Brix not as reported, what would you do?

Discussion in 'Wine Making from Grapes' started by NorCal, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    @4Score and I have been tracking our big Cab Sauv harvest for weeks. Finally, we get the green light from the vineyard; we are at 25.5. Perfect I say, we set the day for Friday.

    Fruit looks excellent, but initial brix readings off the destemmer are coming in 22-23 :slp

    After overnight soaking, with a precision hydrometer, it settles at 23.5, 3.5 pH We are talking 2 tons of fruit, $4,000 worth of juice. Sure, not the end of the world, and sure, you can make good wine at this brix, but it's not what we wanted and not what we were told we would get.

    The vineyard is a commercial vineyard, does around 80 tons per year. I contacted the vineyard and let him know what is going on.

    Besides having this conversation, what else would you do?
     
  2. ibglowin

    ibglowin Moderator Super Moderator

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    It all depends on supply and demand. If he has the demand he doesn't care about you. Your complaints will go unanswered and if you keep complaining at some point he will just shut you off next year if he has someone else he can replace you with. Step lightly but let him know what you got is not what he said you were going to get. I have been in your same situation. Did not end well for me. LOL
     
  3. dralarms

    dralarms Overboard as usual Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Since I'm a home winemaker, I have no horses in this but will ask a question, did he test one grape, a few, or a Mashup like you did? I just picked 203 lbs of Nobel muscadines and there was as much as a 6 brix difference between individual pieces. So I agree, I'd bring it up and maybe ask his procedure for testing,
     
  4. Boatboy24

    Boatboy24 No longer a newbie, but still clueless.

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    At 2 tons, you're 2.5% of his yield. Yes, it is a lot of money for you, but a very small piece of his business. As has been said, I think you want to mention it, but tread lightly. Unless, of course, you have other sources. Have you dealt with this grower in the past, and if so, what has your experience been?
     
  5. stickman

    stickman Veteran Winemaker

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    Do the grapes appear and taste ripe? I have also heard about significant harvest variation between particular rows or blocks. An overall vineyard sample may indicate higher brix than the rows that went into your bins. Let him know, but you have to be positive and assume this will be the best cab yet.
     
  6. balatonwine

    balatonwine The Verecund Vigneron

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    Sample error. It happens.

    You have mentioned you manage a community vineyard. How different are your samples from actual crush? If they differer less, ask this grower if you can come and take your own samples. Then the responsibility is yours and you remove him from sources of error you can not control. ;)
     
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  7. zadvocate

    zadvocate Senior Member

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    My guess is that it was an error and not intentional. I think you did what you could, let them know of the descrepency and ask how it happened. Maybe they will make it up to you next time.
     
  8. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Thanks for the replies. I believe it was a sampling error; the sample of berries chosen for measuring was not a representative sample of what was in the bin. First time using them. Seeds were brown, pulp pulled away from the skins, but there were no clusters that showed any dimpling, showing signs of dehydration.

    @balatonwine, this is what I'll do; most all winemakers will come out and check the fruit themselves. I had one problem this year where we picked two wineries, one was spot on, the other 2 brix different. I went to the winery and confirmed their number, although with their equipment.
     
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  9. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    The way the issue is being resolved, to the satisfaction of both parties, is that he is giving us a free bin (1,000 lbs) of high brix grapes. We will make a separate barrel, in new oak, which we will have available to blend back in with the lower brix wine.
     
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  10. stickman

    stickman Veteran Winemaker

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    Nice resolution!
     
  11. 4score

    4score Member

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    It is a nice resolution.....but it really extends an already late season. More logistics.....oh well, should be great wine!
     
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  12. Kraffty

    Kraffty Member

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    this is probably a silly question but why wouldn't you add sugar to the lower brix grapes? I may face the same thing with about 100 lbs of my own grapes and wondered if there were negatives to the sugar I hadn't considered, besides the overall scale/volume of grapes you have.
    Mike
     
  13. sdelli

    sdelli Senior Member Supporting Member

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    Wow! Cab already? I do not believe mine will be picked for a couple weeks yet. 13% not a bad Cab but could always balance out to your likings before fermenting.
     
  14. zadvocate

    zadvocate Senior Member

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    Thats good business. Glad it is working out.
     
  15. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    For me, it's about the flavor and the depth of the wine vs. the abv. Not sure adding sugar would help with the flavor.
     
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  16. ibglowin

    ibglowin Moderator Super Moderator

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    But isn't that basically what Mother Nature does if given a bit more time?

    Plenty of flavor in all those skins, seeds and naturally occurring polyphenols within the grape.

     
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  17. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I think the flavors also continue to develop as the sugar accumulates and additional flavors are achieved when the grapes dehydrate some. I don't think it is just about the sugar.

    I did a vertical with a bunch of people. I had a 2013, 2014 and a 2016 Cabernet Franc that I had made. The 23.5 brix bottle was noticeably lighter in flavor and color. Not better or worse, just different.
     
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  18. bkisel

    bkisel Junior Member

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    So going forward - next season - how do you keep the same from happening?
     
  19. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    By not being lazy and going to the vineyard and take my own measurements, which I could have done.

    My plan is to do petite sirah next year. I have easy access to the grapes, so I'll be doing my own measurements. The sample may not be exact, but the only person I can blame is myself.
     
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  20. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    We picked up our "bonus bin". It came in at 27 brix and areletting it fly without adjustment. We all went in on a new barrrel, so this will be one big, oaky Cab that we can use for blending with our not so big main barrel.

    It will be interesting to see the difference in a 23.5 vs. a 27.0 wine, from the same vineyard.
     
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