DIY DRINKers & Budget Bottles: Personal Winemaking System

Resolutions are always based on LESS and MORE. Spend less. Move more. Stress less. Learn more. Personally, my wallet and palate seeks out budget bottles after the holiday season (January DRINKs will all be under $17).

To most people, wine is not a necessity, but a luxury (*note – this author is not like most people). And when budgets are tight, we all know that little luxuries fall away.  However, what if there was a paraphrased way to have your wine and drink it too? How about a $5 bottle of wine? That’s sounding January-friendly. There’s not a more budget way to go wine-wise than making your own. There’s also not a more scary request to a sommelier than requests for tasting notes and honest feedback on somebody’s u-vin or home brew.

So when the new Artful Winemaker Personal Winemaking System arrived on my doorstep, I was a bit skeptical. “Artful Winemaker™ brings a state-of-the-art winemaking experience home.
 Discover the Winemaker in You!”


“Anyone can make great-tasting wine in just three simple steps and 28 days. It’s taken five years of research to develop a revolutionary all-in-one system that could produce a quality wine in just one month, and it’s available for Canadian consumers to experience and enjoy.”

The boxed set included everything I would need to make 12 bottles of wine: the Artful Winemaker™, grape juice and other winemaking ingredients, bottles, closures and even labels for my artwork. The system was invented by the product development team at Global Vintners Inc., a subsidiary of Andrew Peller Limited.  The detailed instructions (partnered with a DVD) states that “Great wine starts with high quality grapes. That’s why Artful Winemaker™ sources grape juice and concentrates from select vineyards in California and other well-known grape-growing regions around the world.”

My box contained the aforementioned grape juice and concentrates to craft Pinot Grigio, though Chardonnay, Cabernet/Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Riesling (or Reisling, as they call it) are also available.

I read on.

“When our product development team set out on their journey, our goal was to take traditional wine making practices, process and produce a system that was easy and convenient to use, plus deliver 12 bottles of premium quality wine. To top it off, we wanted the entire wine making process to be complete in just 28 days.”

Wow – talk about Nouveau.

“After three years of extensive research and development,

(wait a sec – didn’t they say five years above?)

we are proud to introduce the Artful Winemaker™. a revolutionary, one of a kind, personal winemaking system that offers an exciting and new innovative winemaking experience. Requiring minimal space and time investment, Artful Winemaker™ offers a hands-on wine making experience that gives wine-lovers the opportunity to handcraft their very own wines and express their creativity. “Artful Winemakers” will be proud to share their wines with friends and family. It makes a great gift for wine lovers or crafters and can be used again and again to produce great tasting wines.”

Ok – before I continue, I know that this system is obviously not meant for a wine professional – for someone who has dedicated her life to learning about the tradition, culture, process and business of grapes and wine. There is a huge market out there for DIY’ers to make their own wine. That’s great! Have at it! To each their own I say in cheers! So I subdued my screaming skepticism and started my tm’d personal winemaking system. The instructions were very detailed, and the items clearly labeled. Much washing, stirring, measuring, washing, mixing, pouring, washing and waiting. My schedule was laid out like this:

DAY 1 – Assembly, Cleaning, Sanitizing, Mixing and Fermenting
DAY 14 – Stabilizing and Cleaning
DAY 15, 16, 17 – Sediment Release
DAY 28 – Bottling

I tucked the little unit into my hall closet (which smelled exactly like baking bread for a number of fermenting days), sloshed and clarified as required, and otherwise forgot about it for 28 days. On the final day, I turned my kitchen counter into a bottling line, and minutes later, I was done.

“Your wine is ready to savour immediately after bottling! However, to achieve the best taste and bouquet results, we recommend allowing your wine to age at least another two weeks in the bottle before enjoying. We recommend that you consume all bottles within 6 months.”

I obviously wanted to achieve the best taste and bouquet results, so I waited 14 more days and cracked the capsule and popped the T-top cork. The result? Pretty much as I had expected – juicy-fruit fruity, low acid, off-dry, simple. Was it u-vin homemade wine? Doubtlessly. Was it decent for homemade wine? You bet – better than any homebrews I’ve tried. Was it economical? Sure. The unit costs $150 and includes your grape juice for the first dozen bottles – that makes it $12.50 per bottle. However, once you have the system you can just purchase the grape juice mixes for $60 – meaning the rest of your bottles work out to only $5 each.  That’s January-budget friendly.

So if you are a bargain-hunter, Martha-Stewart crafty, like to make your own wine, and want to try in the comfort of your home, do give Artful Winemaker™ a try. For me, I’ll continue hunting and pecking for value bottles at the liquor stores and leave the winemaking up to the professionals.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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