Thursday, December 23, 2010

America's Most Visited Winery

So what is America's most visited winery?  And no, it's not in California.  Click here for the answer:

America's most visited winery

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New wine blog I'm following

I stumbled on this wine blog tonight doing some research.  It's pretty interesting.  They focus on wine and viticulture that is non-vinifera.  Here's the link:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our trip to Crown Winery

We made a trip to Humboldt, TN this past weekend to interview the owners of Crown Winery for an article I'm writing.  Crown Winery is very unique.  It is the only winery outside of California that is powered completely by solar power.  Pretty amazing.

Crown Winery has been open only a year or so, but they already have some award winning wines.  They have a sparkling wine, Tiara, that won a gold at the Indy International Competition this past year.  Their remaining selection ranges from chambourcins to noiret blends, to rose`s, and chardonel white wines.  They are also making a jump into the world of vinifera with sangiovese planted a couple of years ago.  Should see that wine by next fall.

The owners of Crown Winery are great people.  I really have a lot of respect for them.  They work day and night to make that place a success.  You can tell right away when someone puts all of their heart and soul into what they do.

They both have fascinating backgrounds.  Peter is British, and a gas physicist by trade and Rita is a former Miss Tennessee and was an actress in Europe.  They met while skiing in Austria.

The best part is that they're making world class wines in only a couple of years.    Here are some pics of the place.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adding sulfites to your wine. When?

This is a topic that you will get a diverse level of responses.  A lot depends on what type of wine you are making and the style you are trying to create.  Most red wines are made with sulfites added at the crush and at bottling, at a minimum.  If you are barrel aging your wine, you should maintain a safe level of sulfite to prevent oxidation and problems from harmful bacteria forming.  Here is a clip from the Wine Spectator website about the topic of sulfites, and when to add them:

"Malolactic bacteria are extremely sensitive to sulfites, so even modest quantities hinder them. However, oxidation due to low sulfite levels isn't a problem at this stage because malolactic bacteria generate a blanket of carbon dioxide that essentially seals off the wine from oxygen.
And many wines are better without malolactic fermentation. Some vintners, such as Lingenfelder, want the crisper style that comes from preserving malic acid. After primary fermentation is complete he adds enough sulfite (about 70 to 80 mg/l) to inhibit the malolactic bacteria in his Riesling.
Barrel-aging, which gradually exposes wine to air, is part of the program for many of the world's most reputable wines, including Bordeaux, Napa Cabernet, and red and white Burgundy. So vintners constantly monitor and tweak free-sulfite levels to ensure that oxygen exposure remains controlled, rather than excessive. "Every time we rack, top off or mess with the barrels, we analyze SO2 and add enough to increase it to 20 ppm [parts per million], maybe more," says Steve Test, winemaker at Merryvale Vineyards in St. Helena.
Brawny Cabernets tend to spend about two years in barrel. When it comes time to bottle, vintners usually want about 25 to 40 ppm of free sulfite. That's enough to slow oxidation and inhibit unwanted microbial activity, such as Brettanomyces, a spoilage yeast, which can impart pronounced leather and barnyard character.
At bottling, different wines require sulfites for different reasons. Reds, due to their tannin and pigmentation compounds (anthocyanins), are more resistant to oxidation than most whites; but reds are more susceptible to microbes because they usually have less acidity. Late-harvest wines demand the highest levels, typically more than 50 mg/l free sulfites (sugar tends to bind with sulfites, and vintners need an ample sulfite supply to shut down microbes, which might otherwise wreak havoc gorging on the residual sugar).
Whether introduced during fermentation, barrel-aging or bottling, sulfur is an integral part of the winemaking process at the vast majority of wineries. Although its power and utility in stabilizing wines is unmatched, a few hardy producers embrace a noninterventionist philosophy that frowns on sulfite additions.
Amity Vineyards in Yamhill, Ore., offers an assortment of organic wines, one of which is also made without added sulfites. Called Eco-Wine, it's a Pinot Noir with a youthful, fruity style.
"Asthmatics are some of our most ardent customers. They'll buy 15 cases," says Myron Redford, owner and winemaker at Amity. "But they're a very small number. There is also a huge number of people who think they're allergic to sulfites, who blame sulfites for any reaction to wine."
Redford started the Eco-Wine label in 1990, at which time sulfite additions were not permitted for organic certification (current regulations allow a maximum of 100 mg/l added sulphites, with no more than 35 mg/l of free sulfites permitted at bottling).
Winemaking without sulfites can be a zero-sum game. Redford must take special care when handling the Eco-Wine: it can't withstand any time in barrel without oxidizing, and in order to eliminate potential microbial problems, he performs a tight filtration, which can reduce richness and complexity.
The rare cases in which individuals suffer allergic reactions to sulfites notwithstanding, most vintners agree that eliminating sulfite additions is both unwise and unnecessary. "There's a tendency to polarize these issues, to make it black and white," says Ramey. "But it's not; it's a question of being judicious. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water."
- Wine Spectator, Feb. 2003, "Inside Wine: Sulfites"

