First time harvesting and fermenting fresh grapes

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BenK

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My wife and I are planning to pick grapes at Mitchell VIneyard in Oregon, Wisconsin in two weeks. Besides picking equipment I am looking at:


Largest size primary buckets that fit in my trunk (19 inches)
Stoppers for the airlock holes in bucket lids
An extra hydrometer
*refractometer
*PH test tool
extra airlocks
*acid testing tool
*wine press
extra carboys
Tartaric acid
*enological tannins
*yeast
*MLB bacteria
*Missing anything?

Likely varieties: LeCrescent,, St Pepin, Foch, Marquette. Whites will be pressed at the vineyard, reds will be pressed at home

I am looking for suggestions on brands or specific items for the things marked with an asterix. Total volume of wine I am hoping will be 20-30 gallons. I have Amazon prime if anything is on there that you know of. I am an amateur and would like equipment that will last, but won't break the bank.


Thanks,

Ben
 

Johny99

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Nice list. I question the refractometer, the vineyard should tell you what they have. Once you’ve picked, rely on the hydrometer. I like two, standard and a short range for less than 5 Brix. They are spendy though. I can’t comment on yeast or chemicals as I haven’t done those grapes. For mlb I’m using VP41. Seems to be reliable and gets to completion for me.
 

NorCal

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Largest size primary buckets that fit in my trunk (19 inches) - bigger the better
Stoppers for the airlock holes in bucket lids - red, leave open
An extra hydrometer - sure
*refractometer - too late
*PH test tool - $7 pH meter will suffice
extra airlocks - get a breathable silicon bung, no extra needed
*acid testing tool - assuming TA test? Adjust to pH.
*wine press - yea, that and destemmer/ crusher
extra carboys - never short
Tartaric acid - I have 5 lbs ready!
*enological tannins - don’t use
*yeast - makes the magic happen
*MLB bacteria - if desired.
*Missing anything? - go ferm, ferm k, mlb nutrient, thermometer
 

BenK

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I will look into opti-red. I am deciding between RC212 and Lalvin 71b for the red wines and w15 or EC1118 for whites. I am debating doing a MLF at all. If I use 71b on the reds can I skip the MLF or should I do it regardless for stability purposes?

I looked online and cannot find out if goferm/fermaid products or necessary or if my LD Carlson yeast nutrient is adequate. are there any good sources of information where I can read further on that?

Thanks all,

Ben
 

CDrew

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One of the very best things to do, is to read the Morewine manual of red winemaking. It will answer many of your questions. And it's free, excellent and surprisingly complete:

https://morewinemaking.com/web_files/intranet.morebeer.com/files/wredw.pdf


Regarding MLF, it's basically mandatory for red wine. I'm a co-innoculator and add the MLF bacteria on the second day of fermentation when it's building to the peak and thus warm. There is some controversy here so read up. I like CH16. I experimented last year and the co-innoculated Cab finished faster than the MLF added at the first racking. Your call though. There is no one always correct answer except you should do an MLF with your red wine.

Yeast is your choice. I used 212 and Pasture Rouge last year and had good results with both. Thought the Pasture Rouge did especially well in my Cab for a common and inexpensive wine yeast. I'm using D21 this year in 3 red 25 gallon ferments, mainly because I wanted to try it and got 80 grams at Morewine. A local and well respected winery told me they use Red Star Premier Cuvee in everything red and white because it was so problem free. I took from that that the yeast doesn't matter that much in the final product.

Me personally, I like the GoFerm routine and then 2 timed feedings of Fermaid K. You will undoubtedly find a method that works for you. Just keep your processes clean, and I'll bet you'll be surprised with even your first vintage. Just realize you will buy a lot of equipment your first year. I think I went from 1 to 12 carboys in 1 year! I now have a few more and am looking at Flextanks.

If you're only doing 20-30 gallons total, I'd do only 2 varieties and keep it simple. Maybe 200 pounds of 2 different grapes and you'll be good. A Brute 32 gallon trash can "fermenter" for your red, and something a bit more airtight for your white.

