Not much feels better and more satisfying than using fresh grapes to make your first batch of wine. The best time to start a batch is the early fall when the grapes are at their ripest in the vineyards all over the country.
Depending on where you live, there are many kinds of grapes that you can choose from. The classic choice for flavor is Vitis vinifera, with its historic authenticity and beautiful character. The grapes in this family from Europe includes varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, and Chardonnay. These grapes tend to thrive best in the Pacific Northwest and California areas of the United States. There are also many microclimates throughout this nation where the grapes tend to do well. These microclimates can be found in places across the mid-Atlantic states, the Great Lakes, and New York.
The Vitis vinifera grapes may not be found in climates that are wetter and colder. There are some hybrids, though, that can withstand cold and disease that can be raised in those areas. Another way to find grapes to make wine is to go to a local produce wholesaler or a winemaking shop.
Regardless of the kind of grapes you decide to use for your wine, the general ingredients, equipment, and techniques remain the same. You can do a brief search online to find a list of equipment that will be needed to make your wine.
The first step in making wine is inspecting the grapes. You do this by picking up a double handful and squishing them to strain the juice, and then use a hydrometer to measure the level of sugar. You can purchase a hydrometer at any winemaking supply shop. The density of the sugar should be about 22° Brix. Also, taste the fruit to ensure that it is ripe, sweet, and slightly tart.
You will also want to check over the grapes thoroughly to make sure they are clean and mostly free of insects and debris from the Vineyard. If you find grapes that look rotten or otherwise bad, discard of them. It is also important that you remove the stems from all the grapes because they will make your wine taste bitter.
Now that you have your grapes picked out and clean, you are ready to start making your wine.