Monday, September 1, 2008

BlueStem Wine Featured in Navy News

BlueStem Winery has truly gone international this month as an article appeared in Navy News which featured both BlueStem Winery and its relationship with the British Navy destroyer HMS Wizard.

If you have been a long time reader of my blog you will remember articles that I have written about my father and the fact that he was a prisoner of war of the Japanese during World War II. He was stationed on Corregidor Island in Manila Bay at the start of the war and from May of 1942 until September of 1945 he was a prisoner of the Japanese. His final prison camp address was at Nagoya Camp No. 3 located near Funatsu, Japan.

When the war ended my father was transported to Nagoya, Japan by rail and then was transported by the British destroyer HMS Wizard from Nagoya to Tokyo. Several years ago I wrote an article and provided photographs for a website done by a Roger Mansell which provides information about Japanese prisoner of war camps. Through this article contact was made with a lady named Adeline Medford of Wales in Great Britain whose husband John had been a crewman on the HMS Wizard when my father was rescued.

I recently named one of my beer brewing kits in honor of the crew of the Wizard (the kit is called HMS Wizard Magic Circle Mild Ale) and shipped ingredients for 100 bottles of beer to Wales. The ingredients were brewed in England, bottled and enjoyed at the last reunion held by former shipmates of the HMS Wizard. The article in Navy News retold this story.

In addition to HMS Wizard Magic Circle Mild Ale, our brewing supply store features approximately 30 other beer brewing ingredients kits, plus a complete line of home winemaking kits from both WinExpert and Cellar Craft.

Our blog provides beginning and advanced information about both the home brewing and home wine making process and brewing and home winemaking problems and their solutions. Making wine is our specialty and we can help with your selection of either a WinExpert of Cellar Craft wine kit but we also provide information about home brewing.

Welcome aboard!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

BlueStem Winery in Make Mine Wine

Make Mine WineBlueStem Winery is featured in two articles in the Summer 2008 edition of Make Mine Wine magazine, a publication which explores the midwestern wine scene. The first article (starting on page 26) titled Homemade Wine: Make Some Magic!! explores home winemaking using backyard fruits and vegetables and provides step-by-step instructions for making wine. The article also features using WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits as an alternative to wine making using fruits and vegetables. The second article features the national and international aspects of BlueStem Winery's business with its sales of wine making ingredients, home brewing supplies and brewing equipment plus the sales of Cellar Craft and WinExpert wine ingredient kits via their website.

BlueStem Winery was also recently featured in the pages of The Insider which is published on Wednesdays as a supplement to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. This article also provided information about BlueStem's business selling homebrewing equipment, homebrew supplies, and everything needed for home wine making including both Cellar Craft kits and WinExpert wine kits. In addition to beer brewing supplies and wine making supplies and its large inventory of Cellar Craft and WinExpert kits, BlueStem also manufactures its own line of beer brewing ingredients kits known as BlueStems Best.

If you are interested in either wine making or beer brewing as a hobby, contact Vern via the BlueStem Winery website.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Feelin' Groovy

Feelin' GroovyBesides marketing wine making supplies, homebrew equipment, home brewing ingredients plus both Cellar Craft and WinExpert wine kits, BlueStem Winery is also a licensed and bonded winery. Our store, which features everything you need for making wine and also home brew supplies, opened in 2004, but our wine making activities did not start until 2006 and our first wine was not available for sale until May of 2007.

Our fourth wine is now ready to be bottled. The labels (pictured at left) have been approved by the government and have been ordered so within just a few weeks this wine will be available. The wine is an Austrian Gruner Veltliner (pronounced Feltleener) and is an off-dry wine. If you cannot remember Gruner Veltliner just think Gru-V and thus the name Feelin' Groovy.

Three more wines (all whites) should be available shortly as they are all ready to be bottled. We are working on the label for number five and need name ideas for six and seven. Number five is an off-dry Riesling and will be called Prairie Fire. These two will join Once in a Blue Moon (a Riesling dessert wine), Red Crescent (a Cabernet Franc dessert wine), and Dark Side (a Chilean Montepulciano dry red).

If you are interested in making great wine at home, contact us a BlueStem Winery offers a large selection of both WinExpert and Cellar Craft ingredient kits and we would be more than pleased to help you get started with your new wine making hobby. For several years we carried only the WinExpert kits and were very pleased with the selection and quality of these kits. In 2007 we expanded our inventory to include Cellar Craft kits and have been very pleased with the response our customers have given our selection of Cellar Craft wine kits. Home wine making is a great hobby which has the benefit of providing great wine at a very minimal cost per bottle.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ford Mustang Owners / Restorers Beware

As anyone who reads my blog articles knows, BlueStem Winery is in the business of wine making for retail sale but we also operate a retail store and web business for marketing winemaking ingredients and homebrew supplies plus the WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine ingredient kits we stock. If you have been following our blog and website you are also aware that we are huge Ford Mustang fans as is my son and his wife. My daughter-in-law's parents are also Mustang fanatics. I have also written blog articles and have published information on my website about the huge F5 tornado that destroyed a third of our town on May 25 of this year.

So what am I blogging about today? Well, quite some time ago while we were rebuilding a Mustang to race at the drag strip, we purchased (on eBay) a pair of motor mounts from a company in Elkton, Virginia. The owner's name is John and that is who we dealt with. Several days after purchasing the parts and after hearing nothing from them I sent an e-mail inquiring about our parts. John took offense that we would even question him about this and proceeded to unleash a series of profane e-mails. As I said, this all occured quite some time ago.

So, a week or so ago I revised my website and put an article on the site about the tornado and how it destroyed my son's home, damaged ours and pretty much destroyed our collection of Mustang automobiles plus several other vehicles.

So, a few days ago, I get a message (through eBay) from John and here is the text:

I am glad to hear that God took care of such horrible people like you. If anyone deserved to have their vehicles destroyed it was you. It is nice to see that karma really works!!

I am not sure which God John is referring to as karma is not necessarily a Christian belief but that is irrelevant. I also find it hard to believe that anyone with any faith at all would even write such a message. I also find it hard to believe that if he has a business worth tending to that he has the time to monitor my website and then take the time to send a message which now tells the world what a low life he really is.

My message: If you are a Ford Mustang enthusiast and want good parts from a reputable parts dealer, you need to look at sources other than Elkton, Virginia from which to purchase your parts. Contact the Western Virginia Better Business Bureau for additional comments from other purchasers as to the way this business conducts business or go on-line to various chat rooms and do a search and see what other Mustang parts purchasers have to say about this dealer. It is an eye opener! So, a word to the wise, if you are a Blue Oval Mustang owner then you need to be aware that one of the industries real dirt bags is out there trying to sell his junk to you. He is probably okay, as long as you never contact him or question any of his less then reputable business tactics and dealings.

