Five Golden Rules for Making Your Own Wine

Hello all!

First a sincere and happy holidays to every single one ofyou. I’ve written a special holiday blog post with one aim in mind…

To help you get what YOU want in 2010 and to share some of the secrets that have helped me make the best wine possible…

I’ve broken this down into the five golden rules for making your own wine

As we enter 2009 I will have been making wine at home for 22 years.


Turning 49 years old (in 4 days) I’ve achieved what many people would typically classify as unattainable at this “young” age - a respected maker of fine wines…

- Produced 3 Award Winning wines in 2006 and 2007

- Conducted not one but six home made wine tasting events.

- Bottled my first “Bordeaux” in 2007 (had to import the grapes from France).

- Traveled throughout Europe and sampled homemade wines in Italy, Turkey, Greece and France. I was given “back room” tours in many restaurants and shown exactly how these restaurants made their own wine and then served it to their customers.

- Toured and examined 20+ vineyards and wineries in Sonoma and Napa Valley in California

In March of this year I hosted and Set up the first live conference call with some of the top names in Home Winemaking from around the world. (I’ll share this with you later!)

I guess you could say I’ve done a little “Homework”.

Here we are in Greece (this was just after 2 restaurant tours and a lot of “tasting”):

winemaking book



Mind in the ”Giving” Mode - the cornerstone of it all


Now here is the *KEY* difference between me and the majority of people out there.

The way people’s brains are traditionally engineered is as follows..

“If I give you money/my time what are you going to do for me?”

And this mindset goes deep into everything we do in our daily lives from..

Getting a job - "what are my benefits, my perks, my salary?"

Dating - I’ll take you out for dinner if you spend time with me, if I gain favor with you

Now think about this for a moment…

What happens if you were to do the opposite?

When I take people out to eat I don’t say “Please give me money for the food”

When I had a great bunch of people round for a wine tasting event after I didn’t say “Please give me $50 a head”

I focused solely on ONE thing only..

To make sure people enjoyed the day and to give back to everyone.

To have fun, to network and to chill out.

And taste some amazing wines…

So if we revert back to the question..

After the event I had people asking:

“Well was it worth it - do you think you will get anything out of it?”

I can safely say now that if I ever need advice, have a question on an ingredient, or just want some new ideas to make a new variety of wine, those who attended my event would bend over backwards to help.

You gotta program your mind to GIVE!

Help people get more out of life, and trust me it will come back 100 times over.


GOLDEN RULE OF MAKING WINE #2- Break the rules, decide what you want to make and set a date to bottle it.


The trap that most people fall into is the “Next week I’m gonna do this, next month…”

Everyone is guilty of this.

Including myself!

For the last few months I’ve been meaning to add 2 more videos and 4 more books to our Inner Circle Wine Maker's Library

But I’ve just been darn lazy!

However I will have done this by the end of January 1 at the latest.

I’ve been reading a lot about ‘incremental’ steps to success.

To lose 10 lbs you must lose the first lb first.

To make a million dollars it all starts with the first $1.

To make 1,000 gallons of wine, first you have to make one gallon.

It’s a very simple philosophy but incredibly powerful!

For example if you want a to make wine from fresh grapes, you can start smaller. Just get enough for a gallon to start. Later - get more.

You see the point.

We all have to start somewhere, so aim and PLAN to start your own first batch and set a starting date.

Stick to it as closely as you can.


GOLDEN RULE OF MAKING WINE #3- Follow the ‘right’ people and learn from real life mentors


I’ve always had a very simple philosophy in life.

“Follow the people that are successful in what you want to achieve”

For example if you want to learn how to invest in property, listen to someone who has done it over YEARS the hard way, made mistakes and learn from their advice. I only listen to people I trust 110%.

There nothing more I hate than ‘fly by nighters’ who try to claim they are an expert in wine making but really don’t have a clue and are just trying to empty your wallet.

In wine making, one of the best guys who has generated so many success stories is Jack Keller. A great man and a guy who has a terrific site with some VERY high quality winemaking information.


