So far this year we’ve made wine from elderflowers, gorse, blackcurrants, redcurrants, raspberries, and rhubarb. Now that autumn is here, we have a new selection of crops from which to conjure wines. Although most of our peaches were made into jam, enough were saved to make a couple of gallons of wine. Our grapevine too, did very well this year, and yielded three gallons of wine – my first attempt at ‘proper’ wine.

The last crop of the year is perhaps the biggest, and has been put to many uses. Apples are everywhere, and we’ve tried our best to do them justice. Three gallons of cider, six gallons of apple wine, 30 bottles of apple juice, and still crates of apples saved for eating and cooking. We finally got to use the enormous boiler that Lesley gave us, although it took some time to clean out the giant pan, which hadn’t been used for years.

Making wine from our red grapes

Fermenting grape juice in demijohns with the peach wine in  front

Apparently cider is rather prone to going bad, so I followed some instructions and added 2 campden tablets per gallon to kill off any pre-existing bacteria and yeasts, and left it 24 hours before adding a bit of pectic enzyme and 3 teaspoons of yeast. I have a generic wine yeast so used that, and so far it seems very happy.

The boiler steaming away, sterilising bottles.

Medieval looking but very effective. We also pasteurised our apple juice in bottles using this. 20 mins at 80C

The apple wine I made using 2 big brewing buckets. I added about 2 1/2 gallons volume of chopped apples (I put them through our scratter first), then the rind and juice of 2 lemons per bucket. Then some boiling water, and a couple of bags of sugar per bucket, stir to dissolve the sugar and top up to the 5 gallon mark with cold water. I then added 5 teaspoons of yeast per bucket and left the mixture for over a week, stirring daily. The apple tends to float so it needs a bit of persuading to mix well.

The first stage of the apple wine – starting fermentation before straining

After a week, I put the whole lot through the apple press and some muslin to strain it back into a brewing container with an airlock to ferment, where it will remain until I rack it into a second container to clear it, and then eventually into bottles.

Our gigantic vat of apple wine, with a one gallon demijohn for comparison

The peach wine is made in the same way, with about half a gallon volume of chopped peaches, a bag of sugar, and the zest and juice of a lemon. Then boiling water, mix the sugar in and top up to a gallon and a bit as the fruit is taking up some volume. Finally add yeast and leave for a week until fermentation begins. Then strain the mixture off into demijohns with airlocks and wait until fermentation ends (keep them warm at this time of year though). Finally rack into another container or bottles.