrewery? Of course, you know that you can.
Becoming the ‘Smiling Bartender’
You’ve heard of those beer makers who brew beer at home, ranging from the palest of ales to the deepest, darkest, most full bodied brew. Maybe you’ve even tried your hand at the process, or know someone who crafts drinks to suit their tastes. Have you ever noticed their proud demeanor and smile as they pour you a drink and talk about the taste sensation you’re about to experience? This experience can be yours..
Moving Beyond the Sealed Bottle
Whether you’ve only contemplated wine making from the consumer’s vantage point – a sealed bottle, ready to be opened – or have delved into these age old crafting traditions in the past, E.C. Kraus is your source for all the necessary materials. Well, all the manufacturing necessities, anyway.
Without Limits
You don’t have to only think of others when crafting your own specialty libations. Nor do you have to hide the keg in a fridge in your off-limits space. Your approach can be your own, just as surely as your brews will be. Want to make crisp summer lagers to enjoy a glass at a time as you sit on the front porch during the summer? You don’t need to worry about sharing with others if you’d prefer to have a quiet drink on your own each day.
Regardless of your approach to the art of brewing, E.C. Kraus can help you arrive at your destination. With more than forty years of experience under their belts, they can answer any questions you may have. In no time at all, you’ll be making drinks that taste just how you’ve imagined they should.
Sealed
Like the tight seal on a bottle of perfect wine, you can make an impeccable beverage today, just like masters of beer brewing and the wise vintners who make wine at home. There’s no need to wait. E.C. Kraus has everything you need to begin!