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Jbu50

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Want to share a story about an old school wine making method that I just heard about. Here’s the story:

My friend has an old-timer as a neighbour and got involved in his wine making projects recently. This is what they do. They buy 2 x 1000L (275 gallon) plastic food grade tanks of juice, a red and a white. The red (Barolo) is from Italy, the white (Chardonnay) from california. They haul the two tanks home on a dual axle trailer and back it up to the garage. From there they pump the juice through an opening in the garage into the basement cellar, directly into 55 gallon fermentation barrels. No additives of any kind are used. All they do is cover the plastic fermentation barrels with clear plastic…. Once the juice is fermented, they filter it 3 times, first using filter #3, then #2, then #1. Once its all filtered, they bottle and cork. My friend took home 750 bottles. Just like that.

How crazy is that? Hoping some of you guys can weigh-in on this one and share some comments.
 

MiBor

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It doesn't mean that they make great wine. It may be a decent daily drinker for them, but I don't think it would win any awards. Taste it and you'll find out. To each their own, I guess...
 

winemaker81

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The described method works.

The results will vary. I knew guys that used a similar method, excepting they used fresh grapes instead of juice. Sometimes the wine was really good, but often it had oxidation and off-flavors.

The description doesn't include time frames, e.g., how long was the wine allowed to clear. Filtering wine that hasn't cleared plugs the filter quickly.
 

Scooter68

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The described method works.

The results will vary. I knew guys that used a similar method, excepting they used fresh grapes instead of juice. Sometimes the wine was really good, but often it had oxidation and off-flavors.

The description doesn't include time frames, e.g., how long was the wine allowed to clear. Filtering wine that hasn't cleared plugs the filter quickly.
Not a grape wine maker but hopefully their process was a little more detailed than as described. What is given is almost like saying to make wine take a bottle of welch's grape juice, take the cap off for a day and then put a balloon over the top of it. No time frame no other very basic info other than to say they filtered it.
Not trying to be hard on OP or the wine makers on this but as you mentioned if their process was truly that basic, then yeah, I'd probably pass on trying that wine.

There's a bit more that goes into making a consistently good wine that is both enjoyable and safe.
 

joeswine

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to some winemaking is just that simple and to others there's a more complex way for me less is more and I've always done as they have with some exceptions ,if you follow my threads you've seen my process step by step it all depends on two things sanitation and base wine structure the rest is very simple.
 

Jbu50

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The description doesn't include time frames, e.g., how long was the wine allowed to clear. Filtering wine that hasn't cleared plugs the filter quickly.
...description is exact - as soon as fermentation is complete they filter and bottle.
 

winemaker81

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...description is exact - as soon as fermentation is complete they filter and bottle.
That pretty much eliminates oxidation.

They must go through a LOT of filters, as the wine is far from clear and I know from experience that the filters plug easily.
 

BernardSmith

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If you think about it we don't make wine. Yeast does and yeast does not need us to do anything to ferment sugar. Where the wine maker comes in is to "help" the yeast make a wine that we prefer rather than a wine that the yeast would make without our interference. If we are OK with the wine the yeast produce then all we need to do is bottle it and let the yeast have access to more juice.
 

hounddawg

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Not a grape wine maker but hopefully their process was a little more detailed than as described. What is given is almost like saying to make wine take a bottle of welch's grape juice, take the cap off for a day and then put a balloon over the top of it. No time frame no other very basic info other than to say they filtered it.
Not trying to be hard on OP or the wine makers on this but as you mentioned if their process was truly that basic, then yeah, I'd probably pass on trying that wine.

There's a bit more that goes into making a consistently good wine that is both enjoyable and safe.
um. sadly i knew very old timers just like that, and yes it was hit and miss, at a young age, i picked those, that ,, we're better, but them were very simple, the better ones main difference was, that at some time had kept the yeast from a good year, in crocks under their homes the good country wine old timers, kept several very old crocks under the house so as to rotate the yeast, so it did not die of alcohol poisoning, back then , heck even now, the difference between hill folk and city folk is night and day, 1 example, ok in my pocket change , the coins tend to be a few years old, yet when i worked in a city, my pocket change was very recent, yes travel and the net has shrunk the world, yet it is still a different pace, the closest mall to me is 50 mile one way, and to most of yawl t would almost seem like a joke, 15 mile for a traffic light for me, closet town only 2 miles away, the old timers i knew never even till death had never made a grape wine, grapes back then were not around our area, heck @NorCal had to remind me that grapes were fruits too, i had never just thought about that, where my parents live was a way better then 100 year old vine,
we ate them but after very few years it died, why,, because we had no clue that they must be trimmed back, muscadines and possum grapes the young ins climbed to the tree tops, now-a-days is different, but just fifty years ago it was a different planet, shucks maybe a different solar system,,, lol
Dawg
 

