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.

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!


311 thoughts on “Mustang Grape Wine in 3 Easy Steps

  1. 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.

    • 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 You can also call the office at 979-845-8565 and find out more about his schedule.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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

  3. 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?

    • 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

  4. 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.

    • 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.

  5. 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.

    • 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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!

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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

    • 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

    • 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.

    • Did you keep the hose in the primary ABOVE the liquid level? Yes, the hose in the airlock needs to be submerged and the lid slightly vented. I use airlocks from Homebrew Store and they are slightly larger than a ‘D’ cell battery. Only time I ever had overflow was when I initially filled the primary too far and heavy bubbling caused an overflow of the liquid laden bubbles.

      • I have never honestly thought about it. I attach the airlock at the top because it is easy to attach to the neck of the bottle.

  9. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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

  12. 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!!

    • 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

    • 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.

  15. 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

    • 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.

        • 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


          • 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!

          • 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!

  16. 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?

    • 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.

          • 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

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

    • 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

  18. 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 !

  19. 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…

    • 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!

  20. 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!!!

    • 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!

      • 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!

        • 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!

  21. 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

    • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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?

          • 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.

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

  22. 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.

    • 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.

  23. 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.

    • 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.

      • Also, what I did this year was stick an inch and half of wood or whatever you could use under the upper end of the cooler after “stomping” the grapes, forcing the juice to drain out the bottom end better. My grapes have been fermenting for almost two weeks now, I kind of forgot about em, oops, so in next few days, I need to see what’s going on in there!

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

  25. 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,


    • 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!

  26. 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!

    • 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.

  27. 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!

    • 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

  28. 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)

    • 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!

  29. 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!

    • 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!

  30. 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?

    • 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.

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

    • 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.

  32. 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.

    • 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.

  33. 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?

    • 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.

  34. 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?

    • 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 I will let you know the yeast he recommends

  35. Jay, Since my first batch turned out so well and got great reviews from my friends at work I am ready to make much more this year. I am making some batches with other fruits (even cactus berries) and know I will need to add yeast. What type or kind of yeast do you recommend (I do not care for dry wine)? I have been looking up different kinds but a hint would be helpful. Thanks for posting the steps to making mine. We are enjoyng it a sip at a time!!

    • So glad that you are really getting into this! I have never used yeast so I am no expert. I recently met a couple that is in a wine making club. If you like I can try and find their card and get you connected to them.

      • Hi Jay, I did buy one a type of yeast used for making wine that I will try first. But will ask again if it doesn’t do well. (have tons of cactus berries this year so wont be in short supply!) Just to let you know my first batch of blueberry wine and another batch of mustang grape are in their second fermentation and bubbling right along as they should. So excited for later in the year to bottle it. The blueberry aroma was wonderful during the straining, so really looking forward to it. Have passed on your site to a few friends who were interested in trying their own. Thanks for sharing. This has begun a fun new hobby for me and an enjoyable glass of wine!

  36. hey pal, you said at least 6 quarts of juice does that mean you can use all the juice from the 5 gallons of grapes or 6 quarts exactly

    • The more juice the better! In commercial wine production they do not dilute the juice at all. If you have the extra juice use it. Just cut back on the water so you still have five gallons of completed mixture

      • awesome, I ended up with about 3 and a half gallons of juice from the five gallons of mashed grapes ive got some type of slip skinned grapes don’t think there concords but similar. put the mix together at lunchtime and its starting to get some bubbles coming back up again. thanks for the post. Mclain in Yorktown VA

    • I have only made grape wine with the recipe. However, the man that taught me the recipe has used it to make many varieties of fruit wine (including jalepeno). Because of that I would think you could use it to make cactus wine as well.

  37. Started my first batch this year on August 1st. I picked grapes late because I was injured earlier and couldn’t walk out in the rough stuff where the grapes were. So far so good. I originally didn’t see any bubbles, so I was a bit worried. Now I have a steady stream of very tiny fizz. I have a question about the airlock. I didn’t see a way for the air to escape the airlock bottle. Do you just let the bottle cap entry point for the surgical tubing be not airtight? I drank some of the juice after adding the sugar and purified water. It was the best grape juice I ever drank!

    • Congrats on your success so far! You are right about how the air escapes from the airlock. I do not seal around the tube that goes into the coke bottle.

  38. Jay! Help!

    Last Sunday we harvested our first crop of golden muscadines and crushed them in small batches to get the most juice out of the berries. We emptied the small batches into one 5 gallon bucket, and by the time we were done, it was almost full, just 6 inches from the top. Methinks we may get enough juice for two batches!

    All was going VERY well. I tied a cloth very tightly around the top of the bucket, and every day I walk past, smelling the bucket, waiting for the smell you said would come. And it did 🙂 In fact, I accidentally banged the bucket while tightening the rope around the cloth two days ago, and I could hear the bubbles/gas on the surface. So exciting! This is my very first time attempting to make wine.

    Just now I noticed a couple of fruit flies sitting on top of the cloth. I can also smell a distinct fermented grape smell, it travels quite a ways (I have it inside). When I went to investigate, I ran my hand over the cloth on top of the bucket and could feel the berries pressing up against it on the inside! The whole mass seems to have expanded all the way to the top and I’m too afraid to take the cloth off in case it overflows. What a stupid thing to have done, overcrowding the bucket like that. What shall I do??? I’d hate to have to disturb it since it was going so well.


    • First, congrats on the great harvest! So much better when you have lots of berries. I think you have two choices. One, take it outside and put it on a tarp and then gently remove the top. I think you will be ok with this method. The second is to set the container on a table. Set another one under it. Now drill a half inch hole in your container. Allow it to drain into the new container. You could even put cheese cloth on top of the new container and do a good staining job while transferring. Best of luck and I would love to hear what you do and how it turns out!

      • Yesterday we took the bucket outside and opened it. I scooped off the very top layer of the berries (about an inch), it was drying and turning brown. The rest of the berry layer we gently removed and in small batches, squeezed as much of the juice and pulp out of it as we could, filtering it through cheesecloth, into a large (7 or 8 gallon?) plastic bucket.

        We then siphoned off all the juice into that same bucket, through the cheesecloth. What was left in the original bucket (juice with sediment) we sampled. OMG, it was delicious! Sweet and tangy, and almost sparkling! And it definately had some alcohol content already which was very unexpected (newbies here)!

        By the time we had all the liquid in the new, larger bucket, we had 2.5 gallons of juice.

        We decided to go ahead to the second step. Added 10 pounds of sugar, stirred it until it was dissolved, then added enough water to make a total of 5 gallons. A special airtight lid came with this bucket, lined with a rubber seal and a rubber hole for an airlock. We put those on and crossed our fingers.

        As a small experiment on the side, we went back to the berries we had squeezed and squeezed them again, this yielded a quart of juice (talk about the gift that keeps on giving, LOL!). I added half a cup of sucanat, which is dried cane juice, completely unprocessed sugar, stirred it well, and secured a paper towel onto the top of the glass jar. This will leave it exposed to the air to carry on fermenting.