If you are looking for home brewing equipment, home brew ingredients, any supplies necessary for home wine making, or either Cellar Craft or WinExpert kits for making wine, then BlueStem Winery is your go to place. You will be treated with respect, your purchase will be well packed and it will be shipped promptly. Any questions you have about either WinExpert kits or Cellar Craft kits or any general questions about home winemaking or home brewing will be answered quickly and professionally.

How does anyone even stay in business treating customers in the way that this business does? Go figure!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Acidity in Wine: Part 5 (Final)

After you have completed your acid testing you will have determined the acid level present in your wine sample. Recommended acid levels for various types of wine were provided in Part 2 of this series on wine acidity.

If you need to increase the acid level in your wine to meet the recommended level you can add acid blend. It takes one gram of acid blend to increase the acidity in one liter of wine must by 0.1%. Thus, if you have a 6-gallon carboy (23 liters) you would need to add 23 grams of acid blend for each 0.1% increase in acidity desired.

No scale? No problem! A level tablespoon of acid blend weighs approximately 15-1/4 grams, a level teaspoon would weigh approximately 5.1 grams, and a quarter teaspoon would tip the scales at approximately 1.2 grams.

Having to decrease acidity in wine must is not usually where you want to be. Increasing acidity is easy, decreasing it is possible but the results can be less than satisfactory.

The addition of calcium (or potassium) carbonate will reduce the total acidity (TA) of your wine but should never be used to lower the TA by more than 0.4% as the carbonate can taint the flavor of your wine. It takes approximately 2/3 gram of carbonate to lower the TA of one liter of wine must by 0.1%. The maximum dosage (to lower TA by 0.4%) is thus 2-2/3 gram per liter. If you do not have a scale you can approximate the proper dosage of carbonate by knowing that a level teaspoon of carbonate weighs approximately 2.6 grams.

Rules of the Road:

Test twice prior to adding anything to your wine must; and

Additives should be mixed into your wine must in very small quantities as it is easier to add more then to remove excess; and

Test after each addition to determine whether additional quantities are required.

BlueStem Winery is your source for home wine making and homebrewing supplies. Centrally located in the heart of the Midwest, BlueStem ships your purchase of wine making equipment, home brew supplies or your purchase of WinExpert or Cellar Craft wine kits promptly.

BlueStem Winery inventories a wise array of both Cellar Craft and WinExpert wine kits plus a complete line of both brewing supplies and and everything you need for making wine. New to wine making? Drop us an e-mail at and we'll explain the nuances of home winemaking and we'll be happy to recommend one of our WinExpert kits or one of our Cellar Craft kits to get you started. Both the Cellar Craft and WinExpert ingredient kits are the best of the best. One of BlueStem's regular customers just won the People's Choice Award at the Benton County (Iowa) Fair. His kit of choice: WinExpert's Riesling Ice Wine Style.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Acidity in Wine: Part 4

Instead of using the titration method for measuring acidity as described in Part 3, you can also use a device called a pH Meter to measure wine acidity. A pH meter is more expensive ($50 to $60) than using a titration kit but it is more accurate and will last a long time if well taken care of.

When using a pH meter you add a reagent to your wine sample until the pH meter reads out at 8.2. The reason that 8.2 is the magic number is that 8.2 is the pH level at which phenolphthalein changes color.

There are a few things to know about a pH meter:

First, do not drop the device and be extra careful that you do not damage the probe. Second, keep the device clean. Third, it important that the device be calibrated (using fresh buffering solution) prior to every test. Fourth, be sure to mix your sample thoroughly between each addition of the reagent. Last, be sure that you take care of your pH meter in between usages (store according to the manufacturer's instructions). If you take good care of your pH meter, it should last a long time.

BlueStem Winery is your source for both quality wine making and home brew supplies. BlueStem stocks a large variety of both WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits in addition to all of the home winemaking and homebrew equipment in inventory. If in the northeast Iowa area we welcome your visit to our store where you can make your personal selection from our homebrewing ingredients, wine making supplies or choose one of our Cellar Craft or WinExpert kits.

We will increasing our inventory of WinExpert wine kits in October of this year and will greatly expand our selection of Cellar Craft kits with our factory order in September. Give us a try! Our BlueSaver Shipping gets your order (no matter how large) to you for only $7.95 if you are located in the lower 48 United States.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Acidity in Wine: Part 3

Acidity in wine can be measured easily and inexpensively. Our acid titration kit is part number 03-54000 and can be found in the testing section of the BlueStem Winery website (

Titration is simply the process of determining the concentration of a substance in a liquid. When testing wine for acidity you are trying to determine the acid concentration present in your wine sample. Two chemicals are used in this process. The first is Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) which is the reagent (base) in this test. The second is Phenolphthalein with is used as the indicator. A small amount of the color indicator (the Phenolphthalein) is added to your wine sample. The reagent (NaOH) is then slowly added to the sample until white wines turn pink/red or until red wines turn blue/grey/black.

Using a plastic syringe (included with the testing kit), measure 15cc of wine or juice into the test bottle (also provided). Add three drops of the Phenolphthalein color solution to the sample.

Draw 10cc of the Sodium Hydroxide into the syringe. Avoid contact with your skin as this solution burns.

Add the Sodium Hydroxide in very small increments to the wine sample. Agitate the sample after each addition. Keep doing this addition until there is a slight color change and it remains after agitation. Continue the small additions (continue to agitate after each addition) until a deep, dark color change is noted and it does not diminish with agitation. This indicates that the end point has been reached.

Each 1cc of the Sodium Hydroxide which was required to get to this point indicates 0.1% of acid (expressed as Tartaric) present. If 5cc of the neutralizer was required the acid level is 0.5%.

You can adjust the acid level upward to the desired level by adding one teaspoon of Acid Blend (per gallon of wine) to raise the acid level by 0.15%.

Dispose of the sample used (do not add this back into your wine).

When making wine at home you should always test for acidity levels prior to starting your fermentation. The exception to this would be if you are using one of our Cellar Craft or WinExpert wine kits as the juice concentrate used in these kits has been balanced as part of the manufacturing process.