hounddawg

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If you think about it we don't make wine. Yeast does and yeast does not need us to do anything to ferment sugar. Where the wine maker comes in is to "help" the yeast make a wine that we prefer rather than a wine that the yeast would make without our interference. If we are OK with the wine the yeast produce then all we need to do is bottle it and let the yeast have access to more juice.
i have watched drunk deer under fruit trees, but hey maybe the deer knew how to make cognac,, lol like @BernardSmith said nature can make alcohol without us, i wonder if nature started humans
down the path, as for prizes or taste, that was not a goal of the really old , old timers,, it was a trade good, a preservative, liquid cash, like beer was a way to store grain, for trade, so the rats did not eat it, anything but a prize, it was away from cities, it was survival , just like Pemmican,,, Make Do,,
with what you had,,,,
Dawg
 

AaronSC

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When I was a kid in the 80's in Western Massachusetts before the interwebs provided such enormous resources on basically everything, we made hard cider just like this. People collected all the "drops" from the wild fruit growing everywhere -these were the descendants of domestic apple tress that birds had scattered to the wind. The apples were generally yellow or green when ripe (almost never red, strangely enough). They would go around and fill up a pick up truck bed full of apples, and at an arranged time, bring them to the cider mill that would convert the apples to juice foe a fee. The press was enormous, wooden thing that was ancient. It was housed in a building right on a small dammed up river and it almost certainly predated electricity (though it was electric when I was a kid). There were many myths and folk tales about how to make cider, but it was all pretty mysterious, and sometime it went great, other times it turned into undrinkable crap. The basic recipe was to take the raw apple cider, add raisins to it (which I later realized was probably the source of somewhat reliable yeast), put it in a closed vessel in the cellar and wait. Pretty soon it would bubble and generally ferment to dryness in a few months. This wasn't generally bottled, but put into smaller containers that would be opened when the last one was finished until there was no more cider left. By then you were in dandelion wine season, which is another crazy story...
 

hounddawg

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When I was a kid in the 80's in Western Massachusetts before the interwebs provided such enormous resources on basically everything, we made hard cider just like this. People collected all the "drops" from the wild fruit growing everywhere -these were the descendants of domestic apple tress that birds had scattered to the wind. The apples were generally yellow or green when ripe (almost never red, strangely enough). They would go around and fill up a pick up truck bed full of apples, and at an arranged time, bring them to the cider mill that would convert the apples to juice foe a fee. The press was enormous, wooden thing that was ancient. It was housed in a building right on a small dammed up river and it almost certainly predated electricity (though it was electric when I was a kid). There were many myths and folk tales about how to make cider, but it was all pretty mysterious, and sometime it went great, other times it turned into undrinkable crap. The basic recipe was to take the raw apple cider, add raisins to it (which I later realized was probably the source of somewhat reliable yeast), put it in a closed vessel in the cellar and wait. Pretty soon it would bubble and generally ferment to dryness in a few months. This wasn't generally bottled, but put into smaller containers that would be opened when the last one was finished until there was no more cider left. By then you were in dandelion wine season, which is another crazy story...
i really miss, when folk got together, in them days in my neck of the woods folk done visiting under shade trees, home made ice cream , world was much slower pace,,,
Dawg
 

BernardSmith

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You are so right, Dawg. We move today at the speed of light. You hear the thoughts of someone in Australia or Argentina as fast as they can think them.
And I used to have a teacher who always said, not everything you think should be said. Not everything said should be written. Not everything written should be published and not everything published should be read... but today anything that anyone thinks is read. And there is no time to stop and think or simply listen to the buzz of insects and the chirp of birds.
 
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Scooter68

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To me the bottom line with the stories posted and anecdotal comments appears pretty consistent - Results from the simplistic approach to wine making are Varied from great, to a swill fit for nothing.

All this points to one thing. You can make wine very simply but it can come down to a toss of the dice as to what you will get. BUT, if you adopt just a few "modern" techniques and additives you can turn that roll of the dice into pretty consistent results.

I have repeated this several times but it still fits - Wine has been made in various ways through the centuries many times with very loose processes and while many talk and boast about how this is a fact, they fail to realize that another fact is the thousand of people died from food poisoning and "mysterious" diseases and those sort of deaths were just part of life then. There was no such thing as a newspaper or agencies to oversee or provide guidance. Unless a large group or entire village was wiped out, there just wasn't, a great deal of thought given to it, things happened.
Things were just learned or done based on what their fathers and ancestors did that worked. Variations and changes, well just as today people might try something 'different' and if it worked great, if it didn't well...

