Concord Grape Winemaking Instructions


This winemaking procedure is intended to be a guide for making wine from Concord grapes, Central Ohio's most popular, and also from Labrusca-style grapes.



1. Pick the grapes when they are fully ripe (the birds will let you know). They are best used immediately but you could freeze them for later use. Rinse them if they were sprayed or if they were grown close to a road.

2. Estimate the volume of grapes you have. This will be the amount you use to determine how much water to add... For example, if you start with 6 gallons of grapes, you will add 3 gallons of water. Pull the grapes off the stems, break them open, but don't break open the seeds.

3. Put the grapes in the primary fermenter. Add half as much water as you have grapes (see step 2). Another recipe is 5 lbs. grapes, 2 lbs. sugar, and water to make 1 gallon. Then stir in the proper amounts of Pectic Enzyme and Metabisulphite (or Campden Tablets). Stir and cover with lid and airlock. Let it sit 12-24 hours so Metabisulphite can kill wild yeasts and dissipate.

4. Next, stir in 3 lbs. of sugar for every gallon of water you added... Mix well... and add 1-2 packets of wine yeast and seal up fermenter. Primary fermentation will begin. Stir twice daily, leaving grape pulp in container until fermentation has slowed down, about 1 week.

5. When primary fermentation is over, strain the grapes out (it's a messy job) and transfer wine into secondary fermenter (carboy). Top off to neck (fermenter must be full) with water or more juice if necessary. Attach the airlock, half-filled with water. Secondary fermentation will continue slowly for 2-6 months.

6. Whenever sediment is visible in carboy, about once a month, the wine should be siphoned off into a clean jug and topped off with water or wine. This is called "Racking" and needs to be done 3-4 times or when wine has stopped fermenting and is beautifully clear.

7. Now for bottling, we recommend adding 1/4 tsp. of Potassium Metabisulphite per 5 gallons to inhibit any more yeast activity. Store bottles upright for at least 5 days before laying them on their side.

Equipment needed:

  • Primary Fermenter. An 8 gallon open container would be preferable. Could be food grade plastic or a stone crock.
  • Secondary Fermenter. A 5 gallon narrow-necked carboy, preferably glass.
  • Airlock. To release CO2.
  • Siphon Hose. 6ft piece of food grade plastic tubing.
  • Strainer. Either cheese cloth or a nylon bag.
  • Wine Yeast. One packet of EC-1118 would work great. See other wine yeasts here.
  • Pectic Enzyme. This (1) breaks down the cell walls of the fruit to get more juice, and (2) also helps with pectin haze.
  • Potassium Metabisulfite. This kills off wild bacteria and yeast found on the fruit skins.
  • Grapes. Roughly a bushel (25 lbs.) to yield 5 gallons of wine.
  • Sugar. Cane, beet, or corn sugar works the best for winemaking.
  • Handy Items. (1) A good winemaking book like Techniques in Home Winemaking or Joy of Home Winemaking. Find them here. (2) A Funnel. (3) A long handled spoon.