Good luck, and start collecting bottles!

But read the Morewine manual for sure. A great starting resource.


More rambling thoughts-

You're going to need a bigger car. I use our old family minivan for hauling wine, grapes and must around. A pick up would be better. But it will haul 4 Brutes full of crushed wine grapes from the vineyard to the garage.

And your list left out all kinds of things, like racking canes, tubing, cleaner like PBW, and a sterilizer like Star San. Chemical resistant spray bottles for Metabisulfite solution and Star San, You need different sizes of carboys from 3 to 6.5 gallons plus a few gallons and even 1/2 gallons like a growler bottle. Get a Punchdown Tool like an commercial long handle potato masher. Carboy funnel and brush I could go on and on. You need a lot of stuff. The +5/-5 Hydrometer is a good tip. Hopefully you can borrow a press, but that's another reason to do larger amounts of fewer varieties. And in fact your fist year I'd do only reds. Get your crush process down, your clean/sterilize process down, your sulfite additions down, your racking down and then in year 2 or 3 do a white wine. Reds are more forgiving, can ferment in a trash can, and are easier. to have turn out well on your first go. Have more flavor too.
 
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BenK

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Thank you for your reply you gave me a lot to mull over. I do have the other equipment that you listed from my adventures in kit winemaking outside the punch down tool. Just so we are on the same page, the grapes will be destremmed and crushed at the vineyard, and the whites will get pressed there. I will only need to press the reds at home. Im planning on bringing home 5-12 gallons of white juice and 15-20 gallons of crushed reds, hoping to net 10+ gallons of red juice after pressing. Ideal scenario is 3-4 large carboys and maybe use some gallons/half gallon jugs if there is extra.
 

balatonwine

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Regarding MLF, it's basically mandatory for red wine. .
There are exceptions. Such as Beaujolais nuevo and similar Nouveau-style wines.

I also don't put my Teinturier red wines through MLF. The juice is red and they need no skin soaking for color, so soaking is for tannin control, can be selective of length of soaking from none, hours, days, etc.
 
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balatonwine

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BenK

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Hey guys, really appreciated the feedback so far. Heres how the day went down.

8.5 gallons of Lecrescent juice split into two buckets
4.5 gallons of Saint Croix must
4.5 gallons of Marquette must
5.25 gallons of Foch must

I sulphited all of the buckets and will test PH and OG tomorrow morning. I didn't bust the blender out for the reds (still on skins) but this is what I have so far

LaC1 1.083
LaC2 1.08
St. Croix 1.07
Marquette 1.08
Foch 1.075

The winery said the reds were in 20-22 brix depending on what row you picked in. Tomorrow I will blend and test gravity and PH, adjust, and pitch yeast. I'm going to grab a 3 gallon carboy for each red, a few gallon, and a half gallon carboys for leftovers. I Have a larger carboy waiting for the LaC.

Using 71b for the LaC and RC212 for all of the reds. After testing Acid I'll see if Malo is appropriate. I have dry MBR31 on standby.
 

BenK

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More information and questions guys
I am going to need to chaptalize the reds. I am going to need to calculate based on 66% volume retention after pressing the reds. Trying to hit 21-22 brix or about 1.090SG after adding sugar. Is this how you would go about it? Or should I just wait until after I press, then add the sugar based off of real volume of juice pressed off considering the yeast will still be active?

I'm going to have to fumble around with getting the lallzyme and optired diluted correctly, starting the yeast with fermaid 0 and adding 15grams/gallon of untoasted oak powder to the reds today. Any advice is appreciated.

EDIT: Grams of oak per gallon

LaC1 1.083 PH 3.2
LaC2 1.08 PH 3.15
St. Croix 1.07 PH 3.35
Marquette 1.08 PH 3.1
Foch 1.075 PH 3.6
 
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NorCal

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You would want to add your sugar before or as early as possible in the ferment, while there is a less hostile environment for the yeast to consume the sugar.
 

