Make Your Own Wine—On a Budget

Local Fermentations encourages wine lovers to bottle their own during economic hard times.

Photograph by Sonja Pieper
Photograph by Sonja Pieper

By Jenna Williams

Small Place, Big Taste
At the Danforth shop Fermentations, wine connoisseurs and up-and-comers can find and create something that is just right for them. The experience is fast, fun, and easy; satisfaction is guaranteed. Visitors can make anything from beer to wine to coolers. Wine, however, is Fermentations’ specialty. Owner Charles Fajgenbaum received a Grand Master Winemaker award in 2007, and has won other awards for his Baco Noir, Vidal, and Riesling wines. The store is a five-time winner of NOW Magazine‘s annual reader poll for Toronto’s best wine and beer-making shop, and it continues to receive praise from wine critics and brewers alike.

Economic Squeeze
With the economy taking a hit from every angle lately, it is tough to decide what to spend money on and where to cut back. For wine lovers, the decision to buy is especially tricky. Wine buffs usually have their favourite varieties of wine—the bottles they run to the store for or prefer with a specific meal, despite price. Wine newbies, who ordinarily take chances on different bottles, may now feel less inclined to gamble. Is it possible to satisfy a wine lover’s taste buds without breaking the bank?

Wine Lovers Rejoice
At Fermentations, the prices range from $140 to $175 for 26 bottles. On average, this works out to about $6 a bottle! This is a steal compared to wines that sell in the LCBO, where it can be difficult to find quality for under $10. Plus, when making your own wine, you can choose the type you want to create and have control over the entire winemaking process.

Are You Ready? The Four Crucial Steps of Winemaking
1. Think about the types of wine you prefer. White or red? Sweet or dry?
2. Meet with Charles at Fermentations to determine the best grapes and methods to create your perfect wine.
3. Let fermentation begin! Allow approximately eight weeks to pass as your excitement builds. (If you are beginning to get a bit antsy, check out the following video on how your wine is being made.)
4. Bottle your wine, then label and cork it.

From the Grape to the Bottle to You
Winemaking is an extremely enjoyable process. You get to feel like a part of wine history as you select your own grapes and bottle your finished product. During these times of economic strain, remember that at Fermentations it is possible to create a taste that is truly unforgettable—and for only $6 a bottle!

If you have made your own wine in the past, please leave a comment to tell readers about your experience. What did you make? How did it taste? What would you say to first-time winemakers? Any tips or hints that you are willing to spill?


  • Amy

    Since I’m allergic to certain additives commonly found in wine, I’d definitely like to give this a try! I use wine in cooking, and so nice (but inexpensive) wine would be great to have in my cold cellar!

  • Tom Gurney

    Hi, thanks for the tips, i must say i never considered making my own wine! Unfortuntely, here in Shanghai, the YouTube video is blocked so can’t enjoy the crucial third step 🙁 If it is available to watch elsewhere, please let me know, otherwise i must wait until back in the UK.

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