Mustang Grape Wine in 3 Easy Steps

Back in December, I did a post that described the process for bottling our homemade wine.  In that post, I promised to do describe how we made the wine.  Well, here is that promise fulfilled.  Last year, we made 5 gallons of mustang (or muscadine) wine.  This year, we are making five more.  However, due to bit of luck, we are making 15 additional gallons of wine from the finest Spanish grapes grown in Washington County.  The method I use was taught to me by Marvin Marberger of Brenham, Texas.  Mr. Marberger uses an old timey method that has been passed down through several generations of his German family.  Mr. Marberger has been making wine for a long time.  He can make wine from just about anything that has juice.  Currently, he has 17 varieties in his house that include tomato, dewberry, peach and lots more.  The process that he (and I) uses has three simple steps and uses just three ingredients; juice, water and sugar. 

Marvin Marberger is the "wine master" of Washington County. He has taught me and several others how to make the "sweetest wine from the vine". Mr. Marberger has made wine from such varied things as jalepeno peppers and tomatos.

The wine that is made through this method is a VERY sweet table wine.  While it is probably not going to win any awards, it is very drinkable.  I drink it over ice and my wife and female kids (I say kids, they range in age from 21 to 31) like it mixed with a little Sprite.  It is a good thing that my friends and family like this sweet, homemade wine.  One five gallon container makes twenty five 750 ml bottles of wine.  Since I am currently making 20 gallons of wine I am going to need to come up with 100 empty bottles and corks by Christmas!

My daughter and I are harvesting our wild grapes

Harvest – Mustang grapes are ready for harvest in our area around July 4th.  So, before we can head out to the Round Top 4th of July parade, we have to make sure that we have five to six gallons of wild grapes collected.  Mustang grapes seem to grow on just about every fence row in the county so they are very easy to find.  You should, of course, ask permission to pick from the land owner.  They are almost always happy to oblige and they love getting a bottle of the finished product as a Thank You. 

Mustang grapes do not produce the large clusters that other varieties produce.  So, you are going to have to do a lot of picking.  This year it took about two hours for me, my wife, two daughters, and one son-in-law to pick the six gallons that are required for this recipe.  As an added bonus, I also picked up a pretty wicked case of poison ivy.

Picking out the leaves and trash from our freshly picked grapes

Once the grapes are harvested, mash them ASAP.  Do not wash them before you mash.  The yeast needed for the fermentation process is lying on the skins of those wild grapes and you will need it for this process to work.  It is not necessary to remove the stems before you mash.  Simply fill a five gallon bucket with the grapes and mash into a pulp with a wooden implement of your choice.  Some folks use a 2”X4”.  I use an old baseball bat.  You can use your hands or feet to mash the grapes but they have a very high acid content and you will wind up with very itchy hands and feet if you choose this method.  Once the grapes are mashed, cover tightly with clean cloth or plastic wrap to keep the bugs out.

My wife and daughter mashing the grapes

Primary Fermentation – Once your mashed grapes are covered you can put them on a porch or in the garage to let the initial fermentation process begin.  The natural yeast on the skins will begin to reproduce.  This creates carbon dioxide.  You will know that fermentation is occurring if you see bubbles coming up through the mixture or if you have a strong smell of grape juice permeating the area in which the grapes are fermenting.

This is what the "must" looks like when primary fermentation is complete. The pulp has risen to the top and the juice is in the bottom.

This process should be allowed to proceed for about two weeks.  During this time, the tannins and the color of the grapes are being transferred to the liquid.  As the process progresses, the pulp, stems, seeds and skins will separate and float on the top.  Sometimes a light mold will begin to grow on the top of this mash.  If you see any signs of mold, pull the liquid off immediately.

Secondary Fermentation- The last step in the process is when the wine is actually made.  First, siphon the liquid from the first step into a clean container.  I use a food grade, six gallon bucket purchased from a restaurant supply store.  Siphoning is important.  You want to reduce the amount of pulp and sediment that would be passed to the secondary fermentation container without the use of the siphon.  Once I have the juice pulled off, I check to ensure that I have at least six quarts of juice. 

Here I am siphoning the juice into the first filter

After I ensure that I have enough juice, I begin filtering.  I have a large cone shaped colander used in canning.   I line this with cheese cloth and strain the juice from one container into another.  When this is done, I strain the juice a second time by lining the colander with a grease filter also purchased from the restaurant supply store.  If the second round of filtering contained a lot of pulp, I strain again.

The secondary filteration process

Now that I have six quarts of double strained grape juice in my food grade container (which has very handy measurements on the side), I add in the sugar.  This recipe calls for 10 pounds.  I pour the sugar directly into the juice and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved.   Once the sugar is dissolved, I add enough filtered water to the mixture to make the volume exactly five gallons in the food grade container.  Once this has been stirred again, I use a funnel to pour the five gallons of liquid into a clear plastic water bottle.

