Fall is in the air, and winemakers are getting antsy to pick, crush, and start fermentation on grapes that are hanging heavy, dusky, and delicious on the vine. And you don't have to take a backseat to the action—wineries have a set number of tanks they can fill with grape juice, and many sell their excess tonnage.

In California’s Sierra Foothills, the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association is posting wineries with available grapes, from Barbera to Zinfandel.

And on the message boards at MoreGrapes, well, more grapes are being added every day. (Yes, there are $3,000/ton Napa Cab grapes on there. Undoubtedly yummy, but leave those to the pros and start with something like a nice Merlot from a smaller AVA for 40 cents/pound.)

You might even find a U-pick vineyard near you. (Or, hmm, apple wine?)

Before you get clipping, check out WineMaker magazine’s handy “10 Tips for a Successful Harvest Day.”

What to do once you have the grapes at hand foot? Sunset's Team Wine has been blazing this trail for you, and we've collected our year of winemaking experiences into a downloadable guide to both reds and whites. Got a garage and a garden hose? Consider yourself on your way!

That’s how we got our start, and in two weeks we'll be marking the one-year anniversary of picking our Syrah grapes and bringing home our Chardonnay juice. But in order to crack open a bottle of our wine and celebrate, we need to do some bottling, and that’s exactly what we plan to do!

So check back in early October for more adventures in winemaking … possibly featuring some video. Just think: slippery glass bottles, tubes squirting Chardonnay, a hand-cranked corker squeezing and punching wet corks into bottle necks, and other merry mayhem caught on camera. We can't wait.

You May Like