        This morning I noted the following:

        You can hear a low fizzing in the experimental jar. With the addition of the sucanat which is brown, the juice has turned brown and there is a thick layer of sediment that has settled on the bottom. I’m not sure how long I’ll leave it like this. At this point, I’m thinking of transferring it to a gallon glass jug on Tuesday evening, it will have been in the jar for 3 full days then. I’ll then add some sugar and enough water to end up with a gallon, and stick an airlock on it.

        The airlock on the main bucket is working! Yesterday evening I could see it releasing a small bit of air every now and then, but today it releasing air every 8 seconds. Something’s brewing in there, Jay 🙂

        I’ll update again later.


        • I am so excited for you! Makes me remember the first time we did it. I absolutely love that you are doing your side experiment. I love trying things too! I am getting excited listening to your progress!!!! I do hope you keep us posted.

          • Hi Jay, I’m back with an update 🙂 I’ve racked the wine several times and since the last racking a few weeks ago, the airlocks have not bubbled. When we tasted it during the last racking it was delicious. So now we’re ready for bottling.

            I read somewhere that a stabiliser should be added to prevent it from going back into a fermentation stage once bottled. What are your thoughts on this?

            Also, how do you prep your bottles for filling?

          • Sorry, I have never used a stabilizer so I don’t really have an opinion on them. As for the bottles, though I have lots of experience. We have done three different things. The easiest is the dishwasher. We used this when we had a lot to bottle. We had no bad effects from it but I would say this is the least preferred method. Our worst experience was boiling a big pot of water and then trying to pour the water into the bottles. Even though we used a funnel it was very messy and a bit dangerous. Our preferred method is to get a roiling boil going in a canning pot and use tongs to submerge them and fill them. We then take them out using two sets of tongs and drain the water back in the pot. This works best with two people. Even though you can only do one at a time you can get pretty fast with a little practice.

  39. Mr. White:

    Your site is the ONLY site that actually gives step by step of HOME-MADE wine making that even the most un-experienced person can follow. I live in lower Alabama and planted 2 Scuppernong plants 2 years ago and they have done GREAT!!!! But……Oops…..wasp nest!!!! Had to spray which required me to wash the natural yeast off my Scuppernongs. I know you’ve stated you have never used yeast, but seen that some people had questioned you about this, just wanted to know if you have any suggestions on the fermentation process? I managed to pick about 5 gallons (got stung–slightly allergic, but no hospital visit), have WASHED and mashed the grapes, placed them in a 4-5 gallon glass pickle jar and placed cheese cloth over the top. The fruit has risen to the top, it’s been about 3 days and I still do not see any signs of fermentation; am I too anxious or do I need to “help” with use of yeast? Thanks for any insight you can provide.

    Darlene C in LA….Lower Alabama.

    • Hey Darlene! Thanks for the lovely comment! I spent three years in Biloxi when I was in the Air Force so I actually knew what LA you were talking about! Even though I have never used yeast I think you may need to. If you washed the grapes well there may not be any yeast left. By this time it should begin to smell at least slightly alcoholic. Unfortunately I do not know what yeast to recommend. We did talk to some hobby winemakers a while back and they said that there are charts on the internet that list the exact yeast you need for each type of grape. I am so sorry that I don’t have any better recommendations. I think with the cheese cloth you may be getting some additional yeast in the mix so it make take off in a few days. However, if you go more than a week I would definitely try a yeast

      • I used regular yeast you use for bread making and my son said our mustang grape wine tasted like a chardonay. I’m not a big wine drinker but it tasted great to me. Only used about a half of apacket on unwashed 5 gallons of grapes. Hope that helps. Pam

          • Okay, had a problem with one of my two batches of wine. One turned out fine and the other was 16 bottles of a beautifully blush vinegar! What would cause this to happen? And it was the prettier batch color-wise. Tks! Pam

          • Sorry to hear that. The vinegar taste can occur if the wine got too hot while it was making or if the airlock didn’t work and too much oxygen got to it. Whatever the cause, you should not drink it. I have heard that you can add raw grapes to each bottle and it will reduce the vinegar taste. While this may help, it will still taste bad. The good news is, you can cook with it.

          • I ended up pouring it out to make sure it didn’t get mixed up with the good stuff. The other batch is pretty good. My son said it is similar to a blush muscado (sp?). Again, I am not a big wine drinker but i do enjoy this homemade wine. TKS! Pam

  40. I started with a 5 gallon bucket of grapes. Just mashed them and only got about 2 gallons out of it. Do you think I can get away with picking more in the morning and mash them and add to what I have now? It will be less than 18 hours difference in the 2 batches. Thanks. Really enjoy your posts

    • You can do that. However, you have enough juice. The recipe only requires 6 quarts. In my opinion the wine is better if you use more juice than 6 quarts. In reality you do not have to use the water is you can get enough juice. Wine made without the water is a much nicer, drier wine. Most people only add water because it is so hard to get enough juice. So I would say it is your call. Use the two gallons you have or pick more if you wish. You really can’t go wrong with this recipe

  41. I have half bushel of hill country peaches. Thinking of making peach wine. Do I follow the same receipe as the grapes or is there something different? Last year I made mustang grape, cactus pear, grapefruit, and grapefruit with pomegranate. The mustang grape was the best by far! This year have 10 gal grape in the first stage so far with very high hopes for the peach. Thank you for you ideas!

    • I have never made anything but the grape wine. However, the man that taught me to make it sounds a lot like you. He has 17 different wines in his closet. I have asked him how he does it and he says he makes it just like the grape wine. He did say that he adjusts the recipe to accommodate the amount of the juice he has available from the figs, peaches, plums, etc.

  42. Can I add a bottle of brandy or everclear to the second fermentation phase? im still in the first phase and will begin to siphon next sunday. and old farmer in midfield tx makes a very strong wine(almost like a wine flavored vodka ha) but he is always out doing something and hard to get a hold of to ask how he increases the alcohol content. this is my first time and want to impress my wifes family with some strong homemade wine for Christmas gifts (wineooos haha) but don’t want to mess it up only to find out five months from now.

    • I have not done what you suggest but I have done some reading on the topic. From what I have read you should not add additional alcohol to the mix until after the final fermentation is complete. Raising alcohol concentration is what eventually kills the yeast. Because of that I think I would make wine and then blend it with the brandy or other distilled spirit.

      • awesome thank you sir. I peeked at my must at a light white looking mold formed along with the distinct smell of alcohol ha, so I siphoned filtered filtered again and just sent the wife to the store for sugar. I was very surprised at the outcome I only had less than four gallons of mustang grapes and came out with five quarts of juice! had ALOT of rain this year down here in palacios tx so I think I picked a good year to learn wine making ha. I am however going to add an additional quart maybe two of pure grape juice concentrate to it for flavor. thank you for this very informative website and keeping up with it over the years. im very excited to impress(hopefully ha) my wifes familythis Christmas. ill be sure to update you with how it turned outafter adding extra spirits before I bottle them.

