On the cheap

(Logos: Copyrights of their respective corporations.)

(Logos: Copyrights of their respective corporations.)

If you want to make a small fortune in the wine industry, start with a large one.” The essence of that truism, that wine growing and making can be ARE a money-consuming endeavor, can be applied to the hobbyist.

Essential, specialty, items only available at specialty retailers (online or brick-and-mortar) are not cheap. Other supplies, need to be obtained at minimum cost.

I’ve certainly been able “re-purpose” older clothing that was fit only for dirty work. The same goes for kitchen items wife was about to throw out. Still, it’s hard to find things around the house that could be “re-purposed” for cellar and vineyard work.

So, being the relative spendthrift, I’ve turned to low-cost solutions on many occasions. I thought it would be useful to share a list of places where I turn to for these odds and ends (small and large) as well as which items I bought at those outlets.

eBay & Amazon.com

  • scales (I have three: a small digital scale for weighing wine additions like acids and bisulfide, a larger kitchen scale for up to 500 gm and a hanging scale for weighing fruit)
  • face shield (for spraying, mowing)
  • wine making and vineyard books (gently used, or “international” [read: India] black-and-white editions)
  • backpack sprayer (4-gallon capacity)
  • inert gas (Private Preserve)
  • refractometer
  • Clinitest tabs
  • reference books

I have not, but likely could find deals on irrigation equipment (tubing, emitters, etc) on-line. Also, many of the following items may also be found online.

Big Lots and similar close-out stores:

  • bins (rectangular, 18 gallon capacity, with lids – for supplies, equipment and fruit)
  • work clothes
  • buckets
  • knee pads
  • tool belt
  • eye protection (for pruning, spraying, mowing)
  • respirators (for sulfur and pesticide application)
  • spray bottles
  • 2-gallon sprayer (for cleaning/sanitizing larger equipment: press, crusher/destemmer, fermenters)
  • gloves (latex/nitrile , rubber and leather work gloves)
  • rope and twine (for tying up vines)
  • planters (for back-up vines – of course, a few can be obtained from a local nursery for a smile and politely-phrased request…)
  • stainless steel pots (3.5 gallon, with lids – for small experimental batches and pasteurization)
  • stainless steel sieves & strainers
  • head lamps (for nighttime vineyard work)
  • airtight canisters (for storing oxygen- and moisture-sensitive items)
  • plastic zip-seal bags
  • small droppers
  • glass vials to use as a “test tube” (I run my Clinitest in vials for testing swimming pool water)
  • funnels of all sizes
  • wet/dry vac (for cellar spills)
  • towels & rags
  • drop cloths
  • BBQ cover for crusher-destemmer
  • 20-gallon trash can (not food grade, I cool carboys in it for cold ferments and cold stabilization)
  • bottle brushes
  • clamps of all sizes
  • cooking thermometers (pasteurization)
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • pens and markers
  • sugar (for fruit wine, cider and sparkling wines)

Ross and similar discount stores

  • work boots
  • incidental clothing
These discount stores also may carry low-cost stainless steel pots and kitchen supplies.

99¢ Only Stores

  • hats & caps
  • bandannas
  • cheese cloths
  • coffee filters
  • wooden/bamboo peg rack (used during bottle sanitizing – probably good for one to two uses, small lots)
  • funnels
  • rope & natural fiber twine (for tying up vines)
  • plastic table cloths (cellar liners)
  • duct tape
  • ice (7lbs for 99¢ – I use lots of ice for cooling ferments and cold stabilization) 

I’m curious to hear where other home wine growers and wine makers find things they need for their vineyard or winery and what those items are.

How do you support your wine making habit on the cheap?

(While it’s not customary to change the contents of a blog post after it has been published, I will occasionally supplement the above lists in the interest of making this post a resource for others.)


Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles. http://www.shutupandmakewine.com http://twitter.com/Dr_Arthur_P
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One Response to On the cheap

  1. Frightened Turtle says:

    Yard sales/swap meet and craigslist rarely disappoint. I’m not making wine yet but planting grapes so mostly looking for fencing, tools, posts etc.

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