2022 Durham NC Crush

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Our grapes arrived Thursday and 6 of us unloaded 180 lugs -- 6.480 lbs of grapes in 36 lb lugs. We had to hand them out of the truck into a pickup or trailer, transport 1/4 mile to our coordinator's garage, and then sort-n-stack 'em! Our order was mostly correct -- we had all grapes in the correct varietals, but several AVA were substituted.

grapes.jpg

Today we crushed 170 of those 180 lugs. We started at 8:00 AM and completed cleanup at 4:30 PM.

My tookus is whooped! It's a long day to be on my feet, but we got 'er done. The group is a good one and we had a lot of fun during the day.

My small truck was filled to capacity, 684 lbs: 288 lbs Grenache, 288 lbs Tempranillo, and 36 lbs each Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Mourvedre. Plus empty lugs I picked up for a friend.

truck.jpg


Folks don't always realize the waste from grapes:


waste.jpg

Two of our folks spent nearly 2 hours cutting the seams of the lugs so we could flatten them. Wow!
 
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ALWAYS take more containers than you think you need. One of our members was loading his vehicle when the bottom of a 6 to 8 US gallon bucket split along the edge. He quickly flipped it over and was leaking juice through the airlock hole in the lid. I ran to my truck to get the extra 6 gallon bucket I had with me.

While I was getting the bucket, someone grabbed a Brute and they put his bucket in the brute, and when I got back (probably 1 minute) we saved his grapes into mine.

Everyone involved moved quickly and he lost probably only a pint or 2 of juice.

There is no such thing as too many containers!
 
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montanarick

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ALWAYS take more containers than you think you need. One of our members was loading his vehicle when the bottom of a 6 to 8 US gallon bucket split along the edge. He quickly flipped it over and was leaking juice through the airlock hole in the lid. I ran to my truck to get the extra 6 gallon bucket I had with me.

While I was getting the bucket, someone grabbed a Brute and they put his bucket in the brute, and when I got back (probably 1 minute) we saved his grapes into mine.

Everyone involved moved quickly and he lost probably only a pint or 2 of juice.

There is no such thing as too many containers!
Will be at Fearrington Village come the end of the month until next spring. Anyone in your neck of the woods have any left over juice they can spare?
 
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Will be at Fearrington Village come the end of the month until next spring. Anyone in your neck of the woods have any left over juice they can spare?
I doubt it -- our crew buys to fill capacity. Contact Gino Pinto (have to search for the info). They're based in NJ, but distribute at a site in Ashland VA, on the north side of Richmond. It will be a 4 hour drive up, but they probably have grapes and juice in stock.

I don't know of any sources for NC-based Vinifera or hybrids. Wine-quality Muscadines and Scuppernongs are available, but I assume we're too far past their growing season to get anything.

Check out labelpeelers.com -- the Finer Wine Kits are the closest thing to fresh grapes and juice I've seen. I was unable to get grapes last fall and purchased FWK Forte kits. I'm very pleased with the outcome.
 
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I was looking through my Wines ... In Detail posts, as all need updating. I wasn't planning on another one, but I realized all the ones I've written revolve around facets of kit winemaking. So ... I'm planning a new one regarding grape wine making.

While I'll post individual winemaking notes regarding the varietals, I'm going to create a single post that covers 5 varietals fermented in 7 batches. The end result will be 2 main blends (Grenache-based and Tempranillo-based), and whatever is left of the wine made for blending (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre).
 

montanarick

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I doubt it -- our crew buys to fill capacity. Contact Gino Pinto (have to search for the info). They're based in NJ, but distribute at a site in Ashland VA, on the north side of Richmond. It will be a 4 hour drive up, but they probably have grapes and juice in stock.

I don't know of any sources for NC-based Vinifera or hybrids. Wine-quality Muscadines and Scuppernongs are available, but I assume we're too far past their growing season to get anything.

Check out labelpeelers.com -- the Finer Wine Kits are the closest thing to fresh grapes and juice I've seen. I was unable to get grapes last fall and purchased FWK Forte kits. I'm very pleased with the outcome.
Great and thanks for your reply. Maybe get together sometime this winter?
 
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Great and thanks for your reply. Maybe get together sometime this winter?
There are a number of members in the Raleigh/Durham area, as well as folks in the Durham grape purchasing group (although one person drives from Wilmington). I was considering organizing a winery meeting, as there are several wineries in the area. If you need bottles, the Starrlight Meadery in Pittsboro cheerfully gives away empties from the tasting room.
 

montanarick

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There are a number of members in the Raleigh/Durham area, as well as folks in the Durham grape purchasing group (although one person drives from Wilmington). I was considering organizing a winery meeting, as there are several wineries in the area. If you need bottles, the Starrlight Meadery in Pittsboro cheerfully gives away empties from the tasting room.
Again, thanks. If you could keep me posted on future activities in the area that would be much appreciated.
 
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This year it's not difficult to distinguish between my main batches, Tempranillo and Grenache. These photos are from the initial SG check prior to inoculation on Sunday morning. [Grenache is much lighter, the one on the right.]

tempranillo + grenache.png

The grapes in the fermenters are equally distinctive -- this photo is from this morning, 20 minutes after punch down.

tempranillo + grenache grapes.png

The remaining 3 are 1-lug batches, which will be blended post fermentation. A year from now this blend will be selective blended into the main batches, producing a southern-Rhone (GSM) blend and a Tempranillo blend (no idea what to call it). We will do blind tests with 0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% of the blending mixture to determine the ratios. I expect we'll blend into the Grenache, but it's possible we won't blend into the Tempranillo.

The Petite Sirah stands out with a really strong color. The Syrah is just a touch lighter, and the Mourvedre more so. The Mourvedre had a lot of lighter grapes, but darkened up quickly after inoculation.