  43. if I have a good airlock can mold form inside? my container is sealed well and it s bubbling like crazy(not forming bubble clusters just the c02 transferring to air lock) that should force all the oxygen out ofhe container ad prevent mold formation right? also as good as I thought I stained it I still see floaties is this something thatcan wait until I bottle in December or do I need to consider re filtering soon? its fermenting well and I hate to interrupt it and loose it all

    • I am not sure. One year I made 20 gallons. Three of the carboys were fine but one got mold so bad I had to throw it out. The man that taught me how to make wine said that he has had mold pop up pretty regularly throughout his life. He watches his wine pretty closely so he catches it early. He made a little net out of a clothes hanger and cheese cloth. Whenever he sees it starting to form he uses his net to scoop it out. If your floaties are not mold I would suggest you leave them until the fermentation is complete. Very happy this is working out for you.

      BTW, Palacios is special to our family. Wife’s dad was going to get rich shrimping back in the 70s. Because of that her family spent summers working their boat and popping heads off of shrimp. They didn’t get rich but they had a great time and made many happy memories on the Texas coast. Pops is 88 now and a few years ago wanted to go back. Whole family came. Rented several rooms in the Luther, ate, fished and relieved old times. Love your little town!

      • I followed your instructions and I am currently on the second fermentation cycle, 24 hours into it and have a lot of bubbles thru air lock,,,, is that ok or normal?

  44. 1 gallon squashed grapes 2 packs fleshmans yeast 8 lbs suger melt suger in water put grapes in big water bottle. put sugerwater in also fill to where it starts curving in. activate yeast pore yeast in tilt back and forth a few times then put the cork and hose same as shown here…stops bubling for a few days sifn off and have a nice day.

      • Just sat down from putting up the 2nd batch of wine. This is the first year I got juice that is dark purple – it is so pretty! I don’t know about the rest of the grape pickers, but I had so many grapes this year that I didn’t have to worry about having enough for jelly and wine. And all I have is one main vine! I’m thinking it was all the rain. And they all turned dark purple at the same time!

        I usually put just a little yeast in the mix for the first fermentation. This year I did that for the first batch, but added nothing for the second batch. I did both first fermentations in the kitchen instead of on the porch since it was around 100 degrees. Neither one had a very strong “winey” smell to them, but the first batch is bubbling, so it is doing something! After I added the sugar to the second batch, I tested the specific gravity and it was 1.057. An article I read said you will get a 12% alcohol wine if you start with a SG of 1.090. We’ll see what I get!

        I’ll keep you posted. Can’t wait to taste the difference between the two batches. Really enjoy reading everyone’s comments.

        TKS! Pam

        • Congrats on your harvest! Just curious, what type of yeast did you use? Please let us know how your two batches turn out!

          • The yeast is the kind you make bread with in the little flat packets. I sprinkle about 1/3 packet into the bucket while they are being smashed. I will let you know how they turn out. Hopefully I won’t have a batch of vinegar like I had last year! TKS! Pam

  45. I’m making peach wine and it’s been a week and two days that my primary fermentation has been going on.The mash was bubbling but now has stopped is this ok?I have until this Friday until I siphon and strain to get ready for secondary fermented.Should I just let it still go until then

    • I think it is probably ok. I have made it before when the first stage fermintation hardly bubbled at all. I would continue like you planeed. If it doesn’t start bubbling 2-3 days after moving to the carboy you might consider adding yeast.

      • I have never used yeast in my wine. there seems to ave always been enough wild yeast to make the fermentation happen. One reader left a comment about using 1/2 packet of fleischmann’s bread yeast in both primary and secondary fermentation. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you

  46. Hi Jay! First of all, I want to thank you for sharing your recipe. Secondly, I want to ask you about my current wine making endeavor. We filled a 5 gallon bucket with Wild Mustang grapes and mashed the heck out of them when we got home. Living in the country with critters of all kinds, we decided to leave the bucket of mush in the kitchen, lightly covered with the lid of the bucket. It’s been only 3 days now and it already looked like little round spots of mold are forming and I don’t see anything that looks like bubbles forming. It does look a little foamy on top but I think it looked that way after we had mashed the grapes. No smell of grapes coming out of the bucket. Have I not given it enough time yet to notice anything or did we screw up already? Lol! Thanks again for your recipe!

    • I would give it some time. I have made some that did not bubble during primary fermentation. I am concerned about the mold though. If your spots grow or spread you need to get the juice out of the primary container. Siphon the liquid into another conatainer (or drill a hole in the bottom of your bucket). Make sure you don’t transfer the mold. Once you do that you may want to add a little yeast. Most of the wild yeast is in the must so taking the liquid off early may rob it of some the yeast it needs to get the fermentation going. Thanks for the comment and be sure and let us know how it goes.

  47. Im a first time wine maker too! I ended up with 4 qts of juice after 1st fermentation. I used your breakdown and its making 3 gallons of wine. I did as you described with the 5 gallon water bottle and airlock. My water bottle started leaking around the stopper so I jumped in and repaired my seal. Bubbles are started again. Will the bubbles actually go into the 20 oz container since I have so much room in my 5 gallon jug? Im looking forward to having my first taste of Mustang wine for Thanksgiving! Thank you again for posting instructions and addressing concerns for beginners.

    • NP! So glad you read the article and gave the recipe a try! If nothing is leaking the bubbles should go through the airlock. When everything is sealed up there is nowhere for the CO2 to go except through the airlock. Good luck with your wine. Let me know how it turns out!

      • After my leak repair it appears that only a small amount of bubbles have returned. Will it take days to restart or is there a remedy?

        • Let your wine continue. When you see no more bubbles taste it. If it tastes like wine then you are fine. As the alcohol content increases the yeast will begin to die. As fewer and fewer yeast are left alive the CO2 released will decrease. I think what you are seeing is a natural progression of the fermentation process.

          • it never reached the airlock and has only been in the 2nd stage for a few days until my stopper started leaking. Now there is a thin layer of bubbles on top of the juice.

          • I think it had air getting thru, so I retaped the stopper and now I have bubbles going into airlock! Im guessing that the bubbles on top of the juice is not necessary to produce wine?

          • It sounds like something is still leaking. Make sure the opening where the tube goes into the airlock is sealed and double check the stopper. Technically you can make wine without the airlock. Sometimes it is bitter or it makes vinegar though. Taste your wine and see how it is doing. If it does not taste like vinegar add a little yeast and seal everything very well.

  48. aright im three weeks give or take into my second fermentation still no mold but the floaties are all together on top in a little thin layer. also the bubbles went from one strong push every two to three seconds to this week one little push of c02 every minute or so so its slowed a lot this past week. I plan on making the net like you said and getting the floaties out, but I was wondering while im at it could I add a packet of some kind of wine yeast from my local wine & spirits store and some sugar after filtering it again through a cheese cloth into another caraboy to pick it up and get it going again?

