Planning for first from grapes wine

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hawkwing

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I’m planning to make wine from imported grapes this fall. Or at least shipped to my location from wherever they come from since they don’t grow locally.

I have some questions I could use some help with.
1) How many grapes do I need to fill a 23L carboy and also a 54L demijohn?
2) What size of primary fermenter do I need for each size. Are 30L and 20 gallon enough?
3) How much stems should I plan to leave in if any?
4) Should I use sulfites to kill everything and are there other benefits such as preserving color from doing so? What happens if I don’t use sulfites?
5) Is Tartaric acid the best if I need to adjust pH/TA?
6) If sugar levels need adjusting should I use table sugar, inverted table sugar or something else?
7) How much should I crush them? I’ll probably do this manually and I probably won’t have a destemmer crusher this first time around. Is there such a thing as too much? Should I just get a big tub and get my kids to stomp on them lol? Starsan their feet lol.
8) When should I press them? After the grapes sink?
9) What all should I add? Pectic enzyme, additional tannin?
10) Anything else I’m forgetting? Additional resources etc? It would be good to have a pinned thread with all the info people require for this.

Thank you everyone for your help!
 
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1) 100 lbs of grapes ends up with about 6 gallons (23 l) of finished wine. That's the number I use for planning.
2) plan for 2-2.5 times fermenter size to finished wine size. I start with 3 20 gallon trash can fermenter and end up with about 4 6 gallon carboys more or less.
3) I don't worry about numbers of stems, but I deal with hybrid grapes.
4) I always add sulfites at crush time.
5) Tartaric is the acid to use with grapes.
6) I always just add table sugar.
7) without a crusher/destemmer, all that is really required is to open up the grapes, but I don't think you can overdo it. I used a 4x4 prior to crusher.
8) press when grapes sink or a bit sooner if life makes it impossible to wait.
9) pectic enzyme or enzymes that break down the grapes are generally a good idea
10) I almost always add some oak chips during fermentation to help set the color and provide sacrificial tannins.
 

hawkwing

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1) I think they come in 36 lbs cases.
2) Darn I was hoping that a 20 gal fermenter would be enough for a 54L demijohn.
10) Good call on the oak. Do you add after pressing?
 

Rocky

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I generally agree with C Mason with a couple of minor differences.

You did not mention what variety of grapes you are using or whether they are red or white.

1. The number of pounds of grapes will required will depend on how juicy the grapes are. If they are plump and full of juice, 14 pounds should yield a finished gallon of wine. If they are on the dryer side, you may need 15-16 pounds per gallon. Sounds like you want to make a little more than 20 gallons so get 9 each 36 pounds lugs.
2. I think you would be safer with 2 each 20-gallon Brutes.
3. Stems can add bitterness to the wine, so you decide. My first job in wine making when I was about 7 or 8 years old was to strip the grapes off of the stems and remove any other debris such as sticks, leaves, etc.
4. There will be wild yeast on the grapes so the metabisulphite will kill the spores. Then you can choose the yeast you want to use.
5. Yes, tartaric acid.
6. Yes table sugar in the form of simple syrup which is a 1:2 ratio by volume of water to sugar, dissolved over low heat.
7. Crush the grapes so that all berries are broken but try not to crack the seeds. For the quantity you are making and considering you don't have a crusher, you could use a 6-gallon bucket and a 2x4 as a "mortar and pestle."
8. The majority of the grapes won't sink. Rather, they will float to the top of your fermenter and form a cap more than once per day. You need to break up this cap at least 2x per day and stir the skins back into the wine. At the end of the fermentation period, remove the cap to a container and then press this mass however you can. We always segregated the unpressed juice wine from the pressed juice wine, but you may not want to do so.
9. Any additions are difficult to predict until the wine is in process. We never added anything to the wine other than Sodium (and later Potassium) Metabisulfite.
10. Depending on the variety of grape, you could add oak in chip form in primary and cubes in aging. The amount of oak depends on the variety of grape.