BlueStem Winery operates a retail store and a web presence from 305 Third Street in Parkersburg, Iowa. BlueStem specializes in providing high quality wine making equipment, ingredients and supplies plus we carry a complete line of homebrew supplies, home brewing equipment and beer brewing ingredients. BlueStem inventories a large selection of wine making kits and features both WinExpert and Cellar Craft kits. We manufacture our own line of homebrew ingredients kits known as BlueStems Best.

Both our WinExpert kits and our Cellar Craft wine kits provide the home winemaking enthusiast with the very best quality wine concentrate kits available on the market.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Acidity in Wine: Part 2

Recommended acidity levels in wine varies by the type of wine being made and also by the sweetness level the winemaker is aiming for. This is not to say that individual vintners cannot vary from the recommended levels based upon their own taste.

Sweeter wines will tolerate higher levels of acidity as the sugar masks the acid present in the wine.

The level of acidity that BlueStem Winery recommends for various styles and sweetness levels is:

Dry white grape wines in the .65% to .75% range, dry red grape wines in the .60% to .70% range, sweet white grape wines in the .70% to .85% range, and sweet red grape wines in the .65% to .80% range. White wines which are made from fruits or vegetables other than grapes should be in the .55% to .65% range and non-grape red wines should be in the .50% to .60% range. These percentages are what is known as titratable acidity (or T.A.) and represent acidity as a percentage of total volume.

As mentioned in our first article about acidity in wine, you can be less concerned about the acidity in your wine if you are making your wine from a commercial wine kit such as the WinExpert or Cellar Craft wine kits sold on the BlueStem Winery website as the acid levels have been balanced during the manufacturing process. More about acids in wine with our next blog article.

BlueStem Winery operates both a retail store and a website for the marketing of winemaking equipment, ingredients and supplies, homebrewing supplies, homebrew ingredients, beer brewing equipment, our own line of beer brewing ingredients kits known as BlueStems Best plus both Cellar Craft and WinExpert wine kits.

Wines made from Cellar Craft kits and WinExpert kits make absolutely delicious wines and the odds for failure are extremely small. If you can read and follow directions and keep your equipment clean you too can me fabulous wine at home. If you are thinking about making wine at home or learning to brew your own beer, let BlueStem Winery be your source for home brew supplies and all of your home winemaking needs. We ship brewing supplies and home wine making materials all over the world and can be your source for everying you need in the way of beer brewing supplies and wine making ingredients, equipment and supplies.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Acidity In Wine: Part 1

This blog article is the first of several articles which will be written about acidity in wine. If you make all of your wines from commercial wine kits such as the WinExpert or Cellar Craft wine kits that are sold on the BlueStem Winery website, then the articles may be of interest to you but the measurement of the acidity in your wine will not be necessary as both the Cellar Craft and WinExpert ingredient kits are acid balanced to guarantee that your wine has the proper level of acidity when it is finished. If your home wine making involves making wine from fresh grapes or from backyard fruit then the articles will not only be interesting but the processes involved will need to be followed to help your home made wines obtain the proper acid balance.

The acids present in wine provide the slightly tart taste you notice when the wine is on your tongue. Wines that have too little acidity taste stale and flat while wines which have too much acidity leave your palate feeling like you have been sucking on a very strong lemon. Excellent wines have obtained a balance between the acid level and the other characteristics present in the wine (alcohol, sugars, etc.).

Tartaric, malic and citric acids represent the majority of the acids found in grape wines. Other acids are found in fruit and vegetable wines and in varying quantities. Citrus fruits obviously have much more citric acid then other fruits and vegetables while oxalic acid is present in rhubarb (oxalic acid is toxic in large concentrations and is used in products such as bleaches, stain removers, and can be used as a sanitizing agent for home winemaking and home brewing equipment).

If your wine has low acid levels it is easy to increase the acidity through the addition of tartaric, malic and citric acids or you can use a product sold on the BlueStem Winery website known as Acid Blend. Most commercially prepared acid blends consist of tartaric acid (10%), malic acid (40%) and citric acid (50%). Research we have done indicates that years ago commercially prepared acid blends were made in approximately the following ratio: Tartaric acid (40%), malic acid (40%) and citric acid (20%). The reason for the change is simple: citric acid is cheap, tartaric acid is much more expensive. For your information, BlueStem Winery blends their own acid blend and uses the much more desirable tartaric acid at 50%, malic acid at 40% and the less desirable citric acid at only 10%.

More on the testing of your wine and the addition of the proper level of acids to follow in future blog articles.

BlueStem Winery is located in the tornado ravaged community of Parkersburg, Iowa (but the winery survived intact) and markets winemaking supplies, WinExpert wine kits and Cellar Craft kits. In addition to all things necessary for wine making, BlueStem also carries a complete inventory of homebrew supplies, brewing ingredients and beer brewing equipment.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Water You Use

Many home wine makers use grape concentrate kits such as the Cellar Craft and WinExpert wine ingredient kits that are sold here at BlueStem Winery. As part of the process of making wine from concentrates, it is almost always necessary to add water to the kits to bring the juice back to the same brix (sugar concentration) as when the grapes were harvested and crushed.

The water you use can come from a variety of sources and have many varied characteristics and we at BlueStem Winery believe that the water you use can impact the quality of the wine you make.

The sources of water available to the home winemaking enthusiast (or home brewer for that matter) typically are the municipal water you get from your tap, the water from a well if you reside in a rural area, spring water, bottled water which has been purified (but not distilled) and distilled water.

Most municipal (what we call tap water) has been treated with chlorine to manage bacteria levels. You can contact the city clerk or the water works where you live to determine whether chlorine has been added to the water but you can usually smell or taste it in the water. This tap water can be used for your wine making but only after boiling the water to remove the chlorine. An alternative to boiling is to filter this water through an activated charcoal filter. Some communities treat their water with chloramines rather than with chlorine. Chloramines will not be removed by boiling and should be removed by filtering through an activated charcoal filter and then treating with sulfites at the rate of 10 parts per million. Again, talk to the city clerk or the water department where you live to find out how your local water is treated.

The use of water from a well presents a whole array of potential problems as rural water (especially in highly agricultural or industrial areas) can contain many types of bacteria, minerals, and other contaminants. Here in Iowa with our huge agricultural economy rural water has many sources of contamination. Have this water tested to see what is present in the water (a good idea even if you are not making wine!).

After testing, use an activated charcoal filter to remove many of the contaminants. A silver-impregnated charcoal filter does an even better job of removing bacteria. Keep in mind that you should change these filters regularly to prevent bacterial build up.