GOLDEN RULE OF MAKING WINE #4 - Bewilling to invest in yourself and take action on what you learn.


Over the recent months I have purchased..

- The Way to Make Wine -About how to make excellent table wines

- Windows on the World Complete Wine Course

- The Wine Bible - Just a pile of rubbish but very entertaining (Just kidding Karen macNeil’s stuff is really on the cutting edge and worth every penny)

Here’s the most important lesson to take away..

Even if I put the material in my computer watch it and think “Whoah that’s cool Karen how you used that crusher to process 400 lbs of grapes″.


You need to take action on what you learn and implement it in your winemaking.

If you buy an ebook on how to make wine with different fruit then take action on it and try it out!

Which leads me on to the ULTIMATE lesson..


GOLDEN RULE OF MAKING WINE #5 - Take responsibility for your actions and answer to yourself


This is one thing that REALLY bugs me.

And it’s probably the #1 difference between people who are successfully making wine and those that seem to get nowhere and never even start.

When you buy a new product or guide…

You need to take action and use/read/watch the item you have just purchased to get a result.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work.

In fact the scary thing is nearly all home winemakers try things that DONT work!

But they take responsibility say “Ok cool - I’ve tried that it didn’t work so well so lets move on”

Rather than the attitude “Nothing ever works for me - I can’t do this”

Even at 15 years old I always told my school teachers “I am going to be really good at something”.

They laughed and thought I was crazy.

But I took responsibility for myself and what many thought was nothing more than a pipe dream turned into reality.

Because I accepted the consequences of my actions and when things don’t work out, I held my head high and kept going.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Five Golden Rules of making wine and got something good out of it


TIME TO WIN a Complete Home Winemaker’s Chemical Pack and a FREE copy of the Complete Home Winemaking Video Course (Genuine $197 Value)

I’ll be releasing my new Video Course in January. (Inner Circle Members will get it free)

It’s a very space limited ‘Complete Winemaking Course’ and I’m sure you will love it!


39 Responses to “The Five Golden Rules for Making Your Own Wine”

1. Beth on 31 Dec 2008 at 10:22 am

I think the “taking action” part is the most important. I have gotten all of your materials and have yet to start my first batch of wine.

Now - it’s something I have promised myself I’m going to do by Januaray 10th. Thanks for everything! Beth

2. Kevin 31 Dec 2008 at 11:08 am

I am a new member of the Inner Circle. I like like rule #5 I have always applied this to our business (Tool & Die Mfg.) I just bottled 7 gal. of strawberry wine, this was my first batch, looks great & taste is wonderful, a little low on the alcohol content but I will use the info I recieved & try again. Thanks for all the wonderful info on making great wines & good luck to all God Bless

3. # John on 31 Dec 2008 at 11:30 am

Well, Last summer, I just started with 100 vines planted in my backyard (30 Sangiovese, 30 Merlot, 15 Cab, 15 Syrah). It will be another couple of years before a really substantial harvest, but I’m reading up on everything and anticipating having some fun.

I recommend adding “Having Fun” as another Golden rule of winemaking. I don’t think we take the time to have fun often enough these days.

Anyway, I have a mentor who is coaching me through the grape growing and winemaking steps and look forward to more of your articles. Keep up the good work in 2009!!

4. # glenn on 31 Dec 2008 at 11:30 am

Hy Mick;happy birthday.I live in the county on my own well with a water softener, will this water bother my wine making .I’m glad that i joined you’re wine making.I have lured more from this, then any bock’s i have read thanks Glenn

5. # Mike on 31 Dec 2008 at 11:48 am

Thanks for the Coments Beth and Glenn and John and kevin and Happy new year!

John - Sangiovese grapes? You da MAN! Send a few pounds my way next fall. I love a good sangiovese!

Kevin - Welcome Aboard!

Beth - works in life and in making wine.

Glenn - your water will be just fine. In fact, some of those dumb books on the internet tell you to use distilled water. NOT! You need the minerals in the water - yeast needs some of those minerals to grow.

