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Blueberry Wine Process

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Raptor99

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Peaches and pears will continue to ripen after you buy them. So you can leave them out until they reach peach ripeness and then freeze them. Some/most berries will not ripen further once they are picked, so they need to be picked at peak ripeness to be at their best. At least at a store or a roadside stand you can examine the fruit to check its quality and ripeness. I have found that blueberries bought at the grocery store are almost as good as those from my own bushes, but most grocery store strawberries are very bland and lacking in flavor. So it depends on the type of fruit.

Pick your own is even better, but it is more work. The best option is to grow your own, but I don't have space to grow most of the fruit that I use for brewing.

I think that wine made from store bought frozen fruit can still be good, especially if you back sweeten it and add some oak and/or vanilla. If I had time it would be interesting to do batches with store bought frozen fruit vs. fresh fruit and compare the flavor.
 

Scooter68

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You are correct about the fruit ripening process but that only holds true up to a point. A peach that has a significant amount of green to the skin - Yeah, it might ripen but it's going to be a long time doing so. (Couple of weeks if it does.) I grow apples and have no choice but to pick them early due to Birds and thieving squirrels but, they seem to do well for cider, juice and applesauce.

So yes, there is no one size fits all answer and a lot depends on how the seller offers the fruit and of course when it's picked. Some frozen fruit might work fine but for the most part, you are having to go on trust that it really is ripe enough and has enough flavor. We can always add sugar but using flavor additives is not someone i chose.

By the way I just posted a link on another thread about really good deal on Vintner's Harvest canned wine base. The site has some the wine base cans at $25.00 for a can that makes a really good 3 gallon batch of wine. (You have to add sugar but that's fine with.) I'm going to post that here and there seems to be two sites but I think in reality it's one company. They even have/had? some blackberry wine base that is 'past sell date' and it was priced at $10.00 a can. I ordered 2 cans of that and 2 of their Black Currant wine base. Here's the links:


 

FunkedOut

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I sealed this fermenter up back on the 9th, with a gravity of 1.015.
Been keeping the berries cap wet my giving the fermenter a good swirl a couple times a day.
Things are starting to settle off the top onto the bottom.

I am planning on trying an 8 week EM for this batch to see if anything bad happens.
This has worked well for wine kits with skins I have made.
Any red flags for this process with blueberries instead of skin kits?
 

Scooter68

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For me, blueberries seem to break down fairly quickly and I'm not sure what benefit you will see by doing an EM. When I use fresh home grown blue berries they break down to almost nothing but the fine seeds and bits of skin. Not much more to gain from that point on. My first batch (1 gallon) with 4.5 lbs of blueberries ended up with maybe a cup full of residue once the ferment was done. (I now make batches with at least 6 lbs per gallon)
 

FunkedOut

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Strange that I’m seeing different results.
I still have a thin cap on top made up of inflated skins. They look like whole berries at this point. Maybe I failed to crush a few?

I've read advice on here to keep the pressed blueberry skins to make a wine with them and white grape juice.
I figure if they have enough goods in them for a second batch, surely they have something to give this batch via extended contact.

I’m just about the 3 week mark.
Still sloshing daily to keep the floaters wet.
Looks like clearing only happens to to about half the volume.
The bottom half of the fermenter remain thick with lees.
Maybe it will compact more with time, and me not stirring things up...
 

Scooter68

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What is the SG now? If it hasn't changed for 3 days, fermentation has stopped regardless of what the SG unless you are close to the minimum temperature for that yeast.

I've made a 1 gallon batch with the blueberry 'cake' from a 3 gallon batch. Color was good but it was really just a colored and very faintly blueberry flavored "white grape wine."

After a good ferment you will have skins and seed but there won't be much substance to the skin, no pulp really inside.

Once you get to about 1.020 I'd stop stirring every day unless the fermentation has stuck there. Let things settle. Once your ferment is over and wine is racked to a carboy it will continue to gas-off and that's probably what's keeping the skins on the top now is the CO2 Gassing out. 3 weeks is long ferment normally only happens in cold weather or when you are trying to do a slow ferment for white wines to preserve the volatile compounds in the wine.
 

FunkedOut

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SG hit 1.010 inside the first week.
~70*F the whole time.

I locked it up at 1.010 and haven't stirred it since.
I've just been sloshing it around to keep the cap wet since.

I'm sure it's done now. Just letting it sit a few weeks before racking and pressing.
 

