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dloftus

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I have found recipes on the internet for muscadine wine, but they are for wild muscadines. I'm growing the Ison (a dark muscadine) in a cultivated vineyard as my cross pollinator. This particular grapes runs about 18% sugar and are well fertilized and watered. How does this change the recipe?

The other variety I'm growing is the Supreme (also from Ison nursery) and is a fresh fruit grape. They are not well suited to wine production because they are not very color fast and the wine will turn brown.

Here's two folders of photos of the vineyard.

http://www.pbase.com/dloftus/vineyard
http://www.pbase.com/dloftus/vineyard_year_3

I have made beer before and did a few wines from concentrate, but that was 25 years ago, so I consider myself a 'newbie' Thanks for any help you can offer
 

smurfe

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You crush and press your grapes and obtain an SG. You then add sugar dissolved in water to increase your SG to the level you need, normally above 1.090 You will have to deal with the acidity as well. Many of the recipes you see will be basically the same regardless if it is a wild grape or a hybrid. You basically treat them both the same as you will need to add sugar and adjust acidity determined by the brix and acidity of the grapes at hand.

Smurfe :)
 

Sacalait

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WOW!! That is some setup. How many vines do you have and what do you plan on doing with all the fruit? I have 29 vines and only use a small portion of the fruit for wine, the rest I sell for fresh eating.

I hope you fare better than me on the supreme variety, I had 6 and removed them because I was dissatisfied with the flavor. To me, they were sweet but lacked flavor. I've replaced them with black beauty and I'm much more satisfied. In my opinion, black beauty, ison and sugar gate are my the best cultivated varities for wine.
 

smurfe

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Muscadine, how many vines would I need for lets say a couple 6 gallon batches a year? Also, do you have any problems with birds eating your fruits?

Smurfe :)
 

dloftus

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Thanks for the input on the wine technique. As for my vineyard, I have 14 rows and each one has 21 vines, which comes to 294 vines. Then I will do the same thing again with two golden varieties. Right now I’m looking at Pam and Granny Val.

You have a point about the Supreme. I have noticed that some are very flavorful and some are not. I’m hoping it has to do with fertilization and watering. We had a very dry year and did a LOT of irrigating so I’m wondering if that was a problem. The reason I went with the Supreme is that, according to Ison’s, they are very large, very sweet and thin skin for eating. My main market will be for fresh fruit and will try local grocers and roadside stands.

Once again according to Ison’s, my yield should be about 50-60 pounds per vine for the Supreme and 70-90 pounds per vine for the Ison (a more traditional muscadine grape). These yields are for mature vines, five years old and older. This past season, my oldest vines were just three years old. I think I have about 100 pounds of the Ison to try and make some wine and jelly from. I also processed some of the Supreme grapes into juice and will try jelly from them also.

I have Ison’s book on Muscadine grapes, access to information on the internet, my county Ag agent, and the Ag department here at the University of Florida. I’m still in the learning curve and sometimes I look out over the vines and say, “What the heck am I doing???” Then I just put my head down and go back to picking weeds, spraying or what ever needs to be done that weekend. I will have to say, it is a challenge starting the vineyard and having a day job. There is just not enough hours in the day sometimes. But … you know … I enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to retiring in about 4 years because it will take the pressure off doing the vineyard.

Gee, that was long winded.
 

Sacalait

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Smurfe, 3 five yr old vines would likely provide an adequet amount of fruit for 12gals. You should shoot for 5-6lbs of fruit/gal of wine. Any more than that and you'll be running into an acid problem.

dloftus, first of all I'm not an expert. I planted my vines in 1999 and have made adjustments along the line. I also have read Ison's book a number of times and have learned much from it. I've found that the favorite or most requested variety is the darlene for fresh fruit and after that is the black beauty. The bigger and sweeter the fruit the better.

As for soil type and the supreme...I had filter press (residual matter from a sugar mill) hauled in (maybe 3 ins) and I planted in this stuff. I know this sounds strange but it works. Afterwards I had a soil test done and it showed the soil was optimum or off the scale on all components except nitrogen. Anyway, after adding the nitrogen and having the optimum soil I still didn't like the supreme. However, everything else benefited from it.

It takes me about 4hrs every 3 days to pick my crop of 29 vines so tell me your plan on how you're going to pick 294.

I've rambled a lot, let me know if I can help.
 

dloftus

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Muscadine,

Sounds like you have been doing your research! What did your PH finally settle at? I had to add dolomite last year because I was a bit low at 5.5 to 5.8 so I’m trying to bring it up to about 6.5. I understand that will help make the grapes sweeter. I was told to wait until the end of Feb. or beginning of March to see how much the PH has changed and if I need more.

As for the flavor, it may have to do with each vine’s genetic makeup and I’ll have to monitor it. But, of course, it’s a bit late to change varieties now!