Friday, December 3, 2010

The 12 Types of Wine Lovers: Which one are you?

This comes from the Huffington Post:

I'd like to think I'm the amateur.  At least I hope!

Which one are you?

12 Types of Wine Lovers

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blending wines

This is a subject I don't think of very much, but some of the best wines I've had have been blended wines.  To me, it would take quite a bit of knowledge to do this and I probably wouldn't attempt on my own, but it is something to shoot for in the future.  Here is a link to blending wine on grapestompers.

How to Blend Wine

Monday, November 29, 2010

I wanted to share a great site about wine and winemaking.  It is called GrapeRadio.  It is a weekly radio program that features a regular staff of winemakers and different guests each week.  I have learned a lot from this site.   The best thing is they have about 5 years of archived shows available to listen on their site.  Just click on the "past episodes" tab at the top of their site and it will take you to the listing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

US Wine Shipping Map

If you really want to make your head hurt, start studying up on US interstate wine shipping laws.  It has been said it is easier to sell and distribute wine in the former Soviet Republic than it is in the US.  That's  a pretty true statement.  Some of our 3-tier laws go all the way back to Prohibition.  These laws that inhibit interstate commerce and the enjoyment of good wine have been kept in place by powerful lobbyists that influence their legislatures into thinking this system is a good idea.  We all know it's not, but change comes very slow when it comes to interstate alcohol regulations.

This map came from the editors at "The World of Fine Wine" (, a magazine based in the UK. 

US Wine Map

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Most wines are meant to be consumed when you buy them

This is a question that comes up a lot.  What wines should I try to age on my own?  I'll post this link below that will help answer that question. (see the heading "which wines age well") 

Based on this article a year after fermentation most wines are as good as they will be.  So consume between 1-5 years and you're OK. 
What I have heard is that less than 10% of reds and 5% of whites are ever meant to be aged past 5 years.  And according to this article, aging more than 5 yrs may actually reduce the quality of the wine.  But there are a few that will improve with age and appreciate in value.  See the article.

Aging wine?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where did they get that price?

You're walking into the wine store getting ready to load up the day before Thanksgiving.  You want to be prepared for family events all day.  This is no occasion to be sober.  Football, food, and family.  Wine just makes it that much more interesting.

You want to impress everyone on this special occasion, so price is no object (at least less of one, maybe).  Is that $60 bottle of wine really going to taste better than the $13 one?

Read more here:

what determines a wine's price?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just signed up for CellarTracker

I recommend this website to anyone who wants to get information about a bottle of wine and/or to track their own inventory of wine. 


It is free to use (they ask for donations), and you can find almost any wine you're looking for, and add your own opinions on wine you have tasted, as well.  Let's face it, you walk into a wine store, you stand there, and unless you know specifically what you're looking for, the choices are overwhelming.  And you end up picking the one with the nice label.

