Wine Making & Grape Growing Forum > Wine Making > Beginners Wine Making Forum > Can you spend too long at primary fermentation ?

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-21-2010, 06:45 AM   #1
Junior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Hartland, WI
Posts: 18
Default Can you spend too long at primary fermentation ?

I'm starting my third wine kit now. In the first two kits I did, the primary fermentation has been very agressive - the wine has been almost done fermenting before going into the secondary. I have the primary in a relatively warm area of the basement, wrapped in a blanket, so the temp stays at about 72 degrees - so the fermentation goes quickly. The first batch I did was in the primary for 10 days, the second for 8, and the result was the same with both.

I'm just curious - is it really a BAD thing to do too much fermentation in the primary ? Should I be checking the SG daily and moving it to the secondary as soon as it gets to the recommended point for the kit, or is it ok to let it sit 7 to 10 days and then move it, even if the SG has moved closer to the 'finished' SG for the wine...

Hope that makes sense. I'm just wondering if I am being TOO patient with the primary fermentation - if I need to catch it earlier...

Thanks !

jontallon is offline  
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-21-2010, 06:54 AM   #2
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
wyntheef's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 368
Liked 8 Times on 8 Posts


The basic premise of primary-to secondary is that as the fermentation slows, there is less of a co2 blanket to protect the must from oxidation. The kits I have done use an sg of 1.000 as a target point for transfer.
I think it's important to try and stay in that area, but practically speaking, unless you are able to be checking it every hour, you may find that it could be past the target point somewhat.
No worries, just do what they tell you and get it moved when sg is at or below 1.000.


Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water. ~W.C. Fields

wyntheef is offline  
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-21-2010, 06:59 AM   #3
Original Senior Moderator
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Tom's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Delanco, New Jersey
Posts: 11,328
Liked 56 Times on 43 Posts


It depends on what you mean "long time in primary".
A week or 2 shouldnt hurt. Now if left in primary for months then thats another story.
I know people that leave it till it goes dry (.990) before racking to secondary.

Tom is offline  
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-21-2010, 08:07 AM   #4
Custom Label Designer
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Noontime's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Delray Beach, Florida
Posts: 424
Liked 90 Times on 53 Posts
Likes Given: 94


The two things you really need to be concerned with have already been mentioned. Moving from primary to secondary container is to get the wine off the gross lees so no off flavors occur (this takes quite some time for the dead yeast cells to actually decay), and get your wine out of the primary which provides a very large surface area to contact air. Depending on how your primary is sealed, you could go a few weeks in there before transfering. Of course different kits have different directions, so you may be told to transfer the gross lees over as well, but my point is there's really nothing to worry have plenty of wiggle room.

David Noone
Noontime Custom labels
Noontime is offline  
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-21-2010, 03:08 PM   #5
Senior Member
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 5,551
Liked 186 Times on 172 Posts
Likes Given: 8


This is a little late on the response, but...

The first stage of fermentation requires oxygen. The second stage requires that exposure to oxygen be as close to fully eliminated as is possible.

Typically per instructions, when the fermentation is taking place in the primary, it is meant to be exposed to air (for oxygen). At about the time the fermentation is to be moved to secondary, it is time to eliminate exposure to air.

If you have a fully sealable fermentor, which also can take an air lock, you can do both stages in the same fermentor container. You seal the fermentor and add the air lock when the SG gets to the SG mentioned in the instructions, where the wine would normally be transferred to secondary.

However, what was said above about over access to gross lees and to skins is still an issue, if fully fermented in the primary fermentor. Some wines can stay on the lees and on skins longer than others. Just do your research for the particular wine you are fermenting at the time.



robie is offline  
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Quick Reply
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Wine Making Forum Replies Last Post
How long? Primary Fermentation. MrWrong Country Fruit Winemaking 14 01-17-2014 03:54 PM
How long to keep my primary peterCooper Equipment & Sanitation 7 10-31-2013 06:39 AM
To long in primary? whine4wine Beginners Wine Making Forum 3 11-16-2009 11:23 AM
is 14 days to long in the primary? halifaxwino Beginners Wine Making Forum 9 02-20-2009 09:54 AM
Primary fermentation too long hphaneuf Beginners Wine Making Forum 1 02-01-2009 12:30 PM