3-grapes.png


I added Scottzyme ColorPro to all batches, which I've discovered really extracts color.
 

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I live just across the border in SC - about a 4 hour drive from RD area. I haven’t found a source of fresh grapes closer than your group, so I may want to join your purchase next year to get some fresh grapes.
 
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I had a scare this morning -- I get up a bit before 6 AM and punch down the musts before starting work. I'm currently punching down 3-4 times per day, last time around 9 PM.

I go down the line, and the last batch is a 4 lug Tempranillo inoculated with RC-212 (a 4 lug batch of Grenache also has RC-212, all others have Avante). I sniff ... Oh, Dang!!! Sniff again, and I get just the slightest hint of H2S. Anyone who has smelled it will remember it -- it's not something ya forget.

I stirred the must as best I can, but can't smell it any more, which is actually good, as I believe it means I caught it early. I check the Grenache w/RC-212, but no odor.

I had gone max on Fermax, adding 75% up front, then 25% after 2 days. I decided to take no chances and added another 25%, stirring it in really well, and added 1/2 tsp K-meta (batch will be nearly 10 gallons). The K-meta may slow down the ferment, but I'd rather have that, than have to deal with H2S.

This batch will get punched down/stirred every couple of hours today, and I'm keeping an eye (and nose!) on the Grenache.

I haven't been recording temperatures, but last I checked the Tempranillo was about 6 F higher than the Grenache, and the hotter ferment may be part of this situation.

RC-212 produces great results, but in the future I will increase the nutrient to 125% of the recommended dosage.
 
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I used to use RC-212 for ferments of Chambourcin and Norton every year. One year I had some issue or other with my normal supplier of Chambourcin and had to get some from an alternate source. This was probably my fourth or fifth year of making wine from grapes. I didn't add much in the way of nutrient, that Chambourcin was just never right, battled H2S a bunch, used reduless, had to get more aggressive and went with Copper Sulfate, it was a mess. I switched over to other less nutrient hog yeasts and never looked back.
 
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I didn't add much in the way of nutrient, that Chambourcin was just never right, battled H2S a bunch, used reduless, had to get more aggressive and went with Copper Sulfate, it was a mess. I switched over to other less nutrient hog yeasts and never looked back.
Thanks for the feedback.

A few hours back I was thinking positively, but in the back of my mind I question using RC-212 again. After reading your story, I'm questioning it even more. It's likely I have a year to ruminate on the subject, but now I'm leaning away from using it. If I have ongoing H2S problems with either current batch? That will turn me completely off. I recall all too vividly the problems I had with the 2020 wine, and do not want to go through that again. It turned out well, but took 6 months of effort to fully correct.

This morning I added more nutrient to the Grenache, 12.5% of the total, as a preventative.
 

CDrew

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A few hours back I was thinking positively, but in the back of my mind I question using RC-212 again. After reading your story, I'm questioning it even more. It's likely I have a year to ruminate on the subject, but now I'm leaning away from using it. If I have ongoing H2S problems with either current batch? That will turn me completely off. I recall all too vividly the problems I had with the 2020 wine, and do not want to go through that again. It turned out well, but took 6 months of effort to fully correct.



I don't see why it would be a question at all. All over this forum, people report H2S problems with RC-212. It's second only to Montrachet. And a friend of mine not on this forum, 2 years ago, lost a whole Cabernet vintage to H2S using RC-212. (I tried and failed to get him to use Avante!) And while I'm sure many have success with RC-212, the statistical risk is NOT WORTH IT. From whats reported here, almost anything else would be a better choice. And I hope at some point, someone takes on the task of changing the yeast recommendations in the "sticky" in the yeast forum which is outdated and likely leads forum members astray.

In particular, and not to beat a dead horse, but the Renaissance yeasts completely solve this problem for the home wine maker. It sounds like you have excellent success with the Avante for example! Plus, Renaissance has enough different H2S preventing yeasts to leave room for lots of experimentation. For instance, I can highly recommend Bravo as well which seems a really good match for Syrah/Primitivo/Zinfandel and likely others.

Good luck solving the H2S thing. It's a cautionary tale, that even a highly experienced winemaker like you can run into H2S problems more than once, imagine how it would be for someone making their first wine. It might sour (ha) you on the whole wine making enterprise.

Edit: It looks like all those old recommendations are gone, so there's room for a new sticky!
 
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I did another punchdown, and before I did I took a deep sniff of the problem fermenter. AACCKKKK!

Nope, thankfully not H2S -- CO2. Pure CO2 burns the sinuses and lungs. I thought I was wise enough to not do that, but obviously not. 🤣

@CDrew, I can't argue with your point. I've made 8 FWK red kits in the last 13 months, all with RC-212, and had no problems. I thought I added plenty of nutrient to the Tempranillo, but apparently the max dose isn't enough for RC-212. Yeah, I've got a lot of years of winemaking, but that doesn't mean I can't be complacent, misunderstand something, or just make a mistake. I chalk this situation up to me not fully understanding just how much nutrients RC-212 requires.

FWK kits are not a problem, as the vendor is adding sufficient nutrient to handle RC-212's requirements. If there was a problem here, given the popularity of FWK on this forum, we'd have heard about it.

Other vendors? I'd add more nutrient if swapping out the typical EC-1118 for a needy yeast. EC-1118 has low needs, and it's safest to assume the vendors formulate their kits for that.

One packet of RC-212 remains in my fridge. I'm probably going to bin it. Next fall I will probably use multiple yeasts again, and may use other Renaissance in addition to Avante, and I will investigate other low to medium nutrient requirement yeast. No more really needy yeasts for me.
 

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