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Problems, help please!!

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I live in Central italy and make both red and white wine from our Sangiovese and trebbiano grapes. The vines are very old, and somewhat past their best! Last year, we made our wine with the local farmer, but both red and white wines stayed very sweet and did not ferment down to 0 as we all expected. We put it down to a very warm summer, and very sweet grapes when picked. This year we had exactly the same problem. We picked the grapes on 1st October, destemmed them, crushed them and put them into a huge container. we only use the wild yeasts, as the farmer has never added any yeast. We have waited and waited, but today we have been told by the farmer that we have to move the wine off the grape skins as it will only go off if we leave it any longer. however, fermentation seems to have stopped and the SG is still 2.
What are we doing wrong, and how can we do something about it? We still have 400litres of extremely sweet, undrinkable white wine in the vat from last year, and although i drank the sweet red wine, it was not to anyone elses taste! We dont want that to happen again!:confused:
 

cpfan

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I'm certainly no expert on this, but we need starting sg (or brix) and temperature in order to offer advice.

And yes get the wine off the skins. It should continue to ferment.

BTW, you said that the SG is 2. Presumably you meant brix?

Steve
 
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TB1

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Might I ask what for yeast you are using?
Oops I see ware you say you only use wild yeast. That might be some of the problem. some wild yeast has a low alcohol tolerance. If you can find a wild yeast with a higher tolerance and add to may help. if not you may want to consider an exception this one time. I have found wild yeast sometimes unreliable. Of course there are lots of other factors to consider. more information would help.

You should be able to press and finish fermentation from there if deemed necessary.
 
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Fermentation problems continued!

OK. This is not as straight forward as it appears. the winemaking process in our part of Central italy dates back hundreds of years and you have to bear in mind that the system is based upon not spending any money on anything at all! So everything must be either natural or if you use any machinery these are things that have been handed down in families and are years and years old.
So as new people coming into the area we are having to very much go with the traditions of our farmers.
Nobody adds yeast, they rely solely on the natural wild yeasts that are present on the grapes. until two years ago, red wine was never 100% pure red, but always had 25% white grapes added. We changed this because we wanted pure red and pure white, and this is where our problems started.
In both years we had a starting reading of 20/21 and an ambient temperature between 22/27 degrees C during the day but night time temperature here in the foothills of the mountains drops to below 10. The farmers dont think this is a problem because it has never been a problem before. We used plastic vats to ferment it, as we used stainless steel last year, and it was thought they might have been a bit cold and therefore slowed the fermentation.This year the wine stayed on the lees for approximately 40 days and it is still at 2/3SG with a very very slight fermentation and tasting sweet still.
We have just transferred it into the stainless steel vat to continue. Hopefully it will drop to 0 by Christmas, the traditional time to start drinking it. However, it should be zero by now, and last year the wine never fermented out, and was always sweet and about 2SG.
The commercial small winemakers in our area were drinking the novello wine on 6th November, and theirs was not sweet.
We are just at a loss as to what is going wrong, and so are the farmers!
 

Luc

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I am certainly no expert on this but just guessing.

The farmers never had a problem with the temperature changes, but now you have.
So what are you doing different as they are.

The difference with the commercial wineries may be that they
are using temperature controlled vats.

What were the farmers previously fermenting in ??
Did they use stainless steel tanks or plastic ???

Or perhaps they fermented in wooden barrels which
might control temperature influence more ???

Just guessing.
But try to find out what they were doing differently
and look into that.

Luc
 

TB1

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OK I understand I think.
So the only differences is the container and the exemption of the white grapes.
Let me think out loud here.

Basically You are making pure red wine in the tradition of the old time Dago red. That usually ends up sweet.

Could it be that the mixture of the white grapes ether adjust the ph or the white grapes has a different yeast culture on them?

You could try adding a little white grapes or partially fermented white wine to see if it helps. If it does its the yeast?

