A bluestem biography

Owning a home brew and wine making supply store plus operating our own winery?  Never in a million years . . . READ ON . . .



BlueStem Winery wines are now being sold at locations other than at the winery in Parkersburg.


Rustic Brew is a new brew pub / restaurant which just opened at 117 1st Street NW in Hampton.  Rustic Brew features their own label beers plus ALL varieties of BlueStem Winery wines. Four of BlueStem wines are served as house wines by the glass and all of our wines are available by the bottle for consumption at the restaurant or for take home.  Hours at Rustic Brew are Monday to Wednesday 7:30am to 5pm, Thursday from 7:30am to 5pm and Friday and Saturday from 7:30am to whenever they turn the lights off. Phone them at (641) 456-2141.


Another great restaurant to visit that features BlueStem label wines is the Water Street Grill on W. Bremer Ave. in Waverly!  Angie and Steve would love to have you stop by for good food and a bottle of BlueStem label wine!


For a list of all retail establishments carrying BlueStem wines check out our Store Locator page.





If you came to the BlueStem Winery web site looking for a wine kit, we have a treat in store for you!


We have just placed our third order for U.S. Elite wine kits (from Thousand Palms, California) as we are phasing out our kit purchases from Cellar Craft (recently purchased by Vineco).  Vineco (a/k/a WinExpert) purchased Cellar Craft a couple of years ago and almost immediately dumped Cellar Craft's highly successful Limited Edition kits.  Rumor has that the cuts are going farther (elimination of Cellar Craft completely?).  As soon as they dumped the limited edition kits we started looking for a viable replacement.


We have ordered twice now from U.S. Elite.  We have ordered juice concentrates for use in our winery and also kits for purchase by home wine makers.  The first and second orders of kits sold out quickly and we have had excellent feedback from our home wine makers about the quality of the U.S. Elite product!  As for our own experience we have had three reds from U.S. Elite (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot) in our tanks for 16 months (as of February, 2014) with the intention to blend these wines into a Bordeaux blend.  All are doing well with the Merlot finishing the quickest of the three (that is typical).  We expect the other two to be ready within 12 months for our blending.


Some of you will question the quantity of juice received with this kit (these 6 gallon kits are sold in a 6.4 liter format instead of the larger 16 liter Cellar Craft format).  The question is this:  Quality vs. Quantity?


You have to look at exactly what goes into the makeup of a wine making kit.  To produce 6 gallons of wine at acceptable alcohol levels a certain amount of fermentable solids (grape concentrate), grape juice or other fermentables such as table sugar or liquid invert sugar are required.


6.4 liters of grape concentrate will give you a starting specific gravity of 1.095 when diluted to 23 liters (6 gallons).  The U.S. Elite kits ARE 100% grape concentrate and every bit of it is of the varietal grape that the label on the kit says it is (a Merlot is a Merlot . . . 100% Merlot).


Some manufacturers use a combination of grape juice concentrate and grape juice and/or water and/or liquid invert sugar in both their smaller sized and their larger, premium offerings.  You are purchasing a kit which contains sugar (other than grape sugar), water and concentrates of other than the varietal juice named on the kit label.


The question then arises . . . How do you define 'grape juice'?  One source of grape juice is from a combination of water and grape juice concentrate.  Thus, the customer may be paying higher shipping charges for shipping water!  Regardless of the size of the kit, in order to make 23 liters of wine at a given percentage alcohol, you only require a certain amount of fermentable solids.  If the kit is larger sized (say Cellar Craft vs. U.S. Elite) the concentrations of sugars is less.


The real question should be What is the Quality?  Most of the kit manufacturers have done a great job of marketing to their customers, who are almost all home wine makers (U.S. Elite's main customers are wineries, not home wine makers, so the quality standard is higher).  Using a combination of the above ingredients, they have met their customer expectations.  Many will use blends of varietals from different countries as part of their concentrate makeup and will use generic red or white concentrate to make up the difference.  About 92% of the grape concentrate produced worldwide is made for the sweeteningmarket and competes with other sugar sweeteners.  That leaves 8% which is concentrated from known varietals and is marketed to the wine making industry.


U.S. Elite uses ONLY 100% varietal grape juice concentrate!  The appellation of the juice in each kit is CERTIFIED and documentation is provided that meets all Federal regulations.  No juice from other varietals is blended and no juice from other countries is used.  NO GENERIC juice is added nor is any water or sugar of any kind added.  All wine kits are made from the same formulation used for the juice sold to U.S. wineries--thus, you the customer, are getting WINERY GRADE juice concentrate in the kit you purchase!  All wine kits are TTB Certified (Treasury, Tax and Trade Bureau) which is the old Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).  The wine kits you purchase for home wine making are EXACTLY the same juice I purchase in drums for use at my winery!


Confused by all the different names for wine and by the many different types of grapes? The links below will lead you to pages on our website which briefly describe the various types of grapes and the wines that are made from them.








is only $8.95!!


Full details about BlueSaver shipping are on the Policies page of our web site but the nuts and bolts are that we will ship your ENTIRE ORDER to anywhere in the lower 48 United States for $8.95.  No matter how large your order is!


Wine ingredient kits from U.S. Elite or Cellar Craft all ship for $8.95 (even if you order more than one!) and you can order whatever else you want and all of it ships for $8.95 . . . TOTAL!!!



BlueStem Wines

In addition to home brewing and wine making supplies BlueStem also markets their own label wines!


READ MORE about our ten BlueStem label wines!




Our home brewing and wine making supply store was spared but the photo above shows what was left of my son's 2002 Ford Lightning pickup after the deadly tornado of Memorial Day (May 25), 2008 in Parkersburg.  As many of you know, our town here in northeast Iowa was ripped apart by one of the largest tornados ever to ever hit the United States.  Winds from this tornado are known to have exceeded 205 miles per hour (what is known as an EF-5 tornado) and are believed to have been as high as 250 miles per hour . . . READ MORE



One thing that I learned about Iowa that I did not know prior to beginning our winery, wine making equipment, and home brewing supply business was that a hundred years ago Iowa was the sixth leading producer of grapes in the United States.  So what happened?  Several things . . . READ MORE!



Store Hours


BlueStem Winery hours (and any special dates that the store will be closed) for the sale of our BlueStem label wines, Brewers Best beer brewing kits, brewing equipment, plus our selection of U.S. Elite Micro-Winery and Cellar Craft wine kits along with a list of the holidays we observe and other dates that we are closed are available by going to our POLICIES page . . .


SPECIAL CLOSING: We will be closed on:




SATURDAY, MAY 17, 2014 (unless it is raining--then we will be open--we have an all-day motorcycle trip planned along the Mississippi!)

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