Here you can see the setup that I use for an airlock

Once the mixture is in the bottle it is time to add the air lock.  My airlock is very simple in nature.  I use a large, solid rubber stopper with a 3/8” inch hole drilled in the center.  I then feed an 18” length of clear, rubber 3/8” hose into the stopper.  Next, I fill a plastic water or coke bottle ¾ of the way full with water.  The lid of this bottle also has a 3/8” hole drilled in it.  Tape the water bottle to the neck of the 5 gallon water bottle and then feed the rubber hose through the lid and all the way to the bottom of the bottle.

And that’s it!  Once the airlock is in place, place the wine back on the porch or in the garage and let the secondary fermentation begin.  In two to three days you will begin to see bubbles in the airlock.  These bubbles are caused by the carbon dioxide that is being released during fermentation. 

Your wine is ready for bottling when there are no more bubbles passing through the airlock.  This can take as little as two months and as long as five.  You want to be absolutely sure that all fermentation has stopped before you bottle your wine.  If not, you can literally get “explosive” results. 

It does not hurt your wine to sit in the secondary fermentation container for several months.  Because of this, I do not bottle my wine until Christmas.  This ensures that the fermentation is complete and it also gives me a ready supply of child labor (since all of my “kids” come home for the holidays) to help with the bottling process.

Homemade wine is fun, easy and inexpensive to make.  You can start with zero supplies and create your first batch for less than $50.  The second batch will only set you back the cost of the sugar.  All of my friends love receiving our homemade wine as gifts.  Even though I enjoy drinking the wine, I really get the most enjoyment from giving it away.  And, at less than $2 per bottle, we can spread a lot of holiday cheer to a lot of friends without breaking the bank!

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94 Responses to Mustang Grape Wine in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Andrew Zaideman says:

    I enjoyed the article on wine making. I have some land in West Texas that I trying to cultivate with only native plants. I’m trying to find someone that will sell me some root stock for the mustange grapes. Do you know anyone I could contact to find some root stock.

    • Jay White says:

      I don’t personally know of anyone. However, George Ray McEachern is an extension horticulturist at A&M. He is by far and away the leading grape man in the south. He is semi-retired but he still comes in to the office from time to time and he still has e-mail. Feel free to drop him a line at g-mceachern@tamu.edu. You can also call the office at 979-845-8565 and find out more about his schedule.

    • james harris says:

      i will be happy to give you some root stock.
      jamesngalveston@yahoo.com

  2. R. Rubio says:

    I don’t quit under stand how to pull the jucies of the fermented frist step can I strain it?

    • Jay White says:

      Yes, as you pull it off strain it. I use either cheesecloth or a grease filter from a restaurant supply store in my cone shaped colander to filter the juice. I filter the juice each time I move it from one container to another.

  3. Rene Rubio says:

    If I have some mold appear is it safe to just remove the mold from the top? I wasn’t sure what was meant by pull the liquids off imminently. I am keeping the first step bucket in my shop and it is really hot in there during the day do you think this would speed up the process or hurt it.

    • Jay White says:

      Mold is not uncommon. Some say don’t worry about other insist you pull it off. If you are in step one, I would say leave it. When it is time, just stick your siphon hose to the bottom and pull off and strain the juice. Once it is in the 5 gallon container watch for mold. If you see it at this point I recommend pulling it off. I made a net out of a coat hanger and cheese cloth to remove the mold in mine. Just so you know, I had to throw out 5 gallons of wine this year because of mold. No matter what I did I just couldn’t get it to stop growing. I was going to strain it really well and bottle it anyway. My wife would not let me. Hope this helps. Feel free to ask anymore questions if need be. Thanks for reading

  4. Ronald Hall says:

    Other recipes indicate that in the initial stages of the secondary fermentation, the mix will bubble over. After that stops, they add the stopper. Does that happen in your process or is that eliminated by the filtering process?

    • Jay White says:

      This recipe is the only way I have ever made wine so I am not certain what happens in other processes. Mine has never bubbled over. Thanks for the question and good luck. Don’t hesitate to send another if anything else comes up during the process

  5. Casey Todd says:

    I’m currently working in halletsville and have come across allot of grapes. I’ve picked with four people including myself for a title of 30 minutes an have come up with 14 one gallon freezer bags. We boiled them down and got 11 gallons of juice for jelly. Got to thinkin bout wine and found you on line. Can’t wait to try.

    • Jay White says:

      Good luck. We go the other way at our house. I use the majority of the grapes for wine and then my wife gets the left over juice for jelly! Sounds like you have more than enough to make the wine. BTW, visited Halletsville last year for the Texas Singer/Songwriter convention. We had a great time and really liked Halletsville. Nice, nice people and an awesome courthouse. Thanks for reading.

