Malolactic Fermentation Help

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DonnyDarko19

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I had a question about MLF. After a week of fermenting 100 lbs of merlot grapes with EC-1118, I pressed my grapes on Friday and racked off the gross lees on Sunday. I have not added any sulfites since the crush. When I racked on Sunday, I had to top off with a similar store bought wine. 3 bottles in total. This is when I added my vial of White Labs WLP675 Malo bacteria. It's been a couple of days and I have seen ZERO activity (no bubbles). Is this normal? Should I try a different bacteria or is it too late for that? I've maintained 70F in the carboy. Any guidance is appreciated.
 

Johnd

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I had a question about MLF. After a week of fermenting 100 lbs of merlot grapes with EC-1118, I pressed my grapes on Friday and racked off the gross lees on Sunday. I have not added any sulfites since the crush. When I racked on Sunday, I had to top off with a similar store bought wine. 3 bottles in total. This is when I added my vial of White Labs WLP675 Malo bacteria. It's been a couple of days and I have seen ZERO activity (no bubbles). Is this normal? Should I try a different bacteria or is it too late for that? I've maintained 70F in the carboy. Any guidance is appreciated.
It's good that you've added no sulfites to the wine, as they can inhibit MLF, and the little that you got from store bought wine is of little concern. The liquid Malo is notoriously picky and lots of folks here have had difficulties getting it to complete, using nutrients for the bacteria (like Opti-Malo) will increase your chances. Spending a little more $ on a bacteria like VP-41, CH-16, Enoferm Beta, etc., will also improve your chances.

Timing of application plays a role as well. MLB prefer an environment with pH 3.3 and higher, lower alcohol content, warmer temps, and no sulfite. Many of us choose to add our MLB and nutrients early in the process to facilitate the establishment of the MLB. Inoculating right after starting AF allows the MLB to establish in a no alcohol, no sulfite environment, with increasing temps due to alcoholic fermentation.

Since it's too late to inoculate just after AF starts, get your temps in the 75F range and monitor your progress with chromotography of malic acid strips. If you have no success, consider switching to a more hearty MLB, using rehydration additives (like Acti-ML), and nutrients.
 

bshef

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Can I store the leftover dry MLB in the freezer?
 

Johnd

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Can I store the leftover dry MLB in the freezer?
If I recall, the package says to use it all once opened, as it doesn't keep well. You can't over apply it, so consider using it all up. I've read here that some folks have resealed the package and used it later in the season, but I don't know if it would last til next season..........
 

CDrew

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Can I store the leftover dry MLB in the freezer?
Unclear but I did the experiment this year. I used 1/2 package CH16, then immediately vacuum sealed and used the remainder 2 weeks later. I’ll know in a couple weeks if successful but I expect to be.
 

bshef

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Ugh. I'm trying a one gallon batch of fresh Cab Franc. I may try the Wyeast liquid MLB or I may not bother with MLF.
 

heatherd

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I had a question about MLF. After a week of fermenting 100 lbs of merlot grapes with EC-1118, I pressed my grapes on Friday and racked off the gross lees on Sunday. I have not added any sulfites since the crush. When I racked on Sunday, I had to top off with a similar store bought wine. 3 bottles in total. This is when I added my vial of White Labs WLP675 Malo bacteria. It's been a couple of days and I have seen ZERO activity (no bubbles). Is this normal? Should I try a different bacteria or is it too late for that? I've maintained 70F in the carboy. Any guidance is appreciated.
A couple things to consider:
This guide at Morewine will walk you through the steps of the process. https://morewinemaking.com/category/starting-grapes.html

Best of luck!
 

DonnyDarko19

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It's good that you've added no sulfites to the wine, as they can inhibit MLF, and the little that you got from store bought wine is of little concern. The liquid Malo is notoriously picky and lots of folks here have had difficulties getting it to complete, using nutrients for the bacteria (like Opti-Malo) will increase your chances. Spending a little more $ on a bacteria like VP-41, CH-16, Enoferm Beta, etc., will also improve your chances.

Timing of application plays a role as well. MLB prefer an environment with pH 3.3 and higher, lower alcohol content, warmer temps, and no sulfite. Many of us choose to add our MLB and nutrients early in the process to facilitate the establishment of the MLB. Inoculating right after starting AF allows the MLB to establish in a no alcohol, no sulfite environment, with increasing temps due to alcoholic fermentation.

