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

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Ike64

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Good list @Ajmassa
The hard part is to remember to implement these come next fall. ;)
My two cents worth.
2. I minimize rackings, too (mostly because of non-wine life). Stirring the lees (batonage) occasionally is important to increase mouthfeel and reduce acid of lower pH wines.
3. Totally agree.
4. I am definitely using jugs of ice next year. My fermentations went way too fast this year.
5. I recommend thorough, but not over vigorous punch downs. Two years ago I was way to vigorous and I think I oxidized the wine/must. This year I made sure the cap was broken-up and well mixed, but I was careful not to over do it. I think this still provides the yeast with plenty of oxygen.
11. I started filtering too. I don't like using fining agents. So, I let the wine rest in carboys until late summer, do a final rack with a fine filter and bottle. It doesn't necessarily add to the sterility of the wine, but it does reduce the amount of sediment.
12. @CDrew, dittos. Also, Colorado State University has an extension, in Grand Junction, to support Colorado's wine industry. Full disclosure, I buy my grapes from them. They run a complete wine chemistry profile on the fruit when it's picked and they will also run chemistry on my wine. I usually send them samples after primary. I'd highly recommend contacting State University extensions or community colleges in viticultural areas close to where you live. In my experience, their always willing to help and answer questions.
 

stickman

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@Ajmassa all very good points. The main issue I always think about is what kind of wine are we trying to make, I imagine the answer is different for many of us. Do we match the wine making techniques to the fruit we have and the desired wine style? Here's another podcast for you, the whole podcast is good, but Pax Mahle starts at the 22 minute mark and discusses his thoughts on the wine style he likes and how he achieves it, this doesn't mean this is right for everyone, but it does show how different things can be. He's picking earlier than most, fermentation with stems included, whole cluster, sometimes a partial crush on all or part of the fruit, sometimes uses carbonic maceration which he also explains. He did receive a 100 points on one of his Syrah's, again it's not for everyone, but many very good points are discussed.

Geoff Kruth interviews Jason Haas of Tablas Creek and Pax Mahle of Pax Mahle Wines on working with Rhône grape varieties in California.
http://traffic.libsyn.com/guildsomm/Rhone_Grapes_in_California.mp3?dest-id=52314
 

ibglowin

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Thanks @stickman enjoyed the detailed talk about Rhone varietals and the Paso AVA. We hit Tablas Creek back in September. Going to more than likely make a quick road trip back up to Paso in a few weeks as we will be back in the area.
 

mainshipfred

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There are so many schools of thought on a lot of these topics, except fruit flies, and I'm afraid I'll never be able to understand most of them either through reading or practice. I truly believe in @stickman's comment on the desired wine style. That along with our belief in a theory, successful past experiences or just the fear of changing will lead us in different directions with our decision making.
1. During fermentation both primary and secondary (MLF) I have no issue with the S shaped air locks. Once the wine has off gassed substantially I always use solid bungs, especially in barrels.
2 and 11. I also don't rack very often during bulk and I have been filtering my reds with a 5 um for the same reason as you, a clearer wine. You do introduce O2 while filtering but I just run argon through a sparging stone prior to bottling. Sometimes I take DO readings and sometimes not. Whites I filter with a 1 um.
3. This one is borderline for me, I recently took a 4.2 pH Viognier down to a 3.57 pre fermentation and it's pretty good and ready to bottle. But taking it down more then .4 kind of scares me.
4. I've not played much with cold soak or EM so I can't comment on that. I do however try to maintain 75-85 must temps for reds and 50-60 on whites.
5. I do as soft a punch down as I can for the tannin reason and feel 3 times a day is adequate.
6. No comment and the CD is not perfect. I just remove the visible stems as I punch down.
7. As much as I can find no reason not to I still do a post fermentation MLF. The carboys are filled to within a half inch and I let them sit 3 months to complete. I won't do the first test for 2 months. It then gets sulfited and waits it's turn in glass or goes in a barrel.
8. Same as you with regard to finishing in primary. I'm a big fan of multiple yeasts whether non H2S or not and will more than likely never change this. Just call me stubborn!
9. Never had much of a problem with this although I can't say any of my additives ever get that old except maybe yeast.

My add to the list is waiting for the wine to become somewhat finished prior to blending and almost always provide some type of blending. My thought is blending adds to the complexity and if blending wines that have just finished secondary or close to it you just don't know what qualities they will bring in 10-12 months.
 

