Fresh grapes vs Brehms must

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Ajmassa

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If you’ve made wine from both fresh grapes and Brehms, have any of the grape wines ever been better than the Brehms wine? My gut says No
It seems to me that wine from Brehms must is typically going to be higher quality than the types of grapes that are readily available to the home winemaker. I realize there’s a million variables involved and not black n white.
But Is Brehms only selling the best of the best knowing you will always receive top quality? Fresh grapes, even at equal value (I think I’ve only seen one come Close at $120/lug), can still come in with some issue or another. Does Brehms take that risk out of the equation?
 

stickman

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I'm not affiliated with Brehm, other than I've purchased fruit from him for almost 20 years. I've met him in person several times while visiting his vineyard in Washington, as well as some of the other vineyards he contracts with. These are high quality vineyards, but there is always risk with produce. We have made a few wines over the years from other fruit that were as good as Brehm, but not very often.
PM me, I'll talk via phone any time.
 

Ajmassa

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I'm not affiliated with Brehm, other than I've purchased fruit from him for almost 20 years. I've met him in person several times while visiting his vineyard in Washington, as well as some of the other vineyards he contracts with. These are high quality vineyards, but there is always risk with produce. We have made a few wines over the years from other fruit that were as good as Brehm, but not very often.
PM me, I'll talk via phone any time.
Thanks. I think I’ll take you up on that. Been toying with the idea of splurging on a small batch soon. Too expensive for a big batch, but thinking about making a carboy’s worth of the highest quality stuff I can get. So a couple Brehm pails or 3lugs of grapes. Leaning towards to the must tho.
 

Trevor7

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Please post the highlights of your call. I live fairly close to Brehm's vineyards and have been getting that urge to graduate from kits into must.
 

mainshipfred

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I know Stickman has had very good results but they are really expensive. Some varietal have quite a large price differential form vineyard to vineyard. The Cabs range from $185 to $340 per bucket. I would also like to hear the highlights of the conversation.
 

jsbeckton

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Well, anyone ever pull the trigger on any more Bhrem frozen musts and have feedback on the results?

I’ve got a itch for a red and while I have made some decent high end red kits I’m looking for something better.

Some of these buckets are like $300 so assuming you net 5gal after pressing that comes out to like $12/bottle. Add in oak and MLF and it seems like the result would have to rival $20/bottle of wine to make it worth the effort.

Are these buckets really THAT good?
 

stickman

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The yield is only 3.25 to 3.5gal per pail after pressing, the skin to juice ratio is very high.
 

jsbeckton

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The yield is only 3.25 to 3.5gal per pail after pressing, the skin to juice ratio is very high.
Wow, that would put it at over $20 a bottle. Hard to imagine a large market for this and that seems to be reflected in the relatively limited experience with these buckets on this board.

At the heart of it I’m not really in this hobby to save money or anything but at the same tine it’s hard to justify spending even more money than I would buying the end product (~$25/bottle) directly while cutting out the risk of the middleman (me!).
 

Ajmassa

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Wow, that would put it at over $20 a bottle. Hard to imagine a large market for this and that seems to be reflected in the relatively limited experience with these buckets on this board.

At the heart of it I’m not really in this hobby to save money or anything but at the same tine it’s hard to justify spending even more money than I would buying the end product (~$25/bottle) directly while cutting out the risk of the middleman (me!).
Yeah it’s a lot. But isn’t that the whole point of it? To make a wine from top of the line grapes otherwise unavailable to the home winemaker? After all, I don’t ‘need’ to buy $260 RedWing boots or that 65” Samsung tv either.
But if you are in a position to only use high quality grapes- or just want to splurge once because it makes ya happy- then I say go for it! And try to turn that $25 bottle into a $40 value.
One day I’ll pull the trigger.