  6. Thanks for your instructions, you make it sound pretty easy. I have 5# of Mustang Grapes in primary fermentation right now crushed grapes and yeast (I’m going for a drier red wine) and it’s in a cooler with a drain. It’s been there for about 9 days now and I keep the lid closed on the cooler. When I open the lid to check it, there is a strong smell of alcohol and wine. I do not see bubbles or any “mold cap” forming and I have been pushing down the floating skins every day and trying to measure the must. I cannot see it rising. But the smell is unmistakable that I am making wine in there. Should I go ahead and drain it and start the secondary fermentation with the sugar? It’s my first time to try making wine. Abundant grapes this year and you can only eat so much jelly. Thanks for any advice you have.

    • Jay White says:

      I don’t always see a lot of bubles so I am certain you are ok. Drain it and strain it! I have to give you credit. Making the wine in a cooler with a drain is a pretty good idea. Eliminates the need for siphoning from one container to another which can be a bit of a pain. Good luck on your wine and let me know how it turns out. I have never tried adding supplemental yeast and I am curious to know what it does to the flavor.

  7. oops, I meant 5 gallons of grapes, not #.

  8. Marilyn Schulz says:

    I have several gallons of Mustang juice obtained by steaming grapes in a 3 tiered pot that siphons off the juice without a lot of pulp. I mash the grapes because I can’t stand to waste the great stuff. So there is a little pulp. Can you use the juice like this and would you need to add the yeast to it? I guess you can tell this is my first try at making wine.

    • Jay White says:

      I have never made wine using steam to extract the juice. I am afraid the heat and moisture would kill/remove the wild yeast. So if I were a betting man I would bet you will need to add yeast. Good luck with your wine. Let me know how it turns out!

  9. Tracy Roberts says:

    We’ve made Mustang wine for the last four years and had success and failure, but learned from our mistakes. I have settled on a recipe similar to Jay’s where the natural yeasts take care of primary fermentation but add crushed campden tablets to kill the natural yeast, let set for a day or two and then add a wine yeast for the secondary. I use more grape juice than Jay, about 2 1/2 gallons for a 5 gallon batch, but built my own grape press to get all I can from the must. Last year I rooted cuttings from male and female vines to start a small vineyard of about 20 plants. Set them out this spring and they’re doing OK……gettn tired of briers and bull nettle.

    • Jay White says:

      Good luck with your vineyard. The owners of the property where I harvested my grapes finally cleared the fence line. To do that, they had to bulldoze down all of “my” grapevines. I have thought about doing just what you did so I don’t have to worry about looking all over the county for my grapes.

    • Hey Tracy, I’m glad you mentioned your juice volume. I ended up with less than 2 gallons from 5 gallons of grapes and think my wine seems to have more of a rose color than the red I had intended. I’m hoping it will still work out. I love the idea of intentionally planting your own Mustang vines. I tend to be choosey about where I pick – but it limits my options. I don’t like standing in poison ivy and there are all kind of prickly things that grow along fencelinew with the grapes. I like to pick where folks are kind enough to keep the area mowed. I am also very interested in the grape press you built – I think I could have used that.

  10. christine sharp says:

    i am having serious problems with the air lock. i have a 5gal primo bottle with 5 gals of water/juice/sugar mixture in it. i had a 20 oz bottle 3/4 full of water but had to replace it bc it wasnt enough room in there for bubble flow. i decided with my husband to try a 2 liter bottle. worked well for a while then started overflowing thru the rubber again. the bottle is fine now. just the problem lies with the pressure from the primo bottle. any suggestions??? thanks

    • Jay White says:

      I have not experienced any issues like you describe. A 20 oz bottle has always worked well for me. Sorry I can’t be more help

    • Ronald Hall says:

      Hi there:

      Other recipes I have seen have you leave the bubbler off at first. Keeping the 5 gal. bottle topped off (with water or sugar water about once a day) and letting it overflow during the initial stage of fermentations activity (about a week). It gets pretty vigorous and some very small amounts of debris float out. After it begins to slow down, add the bottle bubbler. I have done this with my batch and my impression is, “so far, so good.” I am now in the wait til Christmas stage to rack and later bottle. Taste test then. Perhaps this is helpful.

  11. james says:

    I was only able to collect about 2 gallons of grapes. It has only been 4 days since I’ve mashed them up. A slight mold has started growing. So today Im going to start the second step. Is the slight mold ok? My second question is, Is it ok to do the second process in the same size container as you when I have a little than half the the amont that you have, and about how much water should i add?

    • Jay White says:

      The number of grapes is not as important as how many quarts of juice you have. If you have 3 quarts of juice, just cut the recipe in half. You can use any size container you are comfortable with, no matter the size of the batch. If you have mold on top try very hard not to transfer any of it into the secondary container as it will continue to grow. Good luck with it. Let me know how it turns out.

  12. James says:

    How do you make peach wine

    • Jay White says:

      Well I don’t know. Let me ask the man that taught me. He can make wine out of anything. Give me a couple pf days and I will get back to you.