    • As the alcohol content increases the yeast will begin to die. As fewer and fewer yeast are left alive the CO2 released will decrease. I think what you are seeing is a natural progression of the fermentation process. You can try more yeast but if your alcohol content is high enough it will kill them as soon as they are put in. I would say it is worth a try if you think your wine is not finished. However I would taste it first and then make my decision

  49. I am using your method to make wine I followed directions and on day two of first fermentation I decided to check on it and I noticed something growing all in the bucket. it looks like a thin thin thin clear white hair with a black ball on the tip of the hair. they are less then a half inch in size. very small but is abundant through out any thing in the bucket that ain’t plastic meaning on the grappling juice etc. has anyone encountered this, is it good or bad? if this is new any ideas how to find more information on it because Google is absolutely useless in trying to find what I’m looking for. your help is appreciated and think you for posting this method of wine making.

    • It sounds like you definitely have mold. Can you drill a hole in the bottom of the container that you are using? If so, drill it and drain most of it into another container. Only drain about 3/4 of the liquid into the new container. If you drain it all you will just transfer the mold. If you can’t drill your container siphon it. Take care to pull from the very bottom and leave enough of the juice to make sure you don’t transfer the mold.

  50. Pingback: I'm in a Jam...Let's Wine about it! - Sweet Deviation

  51. Thanks so much for sharing the process! We made 5 gallons last year and it turned out great!! Ours was still sending a bubble through the air lock about every minute or so in February so we ended up waiting until April to bottle it. We also got some of the stuff from the brew supply store to stop the fermentation just to make sure we wouldn’t have any explosions. I’m about to start the secondary fermentation for our batch this year. I can’t wait to see if it turns out the same! 🙂

  52. Ive read all the posts concerning mold but I still have a question. I was out of town while the first fermentation was happening. I got home and the mold was across the top of the skins, I scooped about 2″ from the top and discarded it. Is the juice still usable? How can you tell? Thanks again

    • Mold in the primary is not a deal breaker. In fact, mold is not a deal breaker at all if you deal with it. Transfer your juice to the secondary and try not to get any mold when you do the move. If mold does appear in the secondary it will start out as little furry dots on the surface of the wine. If that happens use a net made from a coat hanger and pantyhose to skim the mold out

    • I’ve been making wine by this recipe for three years now. I’ve never had a batch without mold in the primary fermentation stage. Since the mold is going to be on the top layer of the grape skins you can scrape it off, as well you can siphon the liquid out or drain the liquid through the bottom depending on your container. Party because of mold I now prefer to use an ice cooler with a spigot instead of a bucket so I don’t have to siphon. I don’t worry about mold – love the wine each year! May skip telling my friends about that part of the process though!

      • Great advice Brad. I agree, mold is almost a guarantee with this method. In fact, I have decided that is why the siphon is a part of the process. If the must did not get moldy you could just pour the juice through a filter into the next container. I have said this before but I really think I am going to sacrifice a cooler to the process next year.

  53. Hi thanks for the easy recipe! I’ve followed all your instructions so far and I think everything is going good, I let the grapes ferment in the primary then strained into my secondary added sugar and water. I didn’t get much reaction in a bout a week so I added a small amount of wine making yeast and it took off! I waited on there to be no bubbles at all in my airlock and then racked it and strained at the same time. I tasted the wine after I racked it and it was actually not bad at all but had a strong, what I call “yeasty” smell ( my girlfriend says dirty sock smell lol). The taste was good though. My question is it’s been 2-3 weeks since and I sampled it again today and it still had the smell, is this just a young wine thing or maybe a mustang thing or did I mess up lol. Also it is sitting in my bottle with an airlock is that ok? Thanks in advance!

    • The only time I have encountered a smell was when I got a bad case of mold. I tried to strain off the mold, but the smell, and taste never went away. I have never needed to use yeast in mine so I do not know if that is what caused. However, I have had several readers comment that they too used yeast and had no ill effects. I am guessing the wine is probably fine. I leave my wine in the carboy with the airlock until Christmas so i think you are fine on that. Sorry I don’t know the cause of your smell.

      • I only got a small amount of mold on the must cap during primary fermentation. I skimmed it off and then strained the juice off and haven’t had any since. I thought it may have been from sitting on the lees in my secondary so I racked it off. Like I said though it taste great to me and it hasn’t had any time to age really so maybe it eill go away with age. I’m gonna rack it once more then just let it sit till Christmas maybe that will help. Thanks for the reply I’ll be sure to let you know how it ends up later on down the road

  54. My first batch of wine has stopped producing bubbles in the airlock so I tested it with the hydrometer. Reading is about at 30. Do I wait or add anything to continue the fermenting until it reaches 1.00?

    • Sorry Ginger, I can’t answer this one. I don’t own a hydrometer or know how to use one. When I make it, I let it bubble until it stops, then I let it set until Christmas. I have never tested it with anything.

        • Yes I would. I believe you cannot filter too much. While it is difficult to get all of the sediment out of the wine, I like to try. I have had the best luck filtering with a grease filter from the restaurant supply company. They are about a dollar a piece and fit very nicely in a berry masher.

          • Perfect! I have grease filters. Thank you for getting me thru the first batch. One more grape and one peach are still fermenting.

          • Please let me know how it goes. I have never made peach and would really like to. Would like to hear how you did it.

  55. Peach is staying cloudy so far but Ive heard there is a way to clear it. I should know in a month or so. I will post the results. Thank you again.

    • You are welcome. We have peach trees and they usually produce WAY MORE than we can put up. Would like to try some peach wine next year.

      • Peach is finished and tastes great. It finally cleared about 4 weeks after adding Pectic Enzyme. Now its a light peach color.
        I did the same thing you said for grapes. Only difference was cutting to remove pits.
        Mustang wine turned out super too! Thanks again for all the help.

  56. My first batch of wine is done and tastes pretty good! I decided to bottle today and all went well until I started corking. The corks are backing out of the bottle within a few seconds. I boiled the corks about 5 minutes. Was that too long? Maybe it’s the corker I’m using? Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • I have never experienced this. We have boiled corks before using in the past so they were warm and soft. Our corks are not really “cork”, they are some synthetic. Are they backing all the way out or just partially? We have had some slip up about a quarter or half inch in the past.

      • The cork would gradually (in a span of a few seconds) push all the way out. It was kind of funny–except for the fact that I really wanted to get the wine bottled. I finally decided that maybe the yeast was still active and that was the cause. I filtered the wine and put it back in the carboy last night. This morning, there were bubbles in the airlock. I hadn’t seen bubble in two months so I really thought it was ready to go. Wrong! I guess it will be Easter wine rather than Christmas wine!

        • I have had the same problem when I fill the bottles too full. I would think if it was still actively working it would still take a while for the wine to build enough pressure to “pop” the corks. I had a batch last year that gave me quite a time. Hope this helps.

  57. Jay,
    Just found this forum and I am very impressed. Like many folks trying to learn how to make wine, I appreciate your time and knowledge.. Have make several kit wines, (experimenting the process) before making wine from muscadine, I tried 2 different batches last year and came out with vinegar! Leave it to a man from Brenham (best barbeque in the world) to come up with the best muscadine wine recipe! I will give this a try, simplicity may be the key. Have seen anywhere from 30#s for 6 gallons to people recommending pure juice for 6 gallons.
    I’m a fan, thanks again!

