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Blueberry Wine HELP - Stuck Ferm or NOT?

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jhoff74

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I started a 3 gallon batch of blueberry wine, using frozen blueberries on Sep 5, 2017...my primary fermenter was for 7 days in a bucket covered with a towel and than I racked to secondary with an airock. I'm still seeing activity and CO2 bubbles being released fairly steady with a slight amount of foam on top. However, after testing the SG the last two days, I've been at 1.040 for both days. I started this batch exactly at 1.090.

Since I'm still seeing activity of fermentation, do I need to worry about a stuck fermentation? My goal is to drop it to 1.000-.99x and I thought by close to the second week, that it would be there by now or close to it.

I treat my batches of wine like children and worry about them constantly LOL...any help to care for my precious babies would be awesome! :) . Thanks.
 

Cher

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I've never made blueberry, but will just throw some ideas out for your consideration.
1) Since you are still seeing bubbles, it isn't actually stuck yet, but does seem to be unusually slow. I'd be worrying that it isn't going to make it to 1.00 at this rate.
2) What is the temperature? When my fermentations are slow, I consider warming the container or the room to help them along.
3) You don't mention what yeast was used, but it might need some extra nutrients, especially in a non-grape must. On a related note, does it smell ok? Any hint of hydrogen sulphide smell?
4) with the SG still at 1.04 after 10 days, it might be better to have it still in a loosely covered bucket where the yeast can get a little more air. I would probably at least stir the carboy vigorously a couple of times a day to try to get it moving better.
Free advice, to be taken with a grain of salt.
Cher
 

Smok1

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If its still bubbling id wait another day and see if the sg drops a bit, otherwise if your concerned fermentation is stalling you could pull some out and make a good starter on the side just incase, one package of ec1118, 6.25 grams of goferm, and 43f water, and once it gets going start adding your blueberry must to it, add a bit every few hours, by tomorrow you will have a happy healthy yeast culture that will go in and finish the job if your current yeast fails.
 

jhoff74

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Cher and Smok1, thanks for the info. I thought about moving it back to the primary fermenter, which would give it more air...but I had a massive fruit fly infestation and was worried they would get into primary...so i fought them off until it dropped to 1.050 and thought it could finish up in the secondary. Now that I'm down to only a few of those nasty buggers left, I could probably move it back to primary again. Attached is a pic of what it looks like currently. I know this takes time, but i was worried that the 1.040 for two days was a bad sign.

20170916_131502.jpg
 

Cxwgfamily

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I like to recommendation of yeast nutrient and more yeast. My last Blueberry batch was in the primary for 21 days. I had slow and steady progress to 1.0 but I think I did have to add another shot of yeast toward the end to help finish off the fermentation. I understand blueberries can be difficult to develop a robust fermentation (I think, but i bet some others can chime in on this statement). Best of luck
 

Smok1

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Blueberry is my wifes favorite of the fruit wines, last batch went from 1.080 to 0.990 in 10 days. It has a great flavor, probly my favorite of the fruit wines as well, backsweetened with a homemade blueberry syrup to 1.000. We make peach, apricot, rhubarb, strawberry, black cherry and green apple and crab apple wine as well.
 

Rodnboro

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I would add some nutrient first and stir 2 or 3 times a day. A nutrient boost at that stage sometimes does wonders.
 

Scooter68

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I'd recheck all the steps you took and the quantities added. AND don't forget the pH level. And overly acidic must can do a number on the yeast and blueberry is known for being a very acidic must. That said I'd focus more on temps and nutrient levels. I've had very successful ferments with pH levels in the 2.8x - 2.99 range.

Oh and as to the fruit flies. Remember to tie a cord/string around the top of your fermentation container to keep the cloth sealed down. I use some heavy yarn and it seems to be just stretchy enough that I can leave a permanently tied loop and just pull it down over the cloth cover. in the grooves of the bucket. Those fruit flies are pesky and persistent critters.
 
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jhoff74

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Thank you everyone for your inputs. I took a few ideas from each of you...and I'm happy to say, my SG level has dropped to just below 1.020 after just a few days from being stuck at 1.040. I'm seeing decent activity and have observed no "off smells" or anything so it seems to be working. What I did was added some extra nutrients and re-pitched some yeast and moved the must back to the primary fermenter (bucket), loosely covered with a thin towel. It looked bleak but after 24 hours, I started seeing activity again and my SG has gone down considerably, as mentioned. I'm hoping to be at my 1.000-.990 mark in just a few more days. I was worried as I put a lot of stock into this blueberry wine and now it seems to be going ok. Fingers will remain crossed though! lol

As far as my fruit fly battle...I killed the last one last night. Strategically placed must and dish soap containers were the key and lots of clapping! Thanks again for everyone's inputs.
 
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pip

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Blueberry has got to be the trickiest fruit wine of all. Not only the acidity but a chemical that retards fermentation that seems variable in relation to the region and perhaps ripeness of the fruit.

If you search this forum alone you'll find multiple threads asking questions about blueberry wine issues. But, interestingly, many say they have no problems which makes me conclude that blueberry depends on factors that are not sufficently charted. It's a battle often. Good luck.

Not a fruit to attempt for wine making lightly, imo.
 

Stressbaby

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I agree with @pip and almost posted same thing a few days ago. Seems like most of the time, if the issue is stuck fermentation, the wine is blueberry.
 

Scooter68

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And guess which was my first wine variety - yep Blueberry. Only issue was that it scared the daylights out of me fermenting to .990 in less than 4 days. I was certain I did something wrong. It was good at 5 months but great at 12. Sadly it was only a 1 gallon batch.

I raise my own blueberries in NW Arkansas. (So far 32 plants with about 10 mature and in full production.) And our freezer loaded with wild blackberries and our blueberries.

As mentioned perhaps there is something to the source of the berries. I've always had borderline issues with acidity but it hasn't stalled or stopped any ferments so far - 5 batches in 2 years.
 

pip

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That's so interesting. I'd be curious to know why some blueberries are so problematic and others aren't. Are there different types? Climate variation perhaps?
 

Stressbaby

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Of all the stuck batches which generate threads here, blueberry is overrepresented. That is completely different percentage than the percentage of blueberry batches that get stuck.

It may be that Scooter has berries lower in acid, or it may be his mad skilz as a winemaker. :)
 

Scooter68

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Of all the stuck batches which generate threads here, blueberry is overrepresented. That is completely different percentage than the percentage of blueberry batches that get stuck.

It may be that Scooter has berries lower in acid, or it may be his mad skilz as a winemaker. :)
Actually my blueberries are pretty acidic. Typically my batches are starting with a pH in the 2.9 to 3.2 with no adjusting done ahead of time. I have a variety of blueberry types and honestly can't tell you which ones are in my wine. Getting them started has not been an issue, what to do when the fermentation is over and the readings are still coming in at 2.9 something, that's 'fun' part. More often than not the batches are finishing up within a week and hitting .990.

I use K1-V1116 now for most of my wines.

(Really hope this doesn't come across as smug - I've had several batches very slow to start but they weren't blueberry and it was in winter with the room temp around 63-66 degrees. I also have had a black currant batch just quit on me at an SG of 1.005. Fortunately I was going for a dessert wine and the ABV was already at 15.75 when it stopped. Yeast was Lalvin EC-1118 for that batch.)

Skilz ? No, just beginners luck. Only 2 years into this but having fun. Currently 20 1/2 gallons aging in 9 different batches)
 
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