WineXpert Choc Rasp Port stuck at primary

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Nov 22, 2009
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This is my first wine/port kit. (I make beer all the time.) I started this batch October 30. Original gravity was 1.130. For the past 2 weeks it's been 1.028. I fear that it will never get down to 1.015 for chaptalisation. I used a starter with Wyeast Port yeast. Fermentation has been around 68-70 degrees. The past couple of weeks I've been stirring it up in hopes to get things going. What are my options? It just seems to me, realistically, that this yeast is DONE. Help, please?:a1
Try racking it from the carboy into a bucket then back into the carboy and get the temp up to high 70's. This kit is notorious for stalling.
Get the must temp uo to AT LEAST 75 degrees but dont go aobve 80. Stir this daily.....By stirring, I mean stir the heck out of it for a good couple minutes. If you have a wip stir consider using it.

Also, if you have a brew belt consider using it too.
Can I just ask, are you meant to stir this daily anyway? I have mine brewing away nicely for past 2.5 days but was told to leave it as is until adding the extra sugar.?
Sorry to hijack, but thought since its relevant to the thread....
Boozehag, this kit is notorious for stalling so a few of us spoke with the tec advisor of W.E. and thesde were the recomendations he gave, stir well, keep @high 70's and get lets of air intoit to make the yeast happy.
What Wade said...:)

I had a similar issue and found out from W.E. the same techniques that Wade mentioned.
Yep, I'm stuck at 1.023 after chaptalization. I wish I would have seen these posts before I started this kit (or WE had included these recommendations in the instructions:re)

It's funny, being a long time home brewer and a kit wine maker for a few years, this is the first time I ever had a stuck fermentation. I think the low end of temperatures they state in the kit are way too low. I even kept mine in the low 70's, and still stalled out.

It seems to still have some activity, though the gravity isn't changing much. I'm going to keep cranking the temp to ~77-79 and stirring daily until the activity completely dies.
I don't think just adding new yeast wouldn't really work well at this point because the high level of alcohol already in the wine. Maybe if you got some more juice and got a really healthy starter made with some new yeast before you pitched... but I'm not sure where you'd get the juice for the starter.
I wouldnt waste my time with that, its too high an abv to try and get a new yeast to take over. I would get the temp up around 78* and stir it up good and maybe even splash rack it once but get all the yeast into suspension. If that doesnt do it then I dont think anything will. If your disatisfied with the sweetness then by all meansd get on the phone to W.E and tell them so cause I think its a shame that they are selling a kiyt that doesnt seem to work as kits should although when they do get there they are a great kit.
Here is a quote that I saved before I started my kit.

Here is a post from Tim Vandergrift who is the Technical Supervisor from W.E. about this kit.

"Keys to getting a port kit to ferment down all the way are 1) Temperature and 2) stirring.

While the instructions say '65-75F', we have to put that big a spread in to cover off everyone's situation. If we make the spec tighter, we get an awful lot of calls about people who just can't keep their house or even their fermentation area at a more specific temperature.

But the fact of the matter is, if you ensure that the port kit is 75F or even slightly warmer (not as high as 80, though) before you pitch the yeast to it, it will have a much more vigorous start than a kit pitched any cooler, and the vigour of a fermentation at the start is a very good indicator of the thoroughness it will display at the end.

For some folks this means putting the kit on a heat register, wrapping a brew-belt around the box before use, or even immersing the bag in a sink of hot water. However you manage it, it makes a big difference.

Stirring is another key. Yeast has a multi-stage life cycle. The growth, or anabolic phase relies on each individual yeast cell making enough fatty acid esters to bud off daughter cells. They can do this through one of two paths. First, they can use YAN (yeast available nitrogen) to sythesize FAE's and we boost the nutrient levels of YAN as much as we can without altering the flavour profile of the kits (nitrogen tastes bitter-salty).

Second, they can uptake oxygen to make it through another chemical path. If you stir you kit very, very hard--hard enough to whip air into it and oxygenate it--the incorporated air will boost yeast anabolism and speed fermentation towards completion.

That's all well and good for the future, but if you're stuck now, you have bunch of options. First, get your temperature up to 75F. In your post you mention having the belt on, but double-check the actual temperature. Most heat belts will drive a 6-US gallon carboy to 72F, but some are not as hot as others . . .

Second, give the port a very hard stir with a drill-mounted whip. Bring all of the yeast up off of the bottom and stir hard enough to get some air into it. Don't be shy, punish it, and keep it coming for at least two minutes.

Take a gravity reading after warming/stirring, and another one three days later. This should do the job, but if it doesn't you still have options. A starter won't work, because the alcohol content is far too high--any starter you try will simply die when you toss it in. Much better is to take another wine (a 6-gallon kit, any kind, as long as it doesn't have oak or elderflowers in it, and it uses the same kind of yeast that was in the port), get it going at 75F and lots of stirring, and when you rack it on day 5-7 from the primary, leave the yeast behind, and rack your port on top of the yeast bed.

The yeast will be fully conditioned to alcohol, and very hungry. That should knock it down within a few days, as long as it's all warm and gets a good stir.

If you have any questions, go ahead and shoot them through to tim (at) winexpert (dot) com, and we'll be happy to sort them out. The Cocolate Raspberry Port is a fabulous kit, and it gets even better with age. I know you'll enjoy it."

Here is my thread on my progress.

My best suggestions. Keep the temp up around 78 degrees and keep stirring it. I stirred every other day. I am in the clearing stage right now.
I used a starter with Wyeast Port yeast. :a1

I made this kit a year and a half ago and a Cellar Craft Orange Chocolate Port-style two years before that and had no trouble with either, following the instructions of course. My question is: did WE change the yeast they supplied with this kit? Mine used Lallemand dry yeast, as is typical in most kits.
I made this kit a year and a half ago and a Cellar Craft Orange Chocolate Port-style two years before that and had no trouble with either, following the instructions of course. My question is: did WE change the yeast they supplied with this kit? Mine used Lallemand dry yeast, as is typical in most kits.

