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jjowers

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Hello everyone! New guy here. New to forum and to wine making. In fact, I will have my first attempt at wine making as soon as the muscadine get ready to pick. I bought a new home 3 years ago and it has about 300 feet of trellised vines behind the house. According to the last owner, were planted in the 60's. The vines were completely overgrown and had trees growing among them. They hadn't had any attention in many years. I cleaned them up and cut them back the first year. The vines have been getting healthier and producing more and more grapes for the last two years. This year, with all the rain we've had, they're covered up. As there's only so much jelly a man needs, it's wine making time. I'm buying my supplies and getting ready. I'm sure I'll be posting questions. Thanks in advance for any replies.
 

Rembee

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Welcome to WMT! I also make Muscadine wine and a blended wine with Muscadines and Blueberries. There is a lot of knowledge on this forum to help you along on your journey.
Do you know what type of Muscadine they are?
As mine start to ripen, I will pick them and freeze them until I have enough to start my wine(s). I use 6 to 7 lbs of muscadines per gallon. As you collect your supplies, buy yourself an extra hydrometer and a digital ph meter. The ph meter is a very valuable tool to have in your tool box. Depending on the type of Muscadine you have, they can be acidic which will require some ph adjustments.

Have fun, ask a lot of questions and good luck!
 

jjowers

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I'm not sure about the exact variety, but most of them are bronze and a few vines are purple. My plan was to use the freezer in the same way. I hear freezing the fruit helps break them down ending in a better result. Thanks for the info on how many lbs per gal. I've been looking for that. I didn't order a ph meter, but I will. On a side note, do you find that leaving the crushed muscadine in for the first fermentation yields better tasting wine than just running them through a juicer and tossing out the crushed fruit? Thanks.
 

Rembee

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Do not run them through a juicer. The seeds will make your wine taste bitter. The best way that I have found it to take them out of the freezer when your ready and let them thaw. Then place the bag of muscadines on the counter between 2 towels and smash them in the bag with a rubber mallet. Then pour them into a nylon brew bag and place into the primary fermenting bucket. Or you can place them in a large pot in the sink and squeeze the bejesus out of them by hand lol. But I recommend to not juice them!
You will want to ferment on the broken skins. The skins will give you a better color, give you more flavor and provide the yeast with nutrients. Make sure that you buy some powdered pectin also. Add the recommended amount to the must and allow the enzyme to work 12 to 24 hours prior to pitching the yeast.
Also ferment in a fermentation food grade bucket. Cover the bucket with a towel or cloth to keep out any nasties until the SG is below 1.020. I cover my primary bucket with a towel then place the bucket lid over the towel, loosely, to keep the towel in place.
There is much more that you will need to learn before starting your first fermentation but you have time to start gathering info before the grapes are ripe and picked.
This is a good start in your journey. If you have other questions, which I'm sure you will lol, ask away. There are many here who will be glad to help including myself. Also remember this, there will be many different opinions on a wide range of topics here. The fun part is soaking it all up and finding what works best for you!
Above all, have fun!
 
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Rembee

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I forgot to mention, the bronze muscadines or also known as scuppernong will make a white wine. Depending on the bronze variety. Some will turn to a pinkish color when they are ripe which will make a blush wine. But if they stay bronze to dark green when ripe, then I would not ferment on their skins. The bronze muscadine skins are a lot more acidic then the purple varieties. If they do turn pinkish and you want to try for a blush wine, then I would ferment on their skins for no more then 2 days after fermentation starts.
 

jjowers

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Ok. That makes sense about the seeds. Didn't think about that. Thanks for the advice. Most welcome as I don't have anyone around me that knows wine making.
 

jjowers

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I forgot to mention, the bronze muscadines or also known as scuppernong will make a white wine. Depending on the bronze variety. Some will turn to a pinkish color when they are ripe which will make a blush wine. But if they stay bronze to dark green when ripe, then I would not ferment on their skins. The bronze muscadine skins are a lot more acidic then the purple varieties. If they do turn pinkish and you want to try for a blush wine, then I would ferment on their skins for no more then 2 days after fermentation starts.
Yes, these stay bronze / greenish when ripe. So I'll make a press to get the most juice I can from them and toss them out. Thanks.
 

winemaker81

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@jjowers, welcome to WMT!

Do you have a grape press? If not, I suggest you get one. Hand methods of pressing grapes leave a lot of juice/wine behind.

I purchased a used #40 press (70 liter capacity) using Facebook Marketplace. If you buy a new press, avoid Chinese made presses due to severe quality issues. They are cheap in every sense of the word.
 

jjowers

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I don’t have a press. I’ve been looking at some online though. Any brand or size recommendations? I’m likely only going to be fermenting a 7 gallon bucket at a time so I think I could make do with a smaller one. Folks in my area don’t make wine so there’s no used ones to pick up or even to borrow.
 

winemaker81

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According to MoreWine!, presses have these capacities:

#40 18.5 gallons
#35 13.0 gallons
#30 8.0 gallons
#25 5.0 gallons
#20 2.5 gallons

Based upon my experience, a #25 or #30 will work. The advantage of the #30 is that you can probably press the entire bucket in one step. Anything below 5 gallon capacity will take several iterations to press a 7 gallon bucket of must. They are less expensive, but increase your labor and elapsed time.


Amazon lists a bunch of small presses at low prices, although a fair number (last time I looked) were Chinese manufacture. I avoid Chinese products due to generally low manufacturing quality.

You can also build your own, using a pair of fermenting buckets, some 2x4's, and a hydraulic jack. Search this forum; I saw one posted recently.

Side Note -- last fall I racked the free run wine from the must before pressing. This reduced the weight by a lot and made my life easier.
 

Chuck E

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You will want to ferment on the broken skins. The skins will give you a better color, give you more flavor and provide the yeast with nutrients. Make sure that you buy some powdered pectin also. Add the recommended amount to the must and allow the enzyme to work 12 to 24 hours prior to pitching the yeast.
Did you mean pectin enzyme?
 

Sailor323

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Here's what I built to press small quantities. Obviously it can be sized up for even larger quantities.Wine Press.jpg
 
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