Blueberry wine - Lees in Secondary Fermentation Carboy and other issues

Discussion in 'Country Fruit Winemaking' started by Reebevoli, Apr 29, 2018.

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  1. Reebevoli

    Reebevoli Junior

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    Hello! I have been brewing a blueberry wine and have recently gone from the primary fermentation bucket to a secondary fermentation carboy (after ten days in the primary fermenter). The fermentation is going along very well, although I am a bit concerned that I waited a bit too long to rack because my hydrometer reading was 0.996 when I transferred it to the carboy (even though the airlock is still bubbling about once every 20 seconds or so and I can still see bubbles racing up towards the top). This is less of a concern to me, however, than the buildup of lees that I have seen almost immediately since I've racked into the carboy (I racked the wine 2 nights ago). I have heard that the contact of the wine with the lees for an extended period of time can have a negative impact on the flavor of the wine. I have included pictures of the buildup and of the bubbling, which seems to me to be an indicator that fermentation is still actively occurring (maybe my hydrometer reading was inaccurate?).

    Also, when I was setting up my must I admit that I was overzealous in my addition of potassium metabisulfite, adding 8 campden tablets rather than recommended 6 for 6 gallons of must (obviously I waited for 24 hours before I pitched my EC-1118 yeast). At the time, I did not realize that it was possible to over-sulfite wine. When I racked my wine to the carboy I added probably 0.3 gallons of spring water (previously unopened) to top off the carboy. I will probably wait about 6 weeks before I rack again (unless I need to get the wine off the lees, in which case I will do it sooner, but also don't want to oxygenate my wine). When I rack in about 6 weeks, do I add more campden tablets; if so how many?

    And yes, I realize that I'm probably being paranoid. I've just put a lot of hard work into this wine to mess it up at this point. [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Carboy
    [​IMG]
    Bubbles!
    [​IMG]
    Lees!
     
  2. Slappy

    Slappy Member

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    Looks fine to me I had my last batch of mulberry and blackberry end up with around the same amount of lees and I left them for 6 weeks or so after the fermentation finished. If I were you I'd leave it be at least until a couple of weeks after bubbling stops in the airlock.
     
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  3. salcoco

    salcoco Veteran Wine Maker Supporting Member

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    I would rack off the gross lees after a minimum of three days. You are correct in that the gross lees can impart bad flavors to the wine. part of these lees are struggling yeast looking for food. there stress will develop hydrogen sulfide the rotten egg smell. after three weeks rack again off of the fine lees add K-Meta at that time then wait until wine clears and possible bottle after three months as you desire
     
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  4. Stressbaby

    Stressbaby Just a Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with above - this is typical.
    I generally move to carboy under 1.010 then rack off the gross lees at 7 days and again after another 3-4 weeks.
    Also, I second Sal - most of your preferment sulfite has blown off so redose the sulfite in the first few weeks after move to secondary.
     
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  5. Reebevoli

    Reebevoli Junior

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    So to make sure that I understand everything you and Sal are telling me, I should go ahead and wait a few days (since I only racked it into the carboy 3 days ago) before re-racking, say maybe 4 more days to equal a week. At this point I will rack off of the gross lees, top off the wine, and allow to sit (with airlock?) for 3-4 more weeks. Next, I should rack again off of the fine lees, add 6 crushed campden tablets (for 6 gallons of wine) and allow to bulk age (with a stopper?) for 3 months after topping off to the neck of the carboy (I have read that bulk aging can help improve the wine, and thought it might be a good idea to try it out). After the 3 months of bulk aging (immediately prior to bottling) will I need to add more campden tablets? Would it be the standard 1/gallon of wine?

    What do you recommend topping off with? I don't want to lose too much alcohol content or flavor. Do you use water and vodka, just water, store bought blueberry wine, etc.?

    Thanks for your help! Sorry for all the questions and being a newb!!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2018
  6. Slappy

    Slappy Member

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    Nothing wrong with the other guys advice you can't go wrong following that. I think people have a tendency to overthink things and worry too much though. What you have there isn't truly gross lees if you racked off at 0.996 your primary fermentation was done and the crap you racked off of was the gross lees. Short term what you have should not damage your wine.
    I haven't had an off smell or taste in 7 batches of berry wine this past year but there are guys here who have made a hell of a lot more wine than I have. My method is after racking to secondary leave it til the bubbling stops, rack and sulfite anytime 4-6 weeks after whenever I get the time (1 campden tablet per gallon), leave for 3 months and rack and sulfite again or bottle if it's clear.
    I sulfite again at bottling time.
    Keep it simple and keep it clean and you'll make good wine if your recipe and fruit is good.
    After the second racking I have only ever gotten minimal sediment and am careful when I'm bottling to not siphon off the bottom 2 inches, to keep it clear. If theres a little sediment in the last bit at bottling that gets bottled separately and I drink that first.
    For topping off I've used water when it's only been a little needed or I've used some light bodied red wine whatever is lying around. For your next batch you can top off with your own wine :).
    You're definitely on the right track. I hope this has helped.
     
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  7. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Above all, watching bubbles, regardless of size tells us nothing about the state of fermentation. The ONLY way to determine if fermentation is ongoing or finished is an SG measurement.
    Bubbles large or small are not a foolproof indication of much of anything definite other than some gas is being released.

    Once the SG stabilizes(rule-of-thumb is 3 days without change) fermentation has stopped. Even if the SG is above 1.000.

    If the SG IS above 1.000 then either the process has stalled/stuck, or you have exceeded the alcohol tolerance of the yeast. Although there are other conditions that could stop fermentation, those are the most common unless the temperature dropped drastically.

    Finally other than with grape wine, you should get your wine off any Lee's as soon as fermentation has finished. Especially fine Lee's primarily made up of dead yeast cells.
     
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  8. Reebevoli

    Reebevoli Junior

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    Thanks everyone for your input! You have all been very helpful.
     
  9. salcoco

    salcoco Veteran Wine Maker Supporting Member

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    back to your questions. use a bubble all of the way until bottling. the wine will be off gassing CO2 during this time and the bubbler will give it a chance to escape. I have made wine for over 30 years without topping off. one precaution, spray any thing that touches the wine with a K-meta solution of 3 grams K-meta and 11 grams citric acid in one gallon water. also rack just before bottling to make sure there are no lees present. add k-meta at that time. I would suggest buying potassium metabisufite in powder form easier to use. it only takes 1/4 tsp per 5 gallons in powder form.
     
  10. meadmaker1

    meadmaker1 Member

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    Dont over rack. For the next month lees will fall out fairly heavily.
    Each rack youll loss a bit more wine .
    You can top up with similar wine, water, in fruit wine some use a dry white, or even glass marbles.
    I try to start with extra, at least a gallon, to use for topping.
    You can start with a higher sg than your target to keep alcohol level up.
     
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  11. iridium

    iridium Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    Thank you for this thread. I am working on an apple wine and I wasn't sure what my next steps should be. I have pulled the first batch off of primary and it has settled for about a week. I wasn't sure how long I should let it age before adding k-meta so this has really helped. I will soon pull the second batch of primary and let it settle out as well. Once it has aged a week I will combine because of the loss of volume due to the lees.
     

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