My kit went without a hitch and is in the clearing stages now. I just kept it in a room that was in the low 70's and kept an eye on it. I didn't need to stir every day or anything. I guess I got lucky.

I don't remember what yeast came in the kits. I made 2 kits in a 6 gallon carboy, so I had 4 packets of dry yeast. I think it was a Lalvin yeast, but I don't remember what strain off the top of my head.
I did the dble batch also 2 or 3 years ago and like Tooth cant remember which yeast it was but mine didnt make it all the way down. As admin on 3 sites and a mod on 2 others I see all the threads about this kit and its amazing that this kit is still being made. If it was a car the government would have stepped in and shut the company down. This is a great wine and why I actually d recommend it but in doing so be prepared to take extra measures to get it done.
Stirring and warming it doesn't helped me (yet, but it's been weeks). I contacted WE about it and here's the conversation (replies on top):

Winexpert Customer Service to Paco
show details 8:06 PM (36 minutes ago)
Hi Pascal,
Yeast has to work extra hard in a high sugar, high alcohol must such as port. The key to success is to keep it really warm, right from the beginning. What I suggest you do now is:

Ensure that the must is warmed to between 25-28C (75-80F).

Stir vigorously to rouse the yeast into suspension.

Wait two days and re-check gravity and temperature—maintain 25-28C (75-80F).

Meanwhile, make a yeast starter: Warm 2 cups of apple juice (make sure it does not contain any sulphites or other preservatives) to about 85F. Stir in a teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Stir vigorously to incorporate some oxygen. Sprinkle a packet of wine yeast--Lalvin EC-1118 is the best. After 24 hours, or the onset of very vigorous activity, pour the mixture into your must. Don't worry about changing the flavour; it won't be significant, and a small flavour change is less important than getting your must going ASAP.

There is another possibility if you have any other wine in the primary fermentation stage. After racking the wine from primary to secondary, you can make use of the yeast sediment left behind. Any red or white wine will provide a large amount of alcohol tolerant yeast that will get your port going again. Rack or pour the port onto the sediment and stir vigorously. Again, ensure that the must is between 25-28C (75-80F).

Please keep me posted as to how it’s going.

Joanne Harris

Customer Service

-----Original Message-----
From: Paco
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 8:46 PM
To: Winexpert Customer Service
Subject: Re: Winexpert Inquiry

I've already done that?!...

I start fermenting this Port at around 20°C but last week, after realizing I had a problem, the local homebrew store cleark who sold me the kit told me that I should have known to ferment this kit at 24-26°C minimum (Oh, great! Now you tell me?!). So for the last week or so, it's been sitting (and stirred) at around 24°C.

How disapointing if this Port end up for sweet... I hope you'll be able to help me...


On Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 5:40 PM, Winexpert Customer Service <_____> wrote:
Thank you for your contact. Give the batch a vigorous stir with a long handled spoon to get the yeas up off the floor into action again.
What was the temperature when you tossed in the yeast right up until today?
I look forward to your response.

Linda Kazakoff

Customer Service

-----Original Message-----
From: Pascal
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 9:47 AM
To: Winexpert Customer Service
Subject: Winexpert Inquiry

A form submission has been received from

NAME: Pascal



MESSAGE: My Port is stuck at 1.020 after chaptelization. It's been 3-4 weeks now and it's not changing anymore. I've tried swirling it everyday as well as moving it to a warmer area (~24°C) without luck. What can I do? Am I screwed with this Port.

Sel. Port 072790900078

I'm not really convinced about the apple juice starter but what do you guys think about racking the stuck port on a yeast cake? You'd give it a shot. I don't have a wine in primary now but I could get one... Also, do you agree that either a white or a red would work (in therm of flavor)?
That is the best bet and way better then trying to make a starter as the abv is already pretty high and even a hreat starter will be shocked bythis high of an abv. I believe the yeast ake is the only sho and a good one and that it wont matter if it was a red or white that much but think a higher abv wine would stand a better chance.
I checked my log this morning and I made this kit a year and a half ago in October and after a month it was down to .096. An Orange Chocolate kit two years before that made in August took 10 days to get to .0998. I'm certain warmer temps help with the primary in these high SG reds.
I guess I got lucky. I did one in August 2009 and everything went OK. I think I added the extra sugar after 8 days in the primary.

Unfortunately, I couldn't afford another kit at the moment (yes, I'm that broken at the moment because customers delayed payment...:po) so I did what every customer should do with every products they buy and are not 100% satisfied with; I contact Winexpert about it (see above post).

Long story short, they stand behind they're products and replaced my Port kit free of charge no more question asked. I'm 100% satisfied with that!:br

Problem is, the LHBS just lost me as a customer... for making the replacement an hassle. They tried everything they could to not give me the replacement Port kit without getting the "failed" one in exchange. Winexpert clearly state that they didn't want the "failed" one back at all. I went through ridiculous interrogation on the steps I did to ferment the Port kit. I should have followed they're instructions (which I never got anyway) and not the one from Winexpert. I did mentioned to Winexpert that they might have to consider fixing the Instructions... I must say that I was going more and more suspicious with the informations this HBS was giving me. I now know more about wine and beer from books, clubs and Internet (this forum included of course).

I'll ferment the new Port kit this summer when I won't need to keep it warm with special mean like brew belt or warming an entire room to 25°C.

I will buy more Winexpert wine kit... not from the HBS I used to though...

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