    • Not sure if it helps but I have given mine a shake from time to time. Mostly when I do it I want to see if fermentation has completed.

  58. I started the process today, we picked ten gallons of grapes and then mashed them by hand and covered in Saran Wrap. Is it possible to under mash the grapes? And if so, would it be an issue to use a 2×4 and remash tomorrow? In addition to this, is it required to start step 2 as soon as mold starts to form? Or would it be okay if we left alone for the full 2 weeks regardless of mold? Thanks for the recipe! Really excited for my first try at this.

    • You can certainly give them an addition mashing! You can leave the mash for as long as you want. You do not want mold. If everything goes well you won’t have mold. However, if you see any mold pull off the juice. Mold can really affect the taste so you don’t want to let it grow if it starts. Best of luck and be sure to let me know how it turns out!

      • So the juice has been fermenting for about 9 days now and there appears to be a few dime size spots of white on top. Should I pull the juice already? Or is it too early?

        • Personally I would pull it. You could try and scoop it off and see what happens. However, my experience is once it starts it will not stop. The longer you leave it the harder it will be to prevent it from transfering it to the secondary container.

          • So I am going to move to step 2 today and I can’t find any rubber stoppers. Would a plastic screw top kid that came with the bottle work for the airlock?

          • Or possibly a cork stopper? Basically is there any alternative? I’ve been all over town and can’t find a rubber one big enough anywhere

  59. Like everybody else here, I really appreciate your publishing this information about mustang grape wine making. The process details and questions are very helpful.

    We have started our first batch three days ago in a five gallon bucket modified with a valve and spigot sticking out of the bucket side at the bottom. My question is about mold. This morning there is no appreciable smell and the white mold is growing on the mash cap.

    Since mold requires oxygen to grow, and I’m assuming, is limited to the top of the mash cap, does it matter when the juice is extracted during the first stage as long as no mold is transferred?

    Since I can drain the juice from the bottom, can I continue the process for the full first stage two weeks, or should I drain the juice and start the first stage again in another container?

    Thanks again for all your help.

    • If I have learned anything from making this through the years it is having a fermentation container that drains from the bottom is the smartest thing you can do! You are exactly right. The mold is contained on the must cap. Since you can drain from the bottom you should not have to worry about it. Great comment and great foresight! Best of luck and let us know how it turns out.

  60. I need to pick your brain a minute! Always enjoy visiting with someone with experience. We filtered our first fermentation last night, added our sugar and water and placed all in the Carboy. We syphoned (didn’t see the cooler trick til it was too late for this year) pretty sure we got a little bit of mold in the secondary fermentation. This morning there is a foam on the top of the mixture. Wish I could insert picture here. The foam is about 1/2″ thick and very bubbly. It is already bubbling in the airlock. Do I need to skim the foam off or just watch it for mild? We have a store bought antilock device on ours. Feel like the seal is extremely tight. Sure would hate to lose our first ever batch of mustang wine.

    • The foam is normal. In fact it is good. And the fact that your airlock is already bubbling is a good sign. Once the foam clears in a couple of weeks look for mold forming on top of the juice. If you see it, you can make a “net” out of a coat hanger and pantyhose to scoop it out.

  61. when you say unwashed are you saying not to rinse the fruit at all? lot of little critters of the 8 legged kind in the grapes we collected.

    • Yep. I don’t wash them at all. You want to try and preserve the wild yeast. If you want to wash them it will be ok if you order a packet of yeast to add to them

  62. Hello again Jay! I just started my first bottle of Mustang wine and doing peach also. Last year was amazingly good. Thanks for your help.
    I have a friend that wanted to make wine with cherries. Will this recipe work for those as well? Thanks again.

    • Yes they can! Mr. Marburger (the man that taught me) has 15 to 20 varieties of wine at his house that he has made with things ranging from apricots to jalapenos! He loves to say “If it has juice I can turn it into wine”!

      • Great! So if I decide to do watermelon wine,do I put the rind in it for natural yeast or do I have to add yeast?

        • Supposedly, there is enough wild yeast in the air to get things going. If I were going to try this I would be concerned that adding the rind to the mixture would effect the flavor. However, to me, this is the fun of this. you could cut the recipe in half and try one batch with rind and one without to see what happens. Please let me know if you try it. I have always heard of watermelon wine but I have never seen any or tasted it. I would be interested to hear how you think it turns out.

          • Yes sir, I will let you know. Trying it both ways is a great idea. Ill have more empty buckets this next week. Thanks again.

          • Its been less than a week and ive had to skim what looks like mold off the top of the pulp. Is this going to be okay or should I toss this out?
            I skimmed it yesterday and its already got it back. I did add yeast but only a little.

          • Mold on top of the pulp is not a huge issue. The problem will be if you transfer the mold to the secondary. That is why I siphon the juice out, to avoid mold transfer. I can’t remember what type of container you are using for your primary. Is it possible to drill a hole in the bottom and drain your juice that way? I would not throw it out whatever you do. Just give it a few more days and get it to the secondary without transferring the mold

          • Thank you Jay. I wont give up!! If it turns out, I will have to make a trip to your area with a bottle.

  63. I am 5 days into 2nd stage fermentation, and getting bubbles very slowly. One good sized bubble about every 8 seconds through the air lock. The first stage had no bubbles I could detect. The grapes were not washed, but I am wondering if I should add some yeast. If so, what kind and where is it available.

    Thanks again for being so helpful.


    • Adding extra yeast is a personal choice and it certainly won’t hurt. Just know I have had some batches that bubble like crazy and some that trickle like yours is doing now. I have never added yeast but I have been tempted too. Bottom line is I think you will be fine whichever way you choose. The man that taught me said he regularly adds a little bread yeast to his. However, if I were going to add yeast I would get yeast designed for wine production.

  64. Mr White, we have 2 batches in second fermentation now, our first try, we have a couple of questions,,,would it hurt anything to heat the water enough to help dissolve the sugar,,,,and would it be possible to bottle the finished wine in plastic jugs???
    Thanks in advance!!
    and Thanks for the great recipe!!

    • I would be careful about heating the water. All yeasts have temperature ranges that they work well in. While I do not know the temperature range for wild yeasts I know that white wines must be cold fermented for their yeasts to work. So I if you heat the water to help dissolve the sugar I would be certain to let it cool back to room temperature before adding the juice. As for plastic containers, I say yes. If the wine is going to be stored for long periods, I would consider glass as it will not transfer any tastes to the the wine. However, if you are going to drink it in the first year I don’t think there will be a problem.

  65. Jay, I hope you still check this. First timer here trying to make a little wine using muscadines. Have them in the first stage now (3 gal mashed). Question is do I need stir them everyday or let em’ set?

      • Thanks! Mashed em’ last night and they’re bubbling pretty good. Think I’ll get at least a couple qts of juice from it?

