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Carboys: 5 gl. or 3?

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Ignoble Grape

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Had a really nice wine tasting with a boutique vintner out in Carmel Valley last week. He grows on a little less than 2 acres and produces some fantastic wines. We got to talking and I brought up that this was my first year using fresh fruit. He asked all sorts of questions and started offering advice. One thing he mentioned was using 3 gallon carboys instead of 5 - less glass, easier and safer to handle. He also mentioned rubbing parrafin was on the outsides and slipping them in your industrial grade food buckets. They come with handles, and if the carboys break, all the wine and glass is contained. Thought the suggestion worth floating on the forum.

As for the tasting? That was on the house and I walked out with a bunch of wine industry magazines and dreams of someday owning a boutique winery...

Monday morning came too fast.
 

Wheelman

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When I was in my twenties I worked for Sparkletts water, delivering bottled water to homes. At that time I could lift those 5 gallon bottles so easy.
Fast forward to my winemaking days late 50s and I appreciate those 3 gallon bottles being way lighter. In fact I can't believe I used to carry those 5 gallon bottles around all day.
That said if you don't have to move the bottles much I would go with 5 gallon. My storage situation dictates moving the bottles often. So I prefer 3 gallon. Also testing for acid, so2, etc is less with 5 gallon because you have less bottles.
 

cozmogeek

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I used 3 gallon carboys almost exclusively for the first couple years. 5 gallon is just so much heavier it's hard to deal with. I've done a lot more with 5 gallon carboys since I got my all in one wine pump. Every time I move a 5 gallon around I'm at the chiropractor a few days later.
 

Ignoble Grape

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I used 3 gallon carboys almost exclusively for the first couple years. 5 gallon is just so much heavier it's hard to deal with. I've done a lot more with 5 gallon carboys since I got my all in one wine pump. Every time I move a 5 gallon around I'm at the chiropractor a few days later.
Thanks. I'm still in the infancy stages, only a few years in with a handful of carboys and am still investing in equipment. It just seems to make sense to go with the smaller bottles if you're moving things around (and you're petite with not a lot of upper body strength).
 

NorCal

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I have 5 and 6.5. I’m ok with the 5 gallons, as long as I don’t have to lift from the ground to table height. Table height to table height I’m ok with. The 6.5 gallons are a beast and try only to pump in and out of them. 3 gallons would be lighter for sure, but I would need 20 of them vs my 12.
 

CDrew

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My take is that you need minimum of 2 of every size available!

Starting with grapes, your end amount is always just a guess. So lets say after press, you have 9.5 gallons. Then a 5, a 3 and a gallon jug will work great. But the point is, you never end up with exactly enough to have multiple of 5 or multiples of 3. And especially your first year or two, you'll not want to toss any out, so you need large containers and small ones to avoid headspace. Smaller containers are also nice to have top off wine when racking.

My vote: Buy two 6 gallon, two 5 gallon, two 3 gallon , two one gallons, and a couple of half gallons. Then you'll be prepared. I put carboys in milk crates to give me some handles to move them around, and to keep them from running into each other.

And one other thing. You need more carboys than you think. So even if you take my advice above, get a couple of extras and avoid the last minute dash to the brew store. BTDT last fall!
 

VillaVino

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If you have the space, a lifting table from Harbor Freight helps with those 5 & 6.5 gal carboys. It was a game changer for me. I have shelving that are height of the lifting table so transferring from table to shelves or vice versa is much easier.
Depending on how much wine you make, I’ll agree with MDrew on the number and variety of carbon sizes. Nothing is more frustrating than having the wrong size.

https://www.harborfreight.com/500-lbs-capacity-hydraulic-table-cart-60730.html
 

JWT

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Since buying my All In One Pump I have changed over to all 6 gallon glass carboys. Don't have to lift full ones anymore. If I have a partial I just use Steve's Head Space Eliminator for partial filled carboys. Best money I ever spent. Eliminated a lot of different sizes.
 

VillaVino

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Since buying my All In One Pump I have changed over to all 6 gallon glass carboys. Don't have to lift full ones anymore. If I have a partial I just use Steve's Head Space Eliminator for partial filled carboys. Best money I ever spent. Eliminated a lot of different sizes.
Is Steve’s Headspace Eliminator an inert gas setup?
 

JWT

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No It uses a one way valve & the pumps vacuum to suck all the air out of the carboy. This is the neatest thing. Have had one on the 6 gallon carboy with about 4 1/2 gallons of wine for a little over 6 weeks & it is still holding pressure. Best thing about it is it's only $12.00. Sure have a bunch of marbles to to play with now.
 

Sage

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You can't have to many and you better have extra..... and of each size too!!
 

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