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Punch down technique

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Is it necessary to punch the cap down to the bottom of the fermentation vessel? Or is submerging an inch or two to get it wet sufficient? Should the cap be broken up during punch down? Should agitation be kept to a minimum?
 

Johnd

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Is it necessary to punch the cap down to the bottom of the fermentation vessel? Or is submerging an inch or two to get it wet sufficient? Should the cap be broken up during punch down? Should agitation be kept to a minimum?
The vigor of your punch down should be at least enough to break the cap apart and get it all mixed back into the wine. The more vigorous your activity, the more extraction that takes place. Pesonally, I push the cap almost all of the way to the bottom, repeating until there is no cap, and then stir the must well, taking care not to crush seeds. No need to worry about oxygen exposure, plenty CO2 production to protect the wine at this stage.
 

Jetcontrails

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Get the fermentation mixed up well once a cap starts forming. During the first half of fermentation, yeast use oxygen as a nutrient for replication and to build cell walls, so aggressive oxygenating punchdowns provide for a healthy and strong yeast population. Once you fall below 10 Brix you can scale back your punchdown intensity and frequency. Other punchdown considerations... desired extraction of flavor/tannin from skins, liberate CO2, liberate H2S, ferment temperature, etc.
 

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Is it necessary to punch the cap down to the bottom of the fermentation vessel? Or is submerging an inch or two to get it wet sufficient? Should the cap be broken up during punch down? Should agitation be kept to a minimum?
Very helpful to punch all the way down. You need to stir the yeast of the bottom too. So in my opinion a deep and complete punch down/break up/stir is desirable.
 
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Bought a punch down tool. When I was making wine at the turn of the century we used a canoe paddle. Still have the paddle. A couple of times there were problems with H2S and the stirring took care of that.

But oxidation was always a problem. I thought it was from vigorously stirring with the paddle. Two years ago I started using argon (the right way) to sparge the carboys when racking. The oxidation problems have gone away.

Now I'm wondering if the paddle wasn't a bad idea.
 

Jetcontrails

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Bought a punch down tool. When I was making wine at the turn of the century we used a canoe paddle. Still have the paddle. A couple of times there were problems with H2S and the stirring took care of that.

But oxidation was always a problem. I thought it was from vigorously stirring with the paddle. Two years ago I started using argon (the right way) to sparge the carboys when racking. The oxidation problems have gone away.

Now I'm wondering if the paddle wasn't a bad idea.
Paddle, 2x4, your arm... they all work for punchdowns. Any oxidation you've experienced in the past was caused by how the wine was handled post fermentation and SO2 maintenance.
 
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