        • I think you will. I generally get over 6 quarts of juice from five gallons of whole grapes. If you mashed 3 gallons of whole grapes you could easily get 3 to 4 quarts of juice. If you have any juice left over when you do your mixing, it makes excellent grape jelly.

          • Thanks man! My granny used to make all kinds of jelly from just about anything. Guess that’s one of the perks of living in the south.

          • Been readin’ the comments and I see where people are sacrificing a good cooler for the first stage. Just a tip here.. I bought a bucket and a plastic water spigot and two flat rubber washers that would go over the spigot. And a fitting that would fit the spigot. Drilled hole in very bottom of bucket on the side and installed spigot. No siphoning required. Bucket, lid, spigot, fitting and washers were under 12 bucks. Btw, making wine sure is easier than shine!

  66. I know that mature grapes have natural yeast on the skins. Just to be assured that fermentation is done with a good yeast I always kill the natural with Camden Tablets then a day later add a packaged wine yeast. Have you, or anyone else, compared finished product with natural vs controlled yeast? Perhaps next year I will make 1 gallon with natural and the majority with controlled to see if I can taste a difference.

    • I personally have never used the camden and yeast. However, I have been tempted. Plus, the gentleman that taught me regularly uses supplemental yeast “to get things going”. I have tasted his wine that has been made both ways and I really could not tell a difference.

      • Thanks for the response. I had read warnings that natural yeast in your own locality can be good, bad or anywhere in between. With that in mind, I suppose the only way to know is to ferment 2 batches with natural vs controlled.
        Truly, I would love to be able to successfully ferment with only fruit and water – no other additions. Unfortunately, the critters decimate the crop before my domestic grapes get to an alcohol potential of 6%; therefore, the need for additional sugar.

        • Shortly after my inquiry of ‘natural vs controlled’ I started primary fermentation of ‘nectarine & peach combo’. I did use camden but let it sit 48 hours instead of 24. Before adding my ‘controlled’ yeast, I thought I was getting white mold. Reapplied camden and 24 hr later before adding the ‘controlled’ yeast, hydrometer readings show that what I thought was mold was actually fermentation. Still in final stage of secondary, somewhat harsh taste, but believe it will age fine.

    • I have never weighed my grapes. I simply pick a five gallon container full. The recipe I use is based on volume. Hope someone in the forum can get you an answer

  67. I used the ice chest method this year for my primary fermentation and it worked great!!! No mold, lots of juice, not siphoning; I had to tilt the ice chest high enough for the juice to flow out of the spigot and keep the must out of the way. Last year was my first year, I made 3 gallons of Muscadine and 3 gallons of peach wine. I noticed the peach had a bigger ‘kick’ than the grape wine. I also tried strawberry but was very disappointed in the taste – probably the taste of the strawberry to begin with-store bought. This is my 2nd year, I had a bumper crop of Muscadine grapes so anticipate making 8 gallons from 3 gallons last year. I read the ice chest idea AFTER I’d already completed the primary fermentation last year. I have pictures but don’t see where to add them. I also am using less sugar this year, I’ll watch the bubbling and will add more if necessary.

    • Thank you so much for the update! I have always wanted to try the peach. Glad to hear that it worked out for you and tasted good. I also agree on backing off on the sugar. While I like the wine it is a bit sweet. Thanks to all of the comments I have learned a ton and have decided to keep experimenting with my recipe. Really appreciate you letting us all know how the recipe worked for you!

    • I get mine from Texas Homebrewers. But any homebrew supply store should have. Note that Glass vs Plastic jugs will have different internal opening sizes, My Glass are 6.5 and 7 while Plastic are size 10. You can get the Plugs with or without predrilled holes for the airlock. There are also CAPS that fit over the opening.

      • Thanks. I live in a small town so a home brew store is out of the question. Lol. Don’t even have a grocery store. Found something that will work at Walmart. I’m worried I have too much headspace. Only have 2.5 gallons in a 5 gal primo bottle. Used this recipe but cut ingredients due to the lack of juice. Only had 2.5 qts juice. So I used 4 pounds sugar and 5 1/4 qts of water. Hope it turns out ok. If not always next year

        • I’ve only been making wine for 2 years and looking forward to a harvest of Mustang next year based on the exquisite flavor of the grape itself.
          Just going from expert’s (?) internet posts myself, in secondary fermentation it is important to keep exposure to oxygen, light and extreme temps to a minimum. Amateurs even suggest that you can use a cap, lid or solid plug as an airlock but MUST loosen as often as required to release the pressure. I have not tried drilling out a solid rubber plug, although there are methods described on the web. I did see drilled plugs on Amazon, but as mentioned, size matters.
          I do use glass marbles to keep headspace to a minimum, but it takes a gallon container of marbles to replace a half gallon of liquid.
          Good luck – it is a detail oriented but rewarding hobby requiring patience.

          • Been readin’ some of these vintners posts on other forums and I think I might better get a smaller carboy. Maybe a 3 gal carboy. I have a rubber plug. Drilled it myself and pressure tested before filling. No leaks around the carboy top. Just think all that headspace will cause premature oxidation.

    • I have never encountered this kind of smell. No idea what to say. Hopefully someone else in the discussion will have an idea on what is going on.

    • Not mustang but: How long has it been in Primary ferment? My primary is normally complete 4 or 5 days after adding yeast and yeast energizer and is transferred to secondary when specific gravity is between 1.020 & 1.000. During heavy bubbling on days 2 & 3, the smell is VERY strong in the room. I would not classify it as ‘acetone’. During this time a finger lick still tastes like sweet fruit (but I do add 2+ pounds of sugar per gallon of must to bring my alcohol potential above 15%).

      • It is just some wild grapes I found more like a wine or table grape. The ferment is just two days, bubbling away the smell is only in the bucket and not fruity, until you waft the air in the bucket. The taste is a bit tart but has some fruit flavor.

        • The initial SMELLS are never encouraging to me. I would give it time to prove itself, though waiting a month can be frustrating. And mine ALWAYS taste better a month or more after bottling (2+ months after startup).

  68. Hi, it has been a little over two months that my wine has been in secondary fermentation. I went out to the garage to check on it and only 1 inch of water was in the water bottle. I filled the water bottle completely up. There is no more bubbles passing through the hose anymore. Has this ever happen to you? Should I remove the airlock and bottle?

  69. Hi Jay,
    Just letting you know the watermelon wine is fabulous! Alcohol content is higher but the taste is still there. I had to add food coloring to turn it pink.
    The pear was good and on the dry side.
    If I make a trip down your way (brenham?) I’ll be happy to drop off a couple different bottles for your family.
    Just let me know.

  70. We picked and mashed 6 gallons of grapes. Put plastic wrap on top to seal out bugs. It is sitting in our screened porch…the temp here had been in the nineties. It has been 2 days now and it looks like there are small circles of mold starting on the top of the pulp. Please let me know what you think I should do… thank you, Jean

    • Mold in primary fermentation is to be expected. The trick is trying not to transfer the mold to the secondary fermentation container. Since I siphon from the bottom of the primary I have not had a problem except once. On that time I tried to skim the mold off but it continued to form. An old timer told me to let it go and see what happened. Once the wine was complete I tasted it and spit it out. The wine may have been fine but it had a strong musty taste.

