First time making wine from grapes

The Homebrew Forum

Help Support The Homebrew Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New Member
Sep 6, 2020
Reaction score
Good morning. Just a newbie posting what I've done, hoping for feedback. Have made elderflower wine before but this is totally new to me.

Picked approx 100 litres of ripe red grapes from old vine (variety unknown) grown in polytunnel in Cornwall, UK. There would have been somei unripe and less ripe grapes in there as well.
Destemmed using the bottom of a plastic crate and continued to crush by squeezing handfuls. Ended up with approx 60 litres of must.

Checked pH and SG (using Harris 2.8 to 4.4 test strips) = 3.2 and 1045.
Added 4kg of sugar dissolved to make about 5 litres of sugar solution.
Checked pH and SG = 3.4 and 1080.
Added 10 Campden tablets crushed and dissolved in a little water.
It's now sitting in 2 plastic crates with the lid slightly off (for the SO2 to degass??)

I plan to do a primary ferment in a heated room 20-22 degrees air temp. I believe the sugar level should drop to around 1010 SG? (not sure on this figure). Then press the skins (not too hard, tasting the pressing as I go). I've got a brand new cheap 12 litre fruit press ready. Into demijohns and secondary ferment for at least a couple of months.

My favourite type of red wine is light, fruity and young. Not spicy or oaky. Not too much tannin. Not sour or sweet, just easy drinking :).

Your observations are welcome - a couple of particular questions right away -

1) Should I top up sugar level to 1090 or even more before primary ferment? I'm not particularly bothered about making it the strongest wine ever. More concerned with making something simple but delicious.
2) I've been a bit surprised by the volume of fruit harvested and only have 2 sachets of red wine yeast (from the "Crossmyloof" brewery). Says for upto 22.5 litres each. I'm thinking the actual volume of liquid minus skins is probably only 45 litres. Maybe I can manage with this amount if I give it a good start in a jug with sugar and warm water? Or do I really need to try and find some more yeast?
3) The juice was initially a vivid burgundy but looks like it's going a bit brown. Is this oxidation and how would I stop it? Or will it turn out fine later?
4) I like the sound of the "malo-lactic" fementation giving more softness to the wine. How should I best control this?
5) When to do the pressing and anything else to do at the same time? ie when putting into airlocked demi-johns.

Thanks a million for any advice or reassurance

Latest posts