  13. Jay White says:

    Talked to Mr. Marberger. he said make your peach wine just like the grape wine. Take unwashed, ripe peaches and mash. He uses a large allen wrench screwed into a 1/2″ drill to thoroughly mash his fruit. AFter that, the process is exactly the same.

  14. lawton king says:

    Hi jay. I have followed your receipe to the t. But I have a hybrid muscadine white grape that I grow. My second furmintation is not bubbling. Although the is some movement in my glass Carboy. Any suggestions or comments.

    • Jay White says:

      How long has it been in the secondary container? Sometimes it takes a while to get going. Also, did you wash the grapes before you mashed them? If so you might have washed away a lot of the yeast. If it doesn’t bubble in a couple of weeks, you may want to consider adding a little yeast. However, I am willing to bet it will take off in few days

  15. Mike Williams says:

    We have our ‘wine’ in the secondary fermentation container as of today. Would it be better to let it ferment in the garage, which is extremely hot during the day…or say in a closet inside the house? Does the room temperature affect the fermentation process? And should it be allowed to ferment in a dark area or does that matter…? Thanks!!

    • Jay White says:

      Mr. Marberger and I both let ours ferment in the garage. I really don’t know if temperature matters or not. If you have a nice cool safe palce in the house I don’t think it would hurt though. Good luck!

  16. lawton king says:

    No I did not wash the grapes. I started the second furmintation June 18th. I think I will add a little yeast. Thanks for the quick response.

  17. dd says:

    Thank You for the helpful information Mr White. I am currently fermenting my grapes now. this is my first attempt at wine making. Is it possible to add grape juice (store bought) to the crushed grapes to help add more liquid? If i did that, will I need to add yeast? Can I mix the crushed grapes and grape juice half and half to ferment?

    • Jay White says:

      I really don’t know for sure, but I think it will be ok. If your juice does not begin to bubble after a couple of weeks in the secondary, then you might try adding a little supplemental yeast.

  18. Hi Jay also my 1st attempt at mustang grape wine. Saturday was a week since I’ve had the grapes in a 48 quart cooler (mashed). I don’t see anything bubbling, but darkish colored green mold on top of this must. Some spots of “white” looking mold also though not much. I started with at least 5 gallons of grapes and stems picked.

    We had picked the grapes on July 3, 2013, Wednesday. I picked more on Friday the 5th and had all of these in the ice box within a couple of hours after each different day’s pickings. Saturday the 6th I mashed the grapes (unwashed and directly out of the fridge, and put them in the cooler.) This all smelled great after mashing. Within about 4 or 5 days the darker colored mold formed. It is now pretty much all over the top. Should I drain off and add the sugar yet? or wait until I see bubbling? My concern is the grapes were ice cold when I mashed them and I’m thinking I just need to wait until this Saturday (will be two weeks!, but am concerned about the dark colored mold. Any help kind sir? Thanks for your article posted!!!

    Gary Z

    • Jay White says:

      I would pull the juice now. this happened to me a couple of years ago. Siphon and strain carefully to try and avoid transfering the mold to the secondary. If mold forms once it is in the secondary container try and remove it. according to Mr. Marberger (the man that taught me), the mold will not ruin the wine but it will give it a very musty taste.

      • Gary Zouzalik says:

        Thank you from Gary Z in Flatonia TX! I’ll do tomorrow!

        • gary zouzalik says:

          Jay I pulled off what juice I could from the spigot of the cooler as you suggested last night. Unfortunately, it is only about one third of a gallon of fluid. I started with about 6 gallons of grapes w/stems and all, and I’m thinking maybe I didn’t let these ferment long enough. I DIDN’T have them in a hot garage, just in my a/c house sitting at about 78Deg most of the time.

          I drew off the juice and put in an air tight pitcher. I’m thinking I’ll wait three or four more days and see what else I get from the cooler spigot. The grapes & mold and all are about five inches high inside the cooler. Cooler is aprox 12 x 22 in (48 qt cooler) depth of grapes again about 5 inches.

          Questions dear sir if you don’t mind:

          Will the juice I pulled off and have in the air tite pitcher be Okay for 3 or 4 days there? (I think yes, but thought i’d ask!) I haven’t added anything to this.

          The “height” of the grape must in the cooler didn’t appear to sink down or drain down much after I drained off the 1/3 gallon of “juice”. Should it have? I know 1/3 of a gallon is not going to make much of a difference, but i’m thinking I need more fermenting but concerned about the mold.

          How much juice would one normally expect from 5 plus gallons of grapes? Perhaps I should have picked more?

          Would mashing down on the “must” only cause problems or should I try that instead of letting the remaining must sit for 3 or 4 more days?

          The smell of the 1/3 gallon of juice I pulled off (according to wife smells like cranberry juice with a little grape resemblance. It appears to me to be more RED than PURPLE color as my Mom’s wine used to be more purple.