      In short, you can skim now if you want, but it will most likely be ok if you don’t

    • Had ‘mold’ appear on peach wine that I forgot to add Yeast at 24 hours after starting Primary. I skimmed, added Campden and despite fermentation starting before I added yeast, resulted in a good wine. My notes follow:

      Aug 27 Put ~3.5 gallon pulp into primary. Add 1 tsp Pectic Enzyme, 4 Camden, 1 tsp Tannin & 1.67 Tbsp Acid. Too thick to use hydrometer, Refractometer indicates SG of 1.025. Add ¾ gallon water and 10 pounds sugar.
      Aug 29 Mold? Add 10 Camden. Add 4 gallons water & 15# sugar. 10.5 gallon total. Ave alcohol potential = 17.66% ave SG 1.120
      Aug 30 Siphon all thru pulp bags. Fermentation has already started w/o adding yeast! SG 1.100 Add 2 tsp Yeast Energizer and 1 packet Lalvin K1-V1116 Yeast (could use double of both)

  71. Jay White, thank you for your patience and help with inquiries over the years. I love this post and all the comments. 🙂 This will be the second year to harvest. Last year it was completely on a whim on 4th of July weekend in Meridian, TX. This year we’ve planned ahead. We harvest mainly for jam, but I have my heart set on Jay White’s table wine. Thanks again!

  72. What is your recipe for Spanish grapes? Is it the same as your mustang grape recipe! Thanks for any info on this!

    • I used the same recipe. However, the wine wound up tasting almost exactly like the Mustang wine. The Spanish grapes have enough sugar in them that they do not need all of the sugar I added. I call my wine “country” wine and other wines I call “fine” wine. Unfortunately i do not know how to make fine wine. I once helped harvest grapes at a vineyard and they made wine while we were there. He added no sugar to his Spanish grape wine. Instead he added yeast. Wish I had a recipe for the wine because the wine he produced was very good and tasted just liek store bought wine.

      • I tried the prickly pear wine a couple years ago. Thinking I used too much juice as it was like a light syrup. I let it work for 4-5 months, added Camden tablets and double filtered and bottled. Had 3 bottles blow the cork a month later and refrigerated to drop pressure. Didn’t care for the taste myself and gave it all away. Others claimed it was real good and very high % alcohol content. Very labor intensive starting the process due to the thorns making them hard to remove the skin to insure a thornless product. Hope this helps.

  73. i am in the secondary fermentation stage. my hose will not stay at the bottom of the bottle. i don’t know what to do to make it stay down. does the hose have to be in it? we actually have two bottles going. one is smaller. the smaller one keeps leaking out of the top because the wine rises, we actually took the hose out of the smaller one and now the airlock is bubbling. just wondering what this is doing to the wine. (We are first time wine makers with mustang grapes) Help me please

    • I am not able to envision exactly what you are describing. I am assuming your question is related to the airlock. You do need an airlock. The airlock keeps out various bacteria and oxygen that can ruin the wine. The hose in the fermentation container should not be at the bottom of the container. It just needs to go all the way through the cork. It provides the hole that CO2 needs to escape. The other end of the hose needs to go into the airlock (coke bottle) and it needs to stay underwater. The water is what stops the bacteria from getting to the wine as it ferments. Do not be afraid to use caulk or window putty or what ever you have to seal the hole that you drilled in the bottle cap. This will hold the hose in place. Hope this answers your question.

      • Thank you for your reply! What I discovered is that I am an idiot and misread the directions. We have taken the hose out and placed the airlock, and boom, things are happening now. We just started this step on Sunday, do you think there is any chance we ruined it, or will it still work. I am only slightly concerned since we made the change within the first couple of days, but I could use some reassurance. This is our first time to try this as this is the first time we have had access to these wonderful grapes! (We already completed jelly, and grape juice a plenty!) Thank you!

    • “hose will not stay at the bottom of the bottle” Bottle or Carboy? If both ends are positioned in the liquids then when pressure builds in the carboy it pushes wine into the airlock container. You want a 1 way valve to release gas, so in the carboy the hose end should be in the air/gas gap above the young wine. The valve is created with the hose in the water of the airlock, not necessarily at the bottom of the water. Some tape should hold the hose in place in the airlock – leave the airlock container unsealed otherwise you will create high pressure in both containers.

  74. Found your recipe for 3-step wine, and with an abundance of wild mustangs this year thought I’d try my hand at wine-making.

    Question, please: After the two-week primary fermentation is the juice supposed to be a little slippery? Mine is. Is it still ok to use?

    Thanks for any advice.

  75. Ugh!! You are probably going to wish I had never attempted to make wine…but…I have one more question! I tried to read through all the comments to figure this out but man there’s lots! I am using commercial air locks! My smaller bottle is constantly pushing the airlock up but my larger bottle has yet to start moving it! It’s been almost two weeks since we started and 10 days since we figured out I was stupid and fixed the air lock! Should I be concerned? I really don’t want to lose this wine! Should I add a small amount of yeast? Any information that would help is greatly appreciated!

    • It should be bubbling along by now. Perhaps it is time to add Camden and yeast. I have never done this so i am not sure what type of yeast or the amount. however, there should be lots of info on the web. Best of luck. Sorry you are having trouble

  76. Thank you for your reply. I have wine and monsarate (Spelled wrong) yeast, and Camden, guess its time to do a little research. Appreciate your advise, and I did read all the comments, and learned a lot! Thanks for being there!

  77. Did u take hydrometer readings at start of Primary, start of Secondary and current? Any bubbles rising in the must? Ensure that the airlock is providing a good 1 way seal? Search for “Restart Stuck Fermentation”.
    If use Camden to kill all unwanted (yeast, etc), 1 crushed tablet per gallon (I crush and dissolve in a small amount lukewarm water) and mix well into must. Be certain to let it sit for 24 hours before adding yeast with no airlock.
    Yeast is your choice of of wine yeasts. I use Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast (1 packet for up to 5 gallons) because I like results and it allows me to make high alcohol content. Also recommend adding Yeast Nutrient (1 tsp per gallon) to ensure strong yeast growth. Again, I dissolve into water before mixing (too hot can kill the yeast).

    • Wow! Thank you for this information! I did not take a hydrometer reading, guess I should have. The juice after the primary fermentation was perfect in smell, appearance and taste, so guess I never thought about it. I am so hesitant to have to add yeast, but will do what I have to do! Again, thank you so much!

      • After several days without expected fermentation; personally, I would treat with Camden, wait 24 hours then add Nutrient and Yeast.
        With a hydrometer, (IMO) a measurement greater than Specific Gravity of 1.020 means that Primary has not completed. I do not start Secondary until hydrometer reads below 1.020. With a Blackberry that I made, I started Secondary at 1.044 and had lots of trouble.
        But then again – I started making wine 3 years ago and have only bottled 110 gallons.

