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High OG, lacking fermentor space! BlackberrY wine.

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Aerocycle

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So yes, my first blackberry wine, following the recipe for 6 gallons I failed to realize that the fruit takes up a lot of space. I put all the ingredients in my 6.5 gal fermentor, except all the water and yeast (expecting to add the water after pulling out the berry bag in a few days). Low and behold, after the 24 hour campden tablet rest, I was ready to add yeast, bUT the best OG reading was 1.150 (because I needed at ad more water but there wasn't room). I didn't know what to do.

So I ended up pulling the bag of berries that was pretty much seed/skins, squeezed out as much juices as possible, added as much water as I could (gonna use a blowout tube now) and got the OG down to 1.110. Added yeast, here we go.

Is it ok to not have the bag of seed/skin in the fermentor while fermenting? It was 26 lbs of berries, and I got a ton of juice out of them (10 lbs were previously frozen). I'm unsure how much flavor the sack of seeds/skins would impart after getting so much syrupy juice out of them.

Using Vintners VR-21 yeast, tolerant to 15%
 

Johnd

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So yes, my first blackberry wine, following the recipe for 6 gallons I failed to realize that the fruit takes up a lot of space. I put all the ingredients in my 6.5 gal fermentor, except all the water and yeast (expecting to add the water after pulling out the berry bag in a few days). Low and behold, after the 24 hour campden tablet rest, I was ready to add yeast, bUT the best OG reading was 1.150 (because I needed at ad more water but there wasn't room). I didn't know what to do.

So I ended up pulling the bag of berries that was pretty much seed/skins, squeezed out as much juices as possible, added as much water as I could (gonna use a blowout tube now) and got the OG down to 1.110. Added yeast, here we go.

Is it ok to not have the bag of seed/skin in the fermentor while fermenting? It was 26 lbs of berries, and I got a ton of juice out of them (10 lbs were previously frozen). I'm unsure how much flavor the sack of seeds/skins would impart after getting so much syrupy juice out of them.

Using Vintners VR-21 yeast, tolerant to 15%
Welcome to WMT. Your current setup will produce ABV of 15%+, if your yeast makes it that high. You need all of the body you can get in your wine, not fermenting with the berries / skins will diminish body, mouthfeel, etc., and you may end up with a thin, light bodied, high octane beverage.

Most of us use at least 7.9 gallon fermenters for wines with skins / fruit, and that can get a little tight sometimes. My advice, pick up a bigger fermenter from your LHBS, or a food grade bucket from HD, or split the batch into two vessels, but try to use the skins during fermentation.
 

Bodenski

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1. Welcome to the forums!
2. I'm fixing to start my second batch of blackberry wine, but I only have 10 lbs of fruit. I won't have to worry about it overflowing!

My first batch of blackberry wine was a blackberry port. I only kept the fruit in for two days, since it fermented very quickly. Tasting it now I really wish I had left the fruit in longer. Split it if you can between buckets, but I agree the fruit skins are important.
 

salcoco

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you should be fine. I would use the bag of berries for a second batch. should have enough for another five gallons might need to add sugar. Acid addition may be required for the first and second batch.
 

Scooter68

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Definitely use the skins in THIS batch. Even if you split it into two buckets either split the skins into two bags or mix the contents of the two buckets before you start aging the wine.

Also keep in mind that if you are going to add water to the wine after fermentation then you are going to dilute the flavor AND the ABV. Fortunately with blackberries the amount of lees should be far less than with peaches or several other very pulpy fruits, but; there will be volume lost. If your ABV for the original must as started results is 15 Percent then some additional water will not hurt that, but your pounds of fruit per gallon is definitely on the light side. I would always start with at least 5 lbs per gallon as a minimum.

Figure on some degree of back-sweetening to bring out the flavor. You don't have to make a sweet wine but without a little sweetening up at the end you may find the flavor pretty light at 4.3 pounds per gallon.

IF the flavor turns out a little light in the end you could add some blackberry juice concentrate (But then remember it will have to clear again) OR just use the following expression to describe the wine. "This is a light wine, not harsh or overpowering - Light on the pallette," :b
 
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AkTom

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"This is a light wine, not harsh or overpowering - Light on the pallette,"
When I was doing trim carpentry, we'd call that a custom feature.
 

Aerocycle

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Thanks guys for your advice.