          If I wind up with a half gallon of juice (in the end, and i’m still hoping for more) how much water would you add to the juice and proportion of sugar?

          Do you add distilled water or tap water? (i’m on a well)

          Your thoughts?

          Any advice is CERTAINLY APPRECIATED!!! Thank you sir!

          Gary Z

          .

          • Jay White says:

            First, I wouldn’t leave your juice in a sealed container. If it is fermenting at all it will build up gas inside the container and can explode. I would cover the container with cheescloth.

            About the must. if it has mold on it do do not try to squeeze or remash. you will spread the mold spores. Second, the amount of juice you get from five gallons of grapes varies. On good years, 5 gallons of grapes will produce 6 quarts of juice. However, in dry years, the moisture content is much lower. Two years ago I only got 3.5 quarts of juice off of six gallons of berries.

            2 quarts will make a 1/3 recipe. That is not much but it really doesn’t matter. If you only have a quart of juice multiply the sugar by .333. This means you would use 3.3 to 3.5 lbs of sugar. For the water, 1/3 of 20 quarts is a little over 1.5 gallons. Tap water is fine but I always use distilled.

            Remember that all of these measurements are “ball park” and you will get wine even if the proportions are slightly off. Best if luck!

          • Gary Zouzalik says:

            The 1/3 plus gallon of juice is definetly bubbling! I’m going to see how much more juice I get out of what’s left in the cooler come Saturday will be two weeks.

            If it smells any different than what we pulled off a couple of days ago from the mold, I’ll re think. Otherwise, will add it all together, throw in the sugar and let it cook! Its too bad I didn’t have one of Mom’s big Crocks!

            THANKS MR. JAY FOR ALL YOUR HELP! Best of luck to you and your endeavors!

          • Jay White says:

            Great! let em know how it goes.

  19. I have harvested 5 gallons of mustang grapes in Huntsville, Texas and when I soaked them in water I saw they had quite a few very small worms that emerged. Is this normal, are they still good?

    • Jay White says:

      I never soak mine so I am not sure. I typically mash them without washing or soaking. I would try and get them out and then proceed. Even if they were in the grapes, I am sure that the alcohol will get rid of any problems they may cause. BTW, if you are soaking them you have probaly washed the yeast off that you are going to need during fermentation. If your juice doesn’t bubble after you put it into the secondary fermentation bottle you may have to add wine maker’s yeast.

      • Thanks for your timely reply, I don’t see much at all with dealing with this issue and have suspected just what you said, not to worry about it the process will take care of it. Thanks again.

      • I only soaked these because I had to freeze them as I have a batch underway that were unwashed etc… Just hate to see them stay on the vine and rot…

        • Jay White says:

          Great idea. My wife always makes jelly with any extra juice we have. Good luck!

          • Pam Pfeifer says:

            Hi! I have enjoyed reading all your comments. We started the second fermentation process today and it is our first time to make wine. When this step is thru, do you strain it before you bottle it? Or siphon it to avoid getting the stuff in the bottom in your bottles? TKS! Pam

          • Jay White says:

            I always filter at least twice and sometimes three times before I bottle. Depends on the amount of sediment. Here is the link to the post I did on bottling the wine: http://masterofhort.com/2011/01/christmas-wine/

  20. Pam Pfeifer says:

    Just got the opportunity to take home a bunch of fresh strawberries! Do you have a recipe for homemade strawberry wine?

    • Jay White says:

      According to Mr. Marberger, you make all fruit wine the exact same way. If the juice doesn’t start to bubble a week or so after moving it to the secondary add a little wine makers yeast to get it going. That’s it! Strawberry wine should be awesome! Best of luck

  21. Brad says:

    Thanks for the great guide! I have a question for you. It’s been about two weeks in the primary fermentation and my grapes are still bubbling up like crazy. Do I need to wait for them to stop bubbling before I go to fermentation step 2? Thanks !

  22. Gary L. Zouzalik says:

    Hey Jay hope all is well! I sampled by wine today, just a bit tart. It appears to be through fermenting. Dumb question I guess, but could I add more sugar to this (roughly 3 gals in the plastic jug) or is it to late? Thank you kindly…

    • Jay White says:

      Not a dumb question at all. I think it is fine to add sugar to sweeten up the taste. However, I don’t think it will make it start fermenting again. Fermentation occurs when the sugar feeds the yeast. Once it is done the yeast is gone so there is nothing left for the sugar to feed. I really think you will be ok if you add additional sugar at this point. Thanks for letting me know how it went!

  23. Gary L. Zouzalik says:

    sampled “my” wine not “by” wine…. sorry!

  24. Gary L Zouzalik says:

    I originally used your receipe but cut the sugar by 20% since I read that you said “VERY sweet table wine”. I’m trying to get the wife to taste it to get a second opinion. She’s leary of course…. Thanks for your reply! Plenty hot down here in Flatonia TX!!!

