By Courtney Cochran
Who says that when it comes to winemaking you have to leave it all to the pros? Turns out there’s never been a better time than today to make your own wine, whether you’re set on doing so solo in your own home, with a group at your local wine shop or at one of the popular new custom crush facilities. The wine world, you see, is your oyster – or perhaps we should say, your Cabernet.Home Winemaking
Home winemaking has been around for
millennia, though it really picked up in popularity during the
Prohibition era, when Americans were allowed to make a limited quantity
of wine at home for their own consumption. Techniques for home
winemaking have improved since then, though many of the practice’s most
staunch adherents continue to use fairly basic techniques (for more on
how to begin making wine inexpensively at home, consider picking up the
well-received The Way to Make Wine: How to Craft Superb Table Wines at Home
Oenophiles with deeper pockets and an affinity for technology may wish to consider making wine in the WinePod®
, a state-of-the-art “personal winery” you can manage wirelessly from your PC. It’ll make up to two cases of wine at a time, and allows winemaking throughout the year thanks to its reliance on flash-frozen grapes from top vineyards in California and Oregon.
Tip: Don’t do it all alone. Reaching out to a community on- or offline can provide moral support, cheerleading (for those days when a stuck fermentation’s got you down) and troubleshooting tips that’ll help you make the best blend possible. To that end, WineMaker Magazine
offers great insights and ideas for networking with other winemakers, and right here in Wine Country you’ll find the popular Home Winemakers Classic and its associated community of home winemakers.Group Winemaking & Custom Crush
In an effort to increase foot traffic into their stores and loyalty among customers, some wine shops and wine bars have begun making small amounts of wine on-premise (where permits allow) or through off-site cooperative winemaking facilities. Customers are often invited to participate, assisting in vineyard selection, wine style decisions and choosing the makeup the final blend. Interested? Don’t wait for your local merchant to offer such a program – get proactive and suggest he or she do so!
By far the most sophisticated method of the bunch, custom crush winemaking enables anyone with an urge to craft their own blend to do just that – and many facilities also provide for instruction and assistance in taking your wine to market (which means your wine could potentially be sold on retail shelves alongside the likes of Silver Oak and Robert Mondavi). Among the most popular custom crush facilities offering such services are Manhattan’s City Winery
and San Francisco’s CrushPad
, though regions far and wide are getting in on the game (check out our recent piece on Hong Kong’s very own urban winery, The 8th Estate Winery
Tip Creating your own via custom crush can be a great low-intensity way to get more involved in wine, since it doesn’t involve the messy activities often entailed in home winemaking and participants can choose just how involved they get. For best results, do your research before you get started to make sure you find a program that matches your needs. Some custom crush facilities offer more hand holding than others (e.g. assistance in procuring the grapes, designing your label and commercializing your brand) – so be sure to ask lots of questions.