This will allow you to do a little research before you spend $40 or $50 on a wine.  Because, as we know, a higher priced wine doesn't necessarily mean it's a better wine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Little Perspective

I think it's always good to get out and see what is going on in the world.  We get so consumed in our own little corner of the world we lose perspective sometimes.  Wine making is truly a universal concept, and one that has been carried on for 1000's of years.  Today I am looking at a website dedicated to "natural" winemaking, and it is based in France.

Much like the production of Beaujolais Nouveau, this group of producers do things a little differently than what we are used to.  They rely on wild yeasts, not commercial yeasts that are primarily used in the US.  And they place the grapes(and stems) directly in the barrel with no pressing or destemming.   So the grapes ferment on the whole berries.  The barrel has no airlock, so the carbon dioxide produced in fermentation is not released, but compresses the grapes and helps them ferment.  This is also why some of these wines produced have a "fizzy" taste when you drink's the residual carbon dioxide in the wine.  This wine making process is called carbonic maceration.

"Natural" wine producers also don't use sulfur (or sulfites).  They rely on the natural protection that carbon dioxide provides to preserve the wine.

Check out their site.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Preparing the barrel

I tested for malic acid tonight.  We're still above 300 ml, so no rush with moving the wine from our carboy to the barrel.  You want to make sure you prepare your barrel, though, too.  Making sure there are no leaks or issues with the bungs before you put your wine into it.  So tonight I filled it with hot water, and will wait to make sure there are no leaks.  The directions say it could take up to 7 days for the joints to expand and fill all cracks that could possibly leak. 

After I have determined it has no leaks, I want to add some sulfited water in it to make sure there is no bacteria in there before the wine goes in.

Here is the one I'm using this year.  It is 20L, or approx 5 gals:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beaujolais Nouveau

I had no idea what this was until a few years ago when my aunt brought a bottle of this to Thanksgiving Dinner.  It was a tradition for her to pick up a bottle at the same time in November every year.

Beaujolais Nouveau in a nutshell is wine that comes from the Beaujolais region of France that has only been fermenting for a month or two, depending on when France had their grape harvest that year.  We are both in the Northern Hemisphere so their harvest is typically Sept-Oct time frame so that means it would have been fermenting for a month to month and a half.
They rush it into warehouses around the world by FedEx, and then release it on the 3rd Thursday of November for sale. 

That's November 18th this year.

So go buy a's not bad.  Very light and fruity, but it's more tradition than it is taste!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TN Law to allow "Spirits" makers

Tennessee, traditionally one of the least progressive states when it comes to wine, beer and spirits making and distribution, is close to passing a law that will allow "spirits" to be made in all 95 counties (or at least counties that are not presently dry).

Chinese proverb:  "The Man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones".

Here is the link:

BusinessTN Article

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Winemaking Log

Especially if you're just starting out, it helps to keep a log of your activities.  It helps you do things in an orderly manner and it also allows you to share your experiences with other winemakers. If you don't already have one, here is a good one I found on the internet. Here it is.

Winemaking Log

I will post it in the references/tools tab, as well.  I recommend using this.  It helps to compare different vintages and also to document the process.  I find that I will test the wine on a timely basis if I'm writing it down.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Corks....and the tools that go with them

It is early to be thinking about items needed for bottling but I wanted to make this post now that I'm thinking about it.  When buying your corks, choose winery grade corks, not pure agglomerated.   Agglomerated is basically like particleboard they use on houses.  It takes chips of cork and by products and glues them together to form a cork. Winery grade uses natural cork on the ends and some agglomeration in the middle.  They are longer, and non-chamfered (non-tapered).  Winery grade corks will cost more, but it is worth it.  I have used the cheap, agglomerated corks and (depending on how old they are) can crumble and come apart as you insert them into your bottles.

You spent a lot of time and money on your wine.  Don't skimp on the cork.