Masbustelo

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You can do it either way, it's your call. If you do it after the press you need to allow space in the carboy for the volume of honey or sugar, and you risk triggering a powerfull ferment that might overflow the carboy. I would agree with Norcal, chaptalize in the must, and I would use honey because it's a higher quality ingredient.
 

Masbustelo

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Also, save the odds and ends of new wine after you fill the three gallon carboys. Put it in wine bottles for instance or half gallon jugs and then airlock them as well. Then when you rack off the lees you can use what you have to top off.
 

BenK

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NorCal what I read online was to blend some red must to take a OG reading, my end product was basically milkshake density and not a readable liquid. My concern about chaptalizing before pressing is that I am not accounting for any sugars left in the skins and intact flesh of the grapes. So I might add sugar to 1.09 and after pressing end up at 1.12 or something crazy if more sugar becomes available after pressing. I looked all over the internet to verify if that is even a possibility and nothing came up so I am likely over thinking and should just add the sugar.

So when adding sugar should I plan on using 66% the volume of must for calculations to account for the solids?
 

BenK

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Masbustelo, No doubt I will have extra small containers on hand. I often toyed with the idea of sweetening my last white kit with honey but did not do so, I might try that with the LaCrescent though. We will see. I might use sugar so Its as basic as possible and I have a baseline for comparison for more exotic additions next time.

The Foch was bubbling when I adding the opti-red, oak, and enzymes. Some native yeast perhaps. I made and added a starter of fermaid-0 and RC212 a few hours later. Hopefully no harm done.
 
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Johnd

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Normal protocol is to adjust your must prior to fermentation, and you recognize that a reading can be off soon after crushing, though it’s usually pretty close. Take a representative sample of your must, and put it in a blender. Filter the blended must through mesh or cheesecloth to obtain a sample. If you’re using a refractometer, you’ll need only two drops for a reading, hydrometers require much more. Alternatively, once your must is crushed, add some pectic enzyme to help break it down for 12 hours or so, mix very well, push a strainer down into it and scoop enough juice to fill your hydrometer vessel. Adjust as desired.

Either way, you should endeavor to adjust your BRIX as well as your acidity to your desired level before fermentation.
 

BenK

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John, that was a great post. This thread has been very beneficial to me thus far. here is where I am now: chaptalized for 2/3rds total volume and added fermaid k whole dose 4 days into fermentation as Im working two jobs and have a few other obligations at this point. Im punching the caps 2 or 3 times daily.

John, I hear you on adjusting must at the beginning but this will be a learning experience for me and I also want to experience the varieties through a range of (acceptable) parameters.

Correct me if Im wrong but all of the must is PH appropriate, the only one im concerned about is the foch after MLF. If anyone has some different information to share here its appreciated.
 

Johnd

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John, that was a great post. This thread has been very beneficial to me thus far. here is where I am now: chaptalized for 2/3rds total volume and added fermaid k whole dose 4 days into fermentation as Im working two jobs and have a few other obligations at this point. Im punching the caps 2 or 3 times daily.

John, I hear you on adjusting must at the beginning but this will be a learning experience for me and I also want to experience the varieties through a range of (acceptable) parameters.

Correct me if Im wrong but all of the must is PH appropriate, the only one im concerned about is the foch after MLF. If anyone has some different information to share here its appreciated.
The Foch is the one with the most comfy pH for me, though the others are in range, a tad on the low side for reds. The Foch might cross the 3.7 line post AF / MLF, but it’s easy to bring down with a little tartaric if the taste buds indicate that you should. If not, you can manage higher pH’s with a good SO2 protocol. Though I’ve made wine with high acid must, I’d rather deal with low acid than high acid ones, probably because it always feels better to add acid than to try to remove it, I’m also more accustomed to it.
 

DriftlessDoc

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Hey Ben! My wife and I were there last Sunday picking! What did you think of the LeCresent? Seemed pretty green on the upper field and by the time I got there, lower field was pretty much picked clean. I'm doing a LeCresent/Prairie Star field blend (75/25) and a batch of Marquette. Will be interesting to see how things turn out!
 
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