Differences in making wine.

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WilliamSYKES

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I have been making wine for several years now and have just recently started reading on forums like this on how other people make wine and technical terms of the process. The only way I have ever made wine is a 50 gallon barrel that is food safe and airtight with a cork with a hose running through it one end is in the barrel and the other end goes into a jar of water so the gases that are made during fermentation can escape and keep the barrel airtight. I usually get between 30-40 gallons of wine every batch and all have been really good. I always use the actual fruit instead of the juice and filter once or twice through a cheese cloth strainer that I make. Does anyone else make wine like this or is it a outdated way of making wine?
 

Johnd

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I have been making wine for several years now and have just recently started reading on forums like this on how other people make wine and technical terms of the process. The only way I have ever made wine is a 50 gallon barrel that is food safe and airtight with a cork with a hose running through it one end is in the barrel and the other end goes into a jar of water so the gases that are made during fermentation can escape and keep the barrel airtight. I usually get between 30-40 gallons of wine every batch and all have been really good. I always use the actual fruit instead of the juice and filter once or twice through a cheese cloth strainer that I make. Does anyone else make wine like this or is it a outdated way of making wine?
Essentially, you are doing the same thing we are, just with different equipment. Fermentation barrel or brute fermenter, same thing. Cork with hose going into jar of water = an airlock. Filtering through cheesecloth after pressing instead of racking off of the lees accomplishes much of the same thing. In the end, if you are letting it sit and get clear, we're on the same track...........Personally, though, I like the fancy toys, but that's just me.
 

WilliamSYKES

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Ok thanks! I was really surprised when I saw how different people made wine. I'm hoping to prefect some of my wines this year and will be establishing a commercial winery in the next few years.
 

JohnT

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I want to speak honestly and not candy coat this.

I am willing to guess that the method you use was taught to you by either your father or grandfather?

I would say that the method you use is the same as our method in principle only and is WAY oversimplified. If what you describe above is a detailed account of your wine making process, then you have a long way to go before going commercial.

You make no mention of PH, ABV, TA, Nutrient, Yeast strain, bulk aging, basic sanitation or sulfides (just to name a few). If none of these things mean anything to you, then I have to say that you have a lot to learn.

Please do not be offended by what I am saying. I have been winemaking for close to 30 years, have been a member here for 7 years, and still feel that I have a lot to learn too.
 

NorCal

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Making fruit ferment is as easy as letting crushed fruit sit there. Making the resulting product be the best as it can be, requires a lot of detail, as JohnT noted.
 

bkisel

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I'd like to know a little more about your process... Do you keep the wine in that one barrel until it is time to bottle? Do you siphon to get your wine out of the barrel or do you pour or maybe the barrel has a spigot? How long from pitching yeast to bottling? You don't use any additives at all, just pitch the yeast?
 

WilliamSYKES

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I'd like to know a little more about your process... Do you keep the wine in that one barrel until it is time to bottle? Do you siphon to get your wine out of the barrel or do you pour or maybe the barrel has a spigot? How long from pitching yeast to bottling? You don't use any additives at all, just pitch the yeast?
Yes it stays in that one barrel until the fermentation process is over and then I filter it and bottle. Usually let it sit in the bottles for a few months before I open the first bottle. I've never used yeast or any additives just the fruit which is usually the soft fruit from our packing line and sugar and water. It's a very simple way and it makes very good wine. My grandfathers muscadine wine was tried by several wine connoisseurs that we know and they swore it was the absolute best they had ever had and they routinely spent 50 or more dollars on one bottle of wine
 

WilliamSYKES

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I want to speak honestly and not candy coat this.

I am willing to guess that the method you use was taught to you by either your father or grandfather?

I would say that the method you use is the same as our method in principle only and is WAY oversimplified. If what you describe above is a detailed account of your wine making process, then you have a long way to go before going commercial.

You make no mention of PH, ABV, TA, Nutrient, Yeast strain, bulk aging, basic sanitation or sulfides (just to name a few). If none of these things mean anything to you, then I have to say that you have a lot to learn.

Please do not be offended by what I am saying. I have been winemaking for close to 30 years, have been a member here for 7 years, and still feel that I have a lot to learn too.
I understand that as a commercial operation will be much different than my hobby wine making. I am actually starting a Viticulture and Enology program this fall. I'll probably still make my hobby wine the same way just for the sake of preserving a family tradition. My family and extended family have been making wine from blueberries and muscadines this way for well over 100 years. My great grandmother had a bottle of blueberry wine that my great great grandfather made at the turns of the century and was still sealed.
 

NorCal

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I love it. Do you measure the specific gravity so you know how much sugar to add and when fermentation is complete? I'd be interested in doing an indigenous yeast fermentation, but when I plunk down over $1,000 for grapes, I get scared.
 

WilliamSYKES

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I love it. Do you measure the specific gravity so you know how much sugar to add and when fermentation is complete? I'd be interested in doing an indigenous yeast fermentation, but when I plunk down over $1,000 for grapes, I get scared.
No I know it sounds crazy but depending on what varieties of berries I'm using ( highbush vs rabbit eye) and how sweet the berries are and how many pounds of soft berries I can get depends on how much sugar I use. My last batch was 52 lbs of blueberries and 48lbs of sugar and I added 30 gallons of water and 6 months later I had 35 gallons of wine. I gauge when it's done by it no longer bubbling in the jar of water. This year I'm making 6-7 40gallon batches and I'm gonna take samples and measure acid and sugars and tannins and see where my recipes fall. Fruit is no problem for me, we have 45 acres of organic blueberries and we have a small muscadine vineyard that's maybe 1-1.5 acres and I just today was told that there is 3 acres of grapes and I can have all of them for free if I just come pick them when they are ripe.
 

NorCal

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No I know it sounds crazy but depending on what varieties of berries I'm using ( highbush vs rabbit eye) and how sweet the berries are and how many pounds of soft berries I can get depends on how much sugar I use. My last batch was 52 lbs of blueberries and 48lbs of sugar and I added 30 gallons of water and 6 months later I had 35 gallons of wine. I gauge when it's done by it no longer bubbling in the jar of water. This year I'm making 6-7 40gallon batches and I'm gonna take samples and measure acid and sugars and tannins and see where my recipes fall. Fruit is no problem for me, we have 45 acres of organic blueberries and we have a small muscadine vineyard that's maybe 1-1.5 acres and I just today was told that there is 3 acres of grapes and I can have all of them for free if I just come pick them when they are ripe.

You don't know how fortunate you are to have fruit at your disposal. Revive this post after your sophomore year. I think you will be surprised how much better your wine will be. I talk to a number of UCD grad winemakers and their knowledge and nice equipment gives them such an advantage over us amateurs.
 

WilliamSYKES

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Yeah I'm hoping to set up my own commercial winery in the next 5 years. We are expanding our operation hopefully by about 200% if the land purchases go through. The larger winery in my area supports the viticulture and Enology program at a local community college. It's nothing like UC Davis but it's the only place close to me that has this type of program. Next place that does a similar program is all the way across the state and does not offer online programs
 

WilliamSYKES

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Only problem with the UCD distance learning program is that it is really expensive and working as a paramedic right now and trying to help on my days off at the farm money is something that's not exactly abundant right now lol
 

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