Westchester Homemade Wine Center
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The Winemaking Process

Now that you know how easy it is to Make Wine With Carmine at the Westchester Homemade Wine Center, contact us to schedule a meeting with the Wine Master, Carmine Corelli to learn about homemade winemaking, and get a tour of the facility. Depending on the schedule, you may even get a chance to meet fellow oenophiles in action.

From crushing to bottling, the process of winemaking is a nine-month (coincidence?) labor of love! There are several steps and visits to the Wine Center before you can take your wine home. See our Photo Gallery.

Initial meeting with Carmine 
Grape selection                                                                                     

Crushing your grapes                                                                                                  
Fermenting jolt                                                                                                        
Pressing your grapes                                                                                                   
Racking your wine                                                                                                      
Bottling your wine
Labeling your bottles
Storing your wine
Drinking your wine
Tasting your wine                                                                                                       

Although you only need to make five or six visits to the Wine Center, most clients consider themselves members of a very exclusive club and will sometimes come at other times just to chat with fellow winemakers, to learn more about winemaking, or simply to absorb the fun atmosphere of food and Italian music that can always be heard at the Wine Center.

The Process 

During your initial meeting, Carmine will discuss pricing, barrel ownership and usage, contract and legal requirements, the type of wine you would like to make, and storage needs for your wine once you bottle it and take it home.
Grape Selection (See Photo Gallery)
First, think about the kind of wine that you like to drink. Would you prefer a single grape or a blend? California blends can be standard blends such as Super Tuscan ( cabernet, merlot, and sangiovese ) or you may want to make a custom blend. In any given season, there will be some grapes that are better than others. But you will not know this until the grapes come in and Carmine has seen and tasted them. He will discuss this with you and you will make the final decision about the wine you want to make right before crushing.

You can check out the usual grapes that are available.
Crushing Your Grapes (See Photo Gallery)
Although you many want to imitate the classic I Love Lucy episode and foot-stomp the grapes, homemade winemaking with Carmine has advanced beyond that! Crushing and de-stemming of grapes usually takes about an hour. You should have some family and friends to help with this phase of the winemaking process when you run the crushing and de-stemming machine to get the 720 pounds of grapes macerated and into the vat. Now you will learn about yeasts and fermentation and prepare the jolt that will be added the next day to your macerate.
If you are using California grapes, this will take place in September/October, or in May for Chilean grapes. The harvest season
 and grape availability or the grapes that you are using will dictate the optimal time for crushing.
Jump Start Fermentation (See Photo Gallery)
One day after the grapes have been crushed, the fermentation jolt you prepared will be stirred into the grape macerate to initiate the fermentation process.
Pressing Your Grapes (See Photo Gallery)
As with the crushing, you will definitely want to bring along your winemaking team and/or friends and family. At this visit which takes place one week after the grapes were crushed, the grape pulp will be pressed to extract the residual juice that did not flow into the vat and you will pump the fermenting juice into your oak barrel.

When you remove the cover from the vat, you will get the first aroma of your wine-to-be. This visit is lots of fun and you will literally get your hands in the grape mush! You will also get the first taste of your very young wine which will be transferred to your barrel for some aging. You will pump the juice that flowed from the grapes during the Crushing into your oak barrel and will then put the mush into a press to extract the remaining juice to fill your barrel and a jug (this jug of fermenting juice will be needed when you Rack). The Wine Master will also taste your fermented juice and discuss the potential of your wine. You will share the excitement of your first smell and taste of your wine with your fellow winemakers who will share their excitement with you. Although this visit will take less than two hours, many winemakers like to stay longer to enjoy the fun and exciting atmosphere as they transfer their wines to their barrels, eat some food, and listen to the Italian tunes blaring from the stereo! 

Racking Your Wine (See Photo Gallery)
After about three to four months, Carmine will call you to schedule your next visit with your wine. During the months since the wine was pumped into the barrel, it has been fermenting and settling. At this visit, you will pump the wine out of the barrel into a vat, clean out the sediment in the barrel using an automated high-pressure barrel washer, and pump the wine back into the barrel. You will also get another taste of your maturing but still very young wine.
Bottling Your Wine (See photo Gallery)
About four to five months after racking, Carmine will contact you to schedule your final visit for this barrel of wine when you will bottle and take your wine home. Here again, you should bring your winemaking team and/or family and friends. You will transfer your wine into 240 bottles and cork and cap the bottles. The bottles will be boxed and you and your winemaking team will leave Westchester Homemade Wine Center with 20 cases of unlabeled bottles of your personal vintage!
Labeling Your Bottles
By the time you bottle your wine, you should have created a name for your vintage. This could be a name you will use for all your subsequent wines, or you can change it for each one if you like. And you should be thinking about a label design. You can talk with Carmine about labeling options. And of course, you can consult your fellow homemade winemakers. If you are part of a group, each member of your group can have a different name for the vintage and customize their own label. Click here to read more about labeling your wine.
Storing Your Wine
The Wine Master, Carmine Corelli, will give you specific instructions about caring for your wine once you take it home. Remember, the wine is in bottle-shock after its time in the barrel and you have to treat it with care!
Drinking Your Wine
The fun continues! Your wine is still young and not quite ready for drinking when you take it home. After about four to five months in the bottle and with proper storage, it is time to begin sampling your wine. Open one bottle every few months and explore and follow the maturation of your wine! You will know when it is time to drink it!
Tasting Your Wine
Our Wine Master, Carmine Corelli, believes that drinking wine is about relaxing and enjoying your wine with all your senses. OK, not hearing, although you can listen to the wine as your pour it.
Click here to read more about tasting your wine.

Gather your friends and family and contact Carmine about making your next vintage!

How about entering your wine in one of the upcoming amateur homemade winemakers competitions? Check out our Awards page to see some of the award-winning wines from Westchester Homemade Wine Center! You can enter the label category at some of the wine competitions.