Timing and schedule need to be considered. We always made wine in the Fall. The grapes would "come in" in the first or second week of October from California (we were in Pittsburgh). On the day we started, we would crush the grapes into an open fermenter (usually a 53-gallon whiskey barrel with the top removed), add the metabisulphite and stir it well, wait a day or two and add the chosen yeast. Fermentation would begin usually within a day, and we would let the wine ferment until fermentation was very slow (10-14 days) and then transfer the wine to whiskey barrels lying on their sides with the bung open. We would keep the wine in these barrels being sure to have the wine filled in the bung hole until about the first week of December at which time the bung would be put in place and the wine left to age. It was drinkable usually by Easter (4 months or so) but much better by Christmas.
 

hawkwing

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I was thinking of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Possibly Zinfandel not 100% yet. I have two 20 gallon fermenters, two 30 L and 3 winekitz pails. I'm watching for more larger used fermenters.

With 9 lugs would I have to split them between the two 20 gallon fermenters? How much solids are in the grapes?
 

Rocky

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Need clarification. Do you mean you are making either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot or are you making a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot? If you are making them separately, of course you would put the Cab in one fermenter and Merlot in the other. If you plan to blend them, you could ferment them separately and then blend or co-ferment them with half of the wine in each of two 20-gallon fermenters.

I am not sure what you mean by "how much solids" but I would guess you would have a little more than half the fermenter with liquid and a grape skin cap of about 2-4 inches on top, which needs to be broken up a couple times a day.
 

hawkwing

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I was thinking of making each kind separately. I was just thinking that cmason1957 said that he uses three 20 gallon fermenters for four 6 gallon carboys. I was hoping that one 20 gallon fermenter would fill one 54L (14.26 gallon) demijohn.

By the solids I was thinking about the cap on top pushing its way out and making a mess. I was watching a video where they were stomping in the port tanks and it looked like a thin layer on top. Looks like there could be benefit to crushing them really well but not crushing the seeds. From the look of the grape crushers they would just flatten them is that correct? I'm sure I could do a better job with a homemade wood stomper possibly with a soft pad to protect from crushing seeds in a pail or pot.

Would the wine be better if all stems were removed? In the video it looked like they put all the bunches with stems in the tank but they must've fished most of them out later after crushing.

I would like to try making a port possibly as well using fortification. I'm not a big dry white wine fan but am interested in possibly a champagne and not sure if it would be possible to simulate an ice wine. However, I think I will start simple this year and do 2-3 kinds namely one or two dry reds and a port style.
 

hawkwing

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Would heating part of the juice have a negative impact? I'm thinking of adding sugars, without dilution, and trying to invert them. I've never had trouble dissolving sugar without heating, however I've been reading that there is a sharper taste from plain table sugar that is better if it's inverted. That is why I asked about using other sugar sources. Hopefully the grapes are nice and ripe and I won't have to add sugar.
 

hawkwing

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Even though it's not ideal I think you are on the borderline with the fermenters. You may just want to have and extra bucket or 2 to remove the excess just incase.
Borderline for the 9 lugs that we were hypothetically talking about or to fill a demijohn? For two demijohns I'll need 11-13 36 lbs lugs using 14-16 lbs per gallon. Would 5.5-6.5 lugs (198-234LBS) be too much for a 20 gallon fermenter? I'm watching for more. I picked up a 20 gallon for $20. New they are $80 so I'm watching for used but they don't come up often. I currently probably could spread them out between my stock pots too and make it work.
 
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Borderline for the 9 lugs that we were hypothetically talking about or to fill a demijohn? For two demijohns I'll need 11-13 36 lbs lugs using 14-16 lbs per gallon. Would 5.5-6.5 lugs (198-234LBS) be too much for a 20 gallon fermenter? I'm watching for more. I picked up a 20 gallon for $20. New they are $80 so I'm watching for used but they don't come up often. I currently probably could spread them out between my stock pots too and make it work.

The majority of us just use Brute trash cans for our fermentation. They are only around $30 new. Another option might be a 32 gallon if you are buying one anyway.
 
