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First time from grapes

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Rob Kneeland

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So, having planted some Marquette, thought I'd better get my feet wet (not literally) with fresh grapes in preparation for mega harvests in a few years. (maybe)

Started small with 3 cases of Cabernet. Grapes looked to be excellent with very few leaves or raisins. Crushed with an upside down milk crate into a Brute. Beginner's luck, SG was 1.1 and PH was 3.5. Used 1118 and it was .990 in 7 days. Bought a used press, cleaned it up and pressed 28 liters with VERY little pressure, almost free run, with the intent of doing a second (false) wine. It is sitting in a 23 liter carboy and a 5 liter mini demi john. When I put it to sleep after racking I will add some oak. I have chips now but like the idea of spirals. I will let it age (stay out of it) until next September.

Not sure if I am going to do MLF. Going to source the bacteria today. I do like the idea of a softer, rounder wine vs sharp and acidic. But as a beginner I may skip it.

Lessons learned/observations ...get more organised. I hate looking for something during the middle of a task.

The upside down milk crate works well and I would do up to 5 cases this way. But next year I will have a proper crusher -destemmer.

I had read about punching the cap, but I had not expected that much of a cap. Several inches thick.

After punching the cap I would have a taste and it was easy to track the declining sweetness, and taste the full bodied, big flavours. Was REALLY sweet on day 1.

When you load up cases into the SUV, give it 20 minutes for the bees to escape before driving off. Made for an interesting drive!

Second wine has the skins plus lots of residual juice, 2 concentrate bags from Argentinia (Costco) kits, sugar and water. PH 3.4 and SG 1.09. Tastes a thin by comparison. Maybe less water next time. But 70 liters of "something" is already fermenting. I am hoping that kits plus second wine will keep me out of the good stuff. I will not oak some of the second wine as I don't see it aging more than 3 months.

Lots of great info on this forum and many projects ahead. Thanks!
 

salcoco

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not sure how much water you did use but the rule is add 75% of volume of wine removed. in your case 28 liters removed so .75(28) is water required minus the concentrate volume. I also added 7 grams tartaric acid / liter of water volume. I also found that measurements of sg off line so to speak before liquid added to spent skins gave a more accurate measurement.
 

Rob Kneeland

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I think my flawed logic was each kit contains 7 liters of concentrate to make 23, so wants 16L of water x 2 = 32 liters + I had read to replace 50% of the volume removed at press time so 28 x .5 = 14. 14 +32 = 46 liters so I added 38 to be on the low side. Should have tasted as I added. May still turn out drinkable. Might be awful...
 

salcoco

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in your logic I would only have added the water for the concentrate and stopped there. your sg look fine flavor maybe a problem.
 

BernardSmith

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Crushed with an upside down milk crate into a Brute. ...

The upside down milk crate works well and I would do up to 5 cases this way. But next year I will have a proper crusher -destemmer.
I have a few crates of grapes on order and this will be my first time working with fresh grapes (I usually make country wines or meads) and so my question: the milk crate you use to crush and destem - is that a crate with a smaller or a larger hole? I have two different plastic crates one with openings that are about 2.5 cm and one with openings that are about 4.5 cm (an inch is about 2.54 cm). Will either work or is one or other more suitable? Thanks
 

Rob Kneeland

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I did start with a crate with bigger holes but found lots of whole berries going into the must and switched crates. 2.5 cm holes might still be too large as wine grapes are smaller than table grapes.

Youtube's Homewinemaking channel details the process.

I reached for gloves after the first case. Hands were getting raw.
 

BernardSmith

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Many thanks. I am familiar with The Homewinemaking channel. It's one of the few channels (in my opinion) where the YT host is not the star but his subject is. I will search for the video on using milk crates as the crusher /destemmer.
 

BernardSmith

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I see one that he demonstrates has about 100 holes (10 x 10) whereas the ones I have both have 8 x 8 holes (64) so even the smaller one may be too large for crushing effectively but I guess I can use a potato masher or my fingers to crush the grapes (I am going to be working with about 80 lbs or so of grapes - two cartons)
 

mainshipfred

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It's my opinion the milk crate is primarily used for the destemming process. The grapes don't all have to be fully crushed simply the skin broken. Most of the uncrushed berries will get crushed during the punch down.
 

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