Rural water is many times also high in iron content. Water which has been softened to reduce iron content is high in sodium which, too, can affect the ultimate flavor of your wine.

My general recommendation for home wine making clients who have well water as their primary source of water is to purchase bottled spring water (it is cheap and you avoid the possibility of contamination in your wine).

Spring water is great for making wine at home as contains no chlorine, chloramines, flouride and yet has a few trace minerals that help give your wine must the nutrients it needs to make your yeast get off to a good start. If you don't have a ready natural source for pure spring water then your local grocery can be the answer. Bottled spring water is inexpensive but make sure that you read the label. Some spring water is nothing more than bottled tap water. Verify the source of the spring water you are purchasing. Codes like MTW on the container indicate that the water is nothing more than municipal tap water! The water should be great for wine making if you can verify that it is pure spring water and that it has been ozonated.

Bottled water is water that has been purified but not distilled. Although it can certainly be used for wine making it lacks many of the trace minerals found in spring water and is generally a little pricier than bottled spring water.

Distilled water is water which, through the distillation process, has had all trace minerals removed from the water. We recommend not using distilled water when making wine.

BlueStem Winery specializes in making limited quantities of very high quality wines. Our wines our marketed only through our store front in Parkersburg, Iowa and to a limited number of states which we have determined that we can ship to. We also operate both a retail and web based business marketing wine making ingredients, homebrewing equipment, home brew supplies, and both WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits.

For all of your home winemaking and home brewing supplies plus either WinExpert or Cellar Craft kits for making wine you can count on friendly, prompt and professional service from BlueStem Winery. If we don't have the brewing equipment or one of the WinExpert wine kits you need we will be happy to get the item you need quickly.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Importance of Punching Down

BlueStem WineryWhen making a big red wine (such as a Cabernet, Barolo or Zinfandel) from either fresh grapes or from one of our WinExpert or Cellar Craft ingredient kits which include a two liter packet of crushed grape skins, it is necessary to regularly perform a procedure known as punching down. Failure to punch down your wine will most like result in a wine which lacks astringency, taste and color.

When fermenting wine on the skins as you would with fresh red grapes or as you would with one of our Cellar Craft or WinExpert wine kits which include the two liter packet of crushed grape skins a cap of grape skins, stems and seeds will float to the top of your primary during fermentation. To obtain the flavors and colors present in this mass of pulp floating on the top of your fermenter you need to break up this mass and push it under the surface so that it stays moist. This breaking up of the cap and the process of pushing it under the surface is called punching down.

As mentioned previously, your wine will benefit from this process with more flavor, astringency and a richer color.

Other benefits derived from the punching down process include helping to keep bacteria from forming on this crusty surface, yeast which is trapped in the crust is mixed back into the must, punching down introduces oxygen into the must which provides a healthy environment for your yeast to thrive, and it helps dissipate heat which can build up during fermentation (warmth provides a healthy environment for bacterial growth).

The use of a stainless steel spoon (slotted preferred) or a masher of some type works well. Break up all the clumps so that the surface of your wine is smooth and all floating matter is thoroughly moist when done. Punch your wine down as soon as you have pitched your yeast and do so every six to eight hours throughout the primary fermentation process.

Maintain a temperature slightly cooler than maybe you normally do during primary fermentation. Keep your ambient temperature around 65 degrees Fahrenheit if possible and try hard to not let your temperature exceed approximatly 70 degrees.

As fermentation slows there will be less carbon dioxide being generated (the carbon dioxide rising to the surfact of the wine must is what causes the pulp to float to the surface). When the mass of pulp disappears (sinks) it is time to press out the pulp and remove it from the fermenter.

BlueStem Winery would like to be your source for all the wine making supplies, home brewing ingredients, WinExpert wine kits and Cellar Craft kits that you need. We stock an extensive array of homebrew equipment and equipment for making wine in addition to a large inventory of WinExpert kits and an even larger supply of Cellar Craft wine kits. So, if you are a veteran home brewer and need to order home brew supplies or whether you are a novice to home winemaking and need some help getting started, we can provide the help you need.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Possible Reasons For Your Wine Not Finishing

I know! For all my avid readers out there (both of you), it has been just a few days since I have posted. I had three tractor trailers deliver merchandise to BlueStem Winery including a truck just chock full of Cellar Craft wine kits and another from my Ohio wholesaler loaded with winemaking equipment, brewing supplies and WinExpert wine kits. I have pretty much put everything on hold for a few days as I try to unpack, check merchandise and re-stock shelves. Oh, yes, the third truck. Actually, Cellar Craft got one of my pallets on the wrong truck and it went to Texas instead of to Iowa. The store in Texas just kept the pallet and a new pallet of Cellar Craft kits arrived a few days later from Ontario to replace the wayward one.

A question was received from one of my customers who lives in San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio is one of my favorite cities, mostly because it was the only duty station I had other than my year at DaNang, South Viet Nam during my four years in the Air Force. If I remember right, downtown was a mass of one way streets which all met in the center of town. One giant traffic jam! The other thing I remember is gun racks in the back window of every pickup truck. Most likely loaded!

Anyway, my question was as to why my customer's wine was not finishing. When making wine, the wine is usually fermented down to a specific gravity of 1.000 or slightly less and then it is transferred from the primary fermenter (usually a plastic bucket) to the secondary fermenter (usually a 6-gallon glass carboy). The wine then finishes in the carboy down to a specific gravity of 0.992 to 0.994. My customer's wine would ferment down to the 1.000 mark and it (the wine) would be transferred to the carboy where it would ferment down to 0.996 to 0.998 and then stop. It would not finish. He wanted to know why.

There are several reasons why one of our Cellar Craft or WinExpert kits might not finish.

The first (or most common) reason is temperature. My customer, however, was maintaining a temperature of 75 degrees F. where the wine was being fermented and this is warm enough. The temperature was being maintained, too. Fluctuations in ambient temperature (as little as 5 degrees F.) can put wine yeast into shock and poor performance (a stuck fermentation) can result. We do not believe either of these to be the cause.

The variety of yeast being used can also be a factor. There are numerous types of wine yeast available and each has its own fermentation character. I know that Cellar Craft typically uses Champagne yeast because it is very forgiving and is very neutral. Champagne yeast can also tolerate wider temperature ranges, high alcohol levels (excessive amounts of alcohol present can also cause a yeast to stop fermenting) and produces smaller amounts of unwanted by-products.