Scooter68

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I'd get it off the lee and the skins. Never had to leave blueberries sitting on the skins and even if you want to do that -since they are floating I's at least skim them off then rack off the lees at the bottom and then return the skins. But really it doesn't take that long to get the color and flavor from blueberries. Not going to be much left in the pressed blueberries now for a second batch. You can't really work it both ways. If you take everything for the first batch there's not going to be any left for that second batch by now.
 

FunkedOut

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Makes sense. I'm not saving these skins for a second batch. Give it all to me now.
This batch is at the 3 week mark now, and I can't really call it a cap anymore.
There's about 50% coverage of the surface with berries.
Everything else has sunk to the bottom.

If an extended maceration is not in play, is the normal process to rack of the lees on the bottom and only press the floating cap?
Or does it all get pressed?

I was planning on pouring all of the contents of the fermenter into a stainless kettle lined with a paint strainer bag.
Then lift the bag up and out of the kettle and into the press.
Then rack all of the wine in the kettle and the pressings into a glass carboy with some Kmeta and some finings to see if the stuff compacts a bit better, for less loss.
 

Scooter68

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Well if you have enough floating berries to press go ahead with that. I normally put berries into a fermentation bag and that keeps them separate from the yeast a little bit. I wouldn't bother with the berries on the bottom. At this point you've probably got all the good from the berries. The only reason to press is to regain volume. So you can try to press the berries on the bottom but I'd keep that juice separate from the rest until it settles out.
 

Raptor99

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I use a fermentation bag as well. After 4-5 days the fermentation is usually almost complete. Then I squeeze out the bag and discard the fruit pulp. I don't have a press, and I mostly do 1 gallon batches, so squeezing out the fermentation bag by hand works for me. By that point I think that I have gotten at least 90% of the flavor out of the berries.

Recently I tried to use the leftover fruit pulp as part of a second batch. I got very little flavor or color from the spend fruit pulp.
 

FunkedOut

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Last night, 4 weeks after pitching yeast, I poured the entire batch into a kettle lined with a paint strainer bag.
There were maybe a few dozen berries still floating on top.

It took a while to be able to lift the bag out of the kettle. The lees had done a pretty good job of clogging up the mesh.
I had to rock the bag back and forth, squeezing with my hands as I went, until it was dry enough to tie a knot and shape it to fit my small press.
I pressed another half bottle of wine out of it and returned it to the kettle.
It all measured just under 4.5 gallons at this point.
Stirred in sulfites and some clearing agents (KC super kleer) to see if it would compact the lees.
I racked it to a 6 gallon carboy, purged the headspace a while with CO2, then plugged it with a stopper.

Today, the lees have settled down to where I may only have to leave behind a half gallon or so.
In the original fermenter, only the top half was clear wine.
I guess there was still plenty of pulp and skin bits, holding onto CO2.
In a week or two, I'll rack it to a 3 gallon carboy and a 1 gallon jug.
 

Johnd

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Last night, 4 weeks after pitching yeast, I poured the entire batch into a kettle lined with a paint strainer bag.
There were maybe a few dozen berries still floating on top.

It took a while to be able to lift the bag out of the kettle. The lees had done a pretty good job of clogging up the mesh.
I had to rock the bag back and forth, squeezing with my hands as I went, until it was dry enough to tie a knot and shape it to fit my small press.
I pressed another half bottle of wine out of it and returned it to the kettle.
It all measured just under 4.5 gallons at this point.
Stirred in sulfites and some clearing agents (KC super kleer) to see if it would compact the lees.
I racked it to a 6 gallon carboy, purged the headspace a while with CO2, then plugged it with a stopper.

Today, the lees have settled down to where I may only have to leave behind a half gallon or so.
In the original fermenter, only the top half was clear wine.
I guess there was still plenty of pulp and skin bits, holding onto CO2.
In a week or two, I'll rack it to a 3 gallon carboy and a 1 gallon jug.
You should consider using a vented bung or airlock, the CO2 will be comin out of solution and looking to escape, the solid bung could get blown out.
 

FunkedOut

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For sure, Johnd! It's a vented stopper. I've had too many solid ones launch across the room. :h
 

FunkedOut

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Racked the wine this weekend. Managed to get just under 4 gallons of really clear wine out of it.

I filled a 3 gallon carboy, a half gallon jug, a 750ml bottle and used the rest for... testing.
I need to let it sit for a bit to see if I want to oak it or not.
Still very sour.
 

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