We talk a lot about how wine is forgiving but then again most folks these days are aware of bacteria, food spoilage, and the various potential issues if good sanitation procedures are not followed. Further clean safe water is pretty much a given in for most wine makers. So comparing what was done successfully a century or more ago is probably not considering what happened when didn't go well and that's probably because a lot of those failures may not have left someone around to talk about it, OR nobody really knew why some one died.

I'm not writing this to pour cold water on people who want to or have done things the 'old way' but just to make sure that we recognize that the old ways didn't always work and there was a lot left to chance. The comments that not all these simplified wine making methods work equally well just seems to suggest that "Old World" wine making techniques may not be the best route for many folks, and especially not for someone who is a new wine maker.
 

BernardSmith

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Two very quick thoughts, Scooter68. Not to challenge your position which makes a great deal of sense but
1. Where wine was made in Europe most of the time the real "cost" of fruit or vegetables was negligible: You either made wine from the harvest or the harvest would likely be unfit to eat in a few months. And that meant that the quality of the wine was far less important than the fact that the yeast would preserve the fruit and keep it edible, nutritious and caloric for many months. AND
2. The mere fact of making alcohol would mean that pathogens in the water, in the food (what were they using to fertilize the soil?) would be unable to thrive (I don't say "survive" but thrive) in the wine, so making wine, however, poor tasting it might be in the hands of many would be health enhancing and not really sickening. Far more likely would be illnesses caused by rat and flea borne disease, infections introduced by cuts and wounds, in the course of raising crops and animals for food or milling grain. Mills were as dangerous as later coal mines. Even consuming bread tainted with all kinds of minerals to make up bulk for a poor harvest (or to line the pockets of the mill owners) would have been a cause of all kinds of illnesses.
 

Scooter68

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I agree with pretty much all of that. Bernard. Spoilage of food was a major issue. If you trust in biblical accounts, water was often a source of problems and therefore even mildly alcoholic wine would be better in many cases than the water. BUT of course that assumes that the alcohol content of the wine rises far enough quickly enough to preserve the fruit before spoilage occurs. As I remember on here watermelon and a couple of other fruit wine are often difficult to produce because spoilage can easily occur before the wine ferments far enough to preserve it.
The second issue of course is if we assume that the wine doesn't ever become toxic or dangerous to drink, then there is the simple matter of what it tastes like. Even if it's sitting at a 11-14% ABV it may still tastes like swill because any number of factors. So I might have zero issues with how safe the wine is... it might still not be something that anyone would want to drink.
I guess my premise of "safe" vs toxic could be totally off, but: still if that wine is just plain bad, the entire process is still wasted unless your wine turned into vinegar, then you do have something usable but I'd bet a whole harvest made into vinegar would not be considered a success for most folks, although that might be a preferred outcome to a just plain nasty tasting wine.

By the way, In case it matters, I agree with the suggestions some make today that all our processed foods are not necessarily improving our overall health. So I'm not saying that simpler isn't better, but perhaps we can go overboard in either direction. I certainly hate having to add any additives to my wine unless it is really needed to produce a better wine, but by no means am I against using what is needed. If you can make a great wine going with very simple methods, by all means I'd say go for it, I just think that those who call out for a total rejection of any additives or modern methods are also taking unnecessary risks too.

Hardtack and salt pork kept a lot of folks alive in the "olden days" but who wants to put that on the table today?
 

Ajmassa

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, I just think that those who call out for a total rejection of any additives or modern methods are also taking unnecessary risks too.
i don’t think it really makes a difference to these people even tho it’s basically a stone cold fact. Many of them probably would view straying from the process used in their family for multiple generations as risky and out of their comfort zone. Because if it ain’t broke...

Need to keep in mind for alot of them it isn’t even about the wine. I mean it is. But it’s more about the lifestyle and tradition. They don’t try to improve it, fully content with it as is. i don’t fault them for this. It’s a lot of time dedicated to learning & improving. and ya gotta truly love it. They get the fruit/juice they have easiest access to and make into wine together with friends and family. I know many families who still make it the way the old timers did. Love talking shop with them—- well, to some.

but sometimes suggesting alternative methods or offering tips has been taken the wrong way in the past. Like, “how dare you assume I could benefit from information! I am the John Gotti of neighborhood winemaking. fughetaboutit!”. Some people (usually assholes) can’t get out of the way of their ego and it’s turned into a pissing contest when i just genuinely wanted to talk about winemaking.
I’m pretty sure they felt a certain type of way after hearing (by others not me) talking up how much we’ve changed our winemaking methods over these last bunch of years. A case of SOUR GRAPES likely— in more ways than one! 😁
 
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sour_grapes

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I’m pretty sure they felt a certain type of way after hearing (by others not me) talking up how much we’ve changed our winemaking methods over these last bunch of years. SOUR GRAPES likely— in more ways than one! 😁
Oh, gosh, for a minute I thought you were calling me out! :)
 

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