Blackberry Batch "Failure to Launch"

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Mar 29, 2009
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Learned a tough lesson that I'm sure most wine makers know already......too much suger is a baaddd thing! I started with an S.G. of 1.138 and was using Red Star Montrachet yeast. From what I have read, I believe the yeast choked and died on too much sugar. After 4 days of no fermentation, I diluted with water and brought the S.G. down to 1.10 and added a Red Star Pasteur Red packet of yeast (because thats what I had on hand). It has been another 4 days and no fermentation.

The question is, was I wasting my time after the first batch failed to ferment with the 1.138 s.g.

The recipe I used:

3.5 lbs of Blackberrys (were frozen)
1 can frozen Welches Grape Concentrate
2.5 lbs of suger
1/2 tsp pectin enzyme
1 tsp yeast nutrient
3 quarts water
Red Star montrachet yeast

Any insight/comments would be appreciated.

Make a yeast starter by adding yeast to warm water and after activity has begun add a little of the must to it. The activity should accelerate. Give it an hour or so and add more of the must. Keep doing this until you've got enough (maybe 20% of the batch) to add to the must. You should add a tsp of yeast energizer to the must at this time.
Thanks for the reply Sacolait. My must had sat for 7 days without any activity so I was afraid it would be bad, so I dumped it. After that much time, could I have still have used it? ..... probably should have asked that question before I dumped!!!
I did put the 2nd package of yeast in warm water, but only until it soaked into the water, and then added to must. Do you recommend doing the yeast starter the first time (or any time you add yeast)? I have made a couple of batches of wine before, but never had any trouble with starting fermentation.

Thanks again.
If your sanitation was good, yes you could still have saved it after 7 days.

the heavier the gravity, the harder it is for yeast to pull water into the cells to awaken. A yeast starter (ideally with a gravity of 1.040) helps to both wake the yeast, and to increase their population (which is more important when using liquid yeast than dehydrated).
Now I REALLY wish I had asked the question before I tossed the must!

Thanks for the info!

I stand by the flag pole with Wade on this one. I always hate to hear stories like this Tony, at least it was a small amount and not an expensive kit. I hope you don't lose your confidance and get something else working right away, it'll make you feel better.:) I haven't had to toss a batch, but I admit, in the begining days I had some serious concerns and luckily everyone one in here helped me through and I was able to pull a couple question batches back from the edge of the sink drain.

I seen a Mama Moose and her calf wipe out my neighbors 100 ft x 40 ft garden overnight, and this was like in July, he had been growing and caring for it since May. Now thats bad!!!!:( So don't sweat your lost batch too hard, you can always make another and it will be better.)


(p.s., my neighbor has already purchased an electric fence for installation before this yrs garden.:))
Well, living in Kentucky I don't have moose to worry about, but I do have quit a few dairy goats not 30' from my two grape vines. Needless to say, you can't keep a goat behind a fence, and my vines have been ravaged a few times by them.

I was thinking of trying dandelion wine next (we will have plenty in the yard before too long). Any advice or good recipes would be appeciated. Is there any other wines that can be made this time of year without having any fruits frozen or stored from last year?

One suggestion I have is that rather than using a strict recipe in order to determine how much sugar to add to your must, determine the SG you would like to see for the style of wine you intend on making and then measure what the juice is currently at and calculate how much sugar you need to add to hit that number... Then make your addition. That way, you'll avoid crazy sugar levels that might inhibit a fermentation.

Also, for high sugar musts, make sure you're using a very vigorous yeast strain that can handle the stress of high sugar levels... I'm not familiar with the the Red Star and Pasteur yeasts you used, but Lalvin EC-1118 is always a great choice when fermentation conditions are difficult... they're tough little yeasties.
Red Star premier Cuvee is also a good yeast for this high sugar environment.