It's All About The Grape!

Napa Valley Grapes MalbecI was talking to one of our customers on the phone, yesterday. We got to talking about the different homemade wine kits he’s made over the last few years. He mentioned how he used to make wine using ingredient kits from our European Select and Legacy brands, but now he only likes to make wine from our top-end kits such as Cellar Craft Showcase.
He was thinking about making wine from fresh grapes this year and he wanted to know which I thought would make a better wine: our top-end wine ingredient kits or wine he made from fresh grapes?
I told him the answer’s simple. As an individual winemaker, you will almost always get a better wine using our top-end homemade wine kits. There are several reasons for this, but the most important and basic one has to do with the grape. A common mantra throughout the wine industry is:
No wine can be better than the grapes used to make it.
Or, as some people like to put it, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. If you have mediocre grapes, the best you can hope for is mediocre wine. Only stellar grapes are capable of making a stellar wine and that’s what you get with our top-end wine ingredient kits.
Unless you are fortunate enough to live in Napa or Sonoma, the grapes that are going to be available to you are most likely not going to be of the same caliber as grapes used to make our high-end homemade wine kits. Although, I am certain that there are many exceptions to this, the fact remains that the odds are way out of your favor when going on the open market to find wine grapes.
The grapes used in our high-end wine ingredient kits such as: Cellar Craft Showcase or Atmosphere, are grown in select regions of the world. They come from the same fields used to produce many high-dollar wines found on the commercial market.
Shop Wine KitsI told him that this doesn’t mean he shouldn’t make wine from fresh grapes. The experience is wonderful and it’s a time that can be shared with family and friend. Wine making from fresh grapes has it’s rewards regardless of the quality. All this really means is don’t expect to make a killer wine with everyday wine grapes… expect everyday wine.
Here’s what the difference between wine ingredient kits and fresh grapes boils down to: If you’re looking for ultimate quality, go with the homemade wine kits. If your looking for the ultimate experience go for the fresh grapes.
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.

8 thoughts on “It's All About The Grape!

  1. I use fresh concord grapes every year. I have two friends with wonderful arbors who allow me to pick the grapes. Using just the juice did leave the wine with a weaker flavor, thinner consistency. I experimented by using a red grape concentrate, one litre bag, any brand will do, and by adding that to the batch, it gave the wine a more velvety texture and boosted the flavor up. I have added oak chips, have also added dried elderberries for additional flavor, leaving racked off batches for up to three months in carboys before final racking and bottling. Now I run out of this wine rapidly every year due to it’s popularity among friends and family. I love tweaking something bit by bit to see what it adds or subtracts from the wine.

  2. Ed,
    Another option that I rarely hear discussed is the use of juice shipped cold from the vineyards. I have used juice exclusively since I got into the hobby about 5 years ago and have had relatively good success. I have used juice from both California and Italy.

    • I’ve also used those juices from California shipped cold for the last four years and so far so good. Indeed very little to no talk about them.

  3. A friend of mine brought a five gallon pail of plumbs to church last Sumday. How bout some info on plum wine. He’s going to bring in another pail full this Sunday. Also I have 72 pounds of Muscadine grapes in the freezer from last year. Does that hurt the grapes?

  4. I made pineapple wine last year and I liked. Today I served some Pineapple with Mint and it was amazing tasty. What do you think about combining these two and make wine. Any idea on how to approach this?

  5. I have recently started a vineyard of Ferdonia grapes. I only got enough to make a gallon of wine last year and it really tasted good. This year, the vines are loaded. Hopefully, they will mature and make good wine again.

  6. We are growing grapes here in Virginia. We have Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and, Vidal Blanc Muscadine and Concord. Not sure if we are going to sell the wine grapes, or make wine juice to sell? What do you think of this. Thanks, Ann

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