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I'm on the same page with Craig and Rocky. Some of my calculations are a bit different, but are close enough.

1) How many grapes do I need to fill a 23L carboy and also a 54L demijohn?
I allow for 2.5 lugs to produce 5 gallons, which rounds up to 8 lugs to fill a 54 liter barrel, including topup wine. For a demijohn (no evaporation), 7 lugs is probably fine, but it's better to have a bit too much than a bit too little.

2) What size of primary fermenter do I need for each size. Are 30L and 20 gallon enough?
I use 32 gallon Brutes for fermentation, with 4 lugs in each. A 20 gallon would work, but my initial purchase was to go high, as it's far better to have too much space. 8 lugs will probably fit in a 32 gallon Brute, but ...

... consider the weight -- unless you have a pump, you may need to move your containers. 5 lugs is 180 lbs, 4 lugs is 144. I purchase 16 lugs to fill two 54 liter barrels, fermenting in four Brutes.

The 30 liter fermenter won't safely hold enough grapes to fill a carboy.

4) Should I use sulfites to kill everything and are there other benefits such as preserving color from doing so? What happens if I don’t use sulfites?
While commercial yeasts typically are aggressive enough to beat out all competition, adding K-meta immediately after crushing eliminates most of the competition, making a better initial environment.

6) If sugar levels need adjusting should I use table sugar, inverted table sugar or something else?
I use plain 'ole table sugar, stirring it in gradually.

8) When should I press them? After the grapes sink?
If making a light bodied red, when the SG is below 1.020. If making a full bodied red, when the SG is below 1.000. Some folks seal the container (a bit difficult with Brutes) and do EM.

For your first rodeo, press when the SG drops below 1.000.

9) What all should I add? Pectic enzyme, additional tannin?
Maceration enzymes can make a huge difference. I use ScottZyme ColorPro.

I agree with fermentation tannin -- it stabilizes color and preserves the grape tannin. A lot of folks use chips -- I prefer shredded toasted oak.

Add the enzyme and oak after crushing, before inoculation.

10) Anything else I’m forgetting? Additional resources etc? It would be good to have a pinned thread with all the info people require for this.

Oak cubes for aging. I'd use 1 to 1.5 oz per 5 or 6 gallons of wine. I like cubes over spirals and staves due to price AND configurability. Not only can you easily change the amount used, you can mix-n-match, e.g., 1 oz medium toast Hungarian with 1/2 oz heavy toast American.

Get a small, fine weave straining bag. Use this to wrap your wine thief and racking cane to keep pulp, seeds, and oak out while drawing samples and racking.

Another option might be a 32 gallon if you are buying one anyway.
A 32 gallon Brute with lid was cheaper than a 20 gallon Brute ... yeah, strange, but I wasn't arguing.
 

VinesnBines

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By the solids I was thinking about the cap on top pushing its way out and making a mess. I was watching a video where they were stomping in the port tanks and it looked like a thin layer on top. Looks like there could be benefit to crushing them really well but not crushing the seeds. From the look of the grape crushers they would just flatten them is that correct? I'm sure I could do a better job with a homemade wood stomper possibly with a soft pad to protect from crushing seeds in a pail or pot.

You don't need the grapes as mush, just breaking the skins is enough. Some ferments are whole berry in fact. If you have access to a crusher, use it. The cap will get really thick 4 to 6 inches at the start so be prepared.

Would the wine be better if all stems were removed? In the video it looked like they put all the bunches with stems in the tank but they must've fished most of them out later after crushing.

No, the wine will not be better with all the stems removed. Stems add tannin; you should remove some and any that are sill green.

I would like to try making a port possibly as well using fortification. I'm not a big dry white wine fan but am interested in possibly a champagne and not sure if it would be possible to simulate an ice wine. However, I think I will start simple this year and do 2-3 kinds namely one or two dry reds and a port style.

Ice wine is made from grapes that have been frozen either on the vine or in a deep freeze. You can try but do some research first.

