Got bad grapes-what would YOU do?

Discussion in 'Wine Making from Grapes' started by baron4406, Oct 9, 2019.

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  1. Oct 9, 2019 #1

    baron4406

    baron4406

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    Decided to do something radically different this year, I located a New York winery that sells grapes and decided to make it a nice vacation for me and the wife. We had a great time, the Finger Lakes are a wine enthusiasts paradise. Well when I got a grapes home and started to work with them my heart sank. The PH was like 2.9 and the Brix were about 14. UGH. Keep in mind these aren't vinifera grapes, but some hybrids(Corot Noir and Noriet). Then an email popped up from the winery with the numbers they measured of the grapes I got. The Brix were like 17-18 range and the PH was like 3.2. HUH? Why are my numbers so different? One thing I noticed is the guy running the crusher was using a hose to wash the last of the grapes into the crusher. This would account for the watery must (its by far the most watery looking grapes I've ever had). OK so I realize its MY fault, I forgot my hydrometer and had no way to measure them on site. Some other winemakers were there and they said due to the short New York growing season plus the fact we were getting hybrids, means the brix are going to be lower than I'm used to. But 14 brix?

    I realize I'm treating this as a "lesson learned". I'm just asking would any of you attempt to run this? I'm going to have to raise the Brix up into the 23-24 range, I just prefer it there. The acid SHOULD lessen if I'm adding that much sugar. I need to PH in the 3.2 to 3.3 range for my MLF to even work(and with acid like this MLF is very necessary- The T/A is actually OK) There's 250lb of grapes in my carboys getting enzyme treatment as we speak and I've seen some must gain Brix from doing this.

    The main thing now is its too late to get other grapes, and I needed this to keep my barrels full. However I don't want to make junk(my juice days are way behind me). Advice?
     
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  2. Oct 9, 2019 #2

    mainshipfred

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    I would say for the cost of yeast and sugar just make the adjustments and go for it. The heavy expense it already behind you.
     
  3. Oct 9, 2019 #3

    bshef

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    I hate to suggest you put more money in the project but you might try adding raisins to pop up the body. No idea the amounts you would need. (A lot?) Maybe dried cherries or blueberries (still a lot of money). Frankly, like Fred said, go for it and see what happens. You can always add something later. Maybe plan to blend with something else. How about sparkling wine? I've never done that but I know they harvest at lower Brix; even reds.
     
  4. Oct 9, 2019 #4

    MJD

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    I'd go for it. The cost of yeast and sugar is negligible compared to the sunk cost.
    If nothing else, it's a winemaking challenge to hone your skills. If you can make a good wine under this challenging scenario with the current parameters, a more "normal" must will be nothing!
    With 250 lbs, you certainly could try a subset as a sparkling wine or other style, if you so chose.
    Any chance you could add some calcium carbonate to reduce the acid further?
     
  5. Oct 9, 2019 #5

    baron4406

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    Yea the added expense is not a big deal, the grapes were $.60/pound so even dumping them isn't a huge expense to me. I have carboys of Carmenere waiting for its time in a barrel, plus a 6.5 gallon carboy of Petite Syrah in storage too. I really wanted to do a "Fred Style" blending party. The Noriet is such a strong flavor I was told most people use it for blending. So I'll throw everything into the carboys (Sugar, wood chips, raisins,etc) and let it fly. I really have no other options for this year. I also have some Calcium carbonate laying around but with the amount of sugar I'll have to add I may not need much. I've learned the hard way to always check for PH AFTER any sugar additions.
     
  6. Oct 9, 2019 #6

    bshef

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    I'm not in favor of dumping unless you have something better in the wings. I think you can make something suitable for blending. (Look at Joe's tweaking cheap kits thread for ideas on boosting flavor). Good luck and keep us posted.
     
  7. Oct 9, 2019 #7

    baron4406

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    Oh I've made some of "Joe's Specials" from very cheap red wine kits. I'm almost embarrassed to say my wife prefers them to ANY other wine, even "good" red wine. Strange but its why ice cream comes in 1000 flavors.
     
