Lugs per bucket?

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Meadini

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Hello folks!
Im planning an aggressive(for me) grape buy this fall. I know it’s super early, but I want to plan out my purchases this summer. I have several 6.5 gallon buckets. How many lugs can I ferment in one of these?
 

Ajmassa

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more than 1. less than 2. if fermenting in them your gonna need to leave some space for the cap and to stir without a big mess. at least 1/4 bucket. tbh probably best to just assume 1 bucket per lug and over-prepare. but likely able to get away with like 3 lugs in 2 buckets (btw would be so much easier moving them in the buckets but ferment in one larger tub or brute trash can imo )

ballpark estimate: lbs of grapes divided by 10 = gal of crushed must. ex.
40lbs= 4gal
100lbs = 10 gal
300lbs= 30gal
 

Tim3

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Hi Meadini,
I hate to say it, but it depends on your plan for potential waterback or saignee. Though assuming you’re not planning on any additions or saignee, you can generally expect to ferment up to 48 pounds of grapes per 6.5 gallon fermentor. So assuming your lugs are 36 lbs, just 1.33 lugs per bucket or 4 lugs for every 3 buckets.
 

Johnd

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@Meadini my rule of thumb (for reds with skins) is that three lugs takes up 10 gallons of fermentation space, produces 7 to 7.5 gallons of wine after pressing, and 6.5 to 7 gallons of finished wine.

Don’t be afraid to buy a large food grade trash can to ferment in, one big can is much less work than 8 buckets.
 

winemaker81

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I use 32 gallon Rubbermaid Brutes for fermentation, putting 4 lugs in each. This size is FAR larger than I need, the 20 gallon would probably be more than enough. However, the 32's are big enough to handle anything I might want and although they cost a bit more, they cover every need I can visualize.

Another plus -- the Brutes have good handles so picking them up is easier and safer than a lot of other containers. I don't pick up a 144 lb load by myself, but my son and I have no problem moving a Brute.
 

Jay204

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Another vote for what @Johnd and @winemaker81 said. Save yourself the hassle and buy a bigger container. Less containers means less work when it comes to adding enzymes/additives/nutrients, pitching yeast, punch downs, monitoring SG, etc.

Also, I'd also recommend not trying to make too many different varietals (in case that was your plan) unless you plan on blending them. I made that mistake my first year and it was a real pain when it came to carboy/container management and topping up.
 

winemaker81

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Also, I'd also recommend not trying to make too many different varietals (in case that was your plan) unless you plan on blending them.
I can attest to this being a problem, having done it myself. I got to the point where purity of varietal went by the wayside, so topping up Zinfandel with Merlot or Malbec worked.

I'm thinking about buying a couple of 12 gallon Brutes to use for smaller batches. I've got several 7/8 gallon primaries with lid, but in a few cases they were a bit on the small side. A 12 gallon will let me ferment up to 8 gallons (maybe more) with no concern for a vigorous fermentation overflowing the container.
 

BarrelMonkey

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I use 32 gallon Rubbermaid Brutes for fermentation, putting 4 lugs in each. This size is FAR larger than I need, the 20 gallon would probably be more than enough. However, the 32's are big enough to handle anything I might want and although they cost a bit more, they cover every need I can visualize.

Another plus -- the Brutes have good handles so picking them up is easier and safer than a lot of other containers. I don't pick up a 144 lb load by myself, but my son and I have no problem moving a Brute.
You can also get a dolly for the larger (20+ gallon) Brutes, which might be useful depending on your situation.
 

heatherd

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Hello folks!
Im planning an aggressive(for me) grape buy this fall. I know it’s super early, but I want to plan out my purchases this summer. I have several 6.5 gallon buckets. How many lugs can I ferment in one of these?
Some lugs are 18# and some are 30# so be sure to account for that variable.
 

Meadini

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What a wealth of information! Thank you all for the responses. There’s definitely a lot more I need to think about-I was absolutely gonna get a bunch of varietals. I wanted to make a “super” Tuscan, depending on the grapes available. I still might, but I’m also going to make a Grenache, if that variety is available. That’s my first choice so everything else will revolve around that. It looks like I will need 2-20 gallon brutes which shouldn’t be a problem. Now I just have to decide what else to fill them with, haha!
 

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