Looking forward to more comments, Mike

6. # Cheryl on 31 Dec 2008 at 12:20 pm

Hello, I found your site maybe a month ago and I just love it. I decided I would make wine this fall and all I had was a large crock and recipe from a friend. Well — my first batch was ok, but after reading your material I believe it can be a lot better. So I hope to try another one in a couple weeks. Someday I hope I can help another person make a great wine, but first I have to master it myself.

7. # Ken on 31 Dec 2008 at 1:34 pm

I have all the material to make my first wine after several months of resurch. I have decided my off time on Jan 1st will be spent making a couple of different types. I think that fear of failure is the biggest thing to over come not just in making wine, but in life it self. I have been selfemployed 30 years of my adult life with a 10th grade education I have faced many fears and to be honest 90% of them never even came to be pass. I think once you decide your going to do something and you put all you have into it, you can not fail. You might make some mistakes but you will lean from them and move forward. Wish me luck!! And Happy New Year!

8. # Bob K on 31 Dec 2008 at 2:32 pm

After reading this blog what I liked the most was the part about giving. I think that if everyone had the mind set to give a little without wondering what they were to get in return this world would be alot better place.

After finding mike’s website and joining the inner circle I started two batches of wine , one is an apple and one is mikes very own cherry zin. Both are in carboy bulk aging.

9. # Mary Jane on 31 Dec 2008 at 3:36 pm

I’m an old gal (I won’t say senior because I feel like a freshman) who recently moved to the country and inherited a lovely and prolific Concord grape vine. After making some jelly and canning some juice I’ve been thinking about wine. I think I’m ready to graduate! All of your good advice and the blogs have my juices flowing! Maybe, by golly, I can learn to do this. It will take me a while to get set up and afford the equipment I’ll need but it will be a wonderful hobby–something I can do for my friends and for my own self esteem!

10. # admin on 31 Dec 2008 at 3:38 pm

Hi Mary Jane - hang in there and you’ll soon be sipping your first bottle.

By the way - a lot of the equipment can be had for FREE - keep that in mind.
Happy New Year,

11. # Mary Jane on 31 Dec 2008 at 3:39 pm

Thank you!

12. # Joann Rich on 31 Dec 2008 at 4:31 pm

Thanks for the blog and website. I have been making wine for about three years and really enjoy doing it. I make blackberry, concord and cabernet sauvignon. Right now I have some strawberry/blackberry going in the carboys. The blackberry and blackberry/strawberry are the only kind I make from fruit. I buy the concentrate for concord and cabernet. I love sharing them with my friends and drinking them myself. I boost the alcohol content and come out with some mighty fine wines. I haven’t joined the inner circle yet but love your site. Keep up the good work. Joann

13. # emil konzman on 31 Dec 2008 at 7:01 pm

I’am 77 yrs old, I started makeing wine about ten yrs ago and every year the wine would be different, I make only blueberry wine, because I have the cultured bushes in my yard, since I started listing to your idea’s and your advice I feel like I know so much more and I expect to finally make a wine that I can feel I know how it will come out. comeing across your web sight was the best thing happened to me in quite a long time. All I can say is bless you and have a happy new year to you and your family.


14. # admin on 31 Dec 2008 at 10:45 pm


Thanks. You’re the best.


15. # Tom Cade on 01 Jan 2009 at 12:07 am

Thanks for all the info Mike. I couldn’t have done it without all your input. This is my first attempt at making wine. Picked 100 lbs. of grapes off the vine in the back yard and processed them. I had put off doing this for years and the birds and deer have been blessed. Not anymore! Mike got me motivated with his web site. I am soon to be bottling 12 gallons of a Concord Hybrid. Looks and tastes like a Rose’.Great color! While these 60 or so bottles are aging for 6 mo. to a year I have decided to buy 10 gal of frozen must and start a batch of Merlot so that I will have something in the works. Follow Mike’s Golden Rule #2. Don’t put off doing it!We don’t live forever! Happy New Year

16. # Dennis Fonzi on 01 Jan 2009 at 8:16 am

Mike the first thing I would like to say is Wishing you a happy healthy and wealthy New Year/ The second thing is Thank you so much. For the first time in5years I made a great batch of Reisling from a six gallon bucket of juice. Most of the woman and some of the men (i know ) like there wine a little sweet. By utilizing your technique I came up with the best batch of wine I ever made from juice. (friends and family went nuts). Keep up the good work and thanks again for all of your time and effort, Hapy new year Fonz

17. # Michele Siemaskoon 01 Jan 2009 at 9:46 am

Have not tried yet, hope to soon, my maiden name Lemaire, french background,would love to learn.