Here is the tool I would recommend using to insert them.  This is the base-level tool you should use.  I wouldn't go with anything less complex or cheaper.  Hand-ratcheted devices are harder to use and can leave indentations in the top of your cork, and the corks rarely go in evenly with the hand-corkers.

It retails in the $60-$70 range.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

WA narrowly defeats I-1100

An initiative in Washington State that would have eliminated the "3-tier" system (producer sells to distributor, who sells to consumer) was defeated this week by a somewhat narrow margin.  It is good to see that voters are challenging some of these laws that date back to Prohibition!  The Federal government allows the states to create monopolies in liquor distribution that can often lead to less selection and higher costs for consumers when there are additional layers in the supply chain.  Layers that are essentially unnecessary.

Here is a link to the article:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

So has your 2010 wine gone south?

It happens.  Maybe you had H2S issues you couldn't recover from.  Maybe too much oxygenation.  Maybe your primary didn't complete and you can't restart.  Here are a few options if your wine from this fall's grapes has become undrinkable:

Chile-  Chile will be experiencing their grape harvest about time it is spring in the US.  April or May.  You can get fresh grapes from a few suppliers or order frozen must fresh from the 2011 spring harvest.  Check my references/tools page for more information or send us an email.

Frozen pails from the US-  There are a few suppliers that stock frozen must available year-round.  No matter where you live they can ship it to you, overnight.  It may involve a trip to the airport to pick it up, but that's about it. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

So how is 2010 CA vintage looking?

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  That is really what you hear when people talk about California's wine grape harvest 2010.  It was much cooler and wetter than normal, leading to very late ripening and some that were ruined by the late rains that came in October.  But on the other hand, the grapes that were harvested were excellent.  I was very happy with mine. There is a very deep, inky color in my wine I haven't seen in a Cabernet.  Less harvest quantities are supposed to mean more concentration of flavor and acids in the grapes that make it.   We'll see!  But I think 2010 is already shaping up to be a great year......

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stirring the lees

It has been a little more than a week since we added the MLF bacteria to our wine. I try to stir the wine/lees about once a week. We're down to a small amount of lees now after the last racking, but it helps to stir the remaining amount as they supply nutrients for the bacteria.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Testing Alcohol by Volume: tried the "vinometer"

We're nowhere close to needing to test our 2010 Lodi Cab for alcohol content, as that normally is done before you bottle. But I wanted to test a new item I ordered recently, called the "vinometer". I figured I couldn't go wrong for $3. Well, you get what you pay for. It doesn't work so well. I tested a Missouri Norton I made last year that a lab certified at 11%. The vinometer said 6%. It's a very simple device, I guess too simple.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wine Testing

I would recommend you test your wine when it is ready to be bottled.

With that said, I would recommend a "standard profile" that many labs do. It tests for Alcohol by volume, free SO2, PH, acid profile and a couple of other things.

Most wine testing labs I know of are in California. Here are three that I know do testing for home winemakers:

-Lodi Wine Laboratories
-Scott Laboratories (same people that make the ingredients, etc.)

This final test will run you anywhere from $80- $140. I have used Lodi Wine Labs and was very happy with their responsiveness and professionalism.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Great Article on wineries in the "New South"

Tom Johnson really captures the spirit and plight of winemaking in the South with this article:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

American Wine Consumer Coalition

The American wine consumer is at a distinct disadvantage in all 50 states. The Beer and Liquor Wholesalers Lobby has a huge warchest to maintain their monopoly and control over winemaking and the entire supply chain, while wine consumers lack a united voice.

AWCC(American Wine Consumer Coalition) is on Facebook. I recommend checking it out today, and become a fan.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What happens when you "Deregulate"?

