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Dizzy's wine journey

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dizzy

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Finally got my butt in gear. I unexpectedly started two new jobs that had been delayed forever with COVID, and then an additional one I wasn't expecting, in addition to adding a shift at my current job. And then my side career (music) also unexpectedly picked up a bit. Yay? (BTW my nickname is dizzy bc I play the trumpet. Gotcha.)

We tried to go to Procacci's the first day we (bf and I) had free but it turned out we just missed the season. Whoops.

Gino Pinto's- managed to reserve something, then some family stuff came up, missed it, just couldn't get down there in time and they sold it. I couldn't get excited about any of the Italian white juices right now, tho I'd consider something in the future.

Next try! Keystone. They were very patient with me and I decided to go with them once it turned out that indeed they were NOT actually sold out of Riesling. More spendy there, but better quality? One of my new jobs is paying cash under the table, I should be able to max retirement accounts and have savings this year (probs by end Nov), F it.

Ended up with 5 gal of Washington Riesling and 80 lbs of Washington cab sauv grapes which they crushed for an extra couple bucks. So awesome! I had them put it in two 7.9 gal containers which I am super happy I came up with, since I'm weak (he couldn't make it to the shop with me today), and my bf has back issues. Also the sizes of these just perfectly fit into the trunk of my clown car I mean purple Mitsubishi mirage. Once home very easy to carry down to the cellar.

K meta into both, the bf insisted. Used D47 on the Riesling (probs should have planned more, it will be fine) and RC 212 for the cab. I forgot to pickup malolactic and have decided I want to try, these grapes prolly deserve it. Not sure what I'll go with, couple options. Brix for both was right at 21. I realized we didn't have a pHmeter, it's on its way. Cool to adjust even after a day or couple of ferment?

I realize now that maybe I could have gotten more complexity to use a different yeast in each of the 2 cab buckets? Malolactic seems expensive and I'm not sure which one to get, the viniflora ones seem interesting since they are a decent amount, and dried. Probably I should have researched this more first!

It still seems fun and I hope for a good result tho. Excited to start punching down
 

Arne

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Sounds like you are on your way. Come up with any questions or problems give a shout and somebody will jump in and try and help. Just remember the 3 p's. They are the hard part, patience, patience, patience. Arne.
 

Rice_Guy

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welcome to WMT
Wine is forgiving, ,,, with good juice your flavor may be excellent as is, the basics is have fun with it. ,,, Midwest juice is extremely high in acid so a lot of malo is done here, but I have never needed to go to that technique.
good luck with the wine
 

cmason1957

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Welcome to WMT

I would certainly do malolactic fermentation on your Cab Sauv grapes, but not so sure I would do it on the Riesling grapes. I'm not sure it is a normal thing to do for Riesling, doesn't mean you can't do it, but be sure it fits the style of wine you are trying to create. MLF isn't done on many (maybe most) white wines, they tend to be better at much lower levels of acidity to bring out that crispness and fruitiness, which MLF will mostly inhibit.
 

dizzy

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@cmason1957 Yeah, definitely wasn't going to do the MLF on the Riesling. Part of the reason I wanted to start with a white juice like Riesling (or Viognier, which was what I originally was planning) was that I could keep it simpler as I learn the ropes. Then I saw all those WA grapes in person and said F it, guess I'll give it a go now.

@Rice_Guy definitely my thoughts, same as for cooking- if you start with good quality ingredients, you're probably going to end up with something tasty unless you really do something wild.

Any thoughts on which MLF to go for? Wyeast, White Labs, and Viniflora seem the easiest/quickest to get for me without spending TOO much money.
 

cmason1957

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Good deal on not doing MLF on the Riesling. Many folks think white wines are easier, since there are a few less steps, but I always find white wines harder and less forgiving of errors. Oxidation is the biggest flaw I see in most white wines, so being immaculate with your SO2 usage is highly important. Along with fermentation temps, lower is better to keep from blowing off those wonderful flavors.