18. # Mike on 01 Jan 2009 at 11:50 am


Thanks for the post - good to hear from you again. Tell your wife I said “Hi” and Happy New year to both of you.


19. # Debbie Webb on 01 Jan 2009 at 12:06 pm


I did a lot of web research before joining your site. It was then that I decided to try my first. I am a senior without a doubt. This year I went into cardiac arrest, developed other complications but I also made my first wine. It was quite an experience. There was many emotions but as it came to a point a sense of pride. I did it! I really did it!

20. # dale on 01 Jan 2009 at 3:12 pm

i have been makin wine for about 7 years. i got interested at a friends party and borrowed some equipment to make my first batch. over time i purchased my own and starting making it every year with all the free fruit i could get. i make muskiedine and skuppernog every year because i know people with vines and i get them for free. i have also made blueberry strawberry and some from grapes from the store. i have made some good and bad batches but that is part of the learning curve. i have started paying a little more attention to my process after reading your site instead of just puttin things togeather and takin what i get. i have found that if you freeze and thaw your off the vine friut it helps give you more juice out of it.i look foward to reading more from your site on home wine making.

21. # Jeff on 01 Jan 2009 at 4:55 pm

Congratulations on your video endeavor. It’s something that has been needed. I just downloaded the first four videos and, although I’m not new to wine making, I’m looking forward to viewing them. I know you put a lot of work into these. A comment not meant as criticism but to help slightly improve the downloads. I believe it would be an improvement if you named them by their content. I changed the names as follows so I would know what they contained. winemaking-Overview1.wmv winemaking-Equipment2.wmv winemaking-Sterilization3.wmv winemaking-Must4.wmv Second comment- I also downloaded the Sulfite Concentration Program and noticed that it was .exe. I use a Mac and although I have the software on my Mac to run Dos/Windows programs, a lot of Mac users may not be able to use this program. Also some may not be able to run the wmv format from your videos. Again, these are not meant as criticisms but to maybe prevent some future problems. I appreciate your efforts.

22. # Chris Vlaar on 02 Jan 2009 at 6:10 am

Hi Mike First a Happy New Year for you your family and everyone reading this message. I’m a Dutchman living in the U.K. planning to move to France, used to grow flowers in Holland as a profession an accident prevented me from continuing this. I decided that when I moved to France within 1 month I start making wine. I think all your rules are signifficant, like your attitude, my mum used to say: Man suffer most from the suffer he fears (doesn’t rhime in English)

Thanks, Chris

23. # Rod(Radar) and Joanie Grimon 03 Jan 2009 at 12:36 pm

Hi Mike We had a bumper crop of watermelon this year and decided to try making our own wine rather than letting all the melons go to waste. We did not make any investment in equipment or chemicals. We used the old fashioned balloon on the gallon jug method, and bottled the first gallon just before Christmas. Joanie took one bottle to work at our local dialysis unit and the patients sampled it. Of course she didn\\\\’t give it to them full strength, but diluted it with Sierra Mist. The main reason she did this was that one of the dialysis patients has made his own grape wine from juice concentrate. Everyone who has sampled the wine seems to like it, either staight or diluted. We have three more gallons that we are waiting for the balloons to deflate before we bottle them. We did have some balloons burst on us a couple of times and just poured the working wine into another jug and let it work again. We did learn that we need to syphon the finished wine into the bottles rather than pour it from the jugs. I, Joanie also am planning to make some beer bread from the recipe you recently had on the email, probably for Radar\\\\’s birthday on Jan 13th. Happy New Year to you and your family. Radar & Joanie Grim

24. # Lee on 04 Jan 2009 at 2:37 pm

WOW, you are truly the man - Mike! Your attitude of giving - is one I have lived all of my life - or at least attempted to. You truly are a class act. I am new to this wine making scene. I have been in the restaurant & catering business - and am now in corporate mgmt. The information you have here and in the Inner Circle is not only an abundance of knowledge - but everytime I have had a question - regardless of ho silly it may have seemed - you are always right like Johnny on the Spot with an answer. For that…THANK YOU!

