Ben Ish Winery Wine Kit Instructions
Step 1: Destemming the grapes
Spill the grapes and their stems onto a flat surface and gently, pull the grapes off of the stems and place the grapes into the bucket. Throw away most of the stems.
Carefully select “about 5 brownish stems” and add them to the bucket of destemmed grapes (NO GREEN stems). Cover the bucket with the cheesecloth and let sit to approximate room temperature.
Depending on the weather, your grapes may arrive cold. If they are cold, wait a bit till they get to room temperature. Remove cheesecloth cover, and gently “crush” the grapes by pushing your hands “down” onto the grapes. You can even have your kids take turns crushing the grapes with their bare feet (make sure to wash their feet first). Do this for about 3 minutes. Don’t crush “too hard”. We don’t want to destroy the grapes.
Step 3: Adding Yeast
Open the Yeast packet provided and mix the contents with hot water. Fill cup with approximately 2 oz of hot water and let the water cool for about 30 minutes. Then add the yeast and stir the mixture for 60 seconds. Then, pour the Yeast solution on the grapes (all around as best as you can). Put cheesecloth cover and let sit.
Step 4: Keep checking on your Fermentation over the next 2 weeks!
Within a few hours, the yeast should begin working to convert the sugar in the grapes to alcohol. As this occurs, the grapes aka “CAP” will “rise” slowly towards the top. As often as you can, “PUNCH DOWN the CAP” (gently submerge them). This way, they don't dry out and your wine keeps getting the flavor and tannins from the grapes.
Repeat this step as often as you can (several times a day if you can, but at least once per day.)
As you keep checking on your wine, enjoy the odor of sugar being turned into alcohol.
This step takes anywhere between 10 days to 2 weeks.
Step 5: Add Nutrients (optional)
Approximately 3 days after you have added the yeast, you can add “Nutrients”. These nutrients, help keep up a good “fight” between the yeast and the sugar in the grapes. If you forget to add the nutrients, no worries, Its totally optional.
Prepare the Nutrients in the same way you did for the Yeast (see step #3).
Step 6: Pressing the grapes
Now that its been about 2 weeks, and you have “punched the cap” multiple times, to the point where it isn't rising anymore. In fact, you'll know its finished fermenting, because its not doing “anything”. Its just flat. Now your ready to “press” the grapes and collect the wine. Some things to keep in mind:
Try to ONLY get Liquid into the bowl Take your time and do it slowly to minimize getting grape stems in there.
Take the cheesecloth and place it over the bowl. Carefully, pour the “liquid” from the bucket onto the cheesecloth (the cheesecloth should act as a filter” to only allow liquid thru into the bowl. Do this by holding back the grapes with one hand, and allowing only the liquid to escape the bucket. After you have gotten the liquid into the bowl, you should be left with soggy grapes in the bucket. First, pour the contents of the bowl into one of the wine bottles using the funnel provided (see next step). Now, your bowl is empty again. Next, scoop several bunches of grapes into the cheesecloth and grab all 4 corners and close the grapes in the cheesecloth. Then, squeeze them with both hands into the bowl. Squeeze firmly, but gently. Repeat this step until you have pressed the remaining grapes into the bowl and extracted as much of the wine as possible.
Step 7: Transferring the wine into the bottles with airlocks
Your almost done!
Using the funnel, and minimizing as best as you can, any extra splashing, carefully and slowly transfer the wine from the bowl into each bottle. Fill to the top of each bottle leaving an inch of room. Then place a rubber bong into the bottle and then place a plastic airlock into the hole on the bong. Gently lift the top cover of the airlock open and pour an ounce of water into the airlock (you can fill to the fill line on the airlock). Then replace the cover.
Position the bottles in a dark cool place where they wont be disturbed. Over the next 4 weeks, the bottles should NOT be moved, and you will periodically see “sediment” falling to the bottom and collecting there. If you move the bottles during this time, you risk “reintroducing” the sediment into the wine. We dont want that to happen.
During the beginning of this process, you may also see some activity at the level of the airlock. You may hear a “popping” sound and see the water in the airlock move occasionally. This is totally normal and could be part of the “secondary fermentation” process”. Don't worry if it doesn't happen.
Step 8: Racking the wine from bottle to bottle and adding sulfites.
30 days after you placed the wine in the bottles and secured the airlocks, its time to “Rack” the wine off the sediment. Simply put, you need to “siphon” the wine from one bottle to another, without taking the sediment with it. The bottle to be racked should be positioned higher than the bowl, so gravity will assist in the process. Carefully remove the airlock and bong without shaking the bottle (grasp the neck of the bottle firmly to prevent it from moving). Next, slowly feed one end of the racking tubing into the bottle and stop right above the sediment that has collected on the bottom. Remember to keep the bottle steady so the sediment doesn't move around. Get the bowl ready to receive the wine. Take the other end of the racking tubing and place your lips over the tube. Draw a breath to start the flow and then quickly place the end into the bowl (try to have someone assist you).
Optional: Add a pinch of sulfites into the bowl after you rack.
Remove the sediment from the bottom by washing the bottle thoroughly with hot water and replace the wine back into the bottle using the racking tube the same way you did to get it “out” of the bottle. Replace the bong and airlock. Repeat this process one more time 30 days later.
Your wine will be ready to drink approximately 60 days after you begin (Just in time for the holidays).
Of course, the longer you let it sit with the airlocks, the more mature it becomes. Feel Free to let the wine sit for a few months longer if you like!