Making Wine From English Grapes

Suggested equipment

Grape crusher – hire from shop if required Wine press – hire from shop if required White food grade plastic bucket Muslin Square Funnel
Demijohns with airlocks and bungs L.C.D. thermostrip (to show temperature) Hydrometer and trial jar Siphon tube with sediment trap.

Muslin bag Wine yeast if freezing grapes Campden tablets for stabilising finished wine Potassium sorbate for stabilising finished wine Bottles and corks for bottling wine

Harvesting the grapes

It takes approx. 9 kilo of grapes to make 1 gallon of wine. If you are unsure about growing vines for wine making get expert advice. The vine should be pruned back to encourage the growth of larger grapes. As the grapes start to ripen prune back the leaves to allow maximum sun to the grapes. The grapes should be left on the vine as long as possible to maximise the natural sugars. Observe the “harvest interval” date on any chemical sprays used on the grapes. Avoid harvesting after heavy rain as this waters down the juice reducing sugar levels.


The Grapes must be crushed This is not done in a wine press but by using a suitable crushing method as listed below.

Crushing methods

Small amounts Put in freezer then defrost (use packet yeast for fermentation) Or crush on a firm surface with potato masher (don’t squash pips) Medium amounts Tread with feet (ask for details) Large amounts use proper grape crusher (can be hired from Cheers)

To make red wine

Put the crushed grapes into the bucket. Stir in 300 grams of white sugar per gallon if grapes are sweet and 400 grams if sour. Press down top with a potato masher (add packet yeast if grapes have been frozen). Cover with muslin. Press down twice a day for 5 days. Fermentation should start in 2 to 4 days. After 5 days strain or siphon (put muslin bag over the end of the tube) into demijohns with bungs and airlocks.

To make white wine

Crush the grapes in the crusher then press out the juice in the wine press (crushers and presses can be hired from Cheers). Put juice in demijohns with bungs and airlocks keep cool if possible.

24 hours later rack (siphon) into clean jars refitting bungs and airlocks, leaving the heavy sediment behind and return to normal room temperature. Take hydrometer reading of the juice and make up to 1.090 S.G. with white sugar. If not using a hydrometer add 300grams of white sugar per gallon if grapes are sweet and 400grams if sour. Stir to dissolve. If grapes have been frozen you need to use packet yeast. Refit with bungs and airlocks. Fermentation should start in 2 to 4 days.


Fermentation usually lasts from 2 to 3 weeks. Don’t worry if it’s quicker or slower. Best temperature for fermentation is 18C to 24C. ( 66F to 74F)


About 2 weeks after the end of fermentation the wine the wine must be racked (siphoned) into a clean sterilised demijohn leaving the sediment behind. Potassium sorbate and campden must be added to stabilise the wine and the demijohn must be topped up to ½ inch below the cork with cold sterile water (water boiled in the kettle and cooled overnight). Cork well with a solid bung and put in a cold dark place for 3 months. At the end of this rack again and add a little more campden. After another 3 months has elapsed bottle the wine. Cork well and start drinking when the wine is 12 months old. Best temperature for storage is 12C to 15C. ( 54F to 60F)


This is a brief outline of making wine with English grapes and leaves out a great number of facts, methods and theories. There are many possible variations on the subject. These notes presuppose some knowledge of winemaking. If you have any questions please call me or look into the shop

By Richard Burns.

Any queries phone Paul on 020 8644 0934

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