Would heating part of the juice have a negative impact? I'm thinking of adding sugars, without dilution, and trying to invert them. I've never had trouble dissolving sugar without heating, however I've been reading that there is a sharper taste from plain table sugar that is better if it's inverted. That is why I asked about using other sugar sources. Hopefully the grapes are nice and ripe and I won't have to add sugar.

Yes, heating the juice will have a negative impact, the pectin will set (think grape jelly or jam) and it will harm the flavor. With fresh grapes you should not have to add sugar. If you do, just add the sugar directly to the must. and stir well. Wineries that chaptalize use table sugar (I've seen the bags sitting on pallets in the winery.)
 

Rocky

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@hawkwing

At my Home Depot here in Columbus, the 32-gallon Brute costs $40.97 and the 20-gallon Brute costs $31.97, both with lids. Whatever cans one uses, be sure they are food safe and have the "NSF2, 21" certification molded into the bottom.

Not sure where the discussion of heating the juice came about but if it was from making simple syrup, of course one cools the syrup before adding it to the wine. I stand behind my recommendation to sweeten with simply syrup rather than raw sugar to assure that all sugar is dissolved.

Whether you strip the grapes from the stems is up to you. It is certainly more work to do so but I think it is worth it to avoid imparting bitterness and affecting the pH of the wine. Research this yourself on some winemaking sites and make your decision.
 
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hawkwing

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Here in Canada a 20 gallon is $43, a 32 gallon is $57 and a 44 gallon is $80 at Home Depot. Not sure if they ever go on sale.

The heating the juice was to dissolve and invert the sugar without water so as to not dilute the wine. But I do recall the same issue when making cider and it not clearing if pasteurized. I’ve never had trouble dissolving sugar in cold liquid just need to stir a few times. I plan to target 13.5-14.5% ABV like a bottle I’d buy.

I’ll probably remove most of the stems and certainly the green ones. I’ve been told that I want some though for tannin’s. I think I can always add tannins but harder to take them out. Not even sure how or if I could remove them.
 

Rocky

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Here in Canada a 20 gallon is $43, a 32 gallon is $57 and a 44 gallon is $80 at Home Depot. Not sure if they ever go on sale.

The heating the juice was to dissolve and invert the sugar without water so as to not dilute the wine. But I do recall the same issue when making cider and it not clearing if pasteurized. I’ve never had trouble dissolving sugar in cold liquid just need to stir a few times. I plan to target 13.5-14.5% ABV like a bottle I’d buy.

I’ll probably remove most of the stems and certainly the green ones. I’ve been told that I want some though for tannin’s. I think I can always add tannins but harder to take them out. Not even sure how or if I could remove them.
Wow, that is more than just the exchange rate. HD is screwing you guys!

I understand your reluctance to add water that would dilute the wine. Bear in mind that grapes are 81% water and the amount of water you would add in making 20 gallons of wine would be essentially negligible. Of course, it is your call.

If you are looking for an ABV in the range you stated, you will need an initial SG of about 1.100 (assuming a final SG of about 0.995). After you crush your grapes, stir the must, wait an hour or two and then pull a sample and take an SG reading. That will guide you on how much additional sugar, if any, is needed. Depending on how sweet the grapes are, you may not need to add anything.

Good luck.
 

hawkwing

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Ha ha it’s not just Home Depot. Everything is like that. Especially automotive. People used to go down and buy vehicles, RVs boats etc. Pretty much everything is way cheaper down there.

I’ll have to look up those maceration enzymes and see if I can get them here. Are they mostly for color stability? Just guessing from the name.
 

Rocky

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Is your syrup inverted or just regular?
I suppose it is "just regular." I have to confess ignorance of what inverted sugar is in detail and what its benefits are. From what I have seen on-line, I don't think I would go through the trouble of making inverted sugar. (Did I mention that I was lazy?) I added 8 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water, heated over medium-low heat and stirred until the sugar was dissolved, let it cool and put it in glass jars.
 
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