Press "Early" or Run Extended Maceration

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Hi all! Been a long time creeper, reader and researchers but I find myself in a predicament and could use some advice from those with knowledge!

I just started my 2021 Cab last Saturday. It ran hot and aggressive and is just about dry. I would normally try to keep it on the skins for about 2 weeks to extract as much of the goodies as possible.

This year I am leaving for a trip this Friday which is making my choices pretty complicated. Here is what I am trying to decide between:

Option 1: Press tomorrow (Thursday) so it can settle overnight and I can do a single racking Friday off of the gross lees before I leave town

OR

Option 2: I close it up and perform an unattended extended maceration on the skins.

I have concerns for both options but I am thinking option 2 is the much more risky situation as I will be gone for 2 weeks without any attention being available.

It is stored in my basement which averages about 60degrees with little changes.

I did follow my normal procedure using lallzyme ex-v, optired, ft rouge and fermaid k to insure a healthy ferment.

It is a small batch. About 8 gallons total.

If anyone has any advice for me, I am all ears!! Thank you!
 

David Violante

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Although I’ve just started to lean into EM and don’t know as much about it as others here, I’ve had some good experiences with it and would go in that direction myself. You have to be comfortable with that decision. If it’s dry, add sulfite and let it be. The only thing you wouldn’t be able to do is keep the skins wet on top, but if you have very little headspace it probably won’t matter as much, especially if you can purge / sparge with CO2 or Argon. I don’t recollect in the videos about EM that they swirled the skins but it has been suggested here.

If it’s going to keep you up at night, then I would do option #1. Perhaps you could freeze the skins and add them back for a delayed EM? I don’t even know if that’s possible… maybe someone else can chime in on that?
 

VinesnBines

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I did the submerged cap fermentation last fall on a second run. It worked well and I would do it again. For you though, I agree with everyone else; press now. I would press and freeze the skins for either an f-pack or a later second run. You are so close to dry, I think you will be more relaxed by pressing.
 
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Thank you everyone for the very helpful advice. I will press and get it into glass. Yes it is in an open container with a loose fitting lid which I was going to move into a tight fitting lid bucket with airlock but still very concerned about that process.

I measured SG and it is definitely dry. <1.00SG so no SO2 being generated that would protect it.

I am going to press and inoculate with CH16 and sleep well on my trip.
 

pete1325

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If it were me, I would press and get in glass as well. For EM the skins should be punched down a few times a day or the top skins/grapes will get dried out. We press after a week on the skins and the color is dark and free run is healthy. Why run the risk of messing up all the wine for a little longer on the skins. JMHO.
 

ovjock

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I just went thru this situation this week. I was called away for a week when my Barbera was at 12 Brix. I wrapped a plastic bag over the brute, taped with duct tape, purged with a can of argon from Amazon, snapped on a lid, weighed the lid down and cross my fingers. We had a cool snap and the temperature was cool at night and day temperature around 70F.
When I came back a week later, I was surprised to find the skins still damp and the wine is still at 2 Brix. Go figure.
 

David Violante

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I did the submerged cap fermentation last fall on a second run. It worked well and I would do it again. For you though, I agree with everyone else; press now. I would press and freeze the skins for either an f-pack or a later second run. You are so close to dry, I think you will be more relaxed by pressing.
How did you end up doing to the submerged cap fermentation? I would love to hear about it. I did a lot of research on how to do it and even came up with a plan for a pump over on a timer but never did use it.
 

VinesnBines

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How did you end up doing to the submerged cap fermentation? I would love to hear about it. I did a lot of research on how to do it and even came up with a plan for a pump over on a timer but never did use it.
Sorry I missed this but timely because I may do another submerged cap fermentation. In 2021, I was was using a 32 ounce Brute and I placed the half circles from my large press on the cap, covered it with a plastic tarp and weighted the plastic with dumbbell weights in plastic bags. I'm thinking about what I will do this time. I may not have a enough must for the brute. I'll probably be using two 6 gallon buckets. I may take a smaller plastic lid, drill a few holes in the lid and use that to submerge the cap. I'm still thinking it out.
 

David Violante

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There’s been a lot of discussion about submerged cap fermenting, I would love to hear how this turns out. There seems to be a broad majority in favor of moving the cap, releasing gasses, churning up the must for mixing of components, etc… how did your last batch turn out?
 

VinesnBines

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So I'm trying another submerged cap fermentation. This time with roughly 6 gallons of crushed grapes. I have the must divided in two six gallon buckets. I inoculated with yeast on Monday night and yesterday the caps was starting to form. I had to improvise my "grids". One is a plastic lid covered with a clean trash bag lying over the must and draped over the tope edge of the bucket and hangs over the edge of the bucket. I weighted the lid and trash bag down with sealed water bottles (unopened water bottles - I didn't want any water to leak) and the lid partially locked down. The second bucket is similar except the "grid" is a perforated plastic dehydrator mat. Same trash bag cover, water bottle weights. and partially locked down lid.

I'll be back on Saturday evening so we'll see what has transpired. I debated taking the fermenter with me on this trip but I may be pressed for space on the return and I wanted to see how the submerged cap worked out.

This time it was just starting fermentation; SG was 1.085 and Ph was 3.45. I pitched a blend of MT and BM 4X4. I forgot Opti-Red. Wonder how that would work if I added later and tried extended maturation for a few more days?
 

Cynewulf

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So I'm trying another submerged cap fermentation. This time with roughly 6 gallons of crushed grapes. I have the must divided in two six gallon buckets. I inoculated with yeast on Monday night and yesterday the caps was starting to form. I had to improvise my "grids". One is a plastic lid covered with a clean trash bag lying over the must and draped over the tope edge of the bucket and hangs over the edge of the bucket. I weighted the lid and trash bag down with sealed water bottles (unopened water bottles - I didn't want any water to leak) and the lid partially locked down. The second bucket is similar except the "grid" is a perforated plastic dehydrator mat. Same trash bag cover, water bottle weights. and partially locked down lid.

I'll be back on Saturday evening so we'll see what has transpired. I debated taking the fermenter with me on this trip but I may be pressed for space on the return and I wanted to see how the submerged cap worked out.

This time it was just starting fermentation; SG was 1.085 and Ph was 3.45. I pitched a blend of MT and BM 4X4. I forgot Opti-Red. Wonder how that would work if I added later and tried extended maturation for a few more days?
What grape variety?
 

VinesnBines

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Chelois. I didn't have the poundage I hoped for. I had very uneven ripening so I had a lot of raisins, some was picked and mingled with Chambourcin that went to friends and a lot of my three year vines didn't bear. I think they had too much shade and 2021 was extremely dry so they didn't get a great growing year the second year.

Still, I was happy with the numbers. We picked at roughly 19 or 20 Brix and the Ph was good. The TA may be high but my testing is not reliable. I'll try MLF to bring it down. At least I had enough to play with.
 

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