The other half of the vineyard will be two varieties of golden muscadine and I’m looking at Pam and Granny Val. Do you have any thoughts on these? Is there a nursery other than Ison’s producing good varieties of muscadines?

As for picking, my plan is to make some catch frames that will go under the trellis and then I’ll gently whack the vines with a Nerf rod and knock the ripe fruit loose. I think using three frames and playing leap frog along the trellis will keep fruit ahead of me from falling to the ground. I’m also going to make a cold storage room so I can hold the grapes for a few days while I get enough together to make a trip to the market. I understand it is vital to get the grapes cold as soon as possible after picking to help maintain sweetness.
 
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smurfe

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Muscadine, you have had good luck with the Sugargate variety? I looked in an Ison's catalog and it says not recommended in the Gulf Coast area. I don't know if they mean right on the coast but we are close enough. I value your input. Also, what are you using as pollinators for the female varieties? The Ison?

Smurfe :)
 

Sacalait

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dloftus,
Calcium ppm 2338
Magnesium ppm 490
PH 6.7
Phosphorus ppm 915
Potassium ppm 300
Sodium ppm 68

These values were from a soil test taken in 2002 and after the filter press was added, I haven't retested since. I think you can see from these figures why I'm hooked on filter press.

My gold varities are Pam, Florida fry, Dixieland, Pineapple and Darlene. Of these, I'd say Darlene and Pam are the standouts, Florida fry and Dixieland I wouldn't plant again.

It takes me 2-3 days to prune my vines but I do them one at a time and by hand. Are you going to employ a mechanical pruner?

smurfe, sugar gate is one of my favorites. They ripen about a week ahead of the others and are very sweet.
Ison is the prime pollinator for me and a good producer. All you need is one of these if you have the space available.
 

dloftus

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Muscadine,

Your PH is right on. I’ll have to check my soil tests and I’ll get back to you on the numbers I have. I'm at work, the data sheets are at home.

Since you have had good luck with the Darlene, maybe I’ll try that instead of the Granny Val. I’ll take a closer look at Ison’s catalog. Do you get your vines from Ison’s also? So far, because of the Supreme, they are the only name I’ve seen mentioned.

I do all the pruning myself by hand, and since my vines are young, hand pruning was not difficult. As the vines get older, I can see using a gas powered hedge trimmer to do the rough prune and finish by hand. Depending on how much time it takes me, I may have the youth from our church come out and help and then make a donation to the youth fund for the hours they help out. Kind of a win-win situation.

You mentioned the filter press. Until now, I haven’t heard of one. How is it being used in the vineyard? Is it taking minerals out of the water or just particulate matter? Right now, I’m just using the well water as it comes out of the ground. Because I’m using microjets, I don’t even use an inline filter to remove particles. The tips are large enough they don’t clog.
 

Sacalait

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If you take a look at Ison's catalog you'll see that Darlene is close to the top as far as size and sugar content. I've had folks ask for those specifically, they're that good.

Filter press is a by product from a sugar mill. There are misters in the smoke stack that keep most of the smoke from going into the atmosphere. You now have a water carbon mixture and that is mixed with the particles thrown off when the cane is crushed and are then gathered in the filtering process...hence filter press. It's a very fine black substance that'll make a mess on your clothes and hands but once the grass grows over it then it's contained. Many of the gardeners around here try to get it cause it really enhances the soil. If there are any sugar mills in your vacinity you should look into it.

Ison's holds the patent on many of the top varities, so yes that's where I generally get mine.
 

smurfe

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If you take a look at Ison's catalog you'll see that Darlene is close to the top as far as size and sugar content. I've had folks ask for those specifically, they're that good.

Filter press is a by product from a sugar mill. There are misters in the smoke stack that keep most of the smoke from going into the atmosphere. You now have a water carbon mixture and that is mixed with the particles thrown off when the cane is crushed and are then gathered in the filtering process...hence filter press. It's a very fine black substance that'll make a mess on your clothes and hands but once the grass grows over it then it's contained. Many of the gardeners around here try to get it cause it really enhances the soil. If there are any sugar mills in your vacinity you should look into it.

Ison's holds the patent on many of the top varities, so yes that's where I generally get mine.
Do you have to go to the mills to get the sugar press yourself or do they deliver it? I don't really know where the closest operating mill is to me. I live on the east side of the river. I remember when I worked in Donaldsonville there were a few around there though. That was around 8 years ago though. I will have to check this out. You probably can't haul it is the back of a pick-up can you?