Which MLF to use, many folks have reported issues using the Wyeast and/or White Labs MLB, both have very low tolerances for any SO2. Yes, they are the least expensive, but use at your own risk. I haven't used the one called just Viniflora, but I have used both Viniflora CH16 and CH35, they both have fairly high SO2 and alcohol allowable. I have been using Enoform Alpha and Beta both with good results. And even though the package says good for 66 gallons, I haven't heard of many folks having good luck with pulling off a small amount for 6 gallons and saving the rest. I think if I were to start over again with MLB, I would innoculate during primary fermentation, rather than what I currently do, which is add after racking off the gross lees, once alcohol fermentation is complete.
 

J. Wesley

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I have also used Enoform Alpha splitting the package (66 gallons worth) in half and then immediately vacuum sealing the surplus. So far the reserved bacteria has never failed to do the trick on the next batch (knock on wood).
 

NoQuarter

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Good deal on not doing MLF on the Riesling. Many folks think white wines are easier, since there are a few less steps, but I always find white wines harder and less forgiving of errors. Oxidation is the biggest flaw I see in most white wines, so being immaculate with your SO2 usage is highly important. Along with fermentation temps, lower is better to keep from blowing off those wonderful flavors.

Which MLF to use, many folks have reported issues using the Wyeast and/or White Labs MLB, both have very low tolerances for any SO2. Yes, they are the least expensive, but use at your own risk. I haven't used the one called just Viniflora, but I have used both Viniflora CH16 and CH35, they both have fairly high SO2 and alcohol allowable. I have been using Enoform Alpha and Beta both with good results. And even though the package says good for 66 gallons, I haven't heard of many folks having good luck with pulling off a small amount for 6 gallons and saving the rest. I think if I were to start over again with MLB, I would innoculate during primary fermentation, rather than what I currently do, which is add after racking off the gross lees, once alcohol fermentation is complete.
I had always been under the impression that the MLF bacteria would start converting sugars if added too soon, that's why it's added in secondary immediately after hydrometer levels out at low... I'm curious why you are considering inoculation in primary.. Not doubting you, just want to understand...
Knowledge is power.
 

cmason1957

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I had always been under the impression that the MLF bacteria would start converting sugars if added too soon, that's why it's added in secondary immediately after hydrometer levels out at low... I'm curious why you are considering inoculation in primary.. Not doubting you, just want to understand...
Knowledge is power.
Many folks around these parts of the Internet have tested the adding of MLB during primary fermentation, mostly adding when the cap first builds, with very good success. So far, I haven't heard of anyone having any issues with it. Mostly MLF seems to finish very soon after Alcohol fermentation. It seems like a reasonable thing to try. @Johnd, any others who have tried want to jump in and comment.
 

mainshipfred

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Dizzy, I am not aware of anyone that successfully had a wine go through MLF with the liquid cultures including myself. Quite frankly I'm not sure why they even sell them. I would recommend the least expensive dry culture you can find for your first go round and especially with that small of a quantity. Whether you do CO or sequential inoculation is a personal choice. As Craig said many of the members do "co" with no problems. Personally I like the sequential approach.
 

Johnd

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I had always been under the impression that the MLF bacteria would start converting sugars if added too soon, that's why it's added in secondary immediately after hydrometer levels out at low... I'm curious why you are considering inoculation in primary.. Not doubting you, just want to understand...
Knowledge is power.
I’d always read the same thing, but also some new info and studies that contradicted the sugar eating fear, several warned against it, I did it anyway, never had a single problem or failure of MLF to complete. Study up on it, there are lots of members here who co inoculate. Consider upgrading your MLB to something more robust like CH16, VP41, Alpha, Beta, the WLP stuff has a poor history.
 

dizzy

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Cool. I decided to go with the CH16. Hopefully here middle of next week (looks like stuff is shipping from PA so hopefully sooner).
Day 3 am the cab is looking awesome, really juicing up and getting some fizz, very fun. It feels like a pet
 

dizzy

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Also, for anyone interested- managed to get the rough areas these grapes were coming from. They said the WA riesling was from Treveri Cellars (Rattlesnake Hills AVA!) and the WA cab sauv was from grapes from Inland Desert nursery which is real near to Red Mountain AVA, east of Benton City. Maybe they can't call the grapes from that AVA (they offered a separate "Red Mountain" cab) since they aren't from a winery, but a nursery, or there's grapes from other areas in the mix. I did a day touring wineries in that region and I had the best cab of my life there, seemed like a good bet and potential bargain to me.
 

dizzy

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So my white is down to 0 Brix...still fizzing so I hope it can get all the way to .990 specific gravity.
The red is chugging along, 3 Brix. I added some nutrients earlier this week to both of these. turned the temp back up 2-3 degrees. Hoping to transfer to a carboy in next couple days!