And also— Brehms isn’t the only frozen must available. There other quality frozen musts that aren’t quite as pricy.
 

jsbeckton

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I guess what I was saying is that this is kinda like spending $260 to by leather to make the redwing boots by hand rather than just buying the boots for $260 [emoji848]. Typically the raw materials are cheaper than the final product but there is a availability factor here as you mentioned...

Now, if you are saying that these buckets rival a $40/bottle of wine than that is a whole different story altogether.

Is it really that good?
 

stickman

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You're referring to some of the highest priced grapes he offers, which is driven mostly by the market, you're competing with wineries that are putting these grapes into blends selling for $150+ per bottle. You certainly want your winemaking skills to be up to the task, I wouldn't recommend practicing on a $300 pail. He offers other very good selections that are more economical, though you'll always pay a premium for the convenience of frozen fruit.
 

Boatboy24

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There are also other places like WineGrapesDirect, that have frozen must. Haven't used them myself, but have heard good things.
 

jburtner

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I’ve used frozen must from Brehm, Musto, and now Winegrapes Direct. These are definitely pricey and I’ve been happy with the results. I’d certainly prefer better economy and am planning to coordinate a larger batch of fresh grapes shipped in next season.

Cheers,
Johann
 

jgmann67

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If we’re saying that a top-of-the-line bucket from Brehm or one of the other sources is $300, and it will yield about a case and a half of wine, your cost per bottle, all in, is about $21. You save $19/bottle and have a wine you crafted yourself.

I live in the People’s Republic of Pennsylvania, where a good quality bottle of wine costs $50+. If I go with a retailer’s mid-grade (but still very high quality) bucket, my costs drop to about $12/bottle.

For comparison, it costs me $6-8/bottle to make wine from grapes; and $3.50/bottle to make wine from a kit. But, they compare to a $10-20 bottle here in the PRP.

The only thing that keeps me from trying a bucket and seeing measuring difference in quality is the price.

No matter what, though, I’m saving money.
 

jsbeckton

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Yes, I think this is exactly what I am getting at as the heart of the question for me:

Is the premium you pay for a Bhrem (or other) premium bucket a marked increase in quality over fresh grapes or only/mostly in convenience?

The convenience is significant:
-crushed
-destemmed
-available year round
-pre-balanced (or are least reliable initial TA/pH/Brix provided)

I’m more interested in quality so just want to make sure I’m not paying the lions share of the premium for the convenience aspect is all.

And yes, to an earlier point, I understand that ultimately the end quality still depends on the winemakers skill....If I pick up Eddie Van Halen’s guitar I’m not going to sound line Eddie Van Halen!

Thinking that this can only be answered by folks who have made wine from both quality fresh grapes as well as one of these frozen buckets.
 

MarkT

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I haven’t tried Brehm but I have purchased from WineGrapesDirect. Two pails of Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel must. Just pressed and racking off the lees tonight. So far the wine smells and tastes great. Will know more after secondary fermentation and I am optimistic.
 

jburtner

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One thing you get with frozen and thawed must is a built in cold soak. Freezing also breaks down the skins for better extraction. They also normally have freezer stock from prior years so you can choose different season vintages. Frozen must as basically the same as fresh grapes though.

Cheers,
johann
 

David Lewis

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One thing to consider is that Brehm also sells fresh grapes and if you live in the area it may be worth taking the trip to their vineyard. Minimum orders are 100lbs per variety and prices are not bad. For instance this year i received a 100lbs or cab and 100lbs of syrah. The cab was from the walla walla area and was $1.70 per pound. The Syrah was from his vineyard near Underwood and was $1.40 per pound.
 

chitownwine

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I have made brehms and winegrapesdirect. Being in Midwest shipping is always expensive so used to pick up at Brehms Chicago freezer until they stopped using them. Searching for other must supplies I have stumbled on grapes for wine.com. Seems like only cab and merlot from Livermore valley. Any thoughts on grapes from that region. Shipping is also free, any one ever order from them, Not much info on the site and can’t find any reviews so little hesitant.
 
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