Since it's too late to inoculate just after AF starts, get your temps in the 75F range and monitor your progress with chromotography of malic acid strips. If you have no success, consider switching to a more hearty MLB, using rehydration additives (like Acti-ML), and nutrients.
Thanks so much for the advice! I have read on this forum (after the fact) that people have had issues with liquid MLB. I will be sure to use the freeze dried type from now on as it seems to be more reliable. I will get the temperature up to 75 and monitor its progress. I have already ordered some CH16 and Opti-Malo so I'll have it ready to go in case the White Labs variety doesn't progress. I will certainly rethink the timing of application for my future batches.

Thank you again for taking the time to provide some advice to a novice. I appreciate it! Cheers!
 

DonnyDarko19

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A couple things to consider:
This guide at Morewine will walk you through the steps of the process. https://morewinemaking.com/category/starting-grapes.html

Best of luck!
Thanks for the advice! It's good to know that there may not be signs of fermentation. I will monitor the progress with some malic acid strips. I have ordered some freeze dried CH16 and some Opti-Malo. They arrive Thursday and I may go ahead and do ass you suggest and add them. And thanks for the additional resources! I will definitely save them and use them, especially for future batches!

Thank you again! Cheers!
 

jgmillr1

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Can I store the leftover dry MLB in the freezer?
I have resealed and stored a pouch in the fridge as a backup in case a barrel didn't complete MLF. Only rarely have I had to redose a barrel, but it worked fine. Short term should be ok
 

bshef

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Yes thanks everyone. MLF was a little daunting to me so all the information helps. I'll see how my gallon does and blend it if necessary. I hate to waste the money on the liquid culture but even more hate to waste $25 for dried culture for one gallon. I'll keep reading and try MLF when I get a bigger batch of grapes.
 

Mcjeff

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I messed up, looking for some advice. I had a juice bucket of Cab Sauv. After primary fermentation I Added Malo bacteria. I racked the wine after 2 weeks and topped off. I then added a 1/2 Tsp of kmeta which normally do when I rack, not thinking about MLF still ongoing. I plan to let it bulk age for a while. Should I just let it go and hope the SO2 didn’t kill off the Malo, reinoculate, or ? Any thoughts?
 

jgmillr1

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I racked the wine after 2 weeks and topped off. I then added a 1/2 Tsp of kmeta which normally do when I rack
I'd guess after 2 weeks it is fully done or nearly done with MLF and not worry about it. Seems more risky to let the sulfite level drop enough to reinoculate.
 

Johnd

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I messed up, looking for some advice. I had a juice bucket of Cab Sauv. After primary fermentation I Added Malo bacteria. I racked the wine after 2 weeks and topped off. I then added a 1/2 Tsp of kmeta which normally do when I rack, not thinking about MLF still ongoing. I plan to let it bulk age for a while. Should I just let it go and hope the SO2 didn’t kill off the Malo, reinoculate, or ? Any thoughts?
I doubt seriously, with sequential inoculation, that MLF would be complete in two weeks. Satisfy your curiosity with a chromatography test, or test strips, and then decide how to proceed once you know the results.
 

mainshipfred

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Even with the workhorse MLBs, proper re-hydration, nutrients and temperatures, sequential MLF cannot fully complete in 2 weeks. 2 months is probably more like it. As far as reinoculating keep in mind MLB also has a total SO2 tolerance.
 

Mcjeff

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I doubt seriously, with sequential inoculation, that MLF would be complete in two weeks. Satisfy your curiosity with a chromatography test, or test strips, and then decide how to proceed once you know the results.
A follow up. I tested and my Cabernet which has been in my chest freezer/heat box at 70F looks like the Malo has been nearly converted, small faint dot. My Syrah which has been in my basement at 64F looks like it still has a lot of malolactic acid in it as the dot is larger/streaked and more distinct. So I plan to let them go a little longer and test again, then I’ll put the Syrah in the heat.
Any concerns with this plan?
 

Johnd

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A follow up. I tested and my Cabernet which has been in my chest freezer/heat box at 70F looks like the Malo has been nearly converted, small faint dot. My Syrah which has been in my basement at 64F looks like it still has a lot of malolactic acid in it as the dot is larger/streaked and more distinct. So I plan to let them go a little longer and test again, then I’ll put the Syrah in the heat.
Any concerns with this plan?
Not big concerns, a little more heat on the Syrah will probably get you complete / sulfited a bit more quickly.
 

Mcjeff

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Follow up to my previous. Here are my Feb and March Chromotography charts. It looks like I still have Malo. Forgive me my first time testing. Is this what I should expect? The Cab is the one I accidentally added some Kmeta, but the Syrah should be good. The Syrah is in my temp controlled freezer at 67F, the Cab is at 63-64F. Any suggestions?
 
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