Homemade vs. Commercial and what I am doing to close the gap

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ZebraB

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Question: Now that it has be suggested to target a lower SO2, how are you planning on implementing this? Since I am fairly new to wine making, I'm not sure how much goes away over time in a glass carboy. Do you target the high end for the PH and check every 3 months? Or put it slightly higher for insurance knowing free SO2 will go down over time? If the target adds are 30 for a 3.6 PH. Given that there is some SO2 from fermentation. (n of 1 = 13PPM) this puts it slightly above middle of the range.

I have a white wine with 3.1 PH and is at 16PPM, so not sure when I should check again or if I should add some more since it is just 3 weeks from completing fermentation with many more months ahead. I definitely want to put the minimal amount of SO2 since it is my best batch so far. Any advise would be appreciated.

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Rice_Guy

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TA wasn't discussed,. . .Perhaps this is due to the nature of the fruit in our region, where the fruit always ripens, but maintaining acidity is the challenge.
:) Did you just say you would like to import some of our wonderful northern grapes? :)


I have a white wine with 3.1 PH and is at 16PPM,
Oxygen is the enemy therefore I would let good enough alone, as in the meeting notes I try to minimize number of times I treat the wine.
 
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NorCal

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Question: Now that it has be suggested to target a lower SO2, how are you planning on implementing this? Since I am fairly new to wine making, I'm not sure how much goes away over time in a glass carboy. Do you target the high end for the PH and check every 3 months? Or put it slightly higher for insurance knowing free SO2 will go down over time? If the target adds are 30 for a 3.6 PH. Given that there is some SO2 from fermentation. (n of 1 = 13PPM) this puts it slightly above middle of the range.

I have a white wine with 3.1 PH and is at 16PPM, so not sure when I should check again or if I should add some more since it is just 3 weeks from completing fermentation with many more months ahead. I definitely want to put the minimal amount of SO2 since it is my best batch so far. Any advise would be appreciated.
I plan on being mindful of what I have learned from this knowledgeable winemaker and the big takeaway on SO2 management was prevention; make the big acid adjustment up-front to prevent the need of adding 50+ ppm every time. I did a study a few years ago, where I kept track of how much SO2 dropped in different containers over a few vintages. Using a glass carboy, solid bung as the baseline, the FlexTank consumed 2X the SO2 and the 60 gallon barrel 4X the SO2 as the carboy. So where I was adding 10 in the carboy, I would need to add 20 in the flex and 40 in the barrel. For these reasons, I check the barrel every 8 weeks, Flextanks/Spiedels every 10 weeks and glass carboys every 12 weeks. I will target the high end of the addition scale on the front-end and taper to the low-end of the range as I approach bottling, keeping other factors in mind like the alcohol content, tannin and if I think the wine will be put away for a while.

I agree with @Rice_Guy , I would leave the white wine alone. You are at the top end already. Check again in 3 months.
 

NorCal

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:) Did you just say you would like to import some of our wonderful northern grapes? :)
Perhaps a blend? A 50% Northern Hybrid with some Sierra Foothills Petite Sirah / Petit Verdot. I bet that would make a decent wine.

I usually make Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot each year for blending purposes with my Cab Franc or Cab Sauv. Last year I had extra of both so I bottled a few cases of 50% PS/50% PV. It is quite tannic and not drinkable at this point, but I think another 3 years or so, it may be approachable. However, if it had a lighter, lower brix blending partner, it could be quite the match.
 

Chuck E

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Ss Brewtech has a 10 gallon, jacketed brite tank. At $550 that's pricey, but it means you could have total temperature control on a small scale. The small glycol heater/chiller is the key expensive component. I think we are looking at temps between 0 to 30C to take on "cold soaking" to optimal fermentation. I think this could be done for about $2 large.
 

jsbeckton

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Ss Brewtech has a 10 gallon, jacketed brite tank. At $550 that's pricey, but it means you could have total temperature control on a small scale. The small glycol heater/chiller is the key expensive component. I think we are looking at temps between 0 to 30C to take on "cold soaking" to optimal fermentation. I think this could be done for about $2 large.
Can do same thing with a cheap/used chest freezer and a temperature controller. I think the issue is more challenging for those making 1000# at a time.
 

mainshipfred

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I use a chest freezer as well. It's only a 7 cuft and I wish I would have gotten the 10. I did raise the lid about a foot and build a removable shelf and can get four 6 gallon buckets in it easily.
 

jsbeckton

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I use a chest freezer as well. It's only a 7 cuft and I wish I would have gotten the 10. I did raise the lid about a foot and build a removable shelf and can get four 6 gallon buckets in it easily.
I also made an immersion probe so I can control the must/wort temperature directly rather than try to infer what it must be based on air temp. Takes a lot of guess work out of it.

I only make ~10/gal at a time so should be really easy to soak @55 for 4-5 days then warm it up for fermentation.
 

jsbeckton

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Was there any discussion of yeast? I now that many breweries maintain proprietary strains so was wondering if wineries do the same or if they are just using what is commercially available?
 

NorCal

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Was there any discussion of yeast? I now that many breweries maintain proprietary strains so was wondering if wineries do the same or if they are just using what is commercially available?
There were a number of yeast mentioned, but all commercially available that you would use for Rhone and Bordeaux wines. Most their wines are made with multiple strains, including some non-sac yeasts.
 