I'm not really sure what to do. I may try to get a small bag of seed/skins into the mix. I just hope I didn't royally mess things up. Or maybe I could add some of brewcraft natural flavoring extracts if they make a black berry one.. I'll let you guys know how it goes.
 

Aerocycle

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Ok, I took more must out into a growler, added the sack of seed/skins. Hope this helps and works. I've never been so sloppy about sanitation, but I'm crossing my fingers that the yeast will be stong!!!

I've got a full 6.5 gallon fermentor, and two little growlers.
 

Scooter68

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"This is a light wine, not harsh or overpowering - Light on the pallette,"
When I was doing trim carpentry, we'd call that a custom feature.
During my days at Lowe's I would always joke about the twisted, warped long boards - calling them 'hard-to-find' shapes. Unfortunately with the growing consumption of wood overall, more and more low-quality material is shipped to companies like Lowe's and all the lumber sellers. In fact If you look on the shelves now a lot of it is no longer called "Fir" or "Pine" - instead they are now labeling the stock as "Whitewood" which I must assume translates into "Whatever we can get."

One more reason for us to pay attention to what we buy for our wine and the reason our 'home crafted' wines are going to become better and better compared to a lot of the mass produced commercial wines. Small vineyards and home wine makers are going to be producing the better wines as quantity outweighs quality and content in store bought wine.

Aerocycle - Don't worry about it - Just do the best you can and learn from each experience. MOST of all, two points to remember Take good notes and have patience.
 
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Aerocycle

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Holy moly! I can't believe how explosive my fermentation is going! I've only ever done 5 beers and 2 ciders. Here's how my last two days have gone:

Wednesday morning: added sack of seeds/skin back into fermentor. Filled growler with must to accomodate sack...very full...

Evening, little activity, it's been doing something but hasn't taken off like normal. It's been about 24 hours since yeast was added. So I add yeast energizer, (the previous day I generously added yeast nutrient) PLUS another packet of yeast just to be sure they're good and populated.

Thursday morning... active fermentation, top of bucket lid covered in wine, almost about to spill over onto floor. I clean up and attach blow off tube into pitcher with sanitizer in it.

Evening: Still very, highly active. Pitcher has filled with more wine, about a pint higher, and bubble stains show that it almost bubbled up and out of the pitcher -yikes-. I also notice it stinks a little, not terrible, but a little.

So then I popped off the lid and gave it a few minutes of stirring, massive amounts of gas are coming out of the wine, foamy. I add extra yeast nutrient in case the smell is because the yeast need help, and check temperature at 78F -a tad warm. I clean/sanitize the lid and hose and all, one final stir and seal it back up. In 3 minutes the thing is raging again! More than it was previously- bubbles/liquid into the pitcher.

You guys have any advice? Does this sound like I'm doing anything wrong, or if there's a problem with the wine? I'm a little concerned about the sulphur smell, though it's not really strong. My sack of seed also let a bunch of seed out so now I'm going to have to strain it. Advice apprciated, I feel over my head on this one.
 
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Johnd

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Holy moly! I can't believe how explosive my fermentation is going! I've only ever done 5 beers and 2 ciders. Here's how my last two days have gone:

Wednesday morning: added sack of seeds/skin back into fermentor. Filled growler with must to accomodate sack...very full...

Evening, little activity, it's been doing something but hasn't taken off like normal. It's been about 24 hours since yeast was added. So I add yeast energizer, (the previous day I generously added yeast nutrient) PLUS another packet of yeast just to be sure they're good and populated.

Thursday morning... active fermentation, top of bucket lid covered in wine, almost about to spill over onto floor. I clean up and attach blow off tube into pitcher with sanitizer in it.

Evening: Still very, highly active. Pitcher has filled with more wine, about a pint higher, and bubble stains show that it almost bubbled up and out of the pitcher -yikes-. I also notice it stinks a little, not terrible, but a little.

So then I popped off the lid and gave it a few minutes of stirring, massive amounts of gas are coming out of the wine, foamy. I add extra yeast nutrient in case the smell is because the yeast need help, and check temperature at 78F -a tad warm. I clean/sanitize the lid and hose and all, one final stir and seal it back up. In 3 minutes the thing is raging again! More than it was previously- bubbles/liquid into the pitcher.

