Making Wine 2009

I picked the harvest this year on Oct 16.

The trend continued of doubling production each year as the vines mature. We lost a lot of grapes to birds but there were still at least 100lbs to harvest. It's taking a lot longer to harvest too - about 1.5 hours this year. I need to get set up next year with a cart and more bins, since the big bin I'm using gets just too heavy to be comfortable carrying.

I managed to borrow my friend's crusher and press again this year, and even a fermentation barrel, since my 7 gallon barrel is too small now. We have about 10 gallons of must this year. Rubbermaid Brute containers can be used for fermentation, but must be "food grade" (NSF standard #2).

I bought a .1g scale this year so I could measure my own yeast and nutrients. I got tiny packets of yeast and nutrients from Napa Fermentation. I'm using the same yeast and nutrients as previous years - Lallemand "Prise de Mousse" "Fermaid K" and "DAP". With 10 gallons of must @ 2Lbs/1000 gal of yeast that's about 9 grams and for 2.5Lbs/1000 gal of nutrients it should be about 11 grams. I added the yeast and nutrients on 10/17. The Brix is way too low at apparently only 15, when it should be ideally at 25. Did our rainstorm plump up the grapes with too much water? Did I include too many unripe clusters? Did the birds get the ripest clusters this year leaving only unripe ones? I'm not sure. I decided to suppliment with sugar, to avoid some rather weak wine this year. It feels like "cheating" but its better than wasting the harvest. There's so much to learn.

I decided to add sugar to bring up the Brix. The formula to do this is apparently

(desired - actual brix) / 1.25 * .25 * gallons of must = cups of sugar
In my case
(22-15) = 7 /1.25 = 5.6 * 0.25 = 1.4 * 10 = 14 cups
Regular granulated sugar is slowly dissolved in an equal volume of boiling water, then cooled and added to the must.

On 10/22 I purchased a hydrometer with a -5 to 5 Brix scale to get a more precise measurement at the end of the fermentation process. It's calibrated at 20 degrees C (68F). My basement is about 62 degrees, so I needed to use a conversion table

So far, here's how the fermentation is proceeding:

On 10/24 I pressed the wine and transfered it to glass carboys. There's 13 gallons of wine. It looks fairly light, probably a result both of the short fermentation and picking some unripe grapes. Next year I hope I'll be able to plan my work schedule to avoid business trips and big deadlines around the crush, to give me more flexibility for timing winemaking.

Pressing went much easier this year, thanks to experience and having a better press. Sanitizing and preparation took as long as the pressing itself. I combined pressing this year's wine with bottling last year's wine. Altogether this took about six hours.

On Nov 14th I racked the wine for the first time. I was more aggressive about this than in the past since we have more wine to work with. The result was 11.5 gallons that is very clear.

[Webmaster | Home | Winemaking]