    • Jay White says:

      If she doesn’t like it tell her to cut it with Sprite. This is how my wife and daughters prefer to drink it. I like mine with a few ice cubes. BTW, I love Flatonia! My wife’s family is from Schulenberg. For three years in a row we stayed at “The Goose’s Roost” B&B. Also attended the Catholic Church on Palm Sunday last year. Just really like your little town!

      • Gary L Zouzalik says:

        Okay truth telling time, I was bought UP in Flatonia, got married and moved to the big city of PRAHA TX. I have lived here 32 years. Hopefully you made it out to see St Mary’s Church here? If you didn’t, you’ll need to come back next spring or next Aug 15, and attend the annual picnic ALWAYS on August 15, regardless of the day! Best meal you will ever eat for 8 bucks! Swear!

        • Jay White says:

          I have added it to my calendar! My wife used to go as a littel girl and her dad still makes it most years. Looking forward to it!

  25. Cindi Kincaid says:

    Hi Jay,
    Found your website and tried my first batch of wine this year. Am in the second fermentation process and waiting for the bubbling to begin. On the air lock system, is it better to have a tight seal around the tube in the small water bottle or little loose? It seemed too tight to let the air out, so my Dad drilled a tiny hole in the cap. Will that hurt things? Hated to see so many grapes go to waste this year, so was happy to find your site. Also made homemade grape juice in quart jars (an old, simple recipe from my Aunt and Uncle, I use to enjoy as a kid).
    Also wondered, if I was to try another fruit flavored wine, could I mix grapes and the other chosen fruit together or should it be the other fruit alone? Thanks

    • Jay White says:

      So glad you found the site. I always keep a tight seal. After running the tube into the hole I seal it with a mastic or caulk. I have heard (but never experienced) that if you let air in it can sour or spoil the wine. According to the man that taught me to make wine has made wine out of “anything that has juice”. I would think you could mix the juices together without any problem, just don’t know how they would taste. Thanks so much for the comment and let me know how the mixing goes!

    • Jay White says:

      I have been thinking about this and just wanted to say that I think the extra hole in the cap is ok. As long as the hose is submerged in the water, then no air is going to get to the wine. Hope this helps.

      • Cindi Kincaid says:

        Jay,
        We do see tiny little bubbles on the inside of the large bottle containing the ‘wine’ that run up the side, but no real bubbles in the air lock bottle. Do you still think that is OK? we did caulk around the tube.

        • Jay White says:

          By this time you should be seeing some bubbles going through the water in the air lock. I have never had this happen so I am not really certain what to think. The bubbles happen when the yeast eat the sugar in the juice. they literally excrete carbon dioxide. If it is not bubbling away in a few days i would suggest going to a local wine making store or the internet and ordering some yeast. When you get the yeast just open your bottle and drop it in. If that does not get in bubbling in just a few days I would say that it would need to be discarded.

          Just curious, did you wash your grapes before you mashed them?

          • Cindi Kincaid says:

            Jay, (sorry just getting back) No I did not wash the grapes, tried to follow direction exactly. It smells like wine and doesn’t look bad. I had gotten a 5 gallon water bottle (new) the one with a green cap that has a hole in the center. We had put the tube in a cork and then the cork in the hole in the cap. We sealed around the cork and tube with caulk to make sure it was tight. Still have never seen any bubbles in the airlock and the tiny bubbles have pretty much stopped in the bottle with the wine (but it has been over 2 months). I was unable to find a rubber stopper around here, so we tried to just use what we had, not sure if there is maybe tiny air leak that may not have let it build up. Will see what happens and try again next year (or with another fruit). Unable to find the blueberry wine I use to enjoy, so maybe can make my own… :) Thanks for responding.

          • Jay White says:

            You are welcome. If it looks like wine and smells like wine I bet it is wine! Maybe the small leak was the problem.

  26. Alan Berg says:

    Appreciate very much you taking the time to put this on the web. Bought a new place with many kinds of fruit trees and grape vines. Had fruit starting to rot so I Googled wine making recipes and settled on yours. Have 3 in secondary now. Plum, peach, and concord grape. My late father (German heritage) made wine every year until the chemical 2-4D killed all the wild grapes here in Iowa. I know he used a simple process – would love to know it. Question – when you say bubbles in the air lock, do you mean a big bubble that rises to the top? The grape is producing one every few seconds, the other 2 so far (4days) just have small bubbles that resemble a glass of 7UP. THANK YOU! Pears will be ready in a few days.

    • Jay White says:

      How lucky to have all of that fruit on your place! Sounds like your mixture is just beginning to ferment. In the beginning the air bubles will come slow. When the process “heats up” there will be a steady stream of bubbles. The speed of the bubbles will begin to decrease again until it stops completely. Bottle then.