Rice_Guy

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The one commercial guy who is part of the Vinters club uses several yeast “to add complexity “.
Was there any discussion of yeast? I know that many breweries maintain proprietary strains so was wondering if wineries do the same or if they are just using what is commercially available?
Operating a micro lab with the ability to maintain pure culture is a dedicated operation, this would include periodically testing culture to make sure it was still doing what it was supposed to. Gallo might afford it but small guys couldn’t.
The brewery standard is reuse yeast five (?) times then regrow a starter from pure culture to minimize contamination/wandering genetics. Yes Miller has a micro department.
 

jsbeckton

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Operating a micro lab with the ability to maintain pure culture is a dedicated operation, this would include periodically testing culture to make sure it was still doing what it was supposed to. Gallo might afford it but small guys couldn’t.
I think that the mega breweries have micro labs but wouldn’t be surprised if the smaller ones just pay a lab to develop/maintain a strain that they use. It can make a big difference IMO as some of these breweries will publish their recipe but it’s hard to replicate without that yeast strain. Some go so far as to tell yo how to steal it from a bottle of their beer (Bells)!
 

mainshipfred

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The one commercial guy who is part of the Vinters club uses several yeast “to add complexity “.

Anything I make over 6 gallons gets 3 yeasts for added complexity. I'm still not to the point where I know which 3 work best together for the particular varietal. For now I first go with a recommended yeast for that varietal then see what profiles the different ones contribute. A lot of times it turns out to be an eenie meenie miney mo.
 

Rice_Guy

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I think that the mega breweries have micro labs but wouldn’t be surprised if the smaller ones just pay a lab to develop/maintain a strain that they use. It can make a big difference IMO as some of these breweries will publish their recipe but it’s hard to replicate without that yeast strain. Some go so far as to tell yo how to steal it from a bottle of their beer (Bells)!
You are correct that suppliers are willing to "customize" a product in part since it hooks me on having only one supplier. I laugh since the start usually is marketing saying we wanted exactly like competitor "X".

With the winery manager from the club, he does not ferment a blended yeast. What he is looking for is the individual traits which can be produced with healthy individual yeast. For the equipment he has, this means primary is in tote sized HDPE and he is forced to combine when it goes to his secondary which is a floating lid Stainless. The Vinters club has gotten to taste the wine produced from several yeast selections on the same juice and they are different. I agree @mainshipfred when a yeast test is lined up on a table with a score sheet, it has felt like "an eenie meenie miney mo".
We have a lot of variables besides the yeast, , , , , , I am still on the learning curve for making wine.
 

MiBor

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To me, this is the most interesting and informative thread on these forums so far. I am deeply thankful to @NorCal and all the other contributors for sharing this wealth of information with the rest of us. This thread made me think hard about my winemaking techniques and how I could improve the quality of my wines without spending a whole lot of money on professional equipment. I also decided to start getting ready early for next season so, after re-reading the thread for the 5th time, I came to the conclusion that temperature control is what would make a lot of difference in my winemaking. It would enable me to do longer cold soaks and extended maceration, as well as stretching the AF time to some degree. So I went and bought a refrigerated circulator with a digital control on eBay (Neslab RTE-111), and 100' of stainless steel tubing to make a custom heat exchanger in my insulated fermenter. I'm familiar with heated/refrigerated bath circulators from work (defense industry) and I know how to use them. I think that with an external temperature probe in a long theromwell, I can control the liquid must temperature to +/-1 degree F. What I'm not sure about is how to create some gentle agitation in the must for even temperature distribution. One idea I've had was to use a circulation pump (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SG3XSDD/?coliid=I1U2UPEY3FV6F5&colid=2YK76CEZXAYU1&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it) on a timer to do a pump-over every 15-20 minutes. That would probably work well and make me feel better about only being able to punch down the cap in the early morning and late in the evening. If anyone has other ideas, I'm open to suggestions.
 

NorCal

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To me, this is the most interesting and informative thread on these forums so far. I am deeply thankful to @NorCal and all the other contributors for sharing this wealth of information with the rest of us. This thread made me think hard about my winemaking techniques and how I could improve the quality of my wines without spending a whole lot of money on professional equipment. I also decided to start getting ready early for next season so, after re-reading the thread for the 5th time, I came to the conclusion that temperature control is what would make a lot of difference in my winemaking. It would enable me to do longer cold soaks and extended maceration, as well as stretching the AF time to some degree. So I went and bought a refrigerated circulator with a digital control on eBay (Neslab RTE-111), and 100' of stainless steel tubing to make a custom heat exchanger in my insulated fermenter. I'm familiar with heated/refrigerated bath circulators from work (defense industry) and I know how to use them. I think that with an external temperature probe in a long theromwell, I can control the liquid must temperature to +/-1 degree F. What I'm not sure about is how to create some gentle agitation in the must for even temperature distribution. One idea I've had was to use a circulation pump (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SG3XSDD/?coliid=I1U2UPEY3FV6F5&colid=2YK76CEZXAYU1&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it) on a timer to do a pump-over every 15-20 minutes. That would probably work well and make me feel better about only being able to punch down the cap in the early morning and late in the evening. If anyone has other ideas, I'm open to suggestions.
Please do start a thread when you pull this together. I agree that temp control during fermentation is THE big process differentiator that separates good home made wine and excellent commercial wine.
 
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