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Wine Making & Grape Growing Forum > Wine Making > Country Fruit Winemaking > Is it necessary to top up the carboy after the first racking?

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Old 08-20-2012, 08:27 PM   #1
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I would like to ask you experienced wine makers a question. I am wondering why it is necessary to top up the carboy at the first racking out of the fermenter? I know that the reason for topping up is to make sure oxygen does not get to the wine. However, when I come out of the fermenter into the carboy I normally still have some slow fermenting going on in the carboy for a few days or a week or so before it slows down. To me, It looks like as long as that fermentation is going on I should not have to worry about oxygen touching the wine. The reason that I am asking this question is that almost everytime I make a 5 gal batch I am coming up short some wine in having enough to completely fill the carboy and I wind up adding some water which I do not want to do. It would be a lot easier for me if I did not top up on the first racking and then top up with wine on the second racking a few weeks later? What do you think? Would I be sacrificing quality?

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Old 08-20-2012, 08:31 PM   #2
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I never top up for the secondary fermentation phase. My reasons are exactly the same ones you list. After degassing and in the clearing phase and after, I always top up with a similar wine, never water.
Tom Knowles-Bagwell
Nashville, TN

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Old 08-21-2012, 05:53 AM   #3
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If you have essentially not siphoned to the carboy until it's dry, the activity is minimal. If the wine is not quite dry then you can have activity for a few days and during that time, the CO2 protects it. But after that, the carboy should be topped up because you are going to let it sit for a few weeks--sometimes a month or more--before racking off the gross lees.

This is why you need more glassware of different sizes. If we have a batch of wine that won't fill a 5 gal carboy, we will use 1 gal jugs instead. We also have many pounds of glass spheres around to top up with.

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Old 08-21-2012, 06:29 AM   #4
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I agree with what's been said, above, but I'll add a little detail. After racking, the carboy top will be air, which could be a problem. Put on the airlock and if you see sufficient activity to feel the air is being replaced with CO2, you're fine. If fermenting has ended already (which does happen), it would be best to top.

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Old 08-21-2012, 06:42 AM   #5
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A couple of things. First, I never leave wine on *gross* lees more than a few days, 1 week absolute tops.

Second, I make my batches large enough to have extra in a secondary container. This way headspace isn't a problem.

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Old 08-21-2012, 08:28 AM   #6
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If fermentation is still going on - there is not need to top it off. When fermentation is complete - rack off the gross lees and into a carboy - stabilize it - then top it off.

I like to transfer to a carboy when my SG is between 1.000 - 1.005.

That way there is not much of a vigorous fermentation going on and can fill the carboy up past the shoulder.

Then i rack about a week after that when it is complete and top off...

Jon - My Wine List

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

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