I live in TN.  The winery laws here have kept many small wineries (or really any wineries) out of our state for years.  The TN Wine and Spirits Wholesalers have a stranglehold on the legislature.  In some cases, our laws go back all the way to prohibition in the way they were written.  Our state presently has 41 wineries.  Our wine industry brings in about $90 Million a year.  Let's look at TN's archaic laws:
-TN requires winemakers to use at least 75% of grapes grown in the state (this was recently overruled by the Sixth Circuit Court in OH, however)
- TN does not allow its wineries to sell to retailers or restaurants.  Sales are only through the wholesale chain, which adds a great deal of cost, keeping most small wineries out of the loop
- There is a cap on yearly production.
- Wine is not sold in grocery stores, only liquor stores.

Now let's show you Exhibit B:  North Carolina.  North Carolina is very comparable to TN,  in population, in geography, and in many other ways.  But NC has 112 wineries as of this year, and their wine industry is worth $900 Million a year.  Let's now look at NC's laws:
- NC requires only 5% of grapes be sourced from within the state.
- NC allows the sale of wine made at its wineries directly to restaurants, grocery stores, and wholesale distribution
-There is a very high or no cap on yearly production
- Wine is sold in grocery stores, wholesale clubs, etc.

So it's not just about supporting small wineries.  It's about bringing jobs and taxes to your state.  And that's all I've heard for the past month now that it's election season.

So be sure to vote!  And get to know your legislators.  Even though I am politically independent, I was a huge fan of Ronald Reagan.  One of his best quotes ever....

"Government's view of the economy is simple:  If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it.  If it stops moving, subsidize it."

How true.

Topping Off

You want your carboys to be as full as possible (with a couple of inches at the top).  In this case, we are using a 6 gal. carboy.  They come in 3, 5 and 6 as far as I know but I am sure there are others.  My 144 lbs of grapes produced just over 6 1/2 gals.   So I completely filled a 6 gal carboy and have about 1/2 gal for topping off that I store in a plastic container.

If you don't have extra wine for topping off, you can top your carboy up with a finished wine of a similar vintage, or another finished wine.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Quiet Stage

Now that you have added the MLF bacteria, there's not much to do.  Make sure your airlock has the right amount of water, monitor the room temperature, and that's about it.   I stir my wine every few weeks in this stage.  You will test in about a month for malic acid depletion.  When your malic is down somewhat, and your wine is stable, you can then sulfite it and add oak chips or add it to your barrel.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Racking the wine

Tonight we "racked" the wine off the gross lees, in preparation for adding the MLF bacteria.  It is OK to have some sediment in the bottom, but you really don't want to leave your wine on too much of it.  It can create off odors down the line and you need to rack your wine periodically, anyway.  It needs to be as clear as possible when you go to bottle it.

After racking back into my clean carboy, I added the bacteria packet, put the stopper on and added a layer of inert gas to the small headspace, then put the airlock on to seal it.  A little oxygen exposure at this stage is OK, but you want to minimize it as much as possible.  I use "private reserve".  Most winemaking shops online sell it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

HR 5034

Check out this article in the NYTimes about a bill currently being introduced in the U.S. House.  Let your representative know how you feel about this.  It could limit or lead to limitations on small wineries shipping their wine across state lines.  For some small wineries, that makes up a bulk of their sales.


The wine is now ready to undergo Malolactic fermentation.  It's not really fermentation as it is conversion.   You are converting malic acid to lactic acid.  Relieving some of the harshness and creating a smoother wine.  Hopefully you'll be adding back a little flavor and tannin, though, when you age your wine in oak.  Oak cubes, columns, chips or barrels.

Before you add your malolactic bacteria, you will want to test to see how much malic acid your wine has.  The best way I know to do this is with test strips from Accuvin (  You place a small amount of wine on the padded side, let it soak in, then 5 mins later flip over the test strip and compare it to the chart on the bottle.

My wine in this case has malic acid content of about 325 mg/L.  The reason you test is mainly to see how much you started with but an even more important test is in a few months when you feel the MLF is done.  Your malic levels will obviously be closer to 0.  At that point you can add SO2 to the wine to help preserve it, and then put it in the barrel or add the chips or whatever your method of oaking will be.