Ajmassa

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@Ajmassa all very good points. The main issue I always think about is what kind of wine are we trying to make, I imagine the answer is different for many of us. Do we match the wine making techniques to the fruit we have and the desired wine style? Here's another podcast for you, the whole podcast is good, but Pax Mahle starts at the 22 minute mark and discusses his thoughts on the wine style he likes and how he achieves it, this doesn't mean this is right for everyone, but it does show how different things can be. He's picking earlier than most, fermentation with stems included, whole cluster, sometimes a partial crush on all or part of the fruit, sometimes uses carbonic maceration which he also explains. He did receive a 100 points on one of his Syrah's, again it's not for everyone, but many very good points are discussed.

Geoff Kruth interviews Jason Haas of Tablas Creek and Pax Mahle of Pax Mahle Wines on working with Rhône grape varieties in California.
http://traffic.libsyn.com/guildsomm/Rhone_Grapes_in_California.mp3?dest-id=52314
“Everyone is an amateur.”
-Max Pahle on established & respected French Rhône winemakers.

^^Loved this take.

And the context wasn’t a burn. Essentially—the American winemakers striving to make the correct calls in their French grapes grown here is actually no different than what the established Frenchies are dealing with over there. Always learning, adapting to conditions and applying winemaking logic in hopes of making the right calls with everchanging harvests.

Thanks for sharing @stickman. I enjoyed it.
And by the way- he poked fun at the Cali ‘BRW style’ somewhat (Big Red Wine- where a varietal’s unique characteristics can be overshadowed by the...’bigness’), but as a home winemaker with limited means, I’m perfectly content making a quality BRW!!!


And here’s the link to the podcast I referenced yesterday about whole cluster & whole berry fermentation. Also discusses carbonic maceration, natural fermentations, and acidulated water additions to knock down high Brix°.
(If using a phone it’s also in the itunes podcast app too—plays in the background & no need leave the screen on the website.)
https://www.insidewinemaking.com/032
 
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Chuck E

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A few months ago I watched the "Wine Revealed" series. There was one episode, where the wine maker talked about everyone in California trying to make wines that would score high on Parker's scale because they would sell better. I agree that this is part of what yields Cali BRW styles.

It's ALL about the choices we make as craftsman...
 

NorCal

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I’m in search of big, but big because I got the most out of the grapes.

I’ve found I can dump Petit Verdot or even better Petite Sirah in any wine and make it big. Not always better, just darker, bolder, big tannin, but I found that these grapes are like spices and that if used in excess, will dominate the wine. However, used in moderation can add the look, feel and taste of a wine that has better extraction and complements the wine, expanding the taste on the back-end vs. changing the wine in a monolithic fashion.

I feel the closest I’ve been able to get to this goal is in my current barrel, where I deployed a number of strategies to make the best wine I could. I’ve never had a wine taste as good as it does, as young as it is (5 months). I’ve learned though that these things change and good early doesn’t always translate to good finished, so I’m keeping an eye on it.
 

cmason1957

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I’m in search of big, but big because I got the most out of the grapes.

I’ve found I can dump Petit Verdot or even better Petite Sirah in any wine and make it big. Not always better, just darker, bolder, big tannin, but I found that these grapes are like spices and that if used in excess, will dominate the wine. However, used in moderation can add the look, feel and taste of a wine that has better extraction and complements the wine, expanding the taste on the back-end vs. changing the wine in a monolithic fashion.

I feel the closest I’ve been able to get to this goal is in my current barrel, where I deployed a number of strategies to make the best wine I could. I’ve never had a wine taste as good as it does, as young as it is (5 months). I’ve learned though that these things change and good early doesn’t always translate to good finished, so I’m keeping an eye on it.
I think, if it were me, I would be out there with a straw checking it every single day or at least once a week. Just to see if it changed any and then crying when it was all gone.
 

mainshipfred

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I’m in search of big, but big because I got the most out of the grapes.

I’ve found I can dump Petit Verdot or even better Petite Sirah in any wine and make it big. Not always better, just darker, bolder, big tannin, but I found that these grapes are like spices and that if used in excess, will dominate the wine. However, used in moderation can add the look, feel and taste of a wine that has better extraction and complements the wine, expanding the taste on the back-end vs. changing the wine in a monolithic fashion.

I feel the closest I’ve been able to get to this goal is in my current barrel, where I deployed a number of strategies to make the best wine I could. I’ve never had a wine taste as good as it does, as young as it is (5 months). I’ve learned though that these things change and good early doesn’t always translate to good finished, so I’m keeping an eye on it.
I couldn't agree more with your good early/good late comment. But it can be good early and late, just different. Which is the reason for my earlier comment about waiting for a more finished wine to blend.
 
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