Cynthiana/Norton and MLF questions

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May 7, 2016
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I have been making wine for years, but this my first-ever wine from my Cynthiana grapes, and also my first attempt at malolactic fermenation (MLF).

After 3 days fermentation on the pulp, I pressed, then added Wyeast Malolactic culture Blend 4007. That was almost 9 days ago. Today there is still some very slow activity at the fermentation lock, and my SG is 1.008.

Because I have only about 3-1/2 gallons in a 5 gallon carboy, there is a lot of head space, so I would like to rack into a smaller carboy as soon as practical.

Q1. Will racking off the lees affect MLF? That is, is there enough active ML bacteria suspended in the juice to continue activity, or does the bacteria settle to the bottom where the colony would be significantly reduced if the lees are left behind?

Q2. I have about 3/4 inch lees in the bottom of the carboy. As I pressed, I filtered the juice through a nylon mesh bag, so most of the lees should be yeast rather than fruit pulp. How long can the must sit on the lees before I should start worrying about a negative effect on wine flavor/aroma?

Q3. What kind of final gravity is typical for Cynthiana? I know this grape variety has higher suspended solids than most other varieties, so does it still get down below SG of 1.000 when finished, or not?

Q4. Over the past week my cellar temperature has trended down from 74 F to 68 F; at what temperature should I consider moving it to a warmer space?

Thanks in advance,


CRS Sufferer
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Aug 5, 2011
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O'Fallon, MO - Just NorthWest of St. Louis, MO
Q4. I ferment everything in my basement and it is seldom above 68 f, so I think you are fine there.
Q3. My Norton almost always gets down to at least 0.996, often lower. Although I normally don't press until I am at the sg you are currently at.
Q1 & 2. I think I would stir, gently what you have, let it settle for a couple of hours and then rack. Racking while undergoing mlf is generally not recommended, but in your case I would do it. There is a worry about sitting on the less more than a few days, but since you are pressed so early you may have to live with it for a bit.