If you add SO2 now, it could inhibit your MLF process.

The pictures below show the malic test strip kit and the MLF bacteria we use.   When adding the MLF, you don't really have to hydrate first.  Just add it in.  I prefer the powder/packet to the liquid because it has a little longer shelf life (and is a little cheaper.)

Gross Lees

It has been about 48 hrs since we pressed the wine and racked it into our carboys.   Dead yeast cells and small particles of the pulp and skin have now settled to the bottom.  If you use a standard press and don't strain through a filter, the gross lees can be a couple of inches at least:

No problem, since we normally will rack this one more time before we begin the malolactic fermentation stage.  We want the wine to be as stable as possible when we add the MLF bacteria.  Racking while MLF is going on can disrupt the process and cause it to stall or not finish.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Press

After the Brix hit  0 when we tested on Friday afternoon, the cap had sunk down by Friday night, so we knew we were ready.  I would have to say of all the investments in winemaking equipment, the basket press is certainly worth the money.  You can get a decent one for $200-$250, and it is a lifetime investment if you take care of it.  Many of them get passed on from generation to generation.

Here is a pic of the pomace cake when we finished the first batch:

Interesting show coming in Spring 2011 to PBS

Here is a link to some of the preview videos on Youtube.  This is a reality show on winemakers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brix now .5

We're almost there.  Once the Brix reaches 0, we normally want to press.  Another sign that it is time to press is that the skins and pulp will sink to the bottom and you will have more liquid at the top.  So tomorrow morning we will get the press out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Milestone: Brix is at 15

We measured the brix today and it is around 15.  So it's time to add some yeast nutrient to ensure no H2S issues and to make sure the fermentation finishes well.  So usually a couple of teaspoons for 5 gal must should do.  Just mix it with warm water and then add to your must.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Punching down

This is the fun part...the yeast has started to work, and as it consumes the sugar and nutrients, CO2 is produced.  This pushes the skins and solids to the top.  You will need to punch this down to keep oxygen in the must throughout the process until our brix reaches 0.

Quick video:

Yeast nutrient....very important post!

Personally this part of the winemaking process can be a little confusing.  But it is a very important one, because if you don't feed your yeast, you could end up with H2S issues (rotten egg smell), and if bad enough could cause you to lose that year's wine.  You've never seen a grown man cry as you will when he pours out 5 gals of wine because it's past the point of saving.  So use yeast nutrient.  I use GoFerm to rehydrate the yeast, and then Fermaid K along the way.  Since everyone has an opinion on this subject, I'll give you the instructions straight from the mfg's website (compliments Lallemand):

For optimal results, 2.5 grams of the Fermaid K should be suspended in the 20 liters of must just after adding your yeast culture to the must, then add the balance of 2.5 grams of Fermaid K anytime between 1/3 and 1/2 way through the fermentation.

There you have it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pitching the yeast

It has been 24 hours since we sulfited the must.  It is time to add the yeast.  Bring a small bowl of tap water to 104 degrees.  Then add the GoFerm (or similiar yeast rehydrate nutrient) into the bowl, along with the yeast.  Stir lightly in the bowl and it should bubble and rise just a bit.  After 20 minutes add the yeast mixture to your must and stir in. 


It is now time to add Fermaid K.  This is an additional nutrient that feeds the yeast.  This is done now at innoculation, and then when your brix reaches 1/3 or 1/2 depletion.

Test for YAN?

You will notice that some yeast ingredients base their dosages on YAN. YAN is yeast assimilable nitrogen, or basically how much nitrogen is naturally available for yeast to feed on.

The lower the YAN, the more nutrient and DAP you will need to add. The only problem with YAN is that it is not really something a home winemaker can test for. It's normally done only in a lab.

If you're really serious, you can test your YAN (yeast assimilable nitrogen), before you pitch your yeast(as soon as you receive your grapes). Most of the labs in California that test for it will provide you results by email the same day they receive the sample. So, if you get your grapes, get a juice sample, and do a normal 24 hour sulfite to kill wild yeast, you can get the results back in time to make a more informed decision about nutrient and DAP additions.

