First time harvesting and fermenting fresh grapes

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BenK

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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!
We got there at 11 and hit most of the Lacrescent that was at least russeted on the side that got the most sun, and looking ok on the shaded portions. You didnt find anything ripe in the top field because I got there a day before you. lol
 

DriftlessDoc

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We got there at 11 and hit most of the Lacrescent that was at least russeted on the side that got the most sun, and looking ok on the shaded portions. You didnt find anything ripe in the top field because I got there a day before you. lol
Haha you’ll have to let me know how yours turns out. My juice is super green, but SG was surprisingly about 1.078. I boosted that to 1.1. I’m excited for the Marquette.
 

BenK

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Haha you’ll have to let me know how yours turns out. My juice is super green, but SG was surprisingly about 1.078. I boosted that to 1.1. I’m excited for the Marquette.
Im afraid its going to be to hot if I chaptalize it. Have you made it before? They dont us not to pick st pepin or prarie star on Saturday I had a similar plan and actually wanted saint pepin as a priority
 

BenK

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What is your plan for marquette and how long do you let your cold hardy reds sit on the skins before pressing?
 

DriftlessDoc

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I’m winging it with both, first time using real grapes. Fermenting on skins for a week, then pressing

If the white comes in hot will back sweeten and make it off dry instead of dry.

I’ve made some pretty good kit wines, going into this with an open mind. Hopefully it turns out pretty good. You close to Oregon? We’re about an hour west


Edit: by winging it, I have a pretty good plan but have nothing to base expectations on so I’ll be happy with anything pretty decent.
 

BenK

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Im sure you noticed that I am winging it as well to an extent. I actually live in green bay.
 

BenK

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I drove 5 hours round trip just for the grapes. After taxes come back next year, if no giant bills pop up I might be in the market for a 3-5 acre vineyard site. I badly need some experience with fresh fruit from regional varieties.
 

regnistep

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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
I used 71B on some very acid Marquette and Frontenac last year, and it knocked the heck out of the acid, resulting in a pH of 4.0 after starting at around 3.2. It was VERY effective at reducing acid levels. I felt like the only guy that has ever added acid to Frontenac. I have been making mostly northern grape varieties from an excellent vineyard in Northern Illinois. I personally prefer Marechal Foch. My last Foch was indistinguishable from a high quality Pinot in a blind taste test, except the color was better.

I am switching to glass carboys this year after having experienced some oxidation issues with plastic carboys. I was thinking I would get some micro-oxidation through the plastic carboys to help age the reds, but it went too far. It might still be a good idea, but for a shorter period of time.

You didn't ask about oak. Most amateurs are using chips. If you read some of the research papers on the quality of wine versus the for of oak adjuncts used, you will find it is better for the oak to infuse over a longer period of time than happens with chips. The sweet spot seems to be 3/8" cubes. I drill small holes in the cubes and thread them onto some monofilament with glass beads separating them and suspend them from the airlock so they don't get covered in yeast lees or grape solids, and leave them for at least 3 months.
 

Malach58

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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.
 

Malach58

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Dude, that sounds exactly like the path I’m on. My first “large” batches this year. 100#s of Muscadine, and 300#s of Shiraz. The shiraz barely fit in 3 large marine coolers. I’ll be upgrading and doubling next year and move up to a 25-30 gallon tank. My wife frowns on the 15-20 carboys around the house, until it’s bottling time and then she becomes QA/QC.
 

CK55

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I drove 5 hours round trip just for the grapes. After taxes come back next year, if no giant bills pop up I might be in the market for a 3-5 acre vineyard site. I badly need some experience with fresh fruit from regional varieties.
Do it :) but 3-5 acres would be like an insane amount of wine.
 

BenK

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Status update. I have a full 3 gallon carboy of each variety and 2 or 2.5 gallons in an untopped 6 gallon carboy. I went with the larger vessel because I wrongly assumed fermentation would not be this far along. I tested SG of the 3 single varietal carboys and All are between .996 and 1.000. I will have a hard time reacting to the blend in the larger carboy until Thursday. I'll try to rack into smaller containers tomorrow night.

Upcoming plan is:
-Rack off the LaCrescent into carboys, this variety still has visible activity going on in the bucket
-Rack the red blend ASAP
-Rack the reds to get them off the gross lees on Thursday
-Retest acid levels & taste all wines
-Start malo on the reds
-Order light toasted French oak. Probably cubes or beans.
-I'm planning on not using fining agents, but it's still an option I'm tossing around to get them in the bottle quicker so that I'm not doing extra rackings on multiple carboys while working 55+ hours a week and training for powerlifting
-What do I do with the small quantities in the .5 and 1 gallon carboys assuming they will eventually lose volume from topping up the 3 gallon carboys, solid bung and leave in the fridge? How long will they last?

My wife and I tasted the St Croix and it tasted strongly acidic/hot. Hopefully that comes down with malo, oak, and age.

I did not press the heck out of the skins. It was hot and buggy outside so I pressed inside and made one hell of a mess. I'm also ridiculously paranoid about contaminating the wine, which is typical for me. Every time something small happens that could cause infection all I do is stress about it.

Time on skins was 9 days.


Thanks for all of the help team!
 

