Readers Write

Decisions, decisions . . .

A beginning winemaker wrote in the other day asking about my Master Vintner wine kits, and his questions were the kind of direct ones that merit good answers: seasoned winemakers with a bunch of kits under their belt may have already had these answered, or they’ve got big stuff on their minds, like how to fit another wine rack into the basement.

Hi, thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m Dave and I live in Oregon. I have 40 grape vines, enough to be a wannabe wine maker.  I also use the master vinter and sommelier kits.  My questions are about the juice in the kits:

  1. Is the grape juice concentrated, reduced or pasteurized.?
  2. What type of chemicals are added?
  3. Is the grape juice concentrated, reduced or pasteurized.?
  4. What is the juice in the kits treated with?
  5. Are there any unfermentable sugars added?
  6. Is it ok, instead of filling up to 6 gallons to fill up to 5, to make it more flavorful?

I’d appreciate your response, I’m a budding wine nerd!!! Thanks Oregon Dave

Oregon Dave,

Thanks for writing–all good questions and since you’ve made wine, you’re not a ‘wannabe’. You’re part of the family of people who make and enjoy wine–and nerds are our favourite!

Master Vintner kits are made from a blend of concentrates and fresh, single-strength juices. Keep in mind that the concentrates themselves are made from single-strength juice that has had the water removed through one of the common concentration processes

  1. Vacuum distillation 
  2. Reverse Osmosis
  3. Spinning cone

Different producers use different processes, but all come down to carefully removing the water without stripping the flavours and aromas of the juice. 

There are a couple of good reasons to use concentrate in a kit, and one very important one. 

  1. Concentrate weighs less and ships lighter than single-strength juice. That saves money not only on the front end, when we buy our raw materials, but also on the back-end when we ship it to you.  
  2. Concentrate is shelf-stable at room temperature. With the high sugar level and extremely low pH, it doesn’t allow spoilage organisms to grow, and is very resistant to oxidation. 
  3. Most importantly, that low pH/high sugar effect carries over when concentrate is blended with the juice. Fresh, single-strength grape juice can’t be held or shipped at room temperature, and even at refrigeration temperatures (4-8C/36-40F) it will still spoil in only a few weeks. But if you blend it with concentrate to a minimum specific level of sugar and pH, it will last 12-18 months on a shelf. Concentrate is what makes wine kits possible!

Once the juices for the kits are assembled (blended, adjusted for acid and pH, etc) they are flash pasteurized and sterile packed. This process involves heating the juice to 70-82C (160-180F) very quickly, then cooling it to room temp again, all within a cycle of under 90 seconds. After that, it’s weighed out into sterile bags and capped. Other than very low amounts of sulfite, no other chemical additives are used. 

Sulphite is your friend, and wants you to be happy.

Juices aren’t treated with anything that isn’t already in use in the commercial wine industry. They can be amended with grape acids (tartaric and malic acid) or tannins, but that’s it. 

It’s very rare for wine kits to use any added sugars: they don’t integrate well into the flavour profile if used in any quantity, but if they are needed to boost ABV in the finished kit, it will say so on the label on the side of the box. 

Unfermentable sugars, such as lactose, are not used. 

Nossir, not a thing!

It is very specifically not okay to make a kit to 5 US gallons (19 litres) rather than the specified 6 gallons (23 litres). That will throw off the acid, pH and flavour profile completely, and it’s kind of like making your frozen concentrated orange juice up with only two cans of water instead of three: is that better orange juice, or just a thick glass of acid, too-sweet goop?

Big kit, big flavour, big wine

If you want to boost the character of your wine kit, buy one of our premium kits, like Sommelier Select, which contain more, and more expensive-to-source juices. They’re not ready to drink as early as the smaller kits, but after a few months, You’ll see where the extra money went–into higher-cost, higher-demand juices that cost more to use. Rather than cut down your yield by 25%, spend 25% more money, get your extra six bottles and delicious wine to boot! 

Thanks for writing Oregon Dave. I hope this helps out, and wish you many years of happy winemaking!

Announcement: New Kit Facility For Tim Vandergrift


Tim Vandergrift Announces New Wine Kit Production Facility, KitWorld Inc.