  78. Note: Vintner’s Best Wine Making Equipment Kit – I purchased the 1 gallon kit for about $25 when I started (they also have 5 gallon kit). Has all equipment needed for initial trials and good instructions to get started with. However; if you decide to continue onward, you will find that you want many other pieces of equipment and need tons more information. Try to find a HomeBrewer supply near you and ask questions. They may even have amateur Brewer and Vintner meetings.

  79. Thanks for responding. I have 5 gallons in the carboy and it’s perking away like crazy.
    I’ve learned a lot from reading all the comments, here, and I appreciate all the information provided.

  80. Another question, please: Does condensation inside the airlock and above the wine level in the carboy indicate that one or the other (or both) are not airtight? Thanks.

    • If the airlock itself is bubbling then I doubt you have a leak. Of course by now, bubbling in airlock is probably few and far between (1ce per minute or longer).

  81. Thanks for your reassuring response. Oh, this is a new carboy, just set up 2 days ago. It’s bubbling about every 2 seconds. The carboy I mentioned in my earlier post is now bubbling about every 10 seconds with no condensation visible. It never had condensation but there is less space above the liquid. This last one is about 4 gallons in a 5 gallon jug. Could that be the reason for condensation buildup? If so, will it cause problems with the wine?

    • 1 – Yesterday when I responded I had just moved carboys for a batch of Red Grape that started secondary fermentation 3 days earlier and wasn’t sure if condensation was caused by movement. Today, both 5 gallons show condensation in the airlocks, the 1/2 gallon does not. I suspect it has to do with how much gasses pass thru the airlock.
      2 – I always try to keep the carboy filled up somewhere into the neck to minimize exposure to oxygen. Primary fermentation in bucket (with occasional stirring) allows aerobic fermentation as the yeast needs oxygen to multiply. All research I’ve read highly recommends secondary fermentation to be anaerobic; therefore, I keep my carboys topped up and keep exposure to oxygen minimized.
      3 – Some say to add water to top up (diluting the wine) while I primarily use glass marbles which also help to catch sediment while racking the wine. I try to start off with a bit more (5 to 10%) must than wine I desire to end up with. With current batch, I will use the 1/2 gallon to top up after the first rackings. Note that it would take about 2 gallons (22 pounds) of marbles to displace 1 gallon of liquid.
      4 – IMO (but no guarantees) – The carbon dioxide that the airlock is releasing should have displaced all oxygen and you should be OK until the 1st racking. At that time I personally would transfer to my 3 gallon + 1 gallon carboys. Alternatively you might add sweetened water now, at the risk of thinning down your mustang flavor.
      For reference: With my current batch of Red I started primary with 9 gallons of grape must (not much pulp) + 18 pounds of sugar dissolved in 12 pints water for potential of 16% alcohol and resulted in 10.5 gallons transferred to secondaries. I expect to bottle about 9.5 gallons.
      5 – As you know, if airlocks are bubbling you do not have an air leak.

      Again – I am amateur with only 3 years experience. 2016 batches are better than 2014 & 2015 and this year’s are more promising.

  82. Thanks for sharing your experience. The info you provided has helped me become a little more confident in what I’ve done, so far. I have 1 gallon of juice that I reserved for jelly. Would it interfere with the fermentation if I concoct another gallon of juice/sugar/water mixture in the same proportions as what is currently in the carboy and add it now, to eliminate the excess space?

    • I cannot recommend Yes or No, as total fermentation process of the newest is now approaching 2 weeks the older 3 weeks? Perhaps google “adding more juice into secondary wine fermentation”?
      IMO: If fermentation is still strong adding more juice/sugar/water should be fine. Worst case would be a sweeter final result. Supposedly, yeast continues to live until ALL sugars have been consumed (except some yeasts are designed to die off at 13% alcohol), but complete fermentation might take longer.

  83. I think I gave the wrong impression re the age of my newest carboy (the one I’m concerned about having too much head space, since it has only 4 gallons in a 5 gallon jug). I started it on 8/8 — 4 days ago. The airlock on it is still bubbling every 3 seconds, so I’m seriously considering adding the juice mixture; however, I’ll take your advice and google the topic. Thanks.

    • I believe you should be fine adding the juice – I would be questionable if bubbling only 1ce every 30 to 60 seconds, Please let us know what your search indicates.

  84. Well, I googled and googled and found nothing definitive on adding the juice. A lot of people said the head space doesn’t matter as long as the fermentation is active, but would be an issue with oxidation if I leave it in the carboy after it finishes. Since the fermentation is still very active (what Kraus says is still primary fermentation) with airlock bubbling now every 4 seconds, I think I’ll add the juice/sugar/water – and pray – because doesn’t it need to set in the carboy for some time after fermentation is done?.

    • With active fermentation, the CO2 must be displacing the oxygen.
      My typical schedule is:
      Primary fermentation in bucket until Specific Gravity falls below 1.020 which is typically 4 to 7 days. Then transfer to carboy.
      Secondary fermentation until Specific Gravity falls below 1.000 (or as low as it will go) typically 30 to 45 days. Many people let wine sit in secondary for months. During secondary I will rack and filter roughly every 10 days.
      I then kill yeast with Camden, add stabilizer, bottle and let it age.

      Krause is my primary GO TO. Note that even after 1 month into the process, fermentation very likely continues but at such a slow rate that you will only know by taking hydrometer readings. When hydrometer readings are same over a 3, 5 or 7 day period, fermentation is probably complete BUT I did have 2 consecutive batches that started popping corks 2 months after bottling – reason I now use Camden to kill yeast.

    • Many may say I rack too soon and too often. Earlier I was racking every week, think I am getting better results lately with every 10 days. Each time I rack, I filter, initially with a course filter and at the end with fine filter.

  85. Thanks for all the info. Not sure I can keep to a schedule that aggressive. Maybe that means I’m not cut out to be a wine maker. I’ll post my results when I get something finished.

      As stated – my schedule is extreme compared to many others.
      Nothing more satisfying than enjoying something you made yourself

  86. Mr. White,
    I have just been gifted about 15 gallons of muscadine grapes. I am going to try to follow your recipe and directions for your 3 step process to turn these grapes into wine. Please tell me how much head space you leave in the carboy when you start the secondary fermentation. Thanks, Helen

    • Hydrometer is a very helpful tool. Wine Hydrometer before 1st fermentation will tell you potential alcohol content thus Table vs Desert wine that u should end up with.

  87. Hi,
    I have a question about picking the grapes! Did you go through and pull out any green ones/ dried ones/ spider webs, or throw everything in? I’m curious what the best thing is to do at the beginning.


    • The first year I was very careful to remove all stems, leaves, etc. The next year, I mashed everything together. Wine tasted exactly the same both years!

  88. Amazing! I have had these grapes behind my house for 20 years and never bothered to find out what they were. I simply said if birds and squirrels don’t eat it, it can’t be good for me. Now… I think I’ll just open a seasonal brewery in my basement. Thank you for this info. I will document my first attempt and post it here. Thank you!!

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