I had a setback since the press I ordered on Amazon they told me a week after I ordered it it's out of stock.
I found one on craigslist but it's cast iron (in very good shape tho, no rust)- is this ok to use or is it going to mess with the taste?
 

winemaker81

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Many wines do not ferment down to 0.990. If the SG is 0.996 or less you're fine.

Brix is important prior to fermentation, but once that begins, the alcohol increasingly skews the brix value. By that I mean the brix reading does not accurately indicate the remaining sugar in the must. The SG indicates how close to "done" the fermentation is.

I've never heard of a cast iron press, well, not in modern usage. Make sure it's what you think it is before buying. Also, a small press is ok for pressing a carboy's worth of grapes (~80 lbs). However, if you believe your production will go up, buy a larger press.

I purchased a used #40 press last year, and can process 500-600 lbs of grapes in 2 batches. Until today I had NO idea what #40 meant, but found this page which provides information.
 

dizzy

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So! Exciting news, we pressed and racked to a carboy yesterday. We ended up not getting the press and did it by hand- each 40lb bucket at a time. I held a mesh fruit bag he had left over from making melomels over a bucket and he poured in the grapes. Poured out the free run juice, and then squeezed- first using a cleaned gallon jug to press down, then we said F it and did it by hand. We filled the 5 gal carboy right almost to the top and had a liter left over to put in the fridge. Seems like a good amount out of them. I tied up the mesh bags and then popped them in a freezer bag. Hoping to use with an Australian pail when they come out in a month or two, probably Shiraz. They still actually had a decent amount of juice in them, if we had a proper press we would have gotten it, but since I will use them as a grape pack, NBD.

The cab sauv tastes surprisingly good right now. Very, very cherry flavor. Not crazy tart. We added 1.5 oz medium toast French oak to it- I wanted to be cautious and am ok to just let it sit longer rather than add in 2-3oz and have to take it out sooner. Still waiting for the malolactic to arrive in the mail...hmm...

It didn't seem like we had to degas either- wasn't fizzy. I did get a mix-stir so if I have to still can.

The Riesling is tasting awesome but is very cloudy as of yet. The cab has already settled down a bunch of the lees to the bottom which is very fun. My partner was a super big help especially in making sure everything is sanitized easily, he had some organizational tricks. I'm very glad he is showing me the ropes. It's a good project together so far- he is the organizational thing, I am the keep it chill person/snob about ingredients (well, he has been in the past too). He hasn't brewed anything in about 5 years, and hasn't done wine, so it's fresh for him. Hopefully we will use this at a celebration one day...the way things are going in the world it's looking like plenty of time to age this stuff tho.

He has a bunch of flip tops left from his ciders and meads- any reason we shouldn't use these to bottle eventually? I wasn't sure if the corks are needed especially for the reds to age well.
 

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dizzy

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Oh also so I learned, should have gotten some extra with the Riesling, as you can see, not quite to the top. My bf wasn't worried even though I was. He had some sort of like Argon spray or something that he put in before we put the airlock on. Coolio???
 

winemaker81

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You can use a commercial Riesling for topup. Argon is supposed to work, although some gasses need to be renewed periodically as they dissipate -- I don't know if argon is one of those.
 

sour_grapes

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Oh also so I learned, should have gotten some extra with the Riesling, as you can see, not quite to the top. My bf wasn't worried even though I was. He had some sort of like Argon spray or something that he put in before we put the airlock on. Coolio???
You can use a commercial Riesling for topup. Argon is supposed to work, although some gasses need to be renewed periodically as they dissipate -- I don't know if argon is one of those.
All gases dissipate. That measure will help a little, but, as @winemaker81 says, best practice is to top up.
 

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