Of course it could be the temperature as stated above?

Next year you may want to try some with the original mix with 25% white grapes added. That might show if it's the containers or ph? Maybe.
The recipe is hundreds of years old for a reason.

Just kind of guessing, too many unknown verables .
 
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Racer

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OK. This is not as straight forward as it appears. the winemaking process in our part of Central italy dates back hundreds of years and you have to bear in mind that the system is based upon not spending any money on anything at all! So everything must be either natural or if you use any machinery these are things that have been handed down in families and are years and years old.
So as new people coming into the area we are having to very much go with the traditions of our farmers.
Nobody adds yeast, they rely solely on the natural wild yeasts that are present on the grapes. until two years ago, red wine was never 100% pure red, but always had 25% white grapes added. We changed this because we wanted pure red and pure white, and this is where our problems started.
In both years we had a starting reading of 20/21 and an ambient temperature between 22/27 degrees C during the day but night time temperature here in the foothills of the mountains drops to below 10. The farmers dont think this is a problem because it has never been a problem before. We used plastic vats to ferment it, as we used stainless steel last year, and it was thought they might have been a bit cold and therefore slowed the fermentation.This year the wine stayed on the lees for approximately 40 days and it is still at 2/3SG with a very very slight fermentation and tasting sweet still.
We have just transferred it into the stainless steel vat to continue. Hopefully it will drop to 0 by Christmas, the traditional time to start drinking it. However, it should be zero by now, and last year the wine never fermented out, and was always sweet and about 2SG.
The commercial small winemakers in our area were drinking the novello wine on 6th November, and theirs was not sweet.
We are just at a loss as to what is going wrong, and so are the farmers!
Do you or any of your neighbors have any wine that is actively fermenting right now? If so fill a 4 liter jug half full of that wine and then slowly add some of your wine to it (half a cup at a time to begin with).Then 4 hours later add a full cup of your wine.Keep doing that until the jug is full and still(hopefully) actively fermenting for you. Add the jug of wine to your batch and see if that will get your wine to complete its fermentation to dry like you want it to be.

Even though your neighbors dont think the temperature swings are the problem that much of a change can be a part of the problem your experiencing. Yeast that far into a fermentation are already stressed enough changing temperatures that much can make them go dormant or die off before the job is done.
 
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Slow fermentation

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I think there are several things that have come out here. First, we were always told by our neighbours that they added 25% white grapes to the red because it was good for womens kidneys! Actually, we only have had wine with the red fermenting since we tried to make it with only red grapes. we know that the vines are very old, so maybe the wild yeast on these is not strong enough, and it has also been two consecutive cold October/Novembers for the last two years.
We think next year we are going to try with just the red grapes again, but in warmer conditions in a cantina inside the house, but we think we would also like to try adding some yeast. What yeast would you recommend for Sangiovese grapes? How much should we add? We tend to get about 150/200 litres of must. Where can we buy this yeast? I have never come across wine makers shops here in Italy, so would we have to buy it over the internet?
Thanks for the suggestions about what we could do to get it going again, but everyone`s wine has now finished fermenting so we would not be able to find any fermenting wine to add to ours. However, we will remember for next year!
The white wine looks dire this year! It too seems to be doing nothing much, is incredibly sweet and now seems to have a murky scum on the top. I have a feeling this may have to be thrown away as we already have 800 litres of white wine that is undrinkable from the last two years. The white wine from two years ago is not sweet, and has fermented out but is a peculiar deep yellow colour with an odd flavour. Last years is 400 litres of extremely sweet stuff that is more like grape juice, but with an alcoholic kick. Sounds nice but after two mouthfuls you can feel your teeth rotting! So I think we might give the white wine a miss this year!
Look forward to any answers to my questions. Thank you all for trying to help us.
 

Racer

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Try a search on the internet for a source close to you. With the wine you have right now I'd pick a yeast that says it is good for restarting a stuck fermentation.
 

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