I have personally never done this, but if you're really serious about this you can do it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Testing PH and Brix

PH will show the acid content in your wine/must and Brix is the percentage of sugar in the solution.  Both are important to test.  You can test the PH using titrets and paper samples, or by using a PH meter.  You want your PH to be somewhere between 3.1 and 3.7.  Anything outside that range and you will need to do adjustments.  If your PH is over 3.7, add tartaric acid to bring it back into line.  A wine that has a high acid content has a low PH, and vice versa.  So adding acid actually lowers your PH. 

Brix is tested using a hydrometer.  Fill the cylinder at least 1/2 full or a little more with clean must (no skins or pulp), and read the brix or "balling scale".  That is your Brix.  Wine is basically converting sugar to alcohol.  When your brix gets to 0, your wine is what is considered "dry".  Sweet wines like rose's and dessert wines stop in the single digits and don't go all the way to 0.

Here is a quick video for illustration:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adding SO2 and Pectic Enzyme

Immediately following the crushing and destemming, you will want to add some Sulfur Dioxide.  The easiest form of this is Campden Tablets.  They are actually K-metabisulfite but after dissolved in water they function as your SO2.  And you add 1 tablet per gallon of must, so easy measuring.

As described in the video, add your SO2 mixture to the must, then pectic enzyme powder (1/2 tsp per gallon).  Make sure you add everything to your must or wine in liquid form.  Usually mixing a little warm water (not too much) with your powder will suffice. 

Here is the video:

It may sound a little counter-intuitive to be adding SO2 to your must, before your yeast, but it serves to kill any wild yeasts that may be on the grapes.  And wine yeast is strong enough to usually override any SO2.  But give it at least 24 hours after you added your SO2 before you pitch your yeast.

The Crush

The first step in our winemaking is to crush and destem the grapes.  Wherever you source your grapes from, try to set up or rent a destemmer if they do not have one.  The shop we bought our grapes from provided one (St. Louis Wine and Beermaking).  If you have ever destemmed grapes by hand you'll certainly rent one the next time.  Just something to remember!

Here is a quick video of us crushing and destemming our first box.

The Grapes Have Arrived!

Anyone who has ever made their own wine knows that it's not just about drinking a great wine you have made when it's finally done, it's the experience along the way.  And making your own wine from fresh grapes is exhausting work.  If you happen to be lucky enough to live near sources of great wine grapes the work may be a little easier on the front end, sourcing your grapes, but the rest is still a lot of work!

We live in the middle of the country where decent wine grapes are grown, but this year we really wanted something special.  Our source was Elkhorn Fruit in Lodi, CA.  Lodi is known for it's Old Vine Zinfandel, but they also grow a lot of Cab there.  It is somewhat reasonably priced, and so that is what we went with this year.

We picked up the fruit today.  It looked great!  No raisining, almost no damaged grapes, and they look to be perfectly ripened.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coming Soon!

We have received word from our source in St. Louis that grapes may be on their way sometime this week.  The grapes are coming from Lodi, CA.  That area has experienced an unusually cool summer, and in many cases has delayed the harvest this year between 10-15 days. 
It's hard to imagine, since here in the Eastern part of the country it has been brutally hot.  We had 8 days straight that was 100 degrees or close to it, and it really wasn't much cooler the rest of the time.  Many vineyards in the East and South harvested a couple of weeks early this year.
Stay tuned for updates as our grapes make their way East!

About This Blog

Come follow our home winemaking journey starting with fresh grapes from California in fall 2010.
Powered by Blogger.
Heinsohn's Country Store
Heinsohn's Country Store
- Find all the products to make country living a lot easier and a WHOLE LOT more fun!
Food and Wine Blogs
OnToplist is optimized by SEO
Add blog to our blog directory.

  © Blogger template Foam by 2009

Back to TOP