July 2003                                                   Volume1, Issue 2                                 866.417.1114


Welcome to the second issue of FineVineNews, a monthly newsletter designed exclusively to assist the home vintner in the pursuit of his hobby!


This Month on the Vine

-         Welcome

-         Featured Article

-         Christmas?

-         New Products

-         Monthly Special

-         Customer Appreciation Program

-         Correction – To Oak or Not To Oak

-         Unsubscribe




Again, I would like to thank each one of you for visiting my site.  I hope it was an enjoyable experience and you were able to find everything for which you were looking.  As I indicated on our web site, we started this business just this year, so unlike big business, we are extremely flexible and nothing we have done so far is “etched in stone.”  As a result, being an early user of our site and subscriber to our newsletter gives you the ability to influence the future of our site and company!


We want to know what you think about us.  I was unable to add the survey to the website in June, as promised.  It was not as easy as I thought.  Hopefully, the first survey will be up in July.  It will focus on obtaining information about the home wine making market and how you feel about our site and our company.  In exchange for completing the survey, we will reward you with special discounts and promotions.  Until then, we like to hear what you have to say about our site.  Send your comments and/or suggestions to





When I was first starting to explore this hobby, I saw several references to “Bulk Aging”.  I thought I had a pretty good idea as to what it was, but I was having difficulty finding a “definitive” definition.  I finally determined what was meant by bulk aging.  It refers to the process of allowing the wine to age in a large vessel for an extended period of time.  This process starts after the wine has been fined and continues until the wine is bottled.  Depending upon the type of wine, the “large vessel” is an oak barrel, a stainless steel container or a glass carboy.


Bulk aging continues to fascinate me, as it is one of the few places where the home vintner, working with a kit, can “personalize” their wine.  Almost all grape wines improve with some aging, whether it is in the bottle or in bulk.  But one must be careful as certain grape varietals do not age well beyond six months, while others can be aged for decades.  Most of the kit wines will not hold for more than five years, so the there is your window of opportunity,


I also asked R.J. Spagnols, the maker of the kits we sell, for their opinion.  What they offered is what I have read over and over, “the smaller the container, the faster the wine matures.”  As to whether or not you should bulk age, they offer two schools of thought.  If you bulk age, you will have 30 bottles of identical wine.  If you let the wine age in bottles, you will have 30 bottles with some different subtleties.  Whether or not they will be significant enough to notice will probably depend upon your pallet.


So far, the longest I have bulk aged a wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon that I left in the carboy for 9 months.  I then let it age another 3 months in the bottle and it is one of my favorite wines.  However, I also made a Shiraz that I bottled on day 58 and it is wonderful.  I can’t tell the difference between my bottle and a $30 bottle I got from a commercial winery in California.


My recommendation to you is experiment like I have and compare the results.  I currently have 2 batches of the same Cabernet in process.  I am going to bulk age one and bottle the other on day 60.  I will let you know the results next year.


In the meantime, if you have any ideas on this subject, or any other wine related subject, send them to me.  I would love to include them in a future newsletter.




So now you think I am crazy.  You are probably thinking, “Here he is talking about Christmas and the Fourth of July weekend is just around the corner.”  Well there is method to my madness.  Bottles of homemade wine make excellent Christmas presents.  Put a nice label on the bottle.  Stick it in a nice bag, and voila, you have a nice present for under $10 dollars.  If you want to keep it under $5, just put a tag with a bow around the neck. Besides the fact it is a very nice gift, the recipient will think you spent a whole lot more than you did!  In business, they call that a win/win.


But, you need to get started now!  Christmas is only six months away.  In addition, the starter kits we sell might be the perfect gift for a friend or family member.  Let’s get everybody making his or her own wine.  Then we can share and share and share.




We don’t have any new products this month, but we are increasing the number of products we stock.  Check our online catalog for all of the new items in stock.  As they arrive, they will be designated in the comments column of the catalog.




This month, along with the other specials listed on our website, we are offering free corks with any purchase of a Cellar Classics concentrate kit.  That’s right, just buy any Cellar Classics wine concentrate kit from us and we will give you 30 free corks.




Starting June 1, 2003, we have created the FVW Growers Club.  You can get all of the details on our website, but the bottom line is we want to buy your loyalty!  Once you spend $1,000 with us, you get a 5% discount on everything you buy from us.  Find out more on the website.


Correction – To Oak or Not To Oak


In the last issue, I indicated that once you use an Oak Barrel for wine, it could never be empty of wine.  I stand corrected.  You can buy “sulphur strips” to keep the harmful bacteria out of your barrel.  You light the strip and insert it into the barrel.  The sulphur will last for a month and then you will have to repeat the process.  For more information on this procedure, as well as using oak barrels in general, see Chapter 14 in Jon Iverson’s book “Home Winemaking Step by Step.”




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