Timing is also important. It is important that home winemaking enthusiasts rack (move their wine from primary to secondary) at the right time. Different wines have different points at which the movement is more advantageous but in this case the target was a specific gravity of 1.000 or less. Try to make this move as close as possible to 1.000 (not over but under 1.000). Above 1.000 can result in excessive foaming. Too far below 1.000 can result in a stuck fermentation right at the end of fermentation. This is very much a possibility for my customer!

Besides racking the wine at the most optimum time as described above, another thing that can be done is to not be too careful when racking the wine. In other words, do not try to totally avoid racking all of the sediment present in your primary fermenter into the secondary fermenter. Let some of this sludge (sediment) siphon over into your carboy. This small amount of sediment will help provide nutrients for the yeast during this final fermentation stage.

BlueStem Winery is your full service source for both WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine ingredient kits and also for homebrewing supplies, homebrew ingredients and beer brewing equipment. In addition to our full line of home brew supplies, BlueStem Winery also stocks a complete inventory of equipment, supplies and ingredients for your home wine making hobby. We welcome your visit to the BlueStem Winery website.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Decanting Wine (or Aeration vs. Oxidation)

A quiet spring Sunday at BlueStem Winery. April is always a quiet month as people start to get yard work done after a long winter. We received a large shipment of Cellar Craft wine kits last week and we have more Cellar Craft ingredient kits coming in on Tuesday. Our new supply of WinExpert kits along with a resupply of wine making supplies, homebrew equipment and home brewing ingredients will arrive tomorrow.

Yesterday's blog visited the importance of using a good cork when making wine. Today we are going to talk about removing the cork and enjoying the wine.

So, you have made 30 bottles of either WinExpert or Cellar Craft wine from a kit and you bottled it and you have waited the appropriate time and it is now ready to enjoy. I don't like to generalize but my rule of thumb on white wines made from either WinExpert or Cellar Craft kits is that you should wait a minimum of six months after bottling to enjoy the first bottle and a year is better. On red wines made from either Cellar Craft or WinExpert wine kits you should generally wait a minimum of a year and two is better.

But, as I said, you have waited the appropriate amount of time and it is time to enjoy. You have been told that oxygen is the enemy of wine and during the wine making you diligently tried to isolate your wine from oxygen as much as possible. Now it is time to drink your first bottle and I am going to tell you that prior to drinking your wine you should mix oxygen with it.

Yesterday we talked about corks and how a poor cork could lead to the oxidizing of your wine. There is a difference between oxygenation and aeration. Oxidized wine is wine which has been allowed to come in contact with oxygen during its storage life. Oxygen has attacked the wine and ruined its flavor and this wine can no longer be enjoyed.

Aeration is the mixing of oxygen with wine just prior to enjoyment. Wines which have been in storage will develop a smell which does not mean spoilage, it just means that we are unaccustomed to this aroma because we are used to smelling food which has been in contact with air, not isolated from it. Wines which have been in long-term storage may have chunks of sediment in them and will also have this slightly foul aroma. Use a special wine funnel which has a screen in it to do two things. Filter out the chunks and mix oxygen with your wine. This aeration will, in a few minutes, remove the unpleasant aroma. Will it damage your wine? No! Oxidation takes a little time, maybe hours and maybe a day. Open your wine, aerate it and enjoy!

As always, BlueStem Winery not only carries the winemaking supplies you need for your home wine making hobby but we also carry a complete line of home brew supplies for our home brewers. Our website is open all day every day or if in the area please feel free to drop in even if just to say hello!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Importance of a Good Cork

CorksIt is a good day to write a little bit about the importance of a good cork when bottling wine. It is a Saturday, the store is open but not yet busy, and on Monday I will be getting in a shipment that includes WinExpert wine kits, winemaking equipment and home brew supplies. On Tuesday I am expecting in the second shipment of Cellar Craft wine kits in the last week. These two shipments might must keep me too busy to write blog articles so best get it done today.

I know there are many home wine making people out there and you use a number of different kinds, styles, lengths, and diameters of corks when you bottle one of your Cellar Craft or WinExpert kits or some of your backyard fruit wine. When people are in the store my criteria for helping them select corks initially centers on what type of corker they own or wish to purchase. If they own (or want to purchase) a plastic hand corker (or what I call the brute force method of putting a cork in a bottle) I recommend either the #7 or #8 diameter corks. The #7 corks are the smallest diameter corks and are also the lowest quality. The #8 corks are a medium diameter cork and are of marginally better quality. Why do I recommend these two corks if they are of lower quality? Mostly based on the corker itself. The #9 corks are the largest diameter corks but are virtually impossible to insert into a bottle using this corker. The #7 and #8 corks also have chamfered ends which assist in insertion. We do sell one style of #9 cork with chamfered ends but these are of the same grade as the #8s.

The next choice in corkers is to purchase either a Portuguese or Italian double lever corker. They operate on the same principle (tapered sleeve for the cork to slide through prior to insertion) as the plastic hand corker but instead of pounding on the top of the corker with your hand or a rubber mallet, you pull two levers apart which in turn drives a plunger downward which pushes to cork through the tapered sleeve and into the bottle. Do they work well? No! I personally like the plastic hand corker better. Do they work with a #9 cork? Maybe if you are Hercules!

If your hobby is important enough to you to own a floor corker then the choice of corks comes down to style and quality as opposed to diameter. A floor corker will insert a #9 cork into the bottle easily. Pick the quality cork that you need based on the length of time your wine will be in the bottle. Cork choices range from first quality corks (these are the same grade as the #8s) to winery grade twin disc which are an agglomerated (compressed ground up cork) cork with a disc of natural cork on each end to Altec corks which are agglomerated suberin (this is the highest quality cork available) to synthetic corks. I personally use either the twin disc corks or the Altec corks for bottling our wine here at the winery.

So what is the importance of a good cork?

The whole purpose of the cork is to establish closure. Closure to me is defined as the ability to seal the bottle so that air does not transmit from outside the bottle to inside the bottle. Please do not believe anyone who tells you that a cork breathes! This would imply that air passes through the cork and this simply is not true! Air can pass by the cork if your cork is of a smaller diameter or if it is damaged in some way or if your corking process puts a crease down the side of the cork. If corks did breathe then I would not be in the business of making wine. I would be in the business of making a liquid that had a taste similar to vinegar!

If wine does aerate because of a poor quality cork or a leaking cork the wine will oxidize and in turn it will lose the protection of the free SO2 (sulphites) and then the tannins, pigment and polyphenolic protections of the wine will leave followed by the loss of flavor and discoloration of the wine.

My advice is to purchase the very best corker that you can and then purchase the very best corks to put in your wine bottles. Lots of cork shoved into a very small space makes for longer lasting wine.

