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Do you come from a long history of wine makers? Was your grandfather's homemade red a dinner staple at Sunday family meals? Or have you decided - like millions worldwide - that it would be lots of fun to give winemaking at home a try?

To begin your authentic home wine estate, it helps to know a thing or two about wine grapes or how to grow grapes in your own vineyard.(although that's not absolutely necessary.) Proper winemaking equipment is a must, along with bottling and storing your own personal label vintage to share with friends and family.

Did we also mention patience? You'll need it as you watch the fermentation of fruit in an age-old process that magically turns grapes into wine. Nowadays, it couldn't be easier getting started, with beginner kits available for purchase online priced at about $75-$100 which include everything (but the grapes!) for equipping your own home wine cellar.

Home Winemaking 101

Basic winemaking begins with combining crushed fruit and its juice, yeast and sugar in a big vat. This kicks off a process called primary fermentation in which the yeast helps to turn the sugar into alcohol. It takes about a week or two, depending on the strength of the yeast and outside temperatures.

Once primary fermentation stops, the liquid is separated from the fruit, and transferred into a vessel called a carboy for secondary fermentation for another 1-2 weeks.

Along the way, occasionally you'll also want to begin a process known as racking -- siphoning the wine to clarify the wine by getting rid of sediments that settle to the bottom of the carboy.  If all goes well (and you've carefully checked your sugar and alcohol levels using a wine making hydrometer) the end result will be a wine vintage you can bottle, label, and call your own!

Just up ahead, check out the Web's top resources that can further help with the fun basics and also cover some of the more technical details you'll need to know ....


More about homemade winemaking around the Web:

Home Winemaking
- Featuring basic winemaking step by step in an illustrated guide plus a forum, technical FAQ and much more. Extremely thorough, and easy to follow for the home winemaking newbie.

Winemaker Magazine - The digital version of the print magazine with resources and supplier directory for the US and Canada, ingredients chart, yeasts chart, common grapes chart noting what kinds of wine they'll produce, plus feature stories, tips, projects and recipes.

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