Fermentation Vessel for grape must

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Dridas

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Relatively new, as I have 3 wine kits currently in various stages - 2 in secondary, and 1 still in primary fermentation. (Pinot noir, Cabernet Sav, and Super Tuscan, respectively).

Seems like every time I rack a wine, I have an empty primary fermentor. I have 2 - 1 glass and 1 plastic big mouth bubblers. Currently 6 glass carboys, 4 empty. Is this the curse of home winemaking - the sight of an empty carboy has you searching for your next wine?

I think that's where I'm at - I wanted my next batch to be a Petite Sirah, but can't find a kit that has skins, that is in-stock. I was going to wait until the fall to order a grape must, but now I've got the itch. I found a wine must - at grapesforwine.com:
Description
2021 Petite Sirah Frozen Must Bucket 6 Gallon Pail – Livermore Valley California
  • ~pH: < 3.60
  • ~Brix: 22
  • SO2: ~20 ppm
  • Sulfites Added (Potassium Metabisulfite)
Pail Container Size: 6 Gallons
Amount of Juice: ~5.25 Gallons
Juice Weight: 50 pounds

Each bucket will yield approximately 2.5-3 gallons of wine. Each bucket is hand-filled, so slight variations may be present between any two buckets. Please keep in mind these grapes are grown on a farm, each vine is different, each acre is different so there may be slight variations between the buckets due to this.

I would like to yield 30 bottles, so think I need two kits, however, wondering if I should just ferment the two kits separately, or together. If I do it together, then I would need a 14-15 gallon fermentation vessel. BUT, if I do it separately, I could get away with 2 - 7 gallon fermentation buckets, and then rack them together post-primary fermentation. When do you add the oak - after you've pressed and racked?
 

Chuck E

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Two buckets will barely fit in my 10 gallon Rubbermaid Brute fermenter. I worry about the cap expanding over the top. Punching down twice a day keeps it pretty stable. I have done the overflow in a two gallon bucket, and I mix everything together when pressing. I add Next Level Oak after racking off the gross lees.

And yes, this is the curse of winemaking!
 
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Jusatele

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by curse is not having enough carboys
as soon as I figure out the next wine i have to rack something out of primary, that means I need to have another carboy
then I get that figured out and buy JUST ONE MORE , as I tell the wife and it is time to rack a wine, so I get JUST ONE MORE. and seeing how now I have an empty carboy it is time to start another wine
and it goes on until it is time to bottle, then you have a empty carboy so you need to up production
 

Dridas

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You could introduce your own spin and ferment the two kits separately, BUT use a different yeast for each. They will impart a characteristic that when blended together may be better than the sum of it’s parts.
I actually like this idea. I just ordered some Andvent yeast, forgive the spelling if wrong, ADT-32, as I read some post on here saying it was a really good yeast for full bodied reds. That said, do you have a recommended yeast for a Petite Sirah?
 

Jim Welch

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You could introduce your own spin and ferment the two kits separately, BUT use a different yeast for each. They will impart a characteristic that when blended together may be better than the sum of it’s parts.
@Dridas This ⬆️
I often do identical kit batches with two different yeast. Blending is a viable option but I generally bottle them separately and have two versions of the same base wine.
 
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@Dridas, you've got a few choices regarding fermenters. One is ferment the 2 buckets separately, and either blend or not. [Note that you don't need to do equal blends -- you can make 3 wines -- one of each plus a blend.]

If you believe you'll be making more buckets, fresh grapes, or larger batches in general -- buy Rubbermaid Brutes. I own 32 gallon Brutes, which are serious overkill for what I make. For management purposes, I do four or five 36 lb lugs (144 to 180 lbs), which fills the brute about 1/3, and have made triple kits, which fill the fermenter about 2/3. Don't fill a primary more than 3/4 full, to avoid overflowing.

For what you're doing now, a 20 gallon Brute is fine, but I suggest you think through you potential ideas and plan ahead.

Generally speaking, the new FWK will be out in a few months. You might start a different wine now, and plan on ordering Petite Sirah as soon as it hits the market.