CDrew

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So no expert here, but I'd go back to the basics.

No headspace. It just invites oxidation. You need to combine your wine or put in smaller containers so that you don't have headspace. Or use the vacuum "head space eliminator" which works quite well in my experience.

Get all the wine off the gross lees within 48 hours.

Start MLF anytime-I do it during primary fermentation when the wine warms up due to the fermentation energy release.

A lot of the strong acid flavor is carbonic acid ie the CO2 dissolved in the wine. It will pass as the wine gives up the CO2 over the next 2-3 months.

Your varieties are not familiar to me, but I'd still do whatever you can to prevent oxygen from getting to the wine and making vinegar.

I leave mine in the carboys for almost a year, I would not be too anxious to bottle, especially if adding oak.

Wine is a waiting game. Get used to it.
 

CK55

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you can have some headspace in secondary as wine still has a lot of CO2. especially if you put malolactic bacteria as it will also make more. But after that you should top up.
 

BenK

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Once again guys, I really appreciate all of you following this thread and helping me keep the course.

Today's progress:

Racked the lacrescent out of the primary buckets. Smells good but did not taste. FG: 0.992 so she's done. Ended up with 7.5 gallons Going to read the white wine making guide and decide on when my next rack will be. Need to test acid at next rack.

Got the red blend out of the to large carboy and into smaller containers with appropriate headspace. Tastes a lot better but a few things I note.

-All of the lees I can see in the reds appear to be fine lees. I did ferment to dry in primary before pressing, and did not press that heck out of the cake so hopefully waiting until Friday night or Saturday morning to rack off the gross lees won't be a big deal

-The wine isn't very integrated, in the glass the center of the wine is dark and blackish red but grainy in appearance, and gets light around the edges but grainy as it gets from dark to light. Doesn't seem like the color is well integrated.


-No real alcohol taste, almost wonder if I did not chapitalize enough

-Still kind of hot on acids

-Not very deep/rich flavor


Hopefully time, malo, and a little oak will cure what ails it. I'm assuming the 3 untouched red varietals are suffering the same problem, but I'll find out this weekend.
 

CK55

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Once again guys, I really appreciate all of you following this thread and helping me keep the course.

Today's progress:

Racked the lacrescent out of the primary buckets. Smells good but did not taste. FG: 0.992 so she's done. Ended up with 7.5 gallons Going to read the white wine making guide and decide on when my next rack will be. Need to test acid at next rack.

Got the red blend out of the to large carboy and into smaller containers with appropriate headspace. Tastes a lot better but a few things I note.

-All of the lees I can see in the reds appear to be fine lees. I did ferment to dry in primary before pressing, and did not press that heck out of the cake so hopefully waiting until Friday night or Saturday morning to rack off the gross lees won't be a big deal

-The wine isn't very integrated, in the glass the center of the wine is dark and blackish red but grainy in appearance, and gets light around the edges but grainy as it gets from dark to light. Doesn't seem like the color is well integrated.


-No real alcohol taste, almost wonder if I did not chapitalize enough

-Still kind of hot on acids

-Not very deep/rich flavor


Hopefully time, malo, and a little oak will cure what ails it. I'm assuming the 3 untouched red varietals are suffering the same problem, but I'll find out this weekend.
It needs oak, some time, and a little love and it will be great.
 

Johnd

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Once again guys, I really appreciate all of you following this thread and helping me keep the course.

Today's progress:

Racked the lacrescent out of the primary buckets. Smells good but did not taste. FG: 0.992 so she's done. Ended up with 7.5 gallons Going to read the white wine making guide and decide on when my next rack will be. Need to test acid at next rack.

Got the red blend out of the to large carboy and into smaller containers with appropriate headspace. Tastes a lot better but a few things I note.

-All of the lees I can see in the reds appear to be fine lees. I did ferment to dry in primary before pressing, and did not press that heck out of the cake so hopefully waiting until Friday night or Saturday morning to rack off the gross lees won't be a big deal

-The wine isn't very integrated, in the glass the center of the wine is dark and blackish red but grainy in appearance, and gets light around the edges but grainy as it gets from dark to light. Doesn't seem like the color is well integrated.


-No real alcohol taste, almost wonder if I did not chapitalize enough

-Still kind of hot on acids

-Not very deep/rich flavor


Hopefully time, malo, and a little oak will cure what ails it. I'm assuming the 3 untouched red varietals are suffering the same problem, but I'll find out this weekend.
As far as the color goes, that’s pretty typical at this stage. As the sediment falls out of the wine, it’ll lose that reddish color and get very deep and dark when it’s in large glass containers.

Don’t fret funny tastes and funky little notes or smells at the moment, she’s but a babe in woods right now. As the wine ages and becomes more integrated, those things just seem to melt away.
 

BenK

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As far as the color goes, that’s pretty typical at this stage. As the sediment falls out of the wine, it’ll lose that reddish color and get very deep and dark when it’s in large glass containers.

Don’t fret funny tastes and funky little notes or smells at the moment, she’s but a babe in woods right now. As the wine ages and becomes more integrated, those things just seem to melt away.
John, your wisdom is always appreciated. I will update this weekend after finishing up this weeks work.
 
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