I will starting my first batch in the next week.

Cajun Wine Maker…

25. # Dave on 05 Jan 2009 at 6:35 am

Mike, I just got involved in home winemaking as a diversion after losing my wife in Sept. I’ve got a Australian Reisling in process that I started from a concentrate kit. I’m in the degassing/stabilizing process right now, but have one question. The kit instructions indicated the fermentation should last about 1 week, but it was obvious from the amount of foaming and the bubbling out of the airlock that it was still pretty active. I had maintained 70 deg. throughout but SG was still above 1.010 after the week, so I let it continue. Finally dropped to .996 after 2+ weeks. My question is whether this is common, or did I miss something? Thanks for a lot of great info. Dave

26. # admin on 05 Jan 2009 at 6:40 am


Good work on waiting a little bit - everyone is so hurried and wants results faster.

You are AOK fine. Now’s a good time to rack it into the secondary. Looks like you are going to have a nice dry Reisling.

Once you stabilize it, you may want to taste and sweeten before bottling. Some people like Reislings a little sweeter.

Thanks for the post!


27. # Dave on 05 Jan 2009 at 7:15 am

Thanks Mike. Yeah, the kit instructions had me rack to the carboy after that first week, so it\\\\’s been in the secondary since then. The kit also contained a small bag of sweetener, which it calls for adding today. I\\\\’m planning on letting it age in the carboy for approx. 4 months before bottling. I purchased a power filter. Should I filter before or after the aging?

28. # Paul on 05 Jan 2009 at 1:58 pm

Hi Mike just to say thank you for your advice, im new to making wine made my first two batches, i only drank wine occasionally now im a convert thanks to you, i look forward to joining the inner circle in the future. Wishing you all the very best for the new year.


29. # admin on 05 Jan 2009 at 2:09 pm


Stablizer BEFORE sweetner or it will start fermenting again.

After a few months, you probably won’t need to filter it - it’ll be as clear as glass.


30. # Ron on 05 Jan 2009 at 2:58 pm

Mike, I love your videos, your just a regular guy doing something that you love. I like rule #5, I believe everybody needs to take responsability for there own life. You can’t just sit on the side lines you have to get in to the game!

31. # Sharon Schares on 06 Jan 2009 at 6:04 am

Hello Mike,

Your blog is full of good advice, and the most interesting advice you give is not just one thing but how it all flows together. Having the mindset to give to others without expecting to get back; acting upon what you want to do, finding the people that succeed and can help you get there; and taking responsibility for your actions and not giving up.

I’ve been an inner circle member for a few months now and have found your direction in wine-making helpful. This fall I started my 3rd batch of wine-after taking one year off because of failure. I’ve promised myself to rack it once a month and bottle it in November 2009-hoping for a well-aged home-made wine. Throughout the process I’ve felt genuine excitement with each step, but the gauging of the sugar vs. alcohol levels can be confusing and a bit overwhelming, but I’m determined to press on!

Thanks for all your advice.

32. # Sharon Schares on 06 Jan 2009 at 7:45 am

After reading and contemplating what your 5 golden rules are I decided to get on my treadmill and make it something I do consistently. Thanks for the motivation!

33. # Ben Gritten, Londonon 08 Jan 2009 at 1:25 pm

Hi ya Mike,

Belated happy new year and birthday!

They normally say ‘third time lucky’.

I tried making rhubarb wine from my flourishing plants from my allotment last year, over here in London. I don’t know if you have allotments over there (small areas of land local councils rent out to people to grow what they want on them. They are in very high demand over here with waiting lists being as long as ten years!), you may have something similar.

