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Earwigs in Wine

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Rocktop

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HI all, in preparing my notes for what I will be doing differently this fall I need a plan for earwigs.
My first crush of the season was Pinot Noir, I crushed and fermented, and when transferring to the press it surprised my how many earwigs (lots) were on the surface. I removed what I could and moved on, I figured they were already there through ferment. The wine is not great and displays characteristics associated with earwigs that I found on the net - "earwigs produce an off flavor variably described as “animal”, “reductive”, “vegetal”, “acidic”, “bitter” and “tannic”. "

The next harvest was merlot, and again I crushed but them, but then sat and watched the top of the crush barrel, and invariably many, earwigs floated to the surface, I picked out all the wiggles I could see, about 30-50 or more in 100lbs. This is a better wine.

My question is, does anyone do anything to get rid of earwigs before crushing. Some cluster contain a whole bunch. I am considering a water dunk tank that will submerge all the clusters a couple at a time to force the earwigs to abandon the cluster ship, but then I fear I am introducing extra water, etc..

Any thoughts, suggestions or experiences?

Thank you RT
 

balatonwine

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My question is, does anyone do anything to get rid of earwigs before crushing.
If you have an over abundance of earwigs, then you may be harvesting too late. These tend to show up on over ripe grapes. You can shake each cluster you harvest to remove some such insect pests, but that is not a perfect solution, but it will help.

As for me, I often harvest in the morning, and put the grapes into bins and let them sit overnight uncrushed. Most critters crawl out overnight (earwigs, spiders, lady bugs (lady bug taint is even worse). Crush the next morning. This also allows each day to be a specific task (i.e. harvest day and crush day).

However, leaving grapes outside requires cool temps during the day and at night. Okay if you harvest late in the year, or have a large cellar like I do to keep them cool while they sit. Else, the ones at the bottom may get crushed, and start to ferment, creating heat, which can affect the grapes overall.
 

Rocktop

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Awesome, great advice Balaton.
In your experience do the majority of bugs vacate the clusters? Just wondering what makes them leave the grape cluster when picked but they stay on the grapes when in the vineyard?

Thanks,
RT
 

balatonwine

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In your experience do the majority of bugs vacate the clusters?
Yes. See my blog post about this quite a few years ago at one of my blogs (before I moved the wine making topics to another blog):


Just wondering what makes them leave the grape cluster when picked but they stay on the grapes when in the vineyard?
Animals, from insects on up, move away from disturbance. Disturbance is often a sign of possible danger, such as predation, so they move if disturbed. So picking the grapes, putting them in a bucket or container, moving them to the crusher, etc is all disturbance they will try to escape from. If you give them the indication of disturbance, and a chance to escape (shake the cluster, hand move each clusters from bins to the crusher, etc), the greater chance they will take the chance to escape. If you have a small harvest, the more you shake the cluster before they go into the crusher, the better and could eliminate most of the critters.. I have a very large harvest, and not enough human resources to do much bunch management as we mostly pour the field bins into the larger bins. So I let them sit for a while to allow the critters to escape. It is not perfect, but seems to work rather well.
 
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Rocktop

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Great stuff Balaton, thank you very much for the in depth reply, that makes a lot of sense to me.

RT
 

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