  8. Oct 9, 2019 #8

    salcoco

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    try adding some dried elderberries about 4 oz per 5-6 gallons. they will add tannin works great on reds.
     
  9. Oct 9, 2019 #9

    baron4406

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    Don't know of a source for them that I can get quickly
     
  10. Oct 9, 2019 #10

    bshef

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    Well there you go! Don't be embarrassed. My theory is make wine you, your family, friends, or customers like. The only experts are the ones with your bottle in front of them.
     
  11. Oct 9, 2019 #11

    bshef

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    Amazon Prime?
     
  12. Oct 9, 2019 #12

    baron4406

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    Just read up on them......UGH.......cyanide lol. Do you boil them before throwing them in?
     
  13. Oct 9, 2019 #13

    cmason1957

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    No need to boil elderberries before throwing them in. I make elderberry every year, only boiled them once with really bad fruit.
     
  14. Oct 9, 2019 #14

    salcoco

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    these are dried elderberries available on Amazon add to the primary fermentation.
     
  15. Oct 10, 2019 #15

    baron4406

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    Thanks for the advice, after doing alot of research I decided against them, the line I read of them "adding tannins and acid" is what made my decision for me. I need tannins but I DON'T need acid.
    Anyway last night I went for broke, the 150lbs of Noriet needed 17lbs of sugar to get to 24 brix(ugh). The 100lbs of Coret Noir needed around 9 lbs. BTW if you aren't using Lallzyme your missing out. My must went from water with grape pieces in it to a gooey red mass in 24 hours, I used Opti-Red with the Lallzyme. Added a bunch of powdered and liquid tannin to both, and added Calcium Carbonate to tame the acid. I actually overshot the Noriet, its at 3.5 PH. The Corot is about 3.3 to 3.4, that should make the MLF happy(VP-41). Corot got RC212 + yeast nutrient, Noriet bit BM4X4(and it started foaming in 10 minutes, it was amazing to see.
    I'll keep everyone posted............I'm calling this the "Bad Hybrid files"
     
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  16. Oct 10, 2019 #16

    MJD

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    Lallzyme wasn't on my radar until this year when several members recommended it. It sounds like whatever extraction you're going to need for those batches, Lallzyme will do it's part!
    Out of curiosity, did you take TA measurements also?
     
  17. Oct 10, 2019 #17

    baron4406

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    No I don't worry about T/A in the primary, some will disagree I'm sure. I worry about PH in the primary. I was bitten a few years back when a Chilean blend I was doing had great T/A numbers, but a really low PH like 3.0. Basically it fermented ok but my MLF never got going. I actually did a successful MLF after the batch was a year old by adding some CC and getting the PH into the 3.3 to 3.4 range. That MLF took off and the batch turned out great. It taught me 2 lessons: PH first in primary, T/A later before bottling. Also you can do an MLF anytime and have it work. Since I do all my MLF co-inoculation now, PH is critical to me.
     
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  18. Oct 17, 2019 #18

    Grape_City_Reefer

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    I just ran into the same situation with Riesling i picked on Seneca Lake last Saturday. I talked with the wine maker on the phone and he assured me that the bad numbers were not a big deal. He recommended adjusting them down with Calcium carbonate and progressing. Do you have any updates on your batch?
     
  19. Oct 20, 2019 #19

    baron4406

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    Just pressed out both batches, long morning!! Wine tastes 'meh". Sort of has a very sharp bite and a slight taste of unripe grapes. Still its young, I'm going to run an MLF on it and see if it knocks down that taste. My MLF bacteria was late getting here so no concurrent MLF inoculation.
     
  20. Oct 20, 2019 #20

    winemaker81

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    Contact the winery and let them know that an idiot sprayed water into the juice. I'd complain -- 17-18 brix down to 14 brix is a LOT of water.
     

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