You guys have any advice? Does this sound like I'm doing anything wrong, or if there's a problem with the wine? I'm a little concerned about the sulphur smell, though it's not really strong. My sack of seed also let a bunch of seed out so now I'm going to have to strain it. Advice apprciated, I feel over my head on this one.
You're not over your head, just didn't get a bigger fermenter, your struggling way more than need be.

If you have H2S smell, your ferment doesn't need yeast energizer, it needs yeast nutrients.
 

Aerocycle

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I gave it energizer when it wasn't doing much, but yes, I DID use nutrient once I smelled it stinky
 

Aerocycle

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I have a few more questions, things have gone well thus far, the yeast did their job, my blackberry wine is done fermenting and at about 14.5%abv. I have racked it into glass, and removed much co2, though there are still bubbles. I want to rack again off of the 1 inch sediment, but I'm finding mixed results on sulfiteing with campden tabs. Should I sulfite now? Then proceed with months of clearing? It's been about one week fermenting in a bucket, and finished fermenting in glass after another week. I have sampled the wine, my wife too, we both like it, it's a tad strong, but nice, flavorful, and dry. Anything wrong with drinking Virgin wine?
 

garymc

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The only thing wrong with drinking Virgin wine is that you won't have as much wine later when it will probably be better. Oh, and it increases the amount of topping up you have to do when you rack. If it's still putting out co2, you don't need to sulfite it yet, but it won't hurt unless it's very slowly still fermenting. A high alcohol batch might taper the end of the fermenting as only the real trooper yeast cells will be active. The best solution to wanting to drink green wine is either a long straw or get some more buckets and carboys and stockpile a hundred or two bottles of wine.
 

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GaryMC has it right. I wish I still had a bottle of a couple of my first wine batches from 2 years ago. But then I started out making 1 gallon batches. Still only doing 3 gallon batches for the most part. Find that's the biggest containers I want to carry up and down from the basement.

So you should have plenty for later BUT I would suggest you take notes (Both of you) on the wine as it tastes now vs even just one year from now.
 

Aerocycle

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Figures! Drink now less later! Darn!

Well, it's my first batch of wine I usually brew beer, but wine is quite a bit different to me. I do my best to be patient and let it clear. I'm glad it tastes good now, even with a high abv%.

I have learned a lot, not only from my expeience, but searching this forums, and many of you helping others. I plan to get a batch of plum wine going in a few weeks, I'll try for a 5 gallon batch instead of 6 like this one that ran out of room.

I just finished racking the wine off a solid chunk of sediment, it's ready to sit a while I think, I now have a sediment free 5 gallon, and a 3/4 full 1 gallon that's 1/2 sediment....
I was trying to get as much wine as possible.

I did campden tablet the 5 gallon, though the powder is difficult to dissolve.

I enjoy making wine/beer, at times it becomes stressful figuring out what the correct steps to do are.
 

Scooter68

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When racking I usually just grind up the campden tablet well and put it into the carboy before I start racking. There should be enough movement with the wine going in to completely dissolve ground up campden tablets.

BUT as many will tell you - if you are doing 5 gallon batches you should probably just use K-Meta powder instead of Campden tablets. I still use the tablets simply because all my batches are 1 gallon or 3 gallons and the tablets are easy to measure - but when you hit 5 gallons, the powder is a lot easier to deal with. I have both but just prefer tablets for treating batches.

By the way a shot glass and any wood handled utensil with a round end works well for tablet grinding. Just don't stick your face too close - The dust surprised me and choke choke, cough, cough from the little bit of dust is no fun. Then if I am dissolving the tablet I put warm water into the shot glass and mix.
 

Arne

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When racking I usually just grind up the campden tablet well and put it into the carboy before I start racking. There should be enough movement with the wine going in to completely dissolve ground up campden tablets.

BUT as many will tell you - if you are doing 5 gallon batches you should probably just use K-Meta powder instead of Campden tablets. I still use the tablets simply because all my batches are 1 gallon or 3 gallons and the tablets are easy to measure - but when you hit 5 gallons, the powder is a lot easier to deal with. I have both but just prefer tablets for treating batches.

By the way a shot glass and any wood handled utensil with a round end works well for tablet grinding. Just don't stick your face too close - The dust surprised me and choke choke, cough, cough from the little bit of dust is no fun. Then if I am dissolving the tablet I put warm water into the shot glass and mix.
Try using two teaspoons. Put the tablet in one, place the other over it and press down, kinda rolling the top spoon a abit. Arne.
 
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