By Fal Ernian, Vinotas News Service

April 1, 2016

Modesto, Ca – Canadian company Tim Vandergrift Consulting and Communications Inc. announced today that it has finished construction on a 200,000 square foot processing facility for grapes, juices and concentrate, and will be releasing its new wine kits this month.

Cellar A, one of sixteen cryogenic tank farms

Construction of the facility, underwritten by private equity firm Lord-Buckley Capital, began in 2014 and final inspections and certifications were completed in March, during which a test run of thirty thousand kits was processed. Officials in the California Department of Food and Agriculture have certified the facility as fully operational and KitWorld Inc. goes into production today.

External storage for temporary processing
External storage for temporary processing

TVCC expects this facility to open up the US home winemaking market and widen its customer base by more than two million users.

CDO Tim Vandergrift, looking over his facility
CDO Tim Vandergrift, looking over his facility

“If we look at the Canadian market for wine kits”, says Chief Disruption Officer Tim Vandergrift, “It’s 20% of total sales, domestic and import–literally, for every case of wine opened in Canada on any day, two of those bottles were made by consumers: there’s not much to do in the land of moose and snow except to make wine and enjoy socialised medicine, ha ha! In the USA the total is far lower–despite the fact that the USA has a quarter of a billion people of legal drinking age, fewer than 7 million bottles are made by consumers at home. That’s less than 0.15% of the total wine consumed. Our initial goal is to raise that to 1% of the total, a 666% increase, and long term we want Americans to experience the drinking level of the average Canadian, and capture 20% of the US market, and net our company the largest share of the beverage industry in history!”

The World's Foremost Authority
The World’s Foremost Authority

TVCC began planning for the facility early on, hiring Conjectural Technology’s esteemed winemaker Professor Corey Irwin, the world’s foremost authority and co-inventor of the formal tennis shoe according to a post on Professor Irwin’s knowledge and guidance allowed the facility to be completed in record time, with over 220 varieties of wine ready for production.

Professor Irwin planned the new facility for continuous expansion. “Our plant will allow for the processing of ten million pounds of grapes per day, with storage for twenty million gallons of concentrate and juices in a state of the art cryogenic cellar. The world’s largest HST treatment system, combined with nano-scale obfuscating filtration, continuous flow gamma irradiation and a full-run DMDC inline injector will make wine juices shelf stable for up to twenty years, allowing wider distribution and the ability to take advantage of price fluctuations to hedge against crop issues, like when any of our competitors try to buy grapes.”

Running DMDC Injector/Gramma Irradiator unit
Running DMDC Injector/Gamma Irradiator unit

Perhaps the most exciting innovation is KitWorld’s partnership with aerospace company Fukaze’s drone division to bring kits directly to consumer’s homes within 24 hours of ordering.

“We had to develop an entirely new type of drone to be able to vector a payload of nearly sixty pounds,” explains Fujin Shinatobe, Flight Operations Manager for Fukaze Drones. “New battery technology and powerful permanent magnet motors allowed us to construct the A-10 drone, dubbed, ‘The Winehog’. We actually built it like a wine kit with a drone sticking out of it as opposed to a drone carrying a wine kit.”

De-militarized version of this drone will be used.
De-militarized version of this drone will be used.

With initial capacity at four thousand drones scalable to ten thousand in the first year and twenty thousand in the second,  Kitworld expects to meet 100% of US demand for consumer-produced wine going forward, and plans to expand to Europe and Asia by 2020.

More information is expected to be released following a shareholders meeting on April 2nd, 2016.

About Tim Vandergrift Consulting and Communications:

Founded in 2014, Tim Vandergrift Consulting and Communications is a White Rock-based marketing and brand-strategy firm in the beverage industry. It specialises in wholesome, healthy, wine lifestyle promotions and is committed to using only free-range imagery to create dialogue and market products for its clients. It has clients in countries and is 100% gluten-cruelty free.


To learn more about KitWorld, please contact

Sue Donym, Media Relations

600 Yosemite Blvd, Modesto, CA 95354, United States

Office: (949) 717-3877