Not to forget our beer brewing customers, BlueStem Winery carries a complete line of homebrewing supplies, homebrew ingredients, and home brew equipment in addition to our fine line of WinExpert and Cellar Craft kits and other home winemaking supplies. Our beer brewing supplies inventory has grown significantly and we look forward to serving either your home brew or wine making hobby!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Number 2 On The Shelf!

BlueStem Winery started marketing the second of our wines just a couple of days ago. It was a long time between Number 1 and Number 2. Our first wine (Once in a Blue Moon) was out for sale in May 2007. It took us all the way to March 2008 for our second wine (Red Crescent) to be put out for sale. However, things will be happening rapidly over the next few months as our third wine (Dark Side) will be on the shelves most likely by May 15 with four more wines scheduled to be available during the summer months.

Once in a Blue Moon is a Canadian Riesling dessert wine. Red Crescent is a Cabernet Franc dessert wine with the grapes coming from Washington state. Dark Side is a Montepulciano wine whose grapes were grown in the Andes in Chile. Our other wines (as yet unnamed) coming this summer will be a Gewurztraminer, a Riesling, a Gruner Veltliner and a Gewurztraminer dessert wine.

King George has done his best to screw up the American economy but whatever is happening seems to have helped BlueStem Winery. Our sales on the internet and our store sales were both up about 35% over last year. We have been running an inventory reduction sale on both our WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine ingredient kits and these have been moving out the door rapidly in anticipation of our restocking in late April. Out with the old and in with the new!

Home brew supplies sales have been brisk . . . probably our largest increase in traffic for the month. I think the downturn in the economy has people looking at saving a little money by making wine and purchasing beer brewing equipment to cut back on the cost of their indulgences.

Home winemaking using WinExpert wine kits or Cellar Craft ingredient kits almost always results in some very, very good wine if the wines are allowed to age just a little bit prior to enjoying them.

One of my favorite stories here at the winery involves a couple from Cedar Falls, Iowa who were in the store several years ago. They purchased a WinExpert Selection Original Gewurztraminer kit and I told them that when the kit was finished that they should put it in the basement and forget that they owned it. Two weeks after the wine was bottled Barb e-mailed me and told me that the wine was not very good. I reminded her that she should put the wine away and forget about it. I told her that she needed to wait at least six months. Well, in six months I got another e-mail from Barb saying the wine was good and getting better every bottle. They later came in and purchased a Liebfraumilch and even later a Riesling wine kit. Barb's husband was in the store one day at a point in time where the Gewurztraminer was now 15 months old. I asked him how the Gewurz was doing and he replied that they "had one big problem". It seems that they were down to only ten bottles remaining and it was the best they had ever had in their lives.

So, if you want great wine, get on the BlueStem Winery website and purchase a wine making equipment kit and maybe one of our WinExpert wine ingredient kits or one of our Cellar Craft wine kits or maybe round up some backyard fruit and some winemaking ingredients and get a batch started. A six gallon batch will yield 30 bottles of wine and with a little patience you will be rewarded with some great sipping pleasure.

No patience? Then how about some home brewing equipment and homebrew supplies (also available on the BlueStem Winery website). It only takes about five weeks from start to enjoyment when brewing your own beer.

Hops are a little expensive right now but you only use a couple of ounces per batch and the other brewing supplies you need are relatively inexpensive.

About $30 will purchase beer brewing supplies for a 5-gallon batch. Wine making ingredients are very inexpensive if using backyard fruit and the WinExpert kits and Cellar Craft kits are available in the $80 to $150 range and will net you 30 bottles of wine per kit. Both the winemaking equipment and homebrew equipment kits are approximately $100 (or more if you want all the bells and whistles).

So, if you need a way to forget that the economy is a shambles, that gas prices are rocketing toward $4 a gallon or that your grocery bill is going out of site, then we can help. Relax and have a home brew (or some home made wine!).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wine Making for the Future

My son and I disagree on a lot of things! We get along, we just disagree. We agree to disagree. The only thing we really argue about is politics and I can live with that. I don't know where he went astray. My first clue should have been when he voted for Bush. My personal opinion is that King George II will go down in history as the worst president . . . period! Whenever I mention his name in a sentence the word moron is usually also in that sentence. Just what has this administration done right? Really!

Anyway, the other day my son begins talking with me about one of the few things we really like to visit about. Wine! The other thing we talk a lot about is our Ford Mustang drag cars (a whole nuther story!). Nick (my son) has been purchasing wines as investments. He reads about these wines in Wine Spectator. He purchases these wines with the intent of keeping them for a few years and then reselling them. One of his most recent purchases was a 2005 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. So, he comes to me with the idea of BlueStem Winery making a reserve wine. Since Cabernet Sauvignon is his wine of choice he also suggested that this Reserve wine by a Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

So, we are now looking for all things wine making for our Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. We have found a source for the juice we need and we will have a little bit of winemaking equipment in addition to what we have. Then it will be just a matter of working our way through the process of fermenting, oak aging and bottle storage for about 3 years. We will probably limit production to about 20 cases per year with the first wines being ready for sale in 2011.

We are being pleasantly surprised this month. We the economy seemingly in turmoil (thank you, King George!) we have been expecting a downturn in sales for our wine making ingredients and home brew equipment store. Instead, we have had our best March ever and still have over a week to go in the month.

We had sold more of our Cellar Craft and WinExpert wine kits in the first nine days of the month than we had in any full month since we opened our store. Store traffic has been brisk and I have been extremely pleased with the volume of homebrewing ingredients being sold in the store. Our stock of both WinExpert kits and Cellar Craft wine kits is getting very low as we try to sell out our inventory prior to restocking in April (when the ice is gone and the ground has firmed up enough to get our forklift out to unload a truck). If any of our store or on-line customers are reading this tidbit, thanks for your business! We are looking forward to having another 9 months of great business serving you in 2008.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Fascinating Business of Wine Making

A fellow blogger left a comment on one of my previous blog posts today about how she had always been intrigued with the winery business. I guess I was intrigued with this business at one time, too. 80 hour weeks making wine and running a retail store selling brewing supplies and winemaking supplies can sure make it unintriguing (apparently that is not a word, my blog's spell checker just hiccuped!).

In my prior life I was a combat flier in the Viet Nam, taught high school and was a commercial banker. The flying was exciting (and slightly dangerous), the teaching was interesting (maybe even more dangerous), the banking was tedious (and the hours were long) and the wine making is a fascinating way to make a living (but the hours are very, very, very long).

