When you go into a wine shop they show you all these fancy things to make your life easier for making wine. Like the bottle tree it cost around $19.00 and for another $20.00 you can add a Bottle Rinser to it. I say wash your bottles in the sink in Oxy Clean (cheaper than B-brite) and use a spay bottle with a Star-sans mixture in it. Then all you need is a rack from the dish washer, the one with the pegs on it, and invert the bottles onto the pegs until they are dry. You just have to find someone who is throwing away a dishwasher so you can get the old tray.
Another convenient item is the Carboy Dryer for $8.00. If you are a coffee drinker or know someone who is, get an empty plastic coffee can. Then you can place the carboy neck down in the can to let it drip dry.
Lets talk about buckets and bottles. Buckets with lids cost around $15.00 and bottles are also around $15.00 for a case of 12. You need two cases for a 5 gallon batch. The requirement for the bucket is that it must be food grade plastic. If you have a food grade bucket at home that isn’t scratched up on the inside (scratches hold bacteria) and wasn’t holding something nasty or caustic, then you can use it. You can also check your local big box store and buy one there. I found one for only $4.00. It doesn’t have a lid but I’m sure if you look around you can find a lid. As for bottles call your local restaurants and see if they will save them for you. Ask your friends to save their wine bottles for you. You can also check with local bars and see what they do with their old bottles. If they have to pay to get rid of them, they might give them away for free.
If you don’t have hundreds of dollars to build a wine rack then you can build one out of pallets. A lot of places just throw them away. You can also build a wine rack out of 2x4s and plywood. To learn how to build a frugal wine rack, check out an earlier post here!
Now for the most important item you will need in your wine making, fruit! The cheapest way is to grow your own. You can also go out and get some exercise and pick wild berries. Be sure you get permission from the land owner first. Another source would be your local market or fruit stand. Ask if they have any bruised or over ripe fruit. Usually they will sell you this fruit at a discount rather than throw it away. Just be sure you remove the bad spots first. You can also ask is there a discount available for buying large quantities of fruit.
Every penny counts and with a few of these suggestions you might be able to save quite a few! If you have any ideas on how to save money making wine, please share!