  27. Coleton Burrrus says:

    Mr. White,
    Thanks for posting this article as it has given me a wonderful way to take advantage of the bumper crop of Mustangs I have growing on my land in San Marcos, TX this year. I picked 5 or so gallons back in July and a friend of the family made jelly, splitting the batch with me but there were so many grapes that I felt terrible letting them go to waste. I just picked and mashed another 5 gallons today and am excited to start the process. This weekend when I have more time I am considering getting another batch going as my vine looks as if it has barely been harvested, even after picking 10 gallons total from it this year. Might as well be resourceful of what God has blessed me with. I was wondering what kitchen supply store you purchased your supplies from (be it online) or where I could get the necessary supplies from a physical “chain” store. I will probably have more questions as this is my first go at wine making. Thanks again and I am super excited to get started.

    • Jay White says:

      And I am excited for you! You are truly blessed to have all of those vines. My wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed making wine and I know you will too. I have never purchased anything on-line for this. I mash in a regular 5 gallon plastic bucket like you can get at Lowes or Home Depot. When I strain the mash I have a couple more 5 gallon buckets on hand. However, I do the final strain into an almost clear 6 gallon container that i got from a resturaunt supply store. Not only is it clear, it has marks that tell you how much is in it so it is very handy for adding the sugar, then the juice and then just enough water to bring it up to the 5 gallon mark.

      I strain with a big funnel that I got from and auto parts store. My first strain I do with chees cloth. However, the second and third strain go through grease filters that I also got at the resturant supply store. They fit perfectly in the funnel.

      Finally, I did go to a Houston wine/beer making store and bought bottles, corks and a corking tool. None of this is necessary as I got by with out them for three years. However, having new corks and that corking tool really made the bottling a whole lot easier.

      Also, I got a tip from this post that I am going to try next year. I am going to mash my grapes in an old plastic cooler with a drain plug in the bottom. This will do two things. First, I won’t have to siphon off the juice when the primary fermentation is complete. Second, sometime the mash get mold on top. If you siphon you almost always transfer some of this mold to the secondary. By draing the juice from the bottom I think I can better control the transfer of mold.

  28. Pingback: Homemade Grape Wine Recipes | A Listly List

  29. monicabelize says:

    Mr. White,

    Thank you for this post! I’m making my first wine, but I have a quick question. Is the end of the hose that goes into wine supposed to be submerged in the wine, or in the bit of air area above the wine?

    Thank you for your time,

    Monica

    • Jay White says:

      Keep the hose above the wine. The hose only goes through the cap on the wine end. The other end goes almost to the bottom of the water bottle. Best of luck with your wine. Of all of the growing and preserving of things we do, wine making is definitely my favorite!

  30. Coach says:

    First off, thank you very much for sharing your expertise and the many comments and responses with your blog! I had never tried making wine before and after following your instructions our wine turned out great! Just the whole process was so fun many of my friends can’t wait to try it next year! Here are of few questions and thoughts I had after completing this fun project.
    I mashed just over 6 gallons of what I thought was purple, plump mustang grapes, however when I went to pull the juice off after the first fermentation, I only got about 3 quarts of juice! Maybe I didn’t mash them good enough!?! I made the decision at that point to remove the dried/mold cap on top and mash and squeeze the rest of the pulp. I wound up with the needed 6 quarts of juice after much filtering.
    I have read before that some people stir their first fermentation a couple of times a day. Is that something you recommend?
    Using a cooler with a drain is a great idea! Will do next time!
    My secondary fermentation worked EXACTLY in regards to the air bubbles and speeds of gas release!
    Even after filtering the wine many times using cheese cloth, t-shirts, etc…I still have “floaters” or “film looking stuff” in my bottles. It often gathers based on the position of the bottle. Should I worry with this? Filter again?
    Thanks again for your time!
    Coach

    • Jay White says:

      Thanks for the great comment! I am so happy that you had a great experience using my recipe. Two years ago I had the exact same issue with my mashed grapes not making enough juice. I think it was because we were in a drought and the grapes just weren’t juicy enough. I did like you and resqueezed the pulp. The wine turned out fine. I have never stirred my juice during the primary fermentation stage. However, I don’t think it would hurt. On the “film”. I have not experienced this but a friend of mine did. He made a loop out of a coat hanger and but cheese cloth over. He used it to dip into the bottles and remove the film. According to him, he drank all of his wine and the film apparently had no effect on the wine.

  31. Markfromtexas says:

    Hello Jay,

    Great site! I’m excited to start my first wine, but have a couple questions I hope you can help me with.

    1. I’ve been given 5gal of full strength frozen mustang grape juice(not sure if has pulp/skins), how much wine can this make using the above recipe (~17gal?)and how much water (11.6gal?) and sugar (~33.3lbs?) must I add to the juice?

    2. Since the juice has been frozen about a year, should I add additional yeast or nutrients to make up for lost/dead natural yeast? If so, what would you recommend?

    Many Thanks!