Mondays are spent packaging beer brewing supplies, winemaking supplies, and WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits which were sold on via the internet over the weekend. Any time left over is spent checking our in process wine, and restocking our retail store shelves with winemaking equipment and home brew supplies. Restocking can be a time consuming process as many of the wine making ingredients must be weighed, labeled and packaged. If we have sold some of our BlueStems Best home brewing ingredients kits then replacement kits must be packaged and put out for display. This can take a great deal of time as the grains must be milled, weighed and packaged and the hops must be weighed and packaged, too. The shelves for our Cellar Craft and WinExpert ingredient kits need to be restocked, too.

Tuesdays are spent doing more of the same with less packaging and more of the other things. If we are going to start fermenting a new batch of wine we will start this when my wife gets off from her high school teaching job. It usually takes about four hours to get a 150 gallon batch of wine in the fermenters. Evenings are also when we will typically rack wine from one tank to another tank to get it off its sediment.

From Wednesday through Saturday we are open from 11 to 5 so I spend my time in the store. I spend time between customers vacuuming (isn't that intriguing!), restocking shelves and heaven forbid, dusting! Early mornings are spent packaging the website sales of homebrewing equipment and home winemaking supplies plus any WinExpert wine kits or Cellar Craft kits sold overnight. Evenings are sometimes spent racking wine or filtering wine or adding needed additives to wine in the secondary fermenters.

Sundays we are open from Noon until 4 and we actually have a little shorter day at the store. Unless we are going to bottle wine! If we have wine to bottle we usually have one person watch the store while we get the crew (myself, my wife, my son and his wife, my daughter-in-law's parents and anyone else we can corner) together to bottle wine. It takes the crew about six hours to bottle and cork 1,600 bottles of wine.

The fascinating business of making wine! Between the homebrewing ingredients and homebrew equipment and the Cellar Craft wine ingredient kits and the other wine making supplies we find the time to put together tanks of wine, rack the wine from tank to tank, filter the wine, and bottle it. If my calculations are right, our average week is 70 hours or so. Banking? Hell no! Teaching? Maybe. Climbing back into an EC-47 and flying over northern South Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia? Absolutely (especially if we can just go do the flying and leave out the shooting part!). Making wine? Intriguing, fascinating, and even though it is week after week of very long hours, it is the best job I have ever had. I especially like the not having a boss part of doing this job!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Acid Reduction in Wine through Malolactic Fermentation

Malolactic fermentation is an effective way to reduce both malic acid and citric acid levels in wine. This article will not discuss the procedure for conducting a malolactic fermentation (a subject for a leter blog article) but will only provide background information.

A malolactic fermentation reduces total acidity (TA) in wine and when conducted, its goal is to reduce the harsher malic acid concentrations into lactic acid which is a much softer acid.

It is virtually impossible for home wine making enthusiasts to determine the levels of malic acid present in their wine. The only method of determining the effect on the wine is to take a TA measurement prior to conducting the malolactic fermentation and then take another reading post fermentation. The difference between the initial reading and the final reading is the amount of TA reduction which has occurred. If acid levels have been reduced too far it can be increased by the addition of acids or by blending with higher acid wines. If the acid level has still not been reduced to the desired range, then other acid reduction methods including blending, the use of potassium bicarbonate, dilution with water or cold stabilization can be used to further reduce acid levels.

BlueStem Winery is a full service retail and web source for winemaking supplies, wine making equipment and ingredients for making wine. BlueStem Winery also carries a large inventory of WinExpert wine kits and Cellar Craft kits for the wine making hobbyist who enjoys making their favorite varietals from around the world.

BlueStem Winery also carries a large inventory of homebrewing supplies, homebrew ingredients and brewing equipment for the zymergy enthusiast. Our own line of beer brewing ingredients kits is known as BlueStems Best. We are the only source for home brewing supplies in northeast Iowa and continue to increase our American and worldwide sales of beer brewing supplies via our website.

If you are a beginning home brewer and need a basic home brew supplies setup, we can provide the equipment and ingredients you need and also the expertise to help you get started. If you are a beginning vintner, we recommend our WinExpert kits and Cellar Craft wine kits because you will enjoy fantastic wine with your very first attempt at home winemaking.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wine Number 2 Gets Label Approval

Red CrescentBlueStem Winery's second wine will be available for retail sale very, very soon. Our label application to the federal government for this wine named Red Crescent was approved today and we should be able to have the artwork on the way to our printer early next week.

Red Crescent is a dessert wine made from Cabernet Franc grapes raised in the Yakima Valley of Washington state. A very smooth after dinner sipping wine with a fairly solid punch to it! We are hoping that this wine will be on our shelves for sale by mid-March 2008 followed shortly thereafter by our third wine which is a dry red which will be named Dark Side.

BlueStem Winery is a licensed and bonded Iowa winery. Our business consists of the winery plus a retail and web outlet which features winemaking supplies, homebrewing supplies, wine making ingredients, brewing ingredients, home brew and wine making equipment and WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits.

Wine making is our livelihood but we also enjoy a good home brew on occasion. Our store and website feature our own line of beer brewing ingredients kits known as BlueStems Best where you can choose from approximtely 30 different beer styles with pre-measured ingredients provided in the kit.

If you are into home winemaking we will always recommend one of our Cellar Craft or WinExpert wine kits and you will not be disappointed. World class! For all of your home brewing supplies and supplies for making wine, look to BlueStem Winery.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Acid Reducing Solutions for Wine Making

Both potassium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate solutions can be used to reduce acid levels in finished wine. The preferred of these two is the potassium solution because the calcium carbonate solution results in an unpleasant taste to the wine.

When adding either of these solutions to wine, the wine maker should realize that the first acid that the solution will lower is the preferred acid, tartaric. The wine maker must take care that the tartaric acid present is not eliminated completely from the wine.

Reduction in acid levels in finished wine are accomplished at about a 1:2 ratio. Total acidity is reduced by 1g/L for every 2g/L of bicarbonate that is added to the wine. Dissolve the bicarbonate in a small quantity of wine and then add the solution to your wine. If your initial acidity reading indicates that you need to reduce the total acidity by 2g/L, do not make a solution totaling 4g/L (remember the 1:2 ratio) and add it to your wine all in one swoop. Instead, make small incremental additions of the solution and taste and take additional acidity measurements in between each further addition of solution.

