Carmine Corelli grew up making wine in the garage with his Italian family. He now guides passionate would-be winemakers at Westchester Homemade Wine Center in Yorktown Heights, where new vintners are up to their elbows at every stage to produce 20 cases of their own vintage.
The five- to six-visit process begins in May/June (with grapes from Chile) or September/October (with grapes from California). Choose from about 10 varietals, such as Syrah and Chardonnay, with many blending possibilities. Corelli suggests having buddies on hand to help run the 720 pounds of grapes through the crushing and de-stemming machine.
Cultivated wine yeast is added, and a week later, you’re pressing the pulp and pumping the juice into an oak barrel, taking an exciting first taste, and discussing its potential. The next taste comes three to four months later, when you rack, or clarify, the wine; bottling happens four to five months after that. Meanwhile, create the label of your dreams, or if you’re going in with a group, create several.
Finally—four to five months after bringing your 240 bottles home—start sipping the fruit of your labors, exploring it as it matures. The average cost of making the wine is $2,900 per barrel, which breaks down to a little more than $12 per bottle. But bringing a bottle of your own wine to a party? Priceless.