Smurfe :)
 

Sacalait

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smurfe,
I had it hauled in by dump truck (23 loads) at about $45/load. If there is a mill near you they can tell you how to get it. It's actually somthing they have to get rid of but now that more people are finding out about the benefits of the stuff I wouldn't be surprised if they started selling it. The load price was only for the hauling, the mill gives it away.
 

dloftus

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Muscadine,
I checked Ison’s catalog and it looks like I need to plant Pam and/or Darlene since they are both female vines. I’ll use the Granny Val as the self-fertile variety. What differences do you find between Pam and Darlene? Ison’s recommended Pam for my area, but I’m not sure why.

I found my soil test results for the area I will plant this year. I took samples from the north end, central and southern end of the vineyard and I’m averaging them together below:

Calcium (ppm) – 295 – high/very high
Magnesium (ppm) – 53 - high
PH – 5.5 A-E buffer value of 7.25
Phosphorus (ppm) – 167 – very high, actually exceeds working range of test procedure.
Potassium (ppm) – 102 - high
I have no reading for Sodium

My test was done at the University of Florida Soil Testing Laboratory and the report says “Mehlich-1 Extractable”, I’m guessing this is the type of procedure they use. The “high” or “very high” is what they listed in a chart next to the results.

I have a soil test that I did two years earlier on the first three rows I planted and the results were all lower, but the PH was the same. I don’t know if there was a difference in test procedure or how I did my samples (I did take my sample much lower in the ground, about 18 inches vs. 5 inches for the test above). I’m going to do another soil test in about a month or so since I want to give the dolomite as long as possible to be absorbed into the soil. It was put down in late May of 2006.

Well, my results are very different from yours. What test did they use? Could there be a decimal point missing? It seems our results get much closer if you add a decimal point just before the last digit.

Thanks for the info on the filter press. Now I understand what you mean. There are sugar mills in Florida, but they are in the southern part of the state and I’m up by Gainesville (north central) about 275-300 miles distance. That’s a bit of a long haul!
 

Sacalait

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OK folks, I'm back new computer and all!

dloftus, from the figures you listed it appears you're right on target. Good luck with your vinyard.
 

dloftus

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Muscadine,

Glad your back on line and congrats on the new computer. I have been working on the vineyard when ever I get a chance. I used a self powered roto tiller to go up and down the rows I haven’t planted yet to help turn in the weeds and have started cleaning up the row that got hit by lightning. There is always something to do. Take care.
 

dloftus

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Back again

Well, it has been a long time since I have been on this forum, but things have been busy. The vineyard is like having a second job. The rest of the vines are now planted so the vineyard is complete (except for a few that have died and need to be replanted, about 30 vines).

Starting last year, we opened up as a U-Pick operation. I just don’t have the time to do all the picking and my thoughts of using catch frames and shaking the vine does not work for fresh fruit. The grapes must be picked by hand if they are going to be sold as fresh fruit. My wife and I did do some picking for sale at local grocery stores but U-pick is the most economical way to go and it has worked out very well.

This year I finally decided to make it a priority to brew some wine. I had about 90 pounds of Ison variety muscadines frozen and today ran them all through a hand crank ice crusher. You know, the kind where you put in ice cubes and make crushed ice. The device is about 40 years old but it worked fine on breaking up the grapes without making too much of a mess. It did take several hours however. I now have about 11 gallons of crushed grapes and will add Camden tablets tomorrow. Right now the containers are still very cold and will let them warm up overnight.

My question is, can wine be made directly from this juice? The acid will be high (I don’t have a test kit, so I don’t know how high it is) but will it affect the yeast? Once the juice sets overnight I’ll try to get a hydrometer reading.

Don Loftus
Gainesville, Florida
 

Sacalait

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Making the wine from pure juice is something I haven't yet tried. However, I made a 5gal batch using 55lbs muscadines (mixed varieties) and only 1gal of water that turned out very well. After the wine had been racked for the last time I moved it to a spare refrigerator for 2 1/2 months in an attempt to get the tartaric acid to fall out (cal. carbonate had not been added). The acid didn't fall out as anticipated but was still very good, not too acidic. Using more fruit than the recipe calls for does produce a more flavorful wine IMO.

I also am starting a batch today. Good luck and keep us informed.




Sacalait (Used to be muscadine)
 

dloftus

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Checked SG

I checked the specific gravity this afternoon and it's 1.060 but I did not filter the juice, just took it right from the primary fermenter, but I don't know if that effects the SG very much. I will need to add sugar to get the SG higher and was thinking of going to 1.100 to 1.200 and will aim for a semi sweet wine. As I understand it, one pound of sugar per 5 gal. will raise the SG 0.010 ... is that right? Since I have about 10-11 gal. of must, I would need about 8 pounds of sugar to raise it to 1.100. When I add the sugar should I also add Campden tablets again ... along with the yeast nutrients to eliminate the chance of contamination? Sacalait, did you add sugar to your 55 lbs of muscadines?
 

dloftus

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Oops

In reading over my previous post, the target SG would be 1.100 to 1.120 ... not 1.200. Sorry about that!
 
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