BlueStem Winery operates a retail store in Parkersburg, Iowa selling winemaking equipment plus ingredients and supplies for home winemaking. BlueStem also carries a large inventory of both WinExpert and Cellar Craft wine kits to enhance your home wine making experience. If you are a brewer and not a vintner, BlueStem also carries a large inventory of homebrewing supplies, homebrew equipment and home brewing ingredients.

Making wine for the first time? Let us help you through the entire process. We offer expert guidance and we are only a phone call or an e-mail away from helping you make world class wine with one of our WinExpert wine kits or one of our Cellar Craft kits.

We can also assist if you are wanting to start brewing at home. Our homebrewing equipment is first rate and we keep an ample amount of homebrew supplies and beer brewing ingredients in stock.

On the web 24/7 at the BlueStem Winery website and available for telephone assistance during store hours. See our website for details.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Acid Reduction by Blending

When you are attempting to increase (or decrease) the acidity of wine by blending two wines together, the first step is to determine the titratable acidity (TA) of both wines. The second step in this process is to determine the volume required of the blend wine which will be required to raise (or lower) the TA of the wine you are trying to alter.

The formula for determining the volume of blend wine required is:

Z = X * (DTA - W) / (Y - DTA) where

DTA = Desired Total Acidity
W = TA goal of wine to be modified
X = Volume of wine to be modified
Y = TA of blend wine
Z = Volume of blend wine

Example: If you had 6 gallons of wine (X) with an existing TA of 6.2 and you desired to raise the TA of this wine to 6.5 (DTA) by blending an unknown volume of wine (Z) which has a TA of 7 (Y) your formula would look like this:

Z = 6 * (6.5 - 6.2) / (7 - 6.5) or

Z = (6 * .3) / .5 or

Z = 1.8 / .5 or

Z = 3.6 gallons of blend wine with a TA of 7 will be required to increase the TA of our 6 gallon batch of wine with an existing TA of 6.2 to our desired TA of 6.5.

BlueStem Winery is your full-service source for wine making equipment and homebrewing supplies in beautiful, downtown Parkersburg, Iowa. Our store hours are posted on the BlueStem Winery website and we are on the web 24-7 with a complete line of wine making and homebrew supplies.

If you are home winemaking or want to order beer brewing ingredients and have questions, do not hesitate to call us at 319.346.1046 during business hours or you can e-mail us at any time at

BlueStem Winery stocks a large of inventory of WinExpert wine kits and we also have a growing inventory of Cellar Craft kits. Cellar Craft wine kits and WinExpert kits are industry leaders in excellent quality kits for making wine at home.

The next time you purchasing winemaking supplies, home brewing supplies, brewing equipment or ingredients we will be ready to meet your needs. Excellent products, prompt shipping and knowledgeable, friendly service.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Increasing Total Titratable Acidity in Wine

One method of increasing total titratable acidity in wine is with the addition of acids in the form of either tartaric acid or with the addition of what is called an acid blend. The preferred additive is tartaric acid, especially if the vintner is planning for the wine to undergo a malolactic fermentation. Acid blend is a mixture of tartaric, malic and citric acids. Many acid blends sold through home wine making shops is a 10-40-50 blend of tartaric, malic and citric acids. The acid blend that BlueStem Winery sells (mixed here at our store) is a 50-40-10 blend. Instead of the heavy concentration of citric acid that is in most shops (citric is cheap), BlueStem's acid blend is heavy on tartaric acids. Heavy concentrations of citric acid tend to give your wine a sharp, citric acid bite (similar to tasting a grapefruit).

BlueStem Winery
urges caution in the use of acid blends (especially those prepared with large concentrations of citric acid). Acid blend should never be used with wines planned to undergo a malolactic fermentation.

Making wine at home with one of the WinExpert or Cellar Craft wine kits from BlueStem Winery? Then you won't have to worry about total acidity. Both Cellar Craft and WinExpert kits are acid balanced and will be perfectly balanced when you make them.

Need any other winemaking supplies or home brewing ingredients? BlueStem Winery would be happy to supply you with what you need. We stock a large inventory of wine making ingredients and home brew supplies and have the expertise to help you if wine making or beer brewing is a new hobby.

Our homebrew equipment is top drawer and comes from the best suppliers BlueStem can locate. Whether it is beer brewing supplies or one of our superb WinExpert wine ingredient kits, we can have your order on its way tomorrow!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Acid Reduction in Wine

Four different acids can be typically found in wines during fermentation. These include tartaric, citric, malic and lactic. Acids in too high quantity have an adverse affect on the taste (and quality) of wine. Whereas increasing the acid levels in wine is a relatively easy process, reducing acid levels in wine can be difficult.

Over the next few days a discussion will be held about procedures for reducing or increasing the various acid levels.

A summary of these articles is as follows:

Addition of tartaric acid will result in an increase of the tartaric acid levels (that one was pretty obvious!);

Addition of acid blend will increase the levels of tartaric, malic and citric acid;

The blending of other wines with the wine in question can either increase or decrease the levels of tartaric, malic, citric or lactic acids;

The addition of potassium (or calcium) bicarbonate will decrease the level of tartaric acids;

Causing the onset of a malolactic fermentation will decrease the tartaric and malic acid levels while increase the lactic acid level;

Cold stabilization will decrease the level of tartaric acids;

Use of products known as ACIDEX or SHADEX will reduce the levels of tartaric and malic acids; and

The addition of water will decrease the levels of tartaric, citric, malic and lactic acids.

BlueStem Winery is a purveyor of wine ingredient kits from both WinExpert and Cellar Craft. These kits allow you to make excellent wines with never a worry about tartaric, malic, citric or lactic acids as the kits are acid balanced to assure you a perfect wine every time. Making wine could not be easier and the results are world class. WinExpert wine kits have been part of BlueStem's inventory for almost four years and our customers have expressed nothing but satisfaction with these fine kits. We added Cellar Craft wine kits about eight months ago and the reports coming back from customers have been nothing but fantastic!

BlueStem also has a full array of winemaking equipment, wine making supplies, homebrewing ingredients, homebrew supplies and brewing equipment.

Today was a fun day at the store with two couples getting started with their new wine making hobby and another couple purchasing beer brewing supplies to start their new hobby. I always tell my new customers that home wine making is the greatest procrastinator's hobby that there is. Other than the first week when you have to stay pretty close to the schedule it is a hobby that you can attend to with quite a bit of variance in timing.

Need home brewing supplies? A good Cellar Craft wine ingredient kit? Our website features one low cost shipping fee per order. We would very much like to ship a new hobby to you and are more than willing to support you with answers to your questions after you get started.