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Tim Vandergrift's Essential Equipment for Upping Your Game

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Making your own wine doesn’t require a lot of equipment (or space or time), just a little patience and a willingness to learn as you go. You can make brilliant, delicious wine right in your own basement or kitchen (or closet, or spare bathroom!) with tools no more esoteric or sophisticated than those that were in use hundreds, or even thousands of years ago.

Stepping up to making larger or more frequent batches can present greater challenges. It’s one thing to use a spoon to stir a single kit for five minutes to de-gas it. It’s entirely another thing when you’ve got 10 carboys that need degassing at the same time, or ten kits in a large tank. Similarly, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as an hour of contemplation filling and corking thirty or so bottles, but it’s a day of lower back stress and endless slogging if it’s 500 bottles. Selecting the right equipment can help make large-batch or multiple-batch winemaking a lot easier.

There’s another concern that using the right equipment can help alleviate—the generalised entropy that accompanies the passage of time. I know of which I speak, as it seems carboys get heavier every year—it may well be that gravity is increasing, or wine contains more heavy elements, but the truth of the matter is that eventually even the most robust winemaker is going to look at moving a sixty-pound carboy onto a shelf and think, ‘How many more of these do I have to lift?’

I once heard an anthropologist observe that the first tools any human society invents are those designed to make work easier, to extend human capacity and multiply effort. Modern winemaking society has done no less for us. There are implements designed to make stirring and degassing easier, pumps to move wine without backbreaking lifting, filters that can do a batch in seconds (really!) rather than minutes, corkers that operate like Swiss watches, and a host of other tools and gizmos that can take most of the manual labour out of a winemaker’s day.

Some of them are surprisingly inexpensive as well. Few winemakers get into the hobby because they want to spend more money on their favorite beverage, and in many cases even a modest investment in top-end gear can make a huge difference to your winemaking day. That’s not to say you can’t break the bank with high-end gear, but most of the really expensive stuff is designed for such high volume throughput that you couldn’t prime the pump with a six-gallon batch, much less run the whole machine. Let your budget and your batch size be your guide.

The most useful processing equipment for the home user breaks down into:

  • Stirring/degassing
  • Transferring/Racking
  • Filtering
  • Bottle filling
  • Corking

Check out the products below to see some excellent solutions that will not only help you make the best wine possible, but will also reduce your labor and decrease the amount of time you spend on your winemaking tasks!

More info: Floor Corking Machine

More info: Three Prong De-Gasser and Aerator

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