Making Wine 2008

I picked the harvest this year on Sep 30.

We wound up with 50 lbs of must. Crushing with a friend's stemmer/crusher was sure a lot easier than last year, when I tried to pull all the berries off the stems by hand! It was only about 1/2 hour to pick, 1/2 hour to crush and 1/2 hour to clean the crusher.

Brian again measured out 4 grams of yeast and 4 grams each of "Fermaid K" and "DAP" (nutrients) for me. On 10/2 I measured the must at 23 Brix, and added the nutrients and yeast. He's changed jobs and can't provide the detailed analysis of pH and acidity this year. $150 is standard for a wine analysis and I don't have enough grapes to justify that. So, we have to "wing it" this year, and maybe for the near future.

This year I've been better about taking sugar measurements right from the start. So far, here's how the fermentation is proceeding with all measurements taken at between 9 and 11am:

On 10/12 I used a basket press that I was able to borrow from a friend to press the skins. I poured the wine through a spaghetti strainer and into a glass carboy. Our neighbor, Brian, recommended wrapping the wine in some insulation in hopes of keeping it a bit warmer than our basement, which is now in the low 60's.

I racked the wine into a 5 gallon carboy, which is still only part full. On Oct 22 Brian gave me some frozen malolactic culture and some wood chips. On Oct 28 I racked the wine again, winding up with 3.5 gallons. I'll keep the wood chips in the bottles until the wine is racked and bottled, a few months from now.

On 12/30 I added some sulfur (potassium meta-bisulfide or KMBS) to stop any remaining fermentation and protect against spoilage. Since last year our wine did get contaminated, this year Brian advised adding a higher concentration. So each gallon got .5g dissolved in 10ml of filtered water, which should work out to 66ppm instead of last year's target of 40ppm. I'll add another dose when racking the wine for the (maybe) the last time a couple of months from now.

On Oct 24, 2009 I added another dose of sulfer before bottling. I used the same proportions as the last dose in hopes of getting 66ppm. Then I bottled the wine. I wound up with 17 bottles, which we'll age for another six months minimum. There was a half bottle left over, so we drank that. Not bad. It's not going to win any awards, but it's a pleasant table wine, and better than many cheap wines I've had. I'd rate it a $10 bottle. It should get at least a little better with ageing.

Cleaning and sanitzing all the bottles took more time than the bottling itself. I'm getting the hang of the corker (the red thing in the pictures above). It takes a fair amount of force, so I put the bottle on the floor and press down. It's a little disconcerting at first, since I worried I'd crack the bottle. But with a steady, even pressure, and keeping the corker vertical and aligned with the bottle it's safe and starts to feel comfortable.

[Webmaster | Home | Winemaking]