Personally, you do not want to intentionally fill all your carboys -- a corollary to Murphy's law says you'll immediately find something else you want to make. Give yourself room for expansion! Also, make sure you have room for all the bottles you'll have -- as I said above, plan ahead! :)
 

Dridas

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@Dridas, you've got a few choices regarding fermenters. One is ferment the 2 buckets separately, and either blend or not. [Note that you don't need to do equal blends -- you can make 3 wines -- one of each plus a blend.]

If you believe you'll be making more buckets, fresh grapes, or larger batches in general -- buy Rubbermaid Brutes. I own 32 gallon Brutes, which are serious overkill for what I make. For management purposes, I do four or five 36 lb lugs (144 to 180 lbs), which fills the brute about 1/3, and have made triple kits, which fill the fermenter about 2/3. Don't fill a primary more than 3/4 full, to avoid overflowing.

For what you're doing now, a 20 gallon Brute is fine, but I suggest you think through you potential ideas and plan ahead.

Generally speaking, the new FWK will be out in a few months. You might start a different wine now, and plan on ordering Petite Sirah as soon as it hits the market.

Personally, you do not want to intentionally fill all your carboys -- a corollary to Murphy's law says you'll immediately find something else you want to make. Give yourself room for expansion! Also, make sure you have room for all the bottles you'll have -- as I said above, plan ahead! :)
Thank you for the excellent advice. I ended up purchasing a 15 gallon fermentor, and needed to hold off on ordering the must until next week. I ordered the yeast, ferm-aid, and a bunch of other stuff for the inventory, and wanted to make sure I had everything on hand before the must arrived. I looked at the Brutes, but decided to hold off on those - I like in an apartment, 2nd floor, so moving water in quantities like that might be a chore.

I ordered bottles from a place in OH (i'm in California), that were $14.99 per case of 12, free shipping. They cancelled the order, and didn't say why. Still awaiting a response. I've been looking at ordering just grape concentrates, but not sure of the total process, so trying to learn.

Not sure why I shouldn't just order this:
for a little variation, and see how a recipe takes to it. 3 gallons of concentrate yields 12 gallons, which price wise makes sense. I dunno, still learning.
 
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I looked at the Brutes, but decided to hold off on those - I like in an apartment, 2nd floor, so moving water in quantities like that might be a chore.
Living in an apartment -- single kits are probably the best way to go, for manageability.

Not sure why I shouldn't just order this:
Folks have recommended Coloma fruit juices. The price for 1.5 gallons of CS juice is $90 USD -- personally, it makes more sense to buy a FWK. I see there CS is out of stock, but Merlot is in stock at about the same price, and the kit includes all consumables. YMMV

I'm in a situation where I can't always get what I want. I'm part of a local group that makes a bulk purchase (10,000+ lbs) to get the best price, and we get a single shipment from the west coast that is focused around when CS and Merlot are available. Other grapes ripe at that time are also available, but nothing is guaranteed until the week before the shipment. So I'm used to making last minute decisions regarding what I get, and shifting gears quickly. Again, YMMV.
 

Dridas

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Living in an apartment -- single kits are probably the best way to go, for manageability.


Folks have recommended Coloma fruit juices. The price for 1.5 gallons of CS juice is $90 USD -- personally, it makes more sense to buy a FWK. I see there CS is out of stock, but Merlot is in stock at about the same price, and the kit includes all consumables. YMMV

I'm in a situation where I can't always get what I want. I'm part of a local group that makes a bulk purchase (10,000+ lbs) to get the best price, and we get a single shipment from the west coast that is focused around when CS and Merlot are available. Other grapes ripe at that time are also available, but nothing is guaranteed until the week before the shipment. So I'm used to making last minute decisions regarding what I get, and shifting gears quickly. Again, YMMV.
I currently have a Pinot Noir, Super Tuscan, an RJS En Premeur Cabornet in various stages. I want to make a Petite Sirah, but availability in a kit is scarce. I'm trying to make a total of 3 (or 4) different Cabornet's since that's what I drink a lot of. Once I've made those, I'll pick a favorite, and likely keep that 'brand/type' going, while experimenting with Petite Sirahs in grape must form. Figuring out how to store them is going to be a challenge, but I think I'm going to pack 12 bottles of each in to layflat wine boxes for storage, and the rest...who knows.
 
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