    • Jay White says:

      Glad you like the site. If you use my recipe you have enough juice to make almost 100 bottles of wine! My recipe makes uses six quarts of juice, 10 pounds of sugar and enough water to top off the five gallon bottle. Five gallons of wine will fill 25 750 ml wine bottles.

      Since I have never used frozen juice I have never added any supplemental yeast. Some say there is enough wild yeast in the air to make the process work. Others say you will need to add yeast. Since I have never done that I don’t know a brand but I know some use a yeast called Montrachet and a tablespoon of yeast nutrients.

      Sorry I don’t have a better answer but I just haven’t used frozen juice before. Hope this helps and let me know what you decide and how it turns out

  32. Cindi Kincaid says:

    Dear Jay,
    Wrote you back in Sept and Oct. Just thought I would let you know, though I got delayed, we did get my first try at wine bottled and it tasted very good, though not as strong as I thought it would be, I do sleep well at night after a very small glass. It has a wonderful sweet taste (better than most store bought ones I’ve tried. Thanks for the tips andsimple recipe. Can’t wait to try again this year with different fruits. Will just have to add yeast to other fruits that are not home grown, hand picked. I love that it is so much more natural without all the additives kits add. Thanks again.
    Cindi (Seguin)

    • Jay White says:

      Thanks so much for the update! Very glad it turned out for you. My wife and I are down to four bottles. Can’t wait for July so I can make another batch!

  33. J. says:

    Thanks for this… I was wondering what to do with all the mustang and muscadine I have growing on my fences… Last year we picked them and they ALL just wound up sitting and rotting.

    By the way, are those your wife and daughter in the photo? Lucky man!

    • Jay White says:

      I am a lucky man. However, I would feel a little luckier if I had lots of grapes growing in a place that was easy to access!

  34. Mindy says:

    Hi there! I am in in Texas and going to try out my first batch of Mustang wine following your recipe. I am going to try making it in the cooler like others have done. I have a cooler and it seems as though it would be easier than siphoning. When I pull the juice off, do I have to strain all the pulp, stems, etc. off the top and out of the liquid before draining?

    • Jay White says:

      I think that is probably a better method. In fact, I have actually decided to try it this year as well. I do not enjoy siphoning and it just seems like it will be so much easier. I don’t think there is any need to pull the pulp and stems off. Just open the drain plug and let it pour into the filter until no more juice comes out. Just a quick note, be careful where you throw the pulp. There will be seeds in it and they will most definitely germinate! Best of luck and please let me know how it goes.

  35. Dave says:

    Jay, you mentioned “Filtered water” in your instructions. What is meant by that? I hope to try my first batch soon.

    • Jay White says:

      I should have said “store bought water”. We buy five gallon containers of bottled water because the water where we live is not that great tasting. We use bottled water for cooking and making wine. If you have good tasting tap water it will be fine. Best of luck with the wine. It really is fun and easy. Please let me know how it goes.

  36. Dave says:

    Thanx for the info on the water. Now for another question…. Is it feasible to make a smaller batch of wine in the five gallon carboy? Someone told me the carboy needs to be full in order for this to work.

    • Jay White says:

      I am certain you can make smaller batches. I have not tried to make less than 5 gallons in the five gallon bottle so I do not know for sure what would happen. However, I know a little about fermentation and believe the size of the container really does not matter. Once the yeast starts making carbon dioxide and alcohol, the process will continue until the alcohol level rises to a point where it kills the yeast. If you are concerned about it buy one of those 2.5 gallon containers of bottled water and use it. Hope this helps and let me know what you decide and how the wine turns out.

  37. Dave says:

    Something mayhavve gone wrong. I mashed up the grapes I had on Tuesday. I just checked it and there is a mold growing on it already. Do I need to siphon it off or is it too soon. Or did something go wrong and I need to start over?

    • Jay White says:

      Is it on the must? Has the must separated from the juice? I think you should pull it off. Try and get as little mold into the next container as possible. It will be very hard not to transfer some mold. Watch it in the secondary. If it begins to mold there, make a skimmer out of a coat hanger and some cheese cloth or pantyhose material and skim it off each time it begins to form.

  38. Misty says:

    Can we still make wine from mustang grapes that have been boiled down? We boiled, then mashed, then ran the pulp through the juicer to get every last bit of juice. Can we just add yeast to the process since we probably killed all the natural yeast on the grapes?

    • Jay White says:

      You most definitely can. I had a friend make wine from Welch’s concentrate. However, since I have never used processed yeast in my wine I do not know what to recommend. I am going to harvest grapes at a commercial vineyard this weekend. After the harvest he is going to show us how he makes him wine. If you send me a reminder at jay@masterofhort.com I will let you know the yeast he recommends

  39. redd says:

    Thanx, I will try that. Thank you for your advice.
    Thanx for your advice. I will transfer it right away.

  40. Misty says:

    Thanks Jay! Sounds like a fun weekend. Will look forward to hearing what you learn.

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