The ‘mix’ stopped fermenting unusually fast (two-three weeks, compared to six weeks plus for my two previous attempts using home grown grapes). I thought this a bit odd and not bothering to check or indeed ask for advice, threw in more sugar and yeast! Another week or so went past and the fermentation ceased again. I thoroughly sterilised my bottles and carefully filtered the wine into each one, corking and ‘capsulating’ them almost immediately.

I stored them horizontally on top of my kitchen cupboards and slowly, but surely, something started to happen, which I am guessing was a secondary fermentation.

Nine of my 33 bottles (we do things small scale over here, compared with the US!) popped their corks, not just all over my kitchen, but over the homes of the (ex?!) friends I had given bottles to for christmas!

The surviving bottles taste OK. Naturally very fizzy, with an alcohol content of 17%! Embarassing explosions aside, I see it as a learning curve… Next time I SHOULD seek out some advice when in doubt or things don’t seem quite right (Step 3, Check information from someone knowledgeable that you can trust in the business).

I don’t know what wines I am going to produce this year, but I AM going to make TWO more batches, hopefully partially using grapes from my miniscule THREE vines from my allotment if we have a good summer over here, unlike last year!

Perhaps someone could tell me if my random act of adding extra yeast/sugar is a no-no!

I would like to end with a combination of two famous sayings:

If at first you don’t succeed (or anytime after!), try, try again…..practice makes perfect!

34. # Ron Gould on 08 Jan 2009 at 9:02 pm

Actually, I feel the most important thing you kind of glossed over. I don’t know about you, but I almost never learn from my successes, especially if I manage to get it right the first time. It isn’t until something goes wrong and my curiosity is aroused that I slow down and really study what I di and am doing to discover where I got off-track. I feel that you have to give yourself permission to fail (or at least not totally succeed every time) to be able to take the risks of trying something new. As you pointed out, watching videos and reading recipes never created a single glass of wine. I jumped in there in a big way in 2008 and just put my fifth batch of wine into the secondary. I plan to get outside my comfort zone and enter some of my wines in contests and see what kind of feedback I get.

Thanks for the website and the advice.


35. # miguel gutierrez on 27 May 2009 at 2:27 pm

Hi, very nice rules the one best of all is give and do not expect to recv’d, but on the long run you’ll get 101 times more. I’ worked for the USDA. at Dvis,ca. we have so many grapes of all types and that’s one of the reasons why I, have taken the path of wine making, it will be awesome to taste my own wine I,do not drink but I, think people will enjoy my wine. When I,was a kid I,leave on the coast and I, u’s to enjoy the grapes that grown around there on tne sand have you ever taste them? there are a bit smaller than regular grapes but their flavor where great! so I, might be trying to bottle them. thanks, just an idea. I, have enjoyed your book!

36. # Bill on 10 Jun 2009 at 7:01 pm

I just signed up but I have been making homemade wine for about 10 years now. I beleave the more you know the better the wine and as you stated \\\\"what goes around comes around, also do unto others as you would have them do unto you. so I make wine and drink wine and give wine. To all Happy wine making.

37. # sanoj on 15 Jul 2009 at 3:35 am

Hai Mike

I think you are not only a good wine maker but also a good ‘man’ maker.

All your five rules fit for me well.

Thank you for the general tips more than the wine tips.

God bless you


38. # David Mosher on 31 Aug 2009 at 11:12 am

Hi Mike I am new to this (making fruit wine for 1 year) so please beeear with me. If you had a wine of 14 or 15 percent alcohol what is it in the wine that goes bad, is it the alcohol or the fruit base and how can this be prevented or improved to a longer lasting wine. I have enjoyed your many helpful articles. Dave

39. # H. S. IRANI on 10 Sep 2009 at 2:45 am

Hello Mike,

Your regular helpful tips are very informative and heartfelt. I am sure a lot of people have understood what is truly required to make a good wine.

We also need to make some time for ourselves from our busy schedule and do the things that we have always been promising ourselves. The 5 tips you have provided are also the special bonds which make